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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 4

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

HOSEA - CHAPTER 4

Verses 1-5:

General Charges Against the People

Verse 1 calls the children of Israel to hear God’s legal charges against the land, the northern kingdom, Micah 6:2; Joel 3:2, because they had:

1) No truth or respect for truth, in conscience or deed, Proverbs 3:3.

2) No mercy or evidence of the attribute of mercy, for truth cannot be sustained without mercy.

3) And no knowledge or recognition of God was shown in the whole land, so apostate had the northern ten tribes become. Knowledge produces love and fear, and ignorance and injustice prevail without it, as exhibited, Jeremiah 22:16.

Verse 2 recounts five of the ten commandments that were being flagrantly broken, continuously, as a pattern of continual practice:

1) Swearing, Exodus 20:7.

2) Lying, Exodus 20:16.

3) Stealing, Exodus 20:15.

4) Committing adultery, Exodus 20:14.

5) Killing or murder, Exodus 20:13.

These five named sins were spread like cankerous sores or floods uncontrolled over all the land so that "blood touched blood," or bloodshed and murder were a continual, daily pattern of life; Evil, violence, was continually spread everywhere.

Verses 3 describes the fruit of their sins and violence so that they mourned because of the judgment of God over their land, causing men, cattle, fowls, and even fish to suffer and die, 1 Kings 18:17-18. It was a fierce calamity of the East, Isaiah 19:8; Isaiah 24:4; Joel 1:10; Joel 1:12; Isaiah 19:5. The mourning seemed to be in self-pity, not genuine repentance, Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 12:4; Amos 5:16; Amos 8:8.

Verses 4, 5 advise no one to accuse another for the sufferings they were to receive, as due punishment for their willful, long pursued sins; The sins of the ten tribes were as grave as one who refused to obey when the priests gave a command, at the word of the Lord. The law provided death for such rebellion, Deuteronomy 27:12. They were therefore to fall, be killed in broad daylight, a time when battles were not usually expected, Jeremiah 6:4-5; Jeremiah 15:8. The prophet also was to be slaughtered at night, as well as their mother, meaning the state of Northern Israel, of whom they were children, Hosea 2:2.

Verses 6-11

Verses 6-11:

The Willful Ignorance of Israel

Verse 6 attributes coming judgment to Israel, as coming from her willful rejection of knowledge of God, Isaiah 5:3; John 17:3; regarding morals and ethics, found in her own laws. God rejects Israel, and her priesthood restrictedly, because she had rejected Him and His laws, Exodus 19:6. Her children were also to be forgotten, in the sense of abandoned to judgment, void of God’s mercy, for their idolatry, 1 Kings 12:29; 1 Kings 12:31.

Verse 7 explains that as the Israelites increased in numbers, wealth, and power, instead of glorifying God as He had expected from them, they defamed His name and forgot Him, Hosea 10:1; Hosea 13:6. Thus He determined to turn their carnal glory to shame, in retribution for their sins and ingratitude, Psalms 106:20; Jeremiah 2:11; Romans 1:23; Philippians 3:19.

Verse 8 charges that "they", the priests, ate up or lived on the sins of the people, taking their sacrifices and pay without reprimanding them for their sins. The priests became hirelings, taking pay without honorable divine service. They (the priests) "set their heart" or lusted after iniquity, encouraged idolatry for selfish gains. The priests greedily devoured the sin offerings, Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 10:17. The more the people sinned, the more sin offerings the priests would get for their own gain, is the idea of the situation. This is why Divine judgment could not be suspended, 1 Samuel 2:30; Malachi 2:9; Philippians 3:19.

Verse 9 states that there shall exist "like people like priest." In an ungodly situation. Punishment for their course of behavior, and retribution for every sin, is decreed upon priest and layman alike, for their chosen path of idolatrous sins: As they were one in guilt, united in guilt, so should they be united in punishment, as described, Isaiah 24:2; They were to be paid back in their own coin, Proverbs 1:31; 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Verse 10 warns that they shall eat, and not have enough, because their greedy cravings can never be satisfied, Leviticus 26:26; Micah 6:14. They had "left off" keeping or observing God’s law in God’s way, Zechariah 11:11 a. They will commit whoredom, but their wives and concubines will be made barren.

Verse 11 foretells that licentious orgies, connected with Syrian worship, will take away the hearts of priest and people from true worship of God, Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 28:7; Amos 4:1; and men thereby become blind to their own true welfare, Ecclesiastes 7:7. For whoredom and wine tend to total debauchery of body, heart, and soul, Proverbs 20:1.

