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Hosea 7:1.] Exposure of wickedness continued. Healed] politically and morally. The danger of a wound only discovered when probed and healing attempted. Spoileth] Heb. strippeth off a garment: plunder extensive and without resistance. Falsehood] Deception toward God and man. “Falsehood was the whole habit and tissue of their lives” [Pusey].
Hosea 7:2. Consider] Lit. say not to themselves in serious reflection. Rem.] Notice and punish (Deuteronomy 32:34; Psalms 90:8). Beset] as fetters and witnesses against them (Psalms 9:16; Proverbs 5:22).
Hosea 7:3. Lies] People conformed to wicked laws and seductive rites of kings and princes; flattered and pleased them with applause and immoralities (Acts 12:13).
A SAD DISCOVERY.—Hosea 7:1
The exposure of moral depravity is continued. The efforts of God to heal are frustrated by the disease. Greater iniquity is discovered. The grace of God is turned into lasciviousness.
I. A disease malignant in its working.
1. It was secretly hidden. It broke out in one place when the physician was curing another. “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered.” Sin is never hid from God. It lies concealed in the heart of man, and only waits for a chance to break out in acts. “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.”
2. It was openly violent. The thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without. They were infested with thieves within and spoiled by foreign invaders from without. Wounded afresh day by day. No place was secure and free from sin. Secret sins indulged in become stronger and more violent in their manifestations. Spots break out in the character and errors in the life, like some malignant humour in the body. The body is robbed of its beauty, the mind of its vigour, and the life spoiled in its influence and end.
II. A disease complicated in its symptoms. Within and without, politically and religiously, the disease was spreading.
1. There was falsehood toward God. “For they commit falsehood.” Falsehood in their worship and profession, in their principles and practices. They said they were willing to be healed and to be ruled by God: “nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.”
2. There was treachery toward man. Take away the fear of God and there will be no regard to man. “He cannot be faithful to me who is unfaithful to God,” said the father of Constantine the Great. Religion is the basis and cement of society. If we throw off fidelity to truth and God, what is there to bridle passion and check corruption? Treachery destroys all principles of confidence and security by which society is bound together. The Romans even disdained to practise it towards their enemies. How disgraceful for a Christian people to be guilty of it. “Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?”
III. A disease incurable in its nature. “When I would have healed”—by the teachings of the prophets and the chastisements of Providence—“they would not hearken nor be amended.” The disease defied all remedy, was more irritated by it and laid open in its extent and malignity. Many distempered churches and afflicted nations neglect the hopeful crisis, then go from bad to worse, and never get cured. Their wickedness is incorrigible and their disease incurable. When once inwardly rotten and corrupt, the foulness will break out and be externally visible. No earthly physician can sew up or heal the wound. Death in the body can never be cured. There is no death so sad and momentous in its results as the death of things which die within. “The greatest epoch in a man’s life is by no means the day of his physical death, but the day in which he died to something more important to him than the whole world.” “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed; forsake her.”
DIVINE REMEMBRANCE OF SIN.—Hosea 7:2-3
God saw the wickedness of Israel. All things are naked and opened before him. The manifold and intricate ways of sin, with their surroundings and consequences, are known to him. “They are before my face.”
I. God remembers the sins of men. “I remembered all their wickedness.” These words are full of awful truth, confirmed by Scripture and every-day experience. God is omnipresent; beholds us everywhere; and we can never sin with security. If I wished to escape inspection, “whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” God is omniscient, having infinite and intimate knowledge of the affairs of men. He needs no light to discern sin, but the light of his countenance. Our open transgressions and secret sins are before his face. “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” But this knowledge is remembrance. Not that God ever forgets. Though punishment does not always immediately follow transgression, yet the sin itself is not forgotten or buried in oblivion. God sees and knows it. Men may wink at sin and forget it, but God never does. God’s remembrance is—
1. Minute,—even the most secret things are known to him.
2. Constant,—“remember” continually.
3. Individual,—“their wickedness.”
4. Universal,—“all their wickedness.”
III. Men think that God is indifferent to their sins. “They consider not in their hearts.” They forget God, and think that God forgets them. “They say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.”
1. Men forget God in their thoughts. “They consider not.” If they acknowledge him in words, they do not wish to have him near to them. They do not speak to their own hearts, nor listen to the voice of conscience within. The young and old, the rich and poor, the gay and busy, shun acquaintance with him—put him in the background of life, and curtain him out of sight lest he should trouble them. They desire not the knowledge of his ways, wish to remain ignorant, and say, “Depart from us.” A French philosopher even declared, “that the first duty of an intelligent and free man is to chase incessantly from the mind and conscience the idea of God.” Practical atheism abounds now in the world. Men abandon faith in the unseen and spiritual, and virtually say, No God. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God, God is not in all his thoughts.”
