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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 10

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-4


Hosea 10:1. Empty] Luxuriant. Lit. poureth out, emptying itself into leaves; stretching itself far and wide towards foreign alliances (Psalms 80:9; Psalms 80:12); outwardly prosperous, but no ripe grapes, sound fruit to God. Bringeth] Lit. sets or prepares fruit from and to itself. Altars] multiplied as his fruit. The greater prosperity, the greater ingratitude and idolatry.

Hosea 10:2. Divided] by themselves between God and idols (1 Kings 18:21). He] Emphat. Jehovah, not the enemy. Break] Heb. behead—a bold expression. As victims are beheaded, so the horns of the altar shall be broken off (Amos 3:14).

Hosea 10:3. Now] Lit. soon. King] Words of despair. Deprived of a king, or in a state of anarchy: forsaken of God for their sin, what could a king do? To us] Lit. for us (ch. Hosea 13:10)? Whatever we have will not avail, if God help not.

Hosea 10:4. Words] without substance and sincerity, nothing but vain talk (Isaiah 58:13). Falsely] Their covenants lack truth, and easily broken (2 Kings 17:4). Judgment] A good and healthy plant to society, springs up and spreads far and wide, like bitter and poisonous hemlock in the field. They prepared the soil for judgment by cultivating injustice. Perverted justice is like rank poison, injurious to community.



Israel is now accused of fruitlessness and selfishness. God blessed them with abundant prosperity, but it was abused. The increase of their wealth only tended to the increase of sin; the multiplication of images; the spread of deceit and perjury. They were good for nothing, a degenerate vine, luxuriant in leaves, but empty before God (Ezekiel 15:3; Ezekiel 15:5).

I. Outward prosperity used for selfish ends. “He bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” Whatever fruit they had was expended on self. “Life,” says Carlyle, “begins with renunciation.” The worldly man believes that life begins in getting, is enjoyed by keeping, and that he who renounces most will have the least. Men, like Israel, seek refuge from trouble and pleasure in life, by living in a world of their own.

1. Self was considered the source of their prosperity. Man is his own creator and redeemer, self-sufficient and strong, in their estimation. All selfishness is self-assertion, a practical repudiation of our helpless and sinful condition. The gospel alone can break down the rule of self, and bring Christ as the object of love and obedience.

2. Self was considered the end of their prosperity. Israel refused culture. Men are self-willed, live not for God, but for their own lusts and aggrandizement. They detest and will not forgive in others what they indulge in themselves. Grasping in their disposition, using God’s gifts for self, they dedicate wealth and business to self. Everything is expended for gratification, honour, and position. Prosperity is abused, the right of our fellow-men and the claims of God are disregarded. Men deny their stewardship, and retributive justice takes their unlawful gains. “When ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?” (Zechariah 7:6).

II. Outward prosperity used in disregard to God. In living for self they had no regard to the claims of their God. Reason and revelation teach that God should be the supreme object of affection. But selfishness seeks to rival God and alienate our love from him.

1. This disregard springs from divided allegiance. “Their heart is divided.” “They were fearers of the Lord, and they were servers of their gods” (2 Kings 17:32-33). They would give up neither, but tried to worship both. We cannot serve God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24). One object must be supreme in our mind. If we cast off God, then Mammon will govern, in some form, our thoughts, feelings, and purposes. A divided heart is a faulty heart. God will not have part, but the whole service. There must be no halting between God and Baal. Decision must be made now before it be too late. “How long halt ye between two opinions?”

2. This disregard is clothed in the forms of devotion. They had altars and idols, a fair show of profession, and outward forms; but their piety emptied itself in transient feelings and false notions. Like many now who make a fair show in the flesh, but do not produce the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, and peace. “Fruits unto holiness and to God” are acceptable; but fruits unto selfishness are “nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:8). What a mockery to put on the garb of religion, when the heart is divided and alienated from God! Alas! what empty vines in the Christian Church in this very day! Those who seek their own credit or worldly profit in religious duties will be accounted unfaithful branches. But all who abide in Christ, will bring forth fruit to the glory of God and the benefit of men.

3. This disregard is in proportion to their outward prosperity. “According to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.” Enriched by the produce of their land, they made beautiful images, increased their ingratitude and sin. The greater God’s blessings to men, the more they abuse his gifts. The more God lavishes favours upon them, the more determined are they to adore themselves and worship their idols. Flourishing trade begets wealth; wealth begets pride; and pride self-sufficiency. Men grow in sensuality, avarice, and wickedness. Prosperity destroys the piety of some men. The sun shines, dulls and extinguishes the fire. The insidious influence of prosperity may be seen in William, Duke of Normandy, whose bravery and candour gained respect at a distance, but in the possession of power fell into contempt among his friends and subjects. Macaulay gives an instance in the Earl of Tarrington, who rose into a hero in poverty and exile, but sank again into a voluptuary in prosperity. “I was ruined by too easy success in early life,” said some one. “In all time of our wealth, good Lord, deliver us.” “The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”

III. Outward prosperity abused will bring punishment. “He shall break down their altars,” &c.” The sin of Israel became the very means of their punishment. The gold with which they beautified their idols tempted the invader, and involved them in hopeless ruin. Their own idols became their own misery. All who pursue pleasure and ambition, who give themselves to earthly idols, will, through their heartlessness and idolatry, lose both God and their own selves, and become a castaway at last. Kings and princes, creature-comforts and creature-confidences, will not avail, when God is lost. “Because we feared not the Lord, what then should a king do for us?” Every idolized dependence will soon be torn away from those who fear not God. Nothing can help them in their distress. Suffering and remorse, regrets and unavailing self-reproach for ever, will be their portion. “If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?” (2 Kings 6:27).


