O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
Fallen — Thy sins have involved thee in endless troubles.
 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
Render — This will qualify and encourage us to give the sacrifices which are more pleasing to God than calves or oxen.
 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
The fatherless — All that are destitute of strength in themselves, and destitute of help from others; all that being sensible of their own helpless condition, look for it from God, who hath power, mercy, and wisdom to help.
Mercy — Both the fountain and streams of goodness too, free grace, and rich bounty.
 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
As the dew — I will refresh and comfort, and make fruitful in good works, such as return to me.
As Lebanon — As the cedars in Lebanon, so shall the true Israel, converted backsliders, be blessed of God: so flourishing and happy shall the church be under Christ.
 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
His branches — His branches which are new sprung out, shall gather strength, and shall multiply in number.
The olive-tree — Which retains its verdure all the winter and is rich in fruit; so the true Israel of God shall flourish not in fruitless beauty, but in lovely fruit, even in winter's of affliction and trouble.
As Lebanon — The mountain famous for cedars, where also were the trees that afford the frankincense, and many flowers which perfume the air; such shall the spiritual fragrance of the church be to God and man.
 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
They that dwell — As many as unite to the church, shall dwell under these spreading trees.
Return — Revive and recover strength.
As the corn — Which dies ere it lives to bring forth fruit.
As the vine — Which in winter seems dead, but yet life, sap, and a fructifying virtue is in it.
The scent thereof — The savour of it to God and good men shall be pleasing as the scent of the delicious wines of Lebanon.
 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
I have heard him — A gracious promise from God of hearing prayers.
A green fir-tree — As a weary traveller finds rest and safety under a thick tree, so there is safety and refreshment under the protection of the Lord.
From me — Of God alone.
 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
Shall understand — Which the prophet has delivered.
The ways — The ways which he would have us walk in towards him, his law, his ordinances, his whole doctrine are all righteous and equal. And the ways wherein God walks towards us, in afflicting or comforting are all righteous and equal.
Shall walk in them — Will approve them all, justifying the righteousness of God's displeasure, and confessing he remembereth mercy in the midst of judgment. And justifying the righteousness of his precepts by endeavouring to observe them.
The transgressors — Wilful, obstinate sinners, stumble and are offended at his commands, but more at his judgments; they cast off the one, and vainly hope to shift off the other, 'till at last they fall under the weight of their own sins and God's wrath.