2. Men disregard God in their ways. If God is not in our thoughts he will not be in our ways. Conduct results from thoughts, as fruit from a tree. Thought may not always be embodied in deed; may inadequately be represented by a man’s life; but the connection of one with the other is like cause and effect. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” “There are many devices in a man’s heart” which lead him to act independently and forgetfully of God. Scientific men talk of “generative powers,” “vital energies,” and “eternal laws.” We have the designs of Balak and Balaam, of Haman and Herod. Men take no account of God in their daily duties and avocations, their plans and pursuits. Self is their oracle. and self their counsellor, “for they have perverted their way and forgotten the Lord their God.”
III. When men disregard God in their ways, they become more wicked in their lives. Due regard to God is essential to the order and harmony of society. What a desolation would happen to a world without the knowledge of God! The French Revolution is a lesson to all nations in this respect. The results of idolatry have been sad in the extreme. Even among the chosen people, amid light and privileges, when God was forsaken, every barrier was removed. Falsehood and injustice, cruelty and sensuality, increased more and more. They gave full play to passions and lusts; perpetrated sins without fear or shame; and indulged in unbridled folly. Two things are specially pointed out.
1. The highest ranks were corrupted. “They made the king glad with their wickedness.” Those who should have been models of truth and virtue, encouraged the people to sin by their example and influence. Their unjust laws and customs were eagerly obeyed; they were pleased with the flattery, made glad with the homage of the people. In pomp and unbounded arrogance they proceeded further in sins, like Herod; and not only did the same, but had pleasure in them that did them.
2. The lowest ranks were servile. “And the princes with their lies.” An unhappy complaisance was the ruling character of Israel. Their consciences were versatile and accommodating to the circumstances of the day. They approved and followed whatever was commanded by those in power; acquiesced in legalized idolatry, and preferred their kings to their God. They pleased the king, but they were not sincere. They flattered the prince, but they lied in their hearts. They conformed to the customs, but cursed the persons of their rulers. Even now, men bow in homage to those who crush them to poverty; lose their manhood by worshipping the rich and the mighty. “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Wicked sovereigns and wicked people are a curse to each other. When kings and princes are corrupted the people will be corrupted. Ahab preferred falsehood to truth, and was surrounded by lying prophets. “Lies will be told to those that are ready to hearken to them.” The sinful ruler is a tool for all kinds of wickedness. He drives the godly from his presence, and ever finds those that minister to his folly. “If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked” (Proverbs 29:12).
ENCIRCLED IN SIN.—Hosea 7:2
If the sinner pays no regard to reason and the All-seeing eye of God, he cannot hide his sins. They will chain and imprison him, go with him and encircle him at all times. His sins become a constant torment and a deadly punishment. “Now their own doings have beset them about.” The sinner is beset—
I. By the sting of conscience. He seeks to hide his sins, but conscience detects them, brings them to remembrance, and accuses him of guilt. The consciousness of sin haunts him continually, and his sin is ever before him.
II. By the force of habit. Sin by repetition grows into habit. Habit becomes a ruling power, and cannot be given up easily. “A rooted habit,” says Tillotson, “becomes a governing principle. Every lust we entertain deals with us as Delilah did with Samson; not only robs us of our strength, but leaves us fast bound.”
III. By the influence of example. The doings of men live before them in their effects upon others. They cannot die, but they encircle them in the bands of associates and companions. Example is repeated and imitated by others; goes forth with self-propagating power, and may descend from one generation to another. “The evil that men do lives after them.”
IV. By the consequences of natural law. Punishment follows sin by a natural law, the law of causation. Even now men are encircled by their own doings, in loss of health and position; in decay of intellect and disorders of mind; in the torments of conscience and the tyranny of habit; in misery, despair, and death. In the future, punishment awaits the sinner. “Is not this laid up in store with me and sealed up among my treasures? “Unless repented of, and washed in the blood of Christ, sins are destined to be cited against the sinner. In time and eternity “his own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:1. If we had eyes like those of God, we should think very differently of ourselves. The transgressions which we see and confess are but like the farmer’s small sample which he brings to market, when he has left his granary full at home. We have but a few sins which we can observe and detect, compared with those which are hidden from ourselves and unseen by our fellow-creatures [Spurgeon].
Hosea 7:2. Habits. As impossible as it is for a blackamoor to cast away his skin and to become white, and for a leopard to put away his spots; so impossible is it for them that ensnare themselves, and accustom themselves with evil doing, to change their custom and do well [Cawdry].
Hosea 7:4. Oven] “In this passionate career the nation resembled a furnace which a baker heats in the evening and leaves burning all night while the dough is leavening, and then causes to burn with a still brighter flame in the morning when the dough is ready for baking” [Keil].