Hosea 10:1. Vine. The Christian Church is a vine brought out of Egypt, an unfriendly soil, displacing old trees, and planted in its position by God’s hand (Psalms 80:8-11). Hence the parallel between the Church and a vine.

1. Its transplanting from an unfruitful to a fertile soil.
2. Its careful keeping.
3. Its grand design—to bear fruit. Then (a) it is beautiful, (b) useful, (c) acceptable to God. If empty and fruitless, it is just the reverse of all this, entirely worthless. The sap of life, the energies of mind, in some men and in some Churches, spent in ambitious schemes, luxuriant leaves and professions. The grace and gifts of God are received in vain. All things “bloom their hour and fade.”

Nothing but leaves! The Spirit grieves

Over a wasted life;

O’er sins indulged while conscience slept,
O’er vows and promises unkept;

And reaps from years of strife—

Nothing but leaves! nothing but leaves!

Hosea 10:2. A divided heart. I. A fearful disease.

1. It affects a vital part.
2. It affects after the most deadly fashion—a divided heart.

3. It is peculiarly loathsome.
4. It is one difficult to cure. It is chronic, got into the very nature of man.
5. It is a flattering disease. II. Its usual symptoms.

1. One of the most frequent is formality in religious worship.

2. Another, inconsistency.
3. Another, variableness in object.

4. Frivolity in religion is another symptom. III. Its sad effects.

1. A divided heart makes the man himself unhappy.
2. He is useless in the Church. 3. A man dangerous to the world.

4. The most solemn is, reprobate in the sight of God. IV. Its future consequences. Terrible will be the condition of the hypocrite at the judgment-day. He will be separated from the righteous and found among those whom he taught and reproved. If your heart is broken, it differs from a divided heart. There is hope and pardon for you. God can give a new heart [Spurgeon].

1. The sin—a divided heart.
2. The guilt—“found faulty.”
3. The punishment—“he shall break down,” &c. God will convince the most obstinate of their guilt, if not by the word now, by his judgments hereafter. If they do not suppress, but constantly maintain their sins, God will take the work in his own hands, destroy the monuments of idolatry at their own expense. “He shall break down … He shall spoil.”

The state of the heart is the source of the evil. As long as this does not belong to him, so long will men rob him of his own. God will have the heart as his alone, and suffers none to share that possession [Lange].

Hosea 10:3. If men fear not God, but seek to ward off his judgments, by continuing in sin and trusting to kings and great men; their defence will become a snare, and their confidence will be turned into disappointment. Men cannot shelter when God is angry. “What then should a king do for us?” “These are words of despair, not of repentance; of men terrified by the consciousness of guilt, but not coming forth out of its darkness; describing their condition, not confessing the iniquity which brought it on them. Without love the memory of their evil deeds crushes them beyond hope of remedy. They groan for their losses, their sufferings, their fears, but do not repent.”



Their dissimulation of heart was seen in their lives and general conduct. They made no conscience of their duty. There was no dependence upon anything they said or did. The whole nation was corrupt.

I. There was no truth in their words. “They have spoken words.” Mere words, empty vain words, without any truth or substance. Great swelling words, full of noise and profession, to gain their point and bear down the prophets; words foolish as they were bombastic, to veil their deceit and decoy to sin. The mouth should always express the heart. Pythagoras said he would rather his disciples should throw stones at random than utter a false word. “Speak fitly, or be silent wisely,” says Geo. Herbert. “The turn of a sentence,” says Bentham, “has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught that we know, the fate of many a kingdom.” “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

II. There was no sanctity in their oaths. “Swearing falsely.” Whatever be the form of an oath, the signification is the same. We call God to witness, or notice what we say. The offender therefore sins in the presence of God, and in defiance of the sanctions of religion. His sin implies contempt of God’s power and justice, man’s wants and confidence. “Perjury, therefore,” says Paley, “in its general consequence, strikes at the security of reputation, property, and even of life itself. A lie cannot do the same mischief, because the same credit is not given to it.” “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.”

III. There was no faithfulness in their covenants. “Falsely in making a covenant.” In their agreements one with another, in their allegiance to their kings, they could not be depended upon. In treaties with foreign nations they concealed their treacherous intentions, and observed them only so long as they were benefited by them. In covenanting with God they promised to be faithful, yet supported idolatry and rebelled against their lawful sovereign. They uttered and acted lies. No considerations can justify the sacrifice of truth, which ought to be supreme in all the engagements and relations of life. Truth is the very bond of society, without which it will dissolve into anarchy and chaos, or cease to exist. A household cannot be governed by lying and perjury; neither can a nation. Sir Thos. Browne was once asked, “Do the devils lie?” “No,” he answered, “for then even hell could not subsist.”

IV. There was no justice in their judgments. “Thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.” An unjust king sets a bad example to his people. A corrupt court will make a corrupt nation. If the fountain be bitter, the streams cannot be sweet. How sad when judgment is perverted by those who should administer it! when injustice like a bitter plant poisons the life, and spreads in the manners of a nation. If men sow injustice, they will reap a harvest, full and obnoxious, “as hemlock in the furrows of the field.” Penn’s advice to his children was good: “Let justice have its impartial course, and the law free passage. Though to your loss, protect no man against it, for you are not above the law, but the law above you. Live, therefore, the lives yourselves you would have the people live, and then you have right and boldness to punish the transgressor. Use no tricks, fly to no devices to support or cover injustice; but let your hearts be upright before the Lord, trusting in him above the contrivances of men, and none shall be able to hurt or supplant you.” “We will sell justice to none,” is an article in the Magna Charta. Want of up-rightness will overthrow a people, “turn judgment into wormwood” and gall; but “the king by judgment establisheth the land” (Proverbs 29:4; Amos 5:7).


