The ways of the Lord are right
Hosea 14:9 A reminder from the first minor prophet that the righteous will walk in the ways of the Lord
Hosea and Gomer, by an unknown artist, public domain.
”Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.“
Hosea 14:9 NASB1995
God pointed us to the first of the 12 minor prophets today, which was a bit of a surprise. Hosea was a 8th-century BC prophet, and there’s quite a bit known about him despite the passage of almost 3,000 years. From Wikipedia:
Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise of restoration. The Talmud claims that he was the greatest prophet of his generation. The period of Hosea's ministry extended to some sixty years, and he was the only prophet of Israel of his time who left any written prophecy.
You might remember some of the Book of Hosea. An arranged marriage to the prostitute Gomer ends up with her being unfaithful, seen as a parallel to how Israel was unfaithful to God. His children are given names that represent Israel’s estrangement from God. Hosea’s daughter is named Lo-ruhamah, meaning “not pitied” — a sign of God’s displeasure at Israel for following false gods. His second son is likewise given a descriptive name — Lo-ammi, translated as “not my people”. God was definitely not happy with the people of Israel for worshipping idols!
Most of the 14 chapters of the Book of Hosea focus on warning the northern kingdom (Israel) against idolatry, and it is a powerful call to repentance. There is also a strong analogy of Hosea and Gomer to Christ and the church; Christ is the husband, the church His bride. Hosea is pleading with Israel not to forsake God; a Christian interpretation is for the church not to forsake Jesus Christ.
Part of the story of Hosea and Gomer is that although she runs away and sleeps with another man, Hosea loves her anyway and forgives her. In Hosea 3, he redeems (buys back) Gomer from the other man for a quantity of barley. There are definite parallels to Christ’s love for all — including sinners — and Jesus Christ redeeming all who believe in Him through His sacrifice on the cross.
The prophet Hosea, seen here from a study by Raphael for “The Prophets Hosea and Jonah”
By the time we get to Chapter 14 — the end of Hosea — things are looking up although Israel will fall to the Assyrians. Here’s what Charles Spurgeon said about this chapter:
“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!”
Today’s verse tells the reader that those with wisdom will discern the message throughout this book, and understand that God gives sinners an invitation to repent and be restored in His sight. Even when judgement (in this case enslavement by another country) is coming, the wise will see that “the ways of the Lord are right” and can (and should) take the invitation as a sign to repent.
We’ll finish this devotional with a wonderful commentary from 20th-century American theologian Leon J. Wood:
“In beauty of expression these final words of Hosea rank with the memorable chapters of the OT. Like the rainbow after a storm, they promise Israel’s final restoration. Here is the full flowering of God’s unfailing love for his faithless people, the triumph of his grace, the assurance of his healing - all described in imagery that reveals the loving heart of God.”
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father in Heaven, I know that you are a loving father, ready to forgive. You are also just, and punish those who do evil. Should I stray from my walk with You by intentionally choosing to sin or pursue the world’s temptations, I pray that You remind me that You will forgive and restore me — I just need to repent and genuinely confess my sins. I thank You for my redemption, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. AMEN.