Hosea 7:5. Day] Birth or coronation day, probably a feast day. Bottles] Lit. with heat through wine; bottles, not glasses, drunkenness, excess, and debauchery. Hand] In token of fellowship, health-drinking. Scorners] Ridicule of sacred things, derision of God, natural at intoxicating feasts (Daniel 5:3-4).
Hosea 7:6. Ready] Lit. applied (marg. brought near) their heart to sin. For] The reason for the open sin; their heart is ready, and only waiting for the spark to kindle it.
Hosea 7:7. Devoured] Results of their conduct stated. Judges and kings, inflamed by the passion, here consumed and fell into the abyss, the six last kings in succession (2 Kings 15:10; 2 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:25), B. C. 772. None sought help from God in national calamity.
SIN A FURNACE OF FIRE—Hosea 7:4-7
The passion of Israel for idolatry is likened to a furnace, heated by the baker, and left burning during the process of fermentation. There is little or no cessation to their indulgence. All are guilty, and fan the flames which consume them without reflection and return to God. Keeping up the figure, sin is like a furnace,
I. In the method by which it is kindled. Man is capable of warmth and enthusiasm. We are made for fervour. We feel the glow of friendship and the power of principles fondly cherished and firmly defended. We have properties not simply attributed to matter, but possessed by the Seraphim of heaven and attributed to God himself. “The zeal of the Lord of Hosts.” We are more influenced by evil than good. The heart, with its affections, is kindled into a passion; the temperament warmed, and men are “set on fire” with lust, and “set on fire of hell.” Like “an oven heated by the baker,” they burn with hatred, envy, and adultery; “burned in their lusts one toward another.” In whatever light we look at sin “it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase” (Job 31:12).
II. In the fuel by which it is fed. The same material that kindles must keep alive the fire. It is heated and fed by lust; by constant and unnatural excitement. Respites only ferment; the flames slumber to break out into greater fury. Anger, ambition, and filthy lusts fill the soul, and the fire burns upon the altar and never goes out. Certain sins are mentioned in the text.
1. Prevalent adultery. They are all adulterers. “Given up to vile affections, and punished with impurities of heart and life.” “It is better to marry than burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9).
2. Excessive drink. The princes made the king “sick,” heated him “with bottles of wine.” Intemperance in any is degrading, but especially in men of place and power. Priest and prophet “err through strong drink” (Isaiah 28:7; Isaiah 56:11-12). The glory of Benhadad (1 Kings 20:16), of Belshazzar, and of “the princes of Israel,” was covered with shame. Philip of Macedon, when drunk, unjustly condemned a woman. She boldly said, “I appeal to Philip; but it shall be when he is sober.” Roused by the appeal, the king examined the case, and reversed his judgment. “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4-5).
3. Impious scorning. “He stretched out his hand” in friendship, and associated “with scorners.” The king jested with drunkards, praised idols, and scoffed at God. Atheists and scoffers, wine and mirth, are often found together. “Hypocritical mockers at feasts” give license to their tongue, and lose control over their conduct. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
III. In the results which it produces. These are innumerable. The temptations to criminality are fearful. Every kind of “wickedness burneth as the fire” (Isaiah 9:18). “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals and his feet not be burned?”
1. It influences the heart. “For they have made ready their heart.” It hardens and encrusts it; disposes it to prepare, practise, and perfect evil. The heart is brought nigh, stirred up to sin, though the occasion for it be taken away. This oven, once heated, gives no breathing time, no real rest. Corrupt passions burn with intense heat, until extinguished and overcome by the grace of God.
2. It consumes its abettors. The fire “devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen.” Jeroboam and other kings corrupted the people to establish their own authority; were flattered and slain by those who flattered them. Their sins returned to their own bosom. The flames, like the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar, devoured those who were thrown into them and those who kindled them. It is ever thus with sin. The heathens taught that “the artificers of death perished by their own art.” “Kindle not the coals of a sinner, lest thou be burnt with the flame of his fire” (Sir. 8:10).
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Hosea 7:5. The day of our king. Birthdays and coronation-days of rulers; national fasts and feasts spent in drunkenness and rioting—scenes of revelry, scenes of debauchery, scoffing, and murder. Drinking healths and taking lives! Kings falling in feasting and mirth! What a portrait history gives of human folly and God’s providence! “Their holy days, like those of so many English now, were days of excess. Their festival they turned into an irreligious and anti-religious carousal; making themselves like the brutes that perish, and tempting their king first to forget his royal dignity, and then to blaspheme the majesty of God” [Pusey].
Drink, debauchery, and scoffing a triple association in feasting without God. “Fools make a mock at sin.”