Hosea 10:1. Fruit for self. Selfishness is the universal form of human depravity. Every sin that can be named is only a modification of it. What is avarice, but selfishness grasping, and hoarding? What is prodigality, but selfishness decorating and indulging itself—a man sacrificing to himself as his own God? And what is idolatry, but that God enshrined man, worshipping the reflection of his own image [Harris]?

Hosea 10:2. Divided heart. In matters of great concern and which must be done there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution; to be determined where the case is so plain and the necessity so urgent. To be always intending to lead a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed [Tillotson].

Hosea 10:4. Truthful. Above all things speak the truth in words and actions. Let your word be your bond. Every violation of truth is moral suicide in the liar and a stab at the health of human society. “Truth,” says Jeremy Collier, “is the bond of union and the basis of human happiness. Without this virtue there is no reliance on language, no confidence in friendship, no security in promises and oaths.”

Verses 5-8


Hosea 10:5. People] of the calf and idolatrous priests shall mourn for the golden calf; their glory can neither help itself nor them.

Hosea 10:6. It] Emphat. It itself, as well as Israel, shall be carried into exile.

Hosea 10:7. Sam-] The capital and the kingdom itself destroyed. Foam] A straw or bubble on the water, empty, light, and worthless; others, like a splinter carried away by the current.

Hosea 10:8. Sin] The altars, the buildings connected with image worship. Thorn] The place shall be desolate, wild briars shall grow where the victims were once offered. Altars were graves of idols, and monuments of death. The inhabitants in hopeless despair will pray for swift destruction. Fall] To bury us from impending ruin, to escape more terrible doom. Spoken of Jerusalem (Luke 23:30), and of the judgment day (Revelation 6:16).


God was the true glory of Israel. But they had exchanged God for the golden calves, and turned their glory into shame. A day of visitation was near. Their gods would be taken away and given to others. They would be left in sorrow and shame, in captivity and helplessness. All earthly glory departs from us. God alone abides with us a rock and defence.

I. Earthly glory is unsatisfactory in its nature. “Like foam upon the water.” (a) It is superficial. It is only the outside, the surface of things. It does not belong to the man himself, and does not enter the heart. Honour and applause, position and wealth, obstinately remain outside, and only gild the surface. Like flowers in the icy regions, they may cover the ground, when the soil underneath may be intensely frozen. (b) It is light. Like a straw in the balance of blessings. It stands for nothing in the sight of God and in the estimation of a true man. It may be admired and envied by the vulgar crowd; but it is only “vanity turned into a god.” (c) It is unsatisfactory. What avails the pomp and grandeur of earth? Men have shared all the glory the world can give, and have been willing to resign it for real happiness. Goethe possessed splendid health and power, gained more success and sufficiency than most men, and yet confessed that in the course of his whole life he had not enjoyed five weeks of genuine happiness. The Caliph mentioned by Gibbon, who expended three millions on the palace of Zehra, declared that he had lived 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by subjects, feared by enemies, and respected by all—that riches, honour, power, and pleasure had waited on his call, and that no earthly blessings were wanting to his felicity. But “in this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot—they amount to fourteen.” Such estimates may be exaggerated, but on all earthly glory is written “vanity of vanities.”

II. Earthly glory is uncertain in its tenure. “For the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.” Kings and princes may be dethroned; palaces and high places consumed by fire; children and friends cut off by death; change in condition, disappointment in purpose, failure in life, may eclipse all our glory, and leave us in privation and sorrow, (a) It is hard to secure. What intense anxiety and self-denial, what severe toil and pressure, it costs! If gained at all, it is often at the sacrifice of comfort and life. (b) It is difficult to retain. When we do secure it, how often, how suddenly, does it elude our grasp! It is transitory in its existence, often taken away and given to others, “carried into Assyria for a present to king Jared.” If it does not leave us, we have often to leave it, just when we should enjoy it. Notwithstanding anxiety and effort to get it, elation and pride in possessing it, men must leave their glory. Power and personal attire, rank and riches, must all be left behind. “And where will ye leave your glory?”

III. Earthly glory will leave its devotees in shame. “Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.” This will be the end, the portion of all pursuits apart from God.

1. This shame often reverses the skilful policy of a nation. The special counsel of Israel was that which Jeroboam took, worldly wise, and admirably suited their immediate design. It was artfully devised, long in its existence, and successful in its stroke. The people were separated from Jehovah, and a kingdom founded apart from Judah. But the policy of rulers often becomes their destruction and shame. Success which may uphold a family or a kingdom, ultimately becomes fatal, “o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other side.” “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”

2. This shame often covers all ranks of the nation. (a) Kings are dethroned. “Her king is cut off” (Hosea 10:8). Hoshea seemed in a hopeful way of regaining peace and prosperity. But these promising appearances were like the bubble on the water, they soon vanished and came to nothing. The king was slaughtered. Whatever we set up and adore instead of God may be carried away by the current of affairs and leave us vexed and disappointed. (b) Priests will mourn. “The priests thereof that rejoiced in it.” Their gains and their glory were all taken away with their idolatrous worship. Men who derive credit and emoluments from illicit trades and sinful practices will regret their choice, and turn their joy into shame. (c) The people grieved. “The people thereof shall mourn over it.” They would regret the loss of their idols. They were in “fear” when they saw the judgment of God against them (Exodus 12:12). Their protectors were destroyed and they were undone. Ignorant, deluded people will lament bitterly at the loss of their idols. “You have taken away my gods, and what have I more?”

