Hos 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
This verse is often quoted as a prophecy of the restoration of Israel as a political power with a great king. The ruling authority is certainly seen as good in a manner consistent with the Godliness of David. The object of the action, however, is the people. The people will seek the Lord, they will see David, and they will come in fear to the Lord and His goodness. The people will behave differently from the people of Hosea’s time. In the period when Christ came, the people were certainly seeking a messianic figure to rise up against Rome and restore the whole of Israel to its former greatness as in the days of David. Note here that what the people seek and what they do are slightly different. They seek the Lord and they seek King David. They return to God and come to Him and His goodness in fear. Although Jesus did not claim political or religious rulership in the sense hoped for by the Jews, he is King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is high priest. As a result of his ministry and the mission carried out by his earliest believers through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, children of Israel did begin to return to the Lord. They did seek goodness and they did so with earnest repentance and the healthy sort of fear of the Lord that Solomon wrote about. Salvation came first to the people of the tribes of Israel, beginning with Judah, but it also came to all the Gentiles who were “No Mercy” and “Not My People.” The period Hosea called “latter days,” at least in this context, appears to be the period following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
The first three chapters of Hosea use the allegory of a marital relationship to illustrate God’s unfailing love, compassion, and ultimately forgiveness. He looks forward to a time of personal repentance by individual believers and restoration of the kind of the intimacy between Himself and His people we were created for.
The remaining chapters of Hosea, written in a poetic literary form, send a prophetic message to Israel regarding its religious, social and political failures and the consequences. It is important to remember that in spite of the political turmoil in the last few decades prior to the fall of Samaria, the region experienced significant economic prosperity. As the people became increasingly smug in their self-confidence they came to rely less and less on God as provider. They essentially ceased to need God, or so they thought. In the remaining chapters the case is made for Israel’s guilt and judgments are proclaimed. These chapters include a powerful call to repentance, a reminder of God’s unfailing love, and eventual restoration of the faithful.