Hosea 7:6. Their heart like an oven. Men who are wicked and vile may seem to be lying by and doing nothing, yet—
1. Their hearts are bent on their course; their oven is heating while they sleep.
2. Their designs are still going on; the heat is tending to burning as a flaming fire while the baker sleeps.
3. Iniquity that is hatched, through abundance of lust, is most violently executed, when opportunity offers; and the more violently that it hath been long delayed [Hutcheson].
Hosea 7:7. Kings are fallen. Those who murdered others are murdered themselves. Plots of sin recoil on those who originate them.
None that calleth on me. God can correct the evils and subdue the sedition of a nation. But mark the stupidity and perversity of sin which make people insensible in danger and neglect God in trouble. Not even distress, in which generally men betake themselves to God, awakened any sense of sin in them. “Those are not only heated with sin, but hardened in sin, that continued to live without prayers, even when they are in trouble and distress.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:4-7. Fire. Some few years ago a noble steamer moored in one of the harbours of the United States was discovered to be on fire. The engines were instantly started, and the prow of the vessel directed to the shore. But the flames soon rendered the helm useless, and such of the crew as were on board were obliged to jump into the small boat, and leave the steamer to her fate. Soon the engines worked more fiercely; the wheels revolved with fearful speed and hurried the vessel through the water. The sight was terrible. At last came one tremendous shock, and all was darkness and ruin. Such is man, when seized and heated by an evil passion, whether the spirit of pride or of envy. He grows worse and worse, and is consumed in eternal ruin, unless God interpose.
Hosea 7:5. Feasting. Times of festivity require a double guard. “Blasphemy is wit, and ribaldry eloquence, to a man that is turned into a brute” [Lawson].
Hosea 7:8. Mixed] by leagues and adoption of idolatrous customs. The Heb. indicates a mixing which disorders and involves confusion. A cake] burned at the bottom and sad at the top,—an image of worthlessness. One side scorched and black, the other unbaked and doughy; the whole spoiled and only fit to cast away.
Hosea 7:9. Gray hairs] Symptoms of age and declining strength. “Thy gray hairs are thy passing bell” [Pusey]. Wisdom is not always found with age (Job 32:7; Proverbs 23:35). Israel indifferent, though ripe for destruction.
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH ENDANGERED AND INJURED BY WORLDLY ASSOCIATION.—Hosea 7:8-9
From the internal corruption, the prophet passes on to the foreign policy of Israel, and unfolds its disastrous effects. God separated the nation to be his peculiar people; to train them up in virtue; and make them a blessing to the world. But they mixed themselves with other nations in social customs and political leagues. In the application of these words learn—
I. That the Christian Church is in danger of unlawful association with the world. “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people.” We are not to shut ourselves out from all intercourse and innocent association with the world. Family ties, business and spiritual engagements, bind us to it. But we must not “be conformed to this world,” in its evil customs and pursuits, its principles and spirit. We have no need to go out of the world literally; but keep ourselves from its evil; separate ourselves from its frivolities, and be Christians entirely.
1. The Christian Church is endangered by outward proximity to the world. The world is near, present with us, and appeals to our senses. It influences more than things spiritual and unseen. Its wondrous forms and fair pretences gradually get hold upon and eventually overcome the careless professor. Demas-like, he forsakes God, having loved this present world. Its pursuits and demands engross our attention. Before we are aware we are brought under its spell; walking according to rules, and governed by “the prince of this world.”
2. The Christian Church is endangered by the inward tendency to love the world. There are snares and dangers within us, from natural cravings and corrupt desires. We are fond of its company and eager for its rewards. Its attractions are strong, because resistance is weak; its trifles realities, because we prefer toys to eternal treasures. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”
II. The Christian Church is injured by association with the world. Contact with it wears away seriousness of mind, indisposes for religious duties, neutralizes religious influence, and expels religious sentiment. Professors who needlessly mix up with sinful practices and company are sure to suffer in their character and condition. The text specifies—
1. Moral deterioration. “Ephraim is a cake not turned.” They had been mixed up and steeped with heathen idolatries and vices, and had become worthless. The fire of Divine judgment made only an outward impression upon them, and they were more hopelessly spoiled by their conduct. Burned on one side and dough on the other, perfectly useless. Many Christians now are utterly worthless in their lives and examples. Many societies have lost their prominence and savour; sunk into degradation, and do not answer the end for which they were created. Inward corruption will never overcome outward temptation. If individuals, churches, and nations do not contain power to prevent deterioration and impart life, they will become morally insipid, and fit for nothing but the fate which history and Scripture declare awaits them.