3. This shame often dishonours the whole land of the nation. (a) Its high places are destroyed (Hosea 10:8). Mountains of defence, palaces of splendour, and shrines of religion, if consecrated to evil, will be levelled to the ground. Whatever place or power creates and upholds idolatry will be destroyed. Houses of iniquity will be thrown down, and one stone shall not be left upon another. (b) Its altars are desecrated. “Thorns and thistles shall come up on their altars.” The fires of idolatry should be extinguished, the altars should be broken and covered with briars. Monuments of wickedness are often the grave-stones of hope and monuments of desolation. Seats of idolatry will defeat the governors, tarnish the glory, and terminate the existence of a nation which rears and relies upon them. “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”


Hosea 10:5.

1. The vanity of idols, when those who worship them cannot depend upon them, but have to be concerned about them in sorrow and affliction.

2. The ignominy of idols, when they turn Bethel into Beth-aven, places of holiness into scenes of degradation.

3. The power of idols, when they corrupt the priesthood and draw away the people.

4. The glory of idols, a borrowed glory, nothing to commend it but novelty and success, will at length vanish away by the judgments of God.

Hosea 10:6. Men cast down by their own counsels.

1. Because actuated by false principles.
2. Because they aim at corrupt ends.

3. Because they disregard God. Plans likely to succeed, hindered and rendered abortive by God’s providence. Pharaoh counselled against Israel to his own destruction. The destruction of the wicked caused by their own sin (Job 18:7). Take counsel from God, and consult his word (Psalms 73:24; Psalms 119:24).

It is one of the saddest ingredients of a conquered people’s affliction when conquerors take occasion to triumph over their religion, because they are subdued [Hutcheson].

Without the grace of God men mourn, not their sins, but their idols [Pusey].

Hosea 10:7. Kings cut off.

1. God’s judgments against human authority.

2. The highest human authority unable to ward off God’s judgments. Men of the greatest weight but vain show (Psalms 62:9). Only like grass (James 4:14), and evanescent as spray on the surface of the sea.

The kingdoms of the earth are like “foam upon the waters.”

1. For their seeming brightness.
2. For their great eminence.
3. For their instability and inability to resist.
4. For their sudden fall and disappearance [Trapp].

Separated from God, all seeming power is weakness, all apparent stability is fluctuating and perishing as the foam. “One moment white, then gone for ever.” Let England beware of all complicity with Romish idolatry, on the false plea of state expediency. For idolatry in any form, whether veneration of images, adoration of the mass, or worship of mammon—another of our national temptations—is sure to make the greatest seeming stability to become frailty and transitoriness itself. The fear of God is the only true basis of solidity and permanence [Fausset].



The high places of Israel were so defenceless, their lot was so severe, and their punishment so great, that they preferred death, entire destruction, to life. Present death would be chosen, rather than future miseries, and the shame that those miseries would bring upon them. Men sometimes prefer death to life.

I. In personal distress. Men in disappointment and fretfulness have wished for death. Impatient of life, they have prayed God to take it away. Elijah (1 Kings 19:4) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) are striking examples. But in poverty and deep affliction it would often be a relief to die. The soldier on the battle-field, wounded and burning with thirst, feels that death would lessen his misery. When victims of painful and incurable disease, and bereft of those we love dearest, life seems to us to have lost everything attractive and desirable. Job cursed the day of his birth, and would rather have been shut up in the womb (Job 3:11; Job 3:20). Bitter sorrows, added to a bitter spirit, make life a torment, not a blessing. Wherefore is life given “unto the bitter in soul?” Take it away, suggests Satan often, it is better to die than live in such circumstances. If life is a grief, better not have been born, or rid yourself of the trouble by suicide, was the doctrine of heathen philosophy. In times of outward trouble and inward conflict God alone can “administer to a mind diseased.” Grace helps a man to live in the greatest privations and to die in the greatest comforts. We are only prepared to die when we are prepared to live. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”

II. In national calamity. Israel’s glory was consumed; her seats of idolatry, Samaria and Bethel, were destroyed, and there was no way to break through the danger nor escape the judgment. They were surrounded by evils worse than death. Annihilation would have been a blessing. Nations are sometimes covered with shame and dishonour. Famine, sword, and pestilence have destroyed their population. Their idolized gods are worthless as refuse in the street; their defenced cities and mighty men are laid in the dust, and the remnant left to misery and despair. The chosen people becomes an “evil family,” and the splendid nation shall be “for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be chosen rather than life, by all the residue of them that remain” (Jeremiah 8:3).

III. At the day of judgment. These words predict the awful misery of some at the great day of accounts. The ungodly will seek annihilation, not from the torment of suffering, but from the wrath of God before whom they stand. Opportunities lost and judgments despised. Life spent and hope for ever gone; despair will seize the soul. There will be no shelter, and prayer will be in vain to the mountains and hills. By the aid of death they cannot escape death (Revelation 6:16). “In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”


Hosea 10:5-7. “Earthly glory is a mere shadow which eludes our effort, or, if caught, shrinks to nothing in the grasp.” It is transitory, a garland which withers on the brow. “Is this all?” cried Cæsar in the midst of all his glory.

Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceases to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.

Hosea 10:8. Impatient of life. A lady once said to Fred. Robertson: “I thought you of all people were like St. Paul, and that you would wish for a heavenlier life as much as he did.” He replied in words as true of others as of himself: “First of all, you thought wrong; next, if I do wish to die, it is when I am in pain, or out of conceit with life, which happens pretty often, but which I do not consider spirituality. It is only an ungracious way of saying, ‘I am dissatisfied with what Thou hast given me, and do not like the duties that are mine at all. I am in pain, and want to be out of pain;’ and I suppose a great many people could say the same piece of sublime discontent” [Silver].

