I will be as the dew unto Israel - On these metaphors I gladly avail myself of the elegant and just observations of Bp. Lowth. "These verses ( Hosea 14:5-7;) contain gracious promises of God's favor and blessings upon Israel's conversion. In the fifth verse, it is described by that refreshment which copious dews give to the grass in summer. If we consider the nature of the climate, and the necessity of dews in so hot a country, not only to refresh, but likewise to preserve life; if we consider also the beauty of the oriental lilies, the fragrance of the cedars which grow upon Lebanon, the beauteous appearance which the spreading olive trees afforded, the exhilarating coolness caused by the shade of such trees, and the aromatic smell exhaled by the cedars; we shall then partly understand the force of the metaphors here employed by the prophet; but their full energy no one can conceive, till he feels both the want, and enjoys the advantage, of the particulars referred to in that climate where the prophet wrote." - Lowth's twelfth and nineteenth prelection; and Dodd on the place.
What a glorious prophecy! What a wonderful prophet! How sublime, how energetic, how just! The great master prophet, Isaiah, alone could have done this better. And these promises are not for Israel merely after the flesh; they are for all the people of God. We have a lot and portion in the matter; God also places his love upon us. Here the reader must feel some such sentiment as the shepherd in Virgil, when enraptured with the elegy which his associate had composed on their departed friend. The phraseology and metaphors are strikingly similar; and therefore I shall produce it.
Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
Quale sopor fesses in gramine, quale per aestum
Dulcis aquae saliente sitim restinguere rivo.
Nec calamis solum aequiparas, sed voce magistrum.
Fortunate puer! tu nunc eris alter ab illo.
Nos tamen haec quocunque modo tibi nostra vicissim
Dicemus, Daphninque tuum tollemus ad astra:
Daphnin ad astra feremus: amavit nos quoque Daphnis.
Virgil. Ecl. v., ver. 45.
"O heavenly poet, such thy verse appears,
So sweet, so charming to my ravish'd ears,
As to the weary swain with cares oppress'd,
Beneath the sylvan shade, refreshing rest;
As to the feverish traveler, when first
He finds a crystal stream to quench his thirst.
In singing, as in piping, you excel;
And scarce your master could perform so well.
O fortunate young man! at least your lays
Are next to his, and claim the second praise.
Such as they are, my rural songs I join
To raise your Daphnis to the powers divine;
For Daphnis was my friend, as well as thine."
I will be as the dew unto Israel - Before, He had said, “his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up” Hosea 13:15. Now again He enlarges the blessing; their supply shall be unfailing, for it shall be from God; yea, God Himself shall be that blessing; “I will be the dew; descending on the mown grass” Psalm 72:6, to quicken and refresh it; descending, Himself, into the dried and parched and sere hearts of men, as He saith, “We will come unto him and make Our abode in him” John 14:23. The grace of God, like the dew, is not given once for all, but is, day by day, waited for, and, day by day, renewed. Yet doth it not pass away, like the fitful goodness John 6:4 of God‘s former people, but turns into the growth and spiritual substance of those on whom it descends.
He shall grow as the lily - No one image can exhibit the manifold grace of God in those who are His own, or the fruits of that grace. So the prophet adds one image to another, each supplying a distinct likeness of a distinct grace or excellence. The “lily” is the emblem of the beauty and purity of the soul in grace; the “cedar” of Lebanon, of its strength and deep-rootedness, its immovableness and uprightness; the evergreen “olive tree” which “remaineth in its beauty both winter and summer,” of the unvarying presence of Divine Grace, continually, supplying an eversustained freshness, and issuing in fruit; and the fragrance of the aromatic plants with which the lower parts of Mount Lebanon are decked, of its loveliness and sweetness; as a native explains this, “he takes a second comparison from Mount Lebanon for the abundance of aromatic things and odoriferous flowers.”
Such are the myrtles and lavender and the odoriferous reed; from which “as you enter the valley” (between Lebanon and Anti-lebanon) “straightway the scent meets you.” All these natural things are established and well-known symbols of things spiritual. The lily, so called in Hebrew from its dazzling whiteness, is, in the Canticles Matthew 13:6, as contrariwise, Paul speaks of these, who are “rooted and grounded in love” Ephesians 3:17, and of being “rooted and built up in Christ” Colossians 2:7. The widespreading branches are an emblem of the gradual growth and enlargement of the Church, as our Lord says, “It becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” Matthew 13:32.
The symmetry of the tree and its outstretched arms express, at once, grace and protection. Of the “olive” the Psalmist says, “I am like a green olive tree in the house Of God” Psalm 52:8; and Jeremiah says, “The Lord called thy name a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit” Jeremiah 11:16; and of “fragrance” the spouse says in the Canticles, “because of the savor of Thy good ointments, Thy name is as ointment poured forth” 2 Corinthians 2:14. Deeds of charity also are “an odor of good smell” Philemon 4:18; the prayers of the saints also are “sweet odors” Revelation 5:8. All these are the fruits of the Spirit of God who says, “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” Such reunion of qualities, being beyond nature, suggests the more, that, that, wherein they are all combined, the future Israel, the Church, shall flourish with graces beyond nature, in their manifoldness, completeness, unfadingness.
The wheat develops “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” The object of the husbandman in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the growing plant is the production of grain. He desires bread for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine Husbandman looks for a harvest as the reward of His labor and sacrifice. Christ is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts of men; and He does this through those who believe in Him. The object of the Christian life is fruit bearing—the reproduction of Christ's character in the believer, that it may be reproduced in others. COL 67.1
The plant does not germinate, grow, or bring forth fruit for itself, but to “give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.” Isaiah 55:10. So no man is to live unto himself. The Christian is in the world as a representative of Christ, for the salvation of other souls. COL 67.2
There can be no growth or fruitfulness in the life that is centered in self. If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. Talk of the love of Christ, tell of His goodness. Do every duty that presents itself. Carry the burden of souls upon your heart, and by every means in your power seek to save the lost. As you receive the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of unselfish love and labor for others—you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character. Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love be made perfect. More and more you will reflect the likeness of Christ in all that is pure, noble, and lovely. COL 67.3Read in context »
The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. So spiritual growth is attained through co-operation with divine agencies. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit. If our hearts are stayed upon Christ, He will come unto us “as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” As the Sun of Righteousness, He will arise upon us “with healing in His wings.” We shall “grow as the lily.” We “shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.” Hosea 6:3; Malachi 4:2; Hosea 14:5, 7. Ed 106.1
The wheat develops, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. The object of the husbandman in the sowing of the seed and the culture of the plant, is the production of grain—bread for the hungry, and seed for future harvests. So the divine Husbandman looks for a harvest. He is seeking to reproduce Himself in the hearts and lives of His followers, that through them He may be reproduced in other hearts and lives. Ed 106.2
The gradual development of the plant from the seed is an object lesson in child training. There is “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. He who gave this parable created the tiny seed, gave it its vital properties, and ordained the laws that govern its growth. And the truths taught by the parable were made a reality in His own life. He, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, became a babe in Bethlehem, and for a time represented the helpless infant in its mother's care. In childhood He spoke and acted as a child, honoring His parents, and carrying out their wishes in helpful ways. But from the first dawning of intelligence He was constantly growing in grace and in a knowledge of truth. Ed 106.3Read in context »
Sanctification, An Experience in Continued Growth—1908—If we keep our minds stayed upon Christ, He will come unto us as the rain, as the former and latter rain upon the earth. As the Sun of Righteousness, He will arise with healing in His wings. We may grow as the lily, revive as the corn, and grow as the vine. 3SM 204.3Read in context »