2. Social injury. “Strangers have devoured his strength.” Foreign powers, Assyria and Egypt, whose aid Israel had invoked, robbed them of money, wasted their treasures, and diminished their numbers. Like Samson, bereft of his strength by sensual pleasure, Israel was stripped of social privilege and power. Sad to think of many socially and individually ruined by unlawful connections and sinful lusts: Intellect and memory, dignity and manhood: the health of the body and the happiness of the soul “devoured” by strangers to God and his people! “Evil communications corrupt good manners.”
3. Unnatural decay. “Gray hairs are here and there upon him.” Loss of inward strength and outward beauty will soon bring age and decay. “Men get old before they are young.” A general laxity of morals may sap and undermine our commerce. The body politic may be covered with marks of hoary age and ripening for destruction. Christian churches may decay through discord, worldliness, and pride. Families and individuals may fall by sin and die while young. Gray hairs are forerunners and forewarners of death.
4. Religious insensibility. “Yet he knoweth it not.” To be insensible of disease and decay is the worst symptom of all. Men hide from themselve tokens of death, and it comes upon them unawares. They think that outward forms, orthodox creeds, and the course of time will recover their strength. They are insensible and stupefied in sin, and sleep quietly amid dangers and death. “They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick: they have beaten me, and I felt it not; when shall I awake?” (Proverbs 23:35; Isaiah 42:25.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Hosea 7:8. A cake not turned. Soft and pliable under Divine chastisement, hardened and cold in sin—half-heartedness, half-baked and half-burned, displeasing to God—hypocrisy, hot in forms, dead in spirit, rejected by God. “Such were the people; such are too many so-called Christians; they united in themselves hypocrisy and ungodliness, outward performance and inward lukewarmness; the one overdone, but without any wholesome effect on the other. The one was scorched and black; the other, steamed, damp, and lukewarm; the whole worthless, spoiled irremediably, fit only to be cast away.” “Thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Hosea 7:9. Gray hairs. I. Gray hairs are a sign of decay. God for wise purposes gives distinctive features to human life. Nature teaches us to reverence age in the pages of an old book; in the leafless branches of an old tree; in the silent, deserted halls of an old roofless ruin; still more in one whose head is white with the snows of fourscore or a hundred winters. Gray hairs are associated with—
(1) Parental honours,
(2) the ripe wisdom of age, and
(3) the piety of venerable men. II. But in the text they are signs of decay, premonitory symptoms of dissolution: and teach that men live in ignorance and act in disregard of signs that should warn and alarm them.
1. This appears in the history of States. In the kingdom of Israel, in England, illegitimacy, drunkenness, continental morality, Sabbath-breaking, and irreligious customs are signs of national decay; which, but for thousands of good and earnest men, who know it, would bring death upon us.
2. This applies to the false security of sinners.
3. This appears in men’s insensibility to the lapse and lessons of time [From Dr. Guthrie].
I. Explain the ignorance here mentioned, or show how it is that many a man is backsliding and declining in grace, and yet knows it not. This is often caused by a want of acquaintance with one’s own soul. Some there are who do not want to know any evil thing of themselves. Many see not the gray hairs because they do not look into the glass to see them. There are some who look into the glass to see whether there are gray hairs coming, but they use a false mirror, one which does not truly reflect the image. II. I am to hold up the looking-glass. One of the gray hairs which marks decay is a want of holy grief for daily sin. A second gray hair is the absence of lamentation in the soul when Jesus Christ is dishonoured. A third gray hair in the Christian, a very plain one, and marking that the disease is gone far, is the indulgence of certain minor sins. Covetousness is a very common gray hair upon the heads of professors. With some it is not quite covetousness, but worldliness. Another gray hair is pride. Neglect of prayer another. It is a gray hair when we have no delight in listening to the word. And another is, want of love to God. Want of love to perishing sinners is a sad gray hair to be found, I fear, in some ministers, as well as in the people. Another is the suspension of communion with God. III. Recommend certain remedies for this decay. Inquire whether you be a child of God or not. Next remember what will be the result of decays in grace. I recommend to every believer a daily self-examination. Then with repentance join much supplication and renewed faith and daily watchful activity [Spurgeon].
Hosea 7:10. Pride prevented humility and confession.
2. Return to God, who had afflicted them.
3. Testified against them in their stupidity and rebellion against God. “Men complain of their ‘fortune,’ or ‘fate,’ or ‘stars,’ and go on the more obstinately to build up what God destroys, to prop up by human means or human aid what, by God’s providence, is failing; they venture more desperately, in order to recover past losses, until the crash at last becomes hopeless and final” [Pusey].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:8. The World and The Church. Companions may be compared to the river Thames, which is a sweet and pretty river enough near its source; but in the great metropolis it has kept company with drains and sewers, under the belief that its current was too powerful and pure to be injured by them. It was meant that the river should purify the sewer, but, instead of that, the sewer has corrupted the river [Union Magazine].