Verses 9-10


Hosea 10:9.] A return to earlier days to prove deeper guilt. Stood] As at the beginning, so now they stand, persisting in their sin. Others, though smitten in Gibeah, yet they avenged the sacred character of God’s law; but now none of the ten tribes took the side of God. The battle shall overtake and utterly destroy them.

Hosea 10:10. Desire] After the manner of men, God longs to punish in severity, to impress the mind. No longer joy over them (Deuteronomy 28:63), but justice without mercy. Bind] Lit. at their binding, i.e. when God would bind them like oxen ploughing side by side. Two] transgressions. Forsaking God, and revolting against the house of David. “The breach of both tables of God’s law, or as Jeremiah 2:13” [Pusey].


In the days of Gibeah, grievous sins were committed and punished. But Israel had not heeded the warning. They had now no zeal for God, nor fear of judgment. They had sinned and continued to sin in imitation of former days. The terrible battle in Gibeah did not overtake some; now not a mere battle, but something far worse shall come upon them. Though God “doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,” yet he longs, has determined to punish, and will gather heathen nations against them in overwhelming numbers. Those who partake in other men’s sins will suffer other men’s punishment.

I. We commit other men’s sins by patronizing their works. The sins of Gibeah, the calves of Jeroboam, were all upheld and patronized by high and low in Israel. Kings and priests not only consented, but contrived to make the people sin. The people approved and carried out the bidding of their superiors. All were guilty. We may be afraid to resist and reprove, but if we silently consent and support evil deeds, we are guilty of partaking in them. Saul did not stone Stephen, but consented, approved of his death, and accused himself of the deed (Acts 22:20). “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins.”

II. We commit other men’s sins by following their example. If you sin because another sins, you are guilty of your own act, and will share in the punishment of their sins. Bad examples are not landmarks to guide, but warnings to caution. Nothing forces you to walk in their steps, for then you would not be responsible and free. Examples draw men, and by imitating them they fall into habitual sin. The eye and the ear are inured. Many have fallen into habits of swearing, drinking, and scoffing by the practice of others. Young men indulge in filthy conversation, because incited by their evil companions. Infidelity is a repetition of the first lie, and imbibed by others from example. By imitating evil examples we establish and perpetuate national sins, influence national opinions and customs, and decide national destiny. “O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah.”

III. We suffer the punishment by committing the sins of others. “The people shall be gathered against them.” Israel could not escape. By their idolatry they had bound themselves in slavery. The Assyrians, with their allies, would gather against them at God’s call. God had determined to punish, and appeared to take pleasure in so doing. In every age, in every Church, those who copy the example and emulate the crimes of antiquity will be bound by their own fetters and delivered into the hands of their enemies. If nations revive in this the sins of a former age, and commit them in succeeding ages, they will fill up the measure of their iniquity. The sins of fathers and predecessors will be visited upon their children.

1. This punishment is determined by God. “It is my desire that I should chastise them.”
2. This punishment will not be avoided by their own defence. They would unite their strength, fix themselves for defence like oxen yoked together in the plough. “As the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.”


Hosea 10:9. From the days, &c. I. Sin aggravated.

1. By continuance from age to age.
2. By neglect of Divine warning. (a) In preserving some, “did not overtake,” (b) in punishing others. Benjamin did not escape. Reduced to six hundred men. II. Sin ripened for punishment.

1. When imitated and propagated by posterity.
2. When provoking God to anger.

Conjunction of strength and forces to uphold sinful courses will not avail any nation against God’s wrath.

Hosea 10:10. God can bring in his armies at his pleasure, for all creatures are at his beck and check. He never need want a weapon to chastise his rebels. All creatures in heaven and earth will present their service. How ready are the Assyrians here to be the rod in his hand [Trapp].

O the venomous nature of sin that maketh the merciful God to desire and to delight in men’s miseries; to take comfort in their punishments (Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 5:15), to laugh at their destruction. And although he bear long with men’s evil manners (Acts 13:18), yet he beareth them as a burden whereof he desireth to be eased (Isaiah 1:24), as a servitude whereof he desireth to be freed [Trapp].


Hosea 10:9-10. Example. For good or evil we act and influence men on earth. This influence will survive and affect others when we are gone. “Oh that my influence could be gathered up and buried with me,” cried a dying man. Men imitate and follow our example, and a bad example, a life of sin, are most pernicious to posterity. “I have thought some of nature’s journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably” [Shakespeare].

Verse 11


Hosea 10:11. Taught] Trained, accustomed to work. Threshing easier than ploughing; an image of freedom and enjoyment (Deuteronomy 25:4; Deuteronomy 32:15), of productive labour and prosperity. Now put under the yoke, and employed in servile work. Ride] Not mounted, but drive in harness.



The metaphors in this and the next verse are taken from husbandry. Israel, like an ox, was trained to tread out corn, and loved this easy luxuriant service. God had forbidden to muzzle the ox (Deuteronomy 25:4). It enjoyed freedom and partook of the results of its labour. Israel served in ease, waxed fat and kicked in prosperity, but refused in adversity. This is typical of many who serve God for selfish ends, who seek to enjoy the pleasures of religion, but refuse its duties. Now this conduct does not commend itself.

I. It is unreasonable. We do not expect wages without work, nor can we reap without sowing. Besides, the joy is in the labour itself. We work with delight when the heart is willing. In all labour performed in a spirit of love there is profit. The service of God is a reasonable, a most delightful service. He is not a taskmaster, for his yoke is easy and his burden light.

