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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Hosea 11

Verses 1-12

Hosea 11:4

Hosea, who lived at the decline and fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, had to speak mostly of doom. The Prophet, loving his country with, a passionate devotion, had no hope for the future except from the mercy of God using the inevitable chastisement to bring Israel back to a purer faith and a nobler life.

I. In the earliest days of all God taught the nation to walk, holding it by the arms, with patience and affection, as a mother teaches her child, encouraging him, but not too quickly lest he should overtask his strength; and when he falls taking him up in her arms, comforting and healing him. And then as the nation grew strong and could walk, and like a child now grown to manhood was set tasks and had to bend to serious burdens, like the oxen which did all the draught work in Palestine, the figure changes from that of a loving faith Or mother teaching a child to that of a considerate master driving a team of oxen. When Israel was grown up and had to carry heavy burdens, which is the lot of all men, God was to them as a considerate Master, never leaving them, making them feel that He was with them through it all, setting them to the tasks, and gently leading them, and strenuously upholding them, taking His place beside them, treating them with human sympathy, drawing them with cords of a man, with bands of love.

II. They are homely figures of a father with the patience of love towards his little child, and of a wagoner with the kindness of sympathy towards his labouring cattle; but what figures could be more expressive of the thought which Hosea is seeking to express of the constant loving providence of God? His love faileth never. He would still as of old, still even at the eleventh hour, draw them with cords of a man, with bands of love. Is not this explanation of Israel's history the true reading of our own experience. The secret of all God's dealings with us is love. Even in the experience that was hardest to understand, one day it comes to us with the force of a revelation that God has been teaching and training us. It is this that makes the religious man, and distinguishes him from the irreligious. Upon all men are laid the trials and tasks of life; to all men come the burden and the yoke. The religious man knows that God is in all his experience, ever drawing him with cords of a man, with bands of love. This consciousness of a Divine sympathy makes a man strong, and assures him that his life is worth living since it commands the interest of heaven.

III. Hosea saw the past history of Israel to be the very romance of Divine love. It was the key to explain all His dealing with them, from their childhood right on through the long years of training. The revelation of God's Divinity has been a revelation of His humanity, drawing them with the cords of a man, with bands of love. How much more clearly should the Christian Church see this than Hosea, after the greatest of all object-lessons in Jesus Christ! The whole story thrills with human tenderness, with human sympathy, sympathy with men in their joy and their sorrow, sympathy with the little child, and with all on whom the yoke pressed, the labouring and heavy-laden. Can He fail to draw all men unto Himself? With the cords of a man He is drawing men: in the bands of love He is binding the world together. Who can resist the appeal of His broken body and shed blood?

Hugh Black, Christ's Service of Love, p. 109.

References. XI. 4. Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons (1st Series), p.l. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 934. XI. 8. J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 261. XII. 9. Phillips Brooks, The Law of Growth, p. 365. XII. 10. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 206. XIII. 11. J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iii. p. 29. XIII. 14. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 69. H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1994.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hosea 11". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/hosea-11.html. 1910.