Hosea 7:10. Pride is observed to defeat its own ends, by bringing the man who seeks esteem and reverence into contempt [Bolingbroke].
“Pride hath no other glass
To show itself, but pride; for supple knees
Feed arrogance, and are the proud man’s fees,” Shakspeare.
Hosea 7:11. Dove] A type of simplicity (Matthew 10:16). Silly] Simplicity. Without heart] Lit, without understanding, easily taken in the net (Ezekiel 12:13).
Hosea 7:12. Congregation] i.e. the threatenings of the law read to them by teachers in assemblies (Leviticus 26:14; Deuteronomy 28:15).
Hosea 7:13. Fled] As birds from their nests (Proverbs 27:8; Isaiah 16:2). Redeemed] from Egyp first, and constantly afterwards, “habitual, oft-renewed deliverance.” I and they both emphatic. I redeemed, they lied. God’s mercy overflowed man’s ingratitude.
THE SILLINESS OF THE SINNER.—Hosea 7:11-13
Ephraim was stricken and afflicted, stupefied and insensible, because without heart or understanding they revolted against their best interests. Like a silly dove, simple, and liable to be befooled (Job 31:27); easily seduced, and trusting to its rapidity of flight instead of taking the nearest shelter. Israel negotiated with others, depended not upon God, and was caught in the net. Looking at sin generally—
I. The sinner is silly in boasting of knowledge without wisdom. There is a great difference between knowledge and wisdom. The knowledge of this world and the wisdom from above are not always found together. The world may consider men wise and cunning, but a wicked man is not a wise man. Sin is folly, and folly denotes insipidity, which is opposed to wisdom derived from tasting or experience. There is no true knowledge without godliness. There may be intellect and useful learning, but men are brutish and foolish through sin. “The ox knoweth his owner,”—we know not our owner,—“and the ass his master’s crib;” but we are insensible of our dependence upon God; “do not know” nor consider. We “lack wisdom.” Some are totally ignorant. Others, gifted with genius and erudition, “think highly of themselves.” All are liable to be duped by their own fancy or snared by their own understanding. “A head full of vain and unprofitable notions, meeting with a heart full of pride and self-conceit, disposes a man directly to be an atheist,” says Philip Henry. Men are silly for boasting of knowledge, and ensnared by leaning to their counsels. “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom: and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
II. The sinner is silly in depending upon human and forsaking Divine aid. “They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.”
1. They called not upon God, who could help them as he had done in the past.
2. They called to Egypt, delusive in promising and disappointing in execution.
3. They go to Assyria, a powerful oppressor; sought each by turns to help against the other. Thus men, troubled and oppressed, seek relief from one thing and then another, only to display their folly and bring on their ruin. “What else is almost the whole history of Christian states?” asks a writer. “The ‘balance of power,’ which has been the pride of the later policy of Europe, which has been idolized as a god, to which statesmen have looked as a deliverance out of all their troubles; as if it were a sort of Divine Providence, regulating the affairs of men, and dispensing with the interference of God; what is it but the self-same wisdom which balanced Egypt against Assyria?” Men flee like a bird from their nest and security (Hosea 7:13), only to be caught in the net of “destruction.”
III. The sinner is silly in not discovering his danger. The dove has neither courage to stay in its resting-place when frightened, nor sense to discern its peril when it flies away. Instead of remaining in protection it flies away and is caught in the net. So men in sin rush from God into risks, seek no place of safety, and have no sense of loss. As “the ox goeth to the slaughter,” unconscious of its fate, and dreaming of pasture; “as a fool to the correction of the stocks,” careless and unfeeling; “as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life,” so blindfolded and silly men go to their fall. They soar upward, “as the fowls of heaven,” in freedom, independence, and pride, but the net is “spread upon them.” They are humiliated and overwhelmed.
1. The danger may be seen. It is open and exposed. The net is spread out to surround them and hold them down. But “man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare. so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”
2. The danger is not without warning. “Their congregation hath heard.” In the law and by the prophets, by judgment and mercy, God had forewarned Israel. So men now sin against light and truth, in the face of God’s word and God’s providence. If you add blows to reproofs, so incurable is the folly of some that they will not grow wiser and better. “Yet will his foolishness not depart from him.”