II. It is ungrateful.

1. It is not returning according to benefits received. If God has blessed us with gifts and graces, health and strength, should we refuse to thank him? Are we not under deep obligation to make some return?

2. It is manifesting the disobedience of a child. Children are indebted to parents, should be dutiful and obedient. But if after all the care and special training of the child, he is rebellious and selfish, how unkind, how unreasonable! Yet God prospers and blesses men, trains them up in ease and comfort, but they forget and forsake him.

3. It indicates the stubbornness of a beast. A pampered horse kicks and refuses to draw. The wild ass loves to roam in freedom and shuns the yoke. So many love the privileges and cherish not the spirit of the gospel; seek their own ease in Zion, and labour not for the good of others.

III. It is selfish. Religion is not a rapture, but a habit; not a sentiment, but a life. Many nurse their feelings and forget their duties. Like Peter, they would always dwell on the mount, and forsake the market-place and the shop. Instead of living on earth, amid the dangers and trials of service, they seek to rise into ecstasy, and soar into the third heavens. There is nothing honourable or honest in this. It is selfish and crafty to shun our daily duty. We must deny ourselves, count our master worthy of all honour and homage, “that the name of God be not blasphemed.”

IV. It is impossible.

1. It violates the order of nature. Everywhere action and enjoyment go together. The lark sings when it soars aloft on its wings. The child laughs merrily when it plays. The beauty and vigour of the body result from exercise. So the happiness of religion springs from a consciousness of duty done. The sphere of activity is higher than that of passivity. It is more blessed to give than receive, and the highest blessedness consists in the legitimate exercise of the highest powers. This is the law of our being, and makes us like God, who is “blessed for evermore.”

2. It contradicts the will of God. God’s law is the rule of our life and obedience the source of our happiness. God is only pleased with those who love and obey him. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” We must not seek our own will, but follow him who “pleased not himself.” We cannot possess the comforts unless we live the life of the righteous. We cannot eat unless we work. The pleasures of religion must not be separated from the duties of religion. “If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them.”


Spiritual husbandry.

1. Some tread out corn, to provide seed for the fields of labour.

2. Some plough, to prepare the ground to receive it.

3. Others harrow, break the clods to cover the seed when sown. Men are often united, as well as separated, in the work of God. Each a work of his own, yet all cooperate for the general good.

Methods of training men for God’s service.

1. By gentle work, attractive enjoyments, an easy yoke.
2. By harder bondage, if easy labour will not win. When mild measures fail, God often tries harsh measures. Men have to plough, break up clods, if they love the ease and shun the toils of religion.
3. Yet even then God displays mercy, handles them gently, as we put the yoke tenderly on a young untamed animal to inure it to labour. In judgment God remembers mercy. But if the mercy be despised and the work refused, the judgment will be the heavier. God would set a rider in Ephraim to tame and subdue them. “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads.”

The gods are just, and all our pleasant vices
Make instruments to scourge us.


Hosea 10:11. Duty and delight. Those who give to God only the shadow of duty can never expect from him a real reward [Flavel]. Employment is the salt of life. As salt gives relish to food, so employment prevents insipid and unwholesome feelings, and gives pleasure to life. Life is a delight just in the degree that it is consecrated to action.

Life is duty—noblest therefore

He who best that course selects;

Never waiting, asking “wherefore?”

Acting as his heart directs.

Verses 12-13

Hosea 10:12.] A call to repentance. Sowing and reaping = moral conduct In] Lit. for right, which must be the fruit. Reap] in the proportion of mercy, not justice; mercy from God and from man; mercy in both this and the world to come. Fallow] Plough virgin soil, cultivate fresh land (Jeremiah 4:3). New soil required, begin anew. Seek] With anxiety and diligence persevere till you find God. Rain] in copious blessings (Psalms 72:6; Isaiah 45:8). Righteousness] which he will teach you, and generate by the Holy Spirit (Psalms 51:12).

Hosea 10:13.] Another reason for reformation. Ploughed] Been at pains to sow wickedness and reaped the fruit of it. Iniquity] itself is the soil which they cultivated, the seed and the fruit; its own natural reward. Lies] A just reward for their idolatry, the fruit was bitter and unprofitable. Thy way] Perverse way (Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 2:23); they trusted to Egypt and their calves, not to Jehovah.



God calls the people to repentance in figurative language. Sowing and reaping denote spiritual and moral conduct, closely related as labour and reward. Israel are to give up their former habits, begin afresh, and enjoy the blessings promised.

I. A present duty. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness.” All life is a moral sowing and reaping. The works of time are the seeds for eternity. But this sowing must be no surface work.

1. Fallow ground must be broken up. “Break up the fallow ground.” Virgin soil must be ploughed, and life must be entirely new. The sinner must forsake old habits and practices, turn up the weeds and roots of evil within, and be renewed in the spirit of his mind. The heart must be cleansed from lusts and corruption. Old things must pass away, and all things become new. The Christian must break up all formality, and cultivate new ground. He must grow in grace and holiness, forget the things behind, and look forward to those before. The Church must stir up decaying piety and dying members; grow in numbers and in beauty, and by prayer and effort become a fruitful field.

2. Proper seed must be sown. (a) Sow in righteousness. Return to the practice of righteousness and obedience to the law, which is the rule of righteousness. Abound in works of piety as the fruit, the proof of your penitence. Sow to the spirit (Galatians 6:7-8), and not to the flesh. (b) Sow with intelligence. Understand the nature of the work you have to do. Grow in personal acquaintance with God and his word. Abound in wisdom and in knowledge. (c) Sow with diligence. Put forth constant and earnest, not mere occasional, effort. We must plough, sow, and continue to labour, to reap the benefit. “In the morning sow thy seed; and in the evening withhold not thine hand” (Ecclesiastes 11:6). The exercise of charity and penitence must be ever active; not fitful impulse, but daily habits; not confined to outward formalities, but thorough inward feeling. If righteousness be our aim, God will make it our portion. He will not reward with ciphers instead of gold, like the world. “The wicked worketh a deceitful work (which disappoints); but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18).

