1* Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall!2Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.*3Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say “Our gods” to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.’4‘I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.5I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots;6his young shoots will grow. His splendour will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.7People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the corn, they will blossom like the vine – Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.8Ephraim, what more have I* to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.’9Who is wise? Let them realise these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.