THE FOWLER OF RETRIBUTION.—Hosea 7:12
As they go to Egypt and Asshur for help, God will spread his net over them like a bird-catcher, and bring them down to the earth like flying birds, i.e. bring them from the open air—freedom—into the net of captivity or exile. Here the work of retribution is spoken of as the work of the fowler, and includes two things—entrapment and abasement. I. Entrapment. The literal reference here is 2 Kings 17:4. The retributive providence of God employed Assyrians to ensnare Israel. This entrapment of providence was seen in the case of Joseph’s brethren and the crucifixion of Christ. Popery confined Luther in Wartburg Castle, where he translated the Bible, which shattered the whole system. Anglican bigots imprisoned Bunyan in Bedford jail; there he produced a book which has given him immortal fame. The net that entangles sinners is not made in heaven, but on earth, by themselves. Righteous providence permits them so to be ensnared as to render that enthralment painful and lasting. II. Abasement. “I will bring them down,” &c. However high they may tower, retribution has missiles to bring them down. Men in worldly prosperity, pride and ambition, soar like eagles above the rest. An ancient philosopher, when asked what Jupiter did in heaven, replied, “He pulls down the haughty, and exalts the humble.” Read the words—“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,” &c. (Obadiah 1:3-4). Ponder well thy condition, sinner. Retributive justice is upon thee wherever thou art and whatever thou dost. If down grovelling in the earth, working out thy sordid soul, it has nets that will ensnare thee there. If high up in the heavens of worldly prosperity and haughty ambition, proudly exulting in superiority, it has shots that will reach thee and bring thee down to the dust [The Homilist].
MAN’S WEAL AND WOE.—Hosea 7:13
There are but two conditions in which men are found, near to or distant from God. There can be no neutrality in religion. We must either be for or against God. If to depart from God be woe; to be intimate with him, to know and love him, must be man’s weal, moral health, wholeness, and happiness. Hence—
I. God is the chief good of men. “Who will show us any good?” is the cry of the “many” in disappointment or unbelief. Man wants good: hates evil as evil, because it brings woe, suffering, and death. He wishes to find that supreme good which he craves for, which alone will satisfy his heart. This is not found in the creature, in the pleasures of sense and sin. God alone can satisfy the soul. He is the chief, the only good of men. But the summum bonum, the well-being of man, is not mere happiness, it is right character, the perfection and harmony of being. Happiness and joy are secondary and incidental to this. The only blessedness is the blessedness of the godly. We have not found this until restored and reconciled to God. To seek the chief good of man without God, without conformity to his will, is to subvert supreme reason, break down the eternal laws of the universe, and seek the impossible. “Fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole of man”—not his duty merely (duty is interpolated), but his health and happiness—the sum of all that God requires—the end and perfection of his being.
II. Departure from God brings misery upon men. “Woe unto them, for they have fled from me.”
1. Forsaking God involves misery. “Woe unto them.” Those who sin against God wrong their own soul (Proverbs 8:32); rob it of happiness and vigour, and are tempted to soul-murder. They forsake their own mercy (Jonah 2:8); the God of my mercy (Psalms 59:17), the personal knowledge of whom is the condition of happiness. Estrangement from God involves misery and deep distress (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13). Therefore the laws of God are (a) the expression of benevolent design, (b) in harmony with our moral constitution, and (c) should be constantly obeyed.
2. Forsaking God involves destruction. “Destruction unto them, because they have transgressed against me.” God is not only the happiness, but the protection of the soul. “Salvation is of the Lord,” and those who forget or forsake him bring present woe and future destruction upon themselves. God has connected our safety with the keeping of his law. Obey and we shall be saved; but disobedience to all laws, physical and moral, will result in pain and death. Sinners die because they will die: put from them that which will be their life, and love that which will be their death. “They that hate me love death.”
GOD’S WAYS AND MAN’S WAYS
I. God’s ways towards man. God’s ways to train the believer and save the sinner are manifold and wonderful. There are three specially indicated in the text.
1. We have love. The prophet speaks not mechanically. The man’s soul is touched, and we see the sympathy of God in his pleadings and expostulations. With melting overtures he pours out the tenderest feelings of Divine love. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?” &c. It is not a love cold and indifferent to the sins and sorrows of men. Some men with a selfish stoical heart behold the misery around them without the slightest feeling. Some are annoyed, and others endeavour to shun it. But few are pained at the sight, try to bear or remove it. God’s love is wounded with the sins of his people, bursts forth into deep emotion. His “soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” Like a father’s pity and a mother’s tender care, this love is heard in the cry, “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.”
2. We have law. “They have transgressed.” Sin is the transgression of the law, “for where no law is there can be no transgression.” Law is found in all departments of the universe; is essential to order and good government. God has expressed his love in law, and entered into human history with authority and redeeming grace. Love is the natural, the parental feeling of God. But positive law is required to direct and control the actions of men. “Thou shalt not” is a necessary part of education; a boundary line between right and wrong—an essential condition of a happy life. God has written the words on the shore of every sea, in the constitution of every moral being, and in the history of every nation. Passions must be curbed; order must be preserved, lest confusion and death should spread in God’s dominions.