3. ‘God must be sought. “Seek the Lord.” Husbandmen depend upon God, who gives seed-time and harvest. He should therefore be sought and served. He alone gives strength to secure righteousness, and creates it within the soul by the Holy Spirit (Psalms 51:12). (a) Seek diligently. Do not leave off, nor desist, but persevere until you find him. (b) Seek earnestly. There are difficulties in the way, reluctance and opposition to overcome. Do not rest satisfied without a personal acquaintance, nor stop short of attaining the object. Though not found immediately, “seek the Lord, till he come.”

II. An urgent reason. “For it is time to seek the Lord.” It is always time to seek the Lord. But the unconverted especially are urged to do so.

1. The Scriptures urge them. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, to-day, if ye will hear his voice.”

2. Common observation urges them. Much of their time has been spent in sin and wretchedness. Life is uncertain, and opportunities are few. He that loses time loses wealth, life, and all. “I have lost a day,” cried the ancient Emperor. Time lost can never be regained. “Millions of money for an inch of time,” cried Elizabeth, but her days were spent and could not be recalled. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

3. Past experience urges them. “Ye have plowed wickedness,” &c. The past had been spent in labour and intense thirst for happiness, but they had reaped nothing but sorrow and disappointment. (a) Their efforts were fruitless. They ploughed and sowed, and reaped what they sowed. The harvests of their ill-doings were iniquity and the results of iniquity. The sinner gains nothing with all his toil. He spends his money for that which is not bread, and his labour for that which satisfieth not (Isaiah 55:2). “They that plough iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same.” (b) Their confidence ensnared them. They trusted in their own devices and in the number of their mighty men; but their valiant men were slain, the kingdom came to nought, and their civil and sacred projects were lying vanities. Men’s carnal confidences draw them into sinful courses; whatever fruit they promise, or whatever present comforts they bring, they will end in bitter experience. They are lies, and will deceive. “Ye have eaten the fruit of lies.”

III. A blessed result. “Till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

1. If they seek the Lord he will be found. Those who humbly and earnestly seek God shall not seek in vain. He will “come” to them, annihilating the distance, hastening the meeting, and removing every impediment. “Seek, and ye shall find.”

2. If they sow in righteous works they shallreap in mercy.” Be merciful to men, and they will be merciful to you. Abound in acts of love and piety towards God, and he will return good measure, pressed down and running over. As children of misery, we all need mercy. If we give it, we shall get it both from God and man. Mercy is its own reward. The merciful shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).

3. If they turn from sin, Divine blessings shall be given in rich abundance. “And rain righteousness upon you.” God will work righteousness within us, help us to lead a righteous and holy life, and be faithful in keeping his righteous promise. Blessings, like showers, shall be given, rich in abundance, and refreshing in their consequence. God will come in Christ as the Lord our righteousness, and grant us abundant mercy. “I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessings” (Ezekiel 34:26).


Moral husbandry.

1. Ploughing in penitence or “iniquity.”

2. Sowing “in righteousness” or sin.

3. Reaping “in mercy” or wickedness.

The activity of the wicked. They plough, sow, and harrow mischief to themselves and others. If they would work as hard for heaven as they do for hell they could not lightly miss it.

Seeking the Lord an immediate duty. I. Whom we are to seek. The Lord. This implies—

1. That man is removed from God by sin.
2. That man may get near to God by seeking.
3. That it is his duty to do so. II. How we are to seek the Lord.

1. By repentance.

(1) The heart broken for sin.

(2) The heart broken from sin. Genuine repentance accompanied by reformation of life (Luke 19:8).

2. By faith.

(1) In God (Hebrews 11:6).

(2) In Christ (Acts 20:21). III. When we are to seek the Lord. Now! “It is time.”

1. To some of you these words contain a reproof.

2. For many of you these words contain a warning.

(1) You will never have a better time. Facilities for seeking the Lord decrease with delay.

(2) You may not have another opportunity. Many have waited for the “convenient season,” and been visited with “sudden destruction.”

(3) To all these words contain a welcome. “It is time,” i.e. not too late. You may have long put off, yet just in time—it may be only just [The Study].

The fruit of lies. Sin a lie in its promises, appearance, and results. It looks fair, excites desire, but is rotten, deadly poison within. It lies,

(1) as a fact, and
(2) as a doctrine. “Ye shall not surely die.” “Ye shall be as God,” said the “father of lies” at first. Men have eaten the fruit of lies ever since, which has “brought death and all our woe into the world.”
1. Israel’s history the fruit of lies. They believed not God, rejected good and tasted bitter evil.

2. The world’s history the fruit of lies. The race has eaten the results of sin and deception.

3. The sinner’s history the fruit of lies. What is pleasure, gaiety, and the world but lies? Men are daily fed by lies. “Every sin is a lie,” says Augustine. Its fruit will neither profit nor satisfy. It is not only empty but mischievous (Isaiah 44:20; Isaiah 59:4-5).

Rain righteousness. The liberality of Divine gifts. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, lit. a rain of liberalities (Psalms 68:9). Goodness free and full provided for his people.