Verses 12-19

Verses 12-19:

Israel’s Idolatry Enlarged

Verse 12 describes how Israel, the Northern Kingdom had, and were expanding, their idolatrous course by seeking council of wooden gods (stocks). They leaned on a staff of wooden gods, expanding their idolatrous worship, leaving the authority of worship of Jehovah. Their stocks were wooden idols, Jeremiah 2:27; Habakkuk 2:19. Their staff (wooden rods) they had leaned on, and consulted, as a form of divination, Ezekiel 21:21-22. Thus they went further astray (erred) from the true God, Hosea 5:4. Their going a "whoring from under their God", is abhorrently compared with a woman who goes a whoring from under the dominion of and duties to her husband.

Verse 13 recounts the custom of worshipping wooden idols, built on high hills and mountains, thought to be nearer to God and the heavenly hosts they sought to worship, Deuteronomy 12:2. This they did under the shade of oaks, poplars, and elms, to screen their lascivious deeds from the sun, Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 57:5; Isaiah 57:7; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 20:28. As a result of the obstinate lustful will of the parents, and their idolatrous deeds, their daughters and their spouses were to be delivered up to vile affections and deeds, as a punishment for their idolatry, bringing shame upon the whole family name, Amos 7:17; Romans 1:28.

Verse 14 asserts that God will not send the heaviest punishment upon the daughters of Israel and their spouses but upon the fathers and husbands, the elders of the people. Because their fathers had come to the idol altars to be with harlots, not their wives. The young are not to be so much blamed, when their fathers are much worse, as they engage in whoredom with the consecrated harlots available at the altars of Ashtaroth and Astarte, that were prevalent in Syria, Assyria, Phoenecia, Phrygia, and Babylon, Numbers 15:1-3; Deuteronomy 23:18; Isaiah 44:18; Isaiah 45:20.

Verses 15-19 constitute a warning to Judah, the southern kingdom, not to become partakers of Israel’s harlotry, guilt, and offense. Israel is warned not to make pilgrimages to places of idolatrous worship. For Judah had the legal priesthood, the temple rites, and had Jerusalem as her center. Gilgal, a former holy place in the days of Samuel, located between Jericho and the Jordan river, on the border of Samaria, had now become a place of wickedness and graven images from which Judah was to keep himself, Joshua 5:4-7; Joshua 5:10-15; 1 Samuel 10:8; 1 Samuel 15:21; Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11; Amos 5:5; Judges 3:19. They were warned not to go up to Beth-aven "the house of idols" or of vanity, rather than to Bethel "the house of God." To swear is forbidden, in conjunction with calf-worship or idolatry, because such is contemptible to God, Ezekiel 20:39; Zephaniah 1:5.

Verse 16 describes Israel’s continual backsliding or instability that is like a heifer that throws the yoke off her neck, Jeremiah 7:24. She is untamed, undisciplined, disinclined to wear God’s yoke and do His service in truth, 1 Kings 12:28. God will feed Israel like a lamb in a large fenced enclosure. He will feed them with the rod, while at the same time chastening them in their Assyrian exile, Micah 7:14; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 8:5; Zechariah 7:11.

Verse 17 asserts that Ephraim glued to his idols, as an whoremonger in idol worship, is to be left alone to his chosen destiny, here representing the ten northern tribes, Numbers 15:3; 1 Corinthians 6:16-17; let him reap the fruits of his own choice, Jeremiah 7:16; Isaiah 48:20; 2 Corinthians 6:17; Matthew 15:14.

Verse 18 describes their drink as "sour", signifying the degeneracy of licentiousness, Isaiah 1:22. They were like drunks who vomit and smell sour from it, and when their drinking was over they committed whoredoms with Astarte, the idol, or in honor of her, a debauching form of worship, v. 13, 14. The rulers, shields and protectors of the state of Israel, sold justice for shame, winked at moral wickedness, for personal covetous gain, Proverbs 30:15; This was much as Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. There exists no internal remedy for corruption when rulers are bribed, Hebrews 12:16-17; Genesis 25:33.

Verse 19 describes adulterous, idolatrous Israel as one suddenly surrounded, bound up and seized by a violent tempest and carried far away from their land for destruction and shame, Psalms 18:19; Psalms 104:3; Isaiah 57:13; Jeremiah 4:11-12. They shall come to be ashamed of their idols, and disappointed in hope of help through their idols, as a fruit of their willful disregard for the very fundamental A.B.C.’s of their own religious laws, Exodus 20:1-5.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Hosea 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/hosea-4.html. 1985.
 
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