Their resolution to return to God, 1-3. The instability of many of them, 4, 5. God's covenant with them, and their violation of it, 6-11.
1 "Come, and let us return to the LORD. For he has torn and he will heal us. He has smitten and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3 Then we shall know, if we follow on to know the LORD. His going forth is prepared as the morning, and he will come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth."
4 "O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your goodness is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes away.
5 Therefore, I have hewed them by the prophets. I have slain them by the words of my mouth. And your judgments are as the light that goes forth.
6 For I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.
7 But they, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant. There they have dealt treacherously against me.
8 Gilead is a city of those who work iniquity and is polluted with blood.
9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent, for they commit lewdness.
10 I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There is the prostitution of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
11 Also, O Judah, he has set a harvest for you, when I returned the captivity of my people."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Hosea, Chapter 6[➚]
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter gives an account of some who were truly penitent, and stirred up one another to return to the Lord, encouraged by his power, grace, and goodness (Hosea 6:1-3); and of others, who had only a form of religion, were very unstable in it; regarded more the ceremonial law, and the external sacrifices of it, than the moral law; either that part of it which respects the love of the neighbor, or that which concerns the knowledge of God; and dealt treacherously with the Lord, transgressing the covenant (Hosea 6:4-7); particularly the city of Gilead is represented as full of the workers of iniquity, and is charged with bloodshed (Hosea 6:8); and even the priests were guilty of murder and lewdness (Hosea 6:9); and Israel, or the ten tribes in general, are accused of prostitution, both corporeal and spiritual, with which they were defiled (Hosea 6:10); nor was Judah clear of these crimes, and therefore a reckoning day is set for them (Hosea 6:11).
[v.2a] - In 1st Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul mentions that the Scriptures tell of Christ's resurrection. This verse here in Hosea is the passage to which he refers.
[v.2b] - Reference, Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19.
[v.3] - "Then we shall know, if we follow on to know the LORD" - This may also be read as, "Then we shall know, and pursue after the knowledge of the LORD."
[v.6a] - One thing to note about this verse is that God desires mercy, love, kindness—Love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8)—and the knowledge of Him, that is, faith (John 3:14-18, 5:24; Romans 4:5, 10:17; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 2:8), over the outward show of ceremonies. This very much parallels Christ's answer to the question of which is the greatest commandment: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40; see also Mark 12:29-31 and Luke 10:25-28).
[v.6b] - Quoted in Matthew 9:13, 12:7.
[v.8a] - "Gilead" - Gilead was a city of refuge and occupied by the Levites the priests (see Numbers, ch. 35 and Joshua 21:38). Anyone who kills another person by accident was to flee to a city of refuge to avoid being the target of revenge and to receive a fair trial. The priests were to be a shining example to the people, much in the same manner that Christ called His disciples "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). So, it is shown here that even the cities of refuge, the places where true holiness was to be exemplified, had all together been corrupted.
[v.8b] - "polluted with blood" - This may also be read as, "occupied," or, "possessed by blood."