1. God the source until “he come.”

2. Blessings plenteous “rain.”
3. The Church revived. Or, I. God’s mercy compared to a shower.
1. Direct from above, not through human mediums.
2. Given in freeness.
3. No substitute for it. II. This mercy is promised
(1) To those who repent and return to him.
(2) To those who pray and long for it. III. This shower of mercy is wanted now, to convert the sinner and confirm the Church. Seek it in time and we shall not fail.


Hosea 10:12-13. Time. A dying nobleman in a letter to a profligate companion confessed, “I never awaked till now. I have pursued shadows, and entertained myself with dreams. I have been treasuring up dust and sporting myself with the wind. I look back upon my past life, and, but for memorials of infamy and guilt, it is all a blank, a perfect vacancy. Oh, my friend, with what horror I recall those hours of vanity we have wasted together. Let me dwell with hermits, let me rest on the cold earth, may I but once more stand a candidate for an immortal crown, and have my probation for celestial happiness.”

Then time turns torment, when man turns a fool. [Young.]

Verses 14-15


Hosea 10:14. Tumult] War (Amos 2:2). People] Lit. peoples, “not, as God willed them to be, one people, for they had no principle of oneness or stability, who had no legitimate succession, either of kings or of priests” [Pusey]. Against all Israel and the tribes connected with her should tumultuous war arise. Shal-] Shalmanezer king of Assyria. The mother] and children, inhuman cruelty, commonly practised (2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16; Psalms 137:8).

Hosea 10:15. Bethel] The seat of idolatry prepares this destruction for the people. Wick-] Lit. the evil of your evil. “Wickedness in its second potency, extreme wickedness” [Keil]. Morning] In the hope from alliance with Egypt against Assyria, when prosperity was expected to dawn; or suddenly and surely shall the kingdom be utterly cut off.


THE EVIL OF EVILS.—Hosea 10:14-15

Therefore, such the fruit of departing from God, and trusting in idols and mighty men. Tumults from within would prepare the nation for invasion without. The king would be cut off and the kingdom destroyed by a sudden stroke. Idolatry and the corruption of pure religion will bring judgment upon the Church. Sin is the evil of evils, the source of all sorrows.

I. It creates national wars. Nations get angry and disagree. High attitudes and great tones are assumed, and war must support the dignity and maintain the interests of the throne. Insults to flags and ambassadors, petty offences to rulers, the policy of cabinets and the intrigue of courts, have been motives to war.

1. We have aggressive war. Nations are not satisfied with their natural boundaries; for gain and self-aggrandizement they must invade the territories of others. Ambition, passion for empire and glory, desire for vengeance and plunder, lead them to unjust and unnatural aggression.

2. We have civil war. “Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people.” Nations, one in language and interests, are divided by enmity and tumult. In Israel there was no central principle, no oneness nor stability. Confused noise and war sprang from the midst of their own ranks (Amos 2:2). There were peoples, not, as God willed them to be, one, but many. Foreign wars are dreadful enough, but civil wars are fratricidal and abominably wicked. France, England, and America have been rent asunder by civil discord, and bled to the core through the evil of evils.

II. It creates social revolutions.

1. Kings are dethroned. “The king of Israel shall utterly be cut off.” Israel, like the dislocated state of Rome under the first emperors, was distracted by anarchy and usurpation. There was no legitimate succession of kings or priests, for they made both, but not through God. “Each successor had the same right as his predecessor, the right of might, and furnished an example and precedent and sanction to the murder of himself or of his son.” Monarchs are exalted and dethroned by political factions and civil broils. They rise suddenly from the ranks, crown themselves with honour, and are “cut off” in their projects. Sin creates wars which mingle royal blood with common gore, and starts revolutions which sweep monarchies and republics to destruction, like chaff before the storm.

2. Subjects are enslaved. Obedience to arbitrary power begets servility and slavery. Subsidies have been given for the loan or purchase of armies. Men have been hired to slaughter their fellow-men! The people have been reduced to bondage, intellectual, political, and moral degradation. Taxes, laws, and princes have fettered their freedom. Immorality and crime have undermined the health, and polluted the character of the people. The rule of the oppressor “is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food” in fertile districts (Proverbs 28:3).

III. It leads to cruel deeds. In the wickedness of Israel there was an essence of wickedness, malice within malice. This brought—

1. The devastation of land. The day of battle spoiled all the fortresses of Israel. Their strongholds were taken by the enemy, and their fair cities levelled to the ground. Their land was swept by foreign invasion and domestic strife, filled with violence, and “wasting and destruction within their borders” (Isaiah 60:18).

2. The murder of its inhabitants. With inhuman cruelty “the mother was dashed to pieces upon her children.” Neither sex nor age are spared by barbarity. Men like Herod have been ferocious as brutes. Nations ancient and modern have stained their names with crimes dark as hell. “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Such are some of the ravages produced by sin. Wars which ravaged fields and sacked cities; kings dethroned and palaces plundered; people enslaved and virtue violated; families murdered and hearts broken in agony and despair; crimes arresting the pursuits of commerce and arts, extinguishing the lights of science and religion, and filling kingdoms with pestilence and murder. These and a thousand other evils spring directly or indirectly from the evil of all evils. “That sin might appear exceeding sinful.”


Hosea 10:14-15. The evil of sin. It debases body, mind, and soul, robs of domestic peace and enjoyment, and spreads contagion all around. It is rebellion against God and injurious to man. Once all the evil in the world was comprehended in one sinful thought, but now its results are a horrid progeny of evils. Ambition. If kings would only determine not to extend their dominions until they had filled them with happiness, they would find the smallest territories too large, and the longest life too short, for the full accomplishment of so grand and noble an ambition [Colton].

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Hosea 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/hosea-10.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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