The opening verses of Hosea 6 remind about God’s discipline of his people: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (6:1). The Preacher admonishes, “Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline” (Proverbs 3:11). Why such an exhortation? “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12).
God’s discipline is not punishment; Jesus has already borne our punishment (Isaiah 53). Nor is his discipline motivated by a desire to inflict pain; he loves us and works good for us (Romans 8:28). Nor is God’s discipline merely corrective, it includes training (Hebrews 12:11). God had disciplined Israel: “Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light” (6:5). This is not the final word for Israel, though, or for us. The Lord continues to reach out to his people in mercy: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (10:12).
Come, let us to the Lord our God
with contrite hearts return;
our God is gracious, nor will leave
the desolate to mourn.
His voice commands the tempest forth,
and stills the stormy wave;
and though his arm be strong to smite,
‘tis also strong to save. -- John Morrison (18th century)