3. We have providence. Love may exist in the heart and not be displayed in outward act. Providence is God’s love in action, written in facts. Divine agency is displayed in human history, delivering men from sin. God had redeemed Israel from captivity and bondage. He made known to them what he promised to be, and what he was by what he did. Thought and character are known best when expressed in deeds. A mother’s love is not known simply by word; but when she cares for her child, walks with it, and delivers it in danger, then she gives life and meaning to her words. So God fulfils his promise, honours his law, and redeems his people. The name Redeemer should therefore be above every name, should quicken and inspire our hearts with love. In the death of Jesus we have love historical and supernatural; redemption and moral influence spreading themselves through all time and reaching to all people. God’s providence in Israel and God’s love in Christ have become history and action in the past, energy in the present, and promise for the future. “He saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”
II. Man’s ways towards God. Such treatment from God ought to excite gratitude and service. The truths of the Bible and the blessings of providence should not be entertained as mere external verities, but should become living and abiding sources of thought and feeling; motives to action and praise. The mercies we receive should be specially acknowledged. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Israel were guilty of three glaring sins.
1. There was apostasy from God. “For they have fled from me.” God had made them a peculiar people, gave them a special covenant, and took them into intimate relationship with himself; but they forsook him, and were guilty of religious defection. It was not a partial, but a complete falling away. They turned from God in their hearts, and wandered from him in their ways. They fled in fear and anger, as if God was a cruel and inveterate enemy. God called unto them, but they refused to come: he sought to reclaim them, but they wandered further from him. The instinct of the bird teaches that its only place of safety and rest is the nest. Seldom does she return without injury or inconvenience to herself. So man, wandering from “the precincts,” remains not under “the protection” of God. To leave his place and duties in society exposes him to temptation. He has no true rest, and only changes imaginary for real troubles. The discontented man, the unsteady professor, departing from God, wanders from his proper place and position. Man is a fugitive, wandering from his home, broken away from the law of holy and blessed allegiance. Sin has separated him from God. Where art thou? was the significant question put to rouse our first parent to a sense of guilt. Like a kind father, God calls now to men, holds out his arms of love to embrace them in return. “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
2. There was rebellion against God. It was no ordinary crime of which they were guilty. To apostasy they added open rebellion. “They have transgressed.” Once depart from God, the way is open for all sins and temptations. When Israel had fled from God, they sinned wilfully and presumptuously, with a high hand and a stiff neck. They broke the law and thwarted the design of Divine love. Many now have no determination, no decision for God: changeful as the waves and fickle as the winds. Their heart is not right, neither are they stedfast in his covenant. They detract from the authority of God, and continually break the bonds of law; they set up self and refuse to yield to God; and, like a refractory horse and untamed bullock, constantly reject the bridle and draw back. “A stubborn and rebellious generation.”
3. There was contradiction to God. “They have spoken lies against me.” Oft as he redeemed them so often did they traduce him. Their whole life was a contradiction to his will, character, and conduct. They spoke lies in their lips and profession, added insult to ingratitude. They belied his prophets, and set up false gods in opposition to the true. They denied the providence and power of God, robbed him of the glory of their deliverance, and ascribed all their blessings to idols. “Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.” Thus Israel treated God for his kindness, and provoked him to anger by their sins. Well might God say, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
1. Men lie in thought. When they have hard or slight thoughts of God—when they think that prosperity is given by idols, is gained by their own skill.
2. Men lie in word. When they declare that God does not see them and will not punish their sin.
3. Men lie in worship. When they represent God in graven images, offer prayers which do not come from the heart, and defraud God of his due.
4. Men lie in conduct. When they profess one thing and are really another—when they substitute error for truth, and deny the Holy One.
Sin is emphatically a lie. The sinner is antagonistic to God and his ways, a contradiction to God in his character and condition. In his whole conduct and career he has “belied the Lord.” Yet this lying to God is—
1. A common sin.
2. A hateful sin.
3. A dangerous sin.
The visible Church doth lie against God, having been delivered of him, either when she denieth him in her practice (Titus 1:16; Psalms 14:1); or when being delivered she doth belie her those professions and promises she made in trouble; or, when she cleaves still to false doctrine or corrupt religion, pretending it to be the truth, and constructs of God’s delivering her, as if it were a testimony that he favoured her way; or when in her prosperity she forgets God, ascribing all her deliverances to her idols, as all her afflictions to him, as chap. Hosea 2:5; Jeremiah 44:17-18 [Hutcheson].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:12. Retribution. As some eagle pierced with a shaft feathered from its own wing, so many a sufferer, even in this present time, sees and cannot deny that it was his own sin that fledged the arrow of God’s judgment, which has pierced him and brought him down [Trench].
Hosea 7:13. Woe. The iniquity of a bad man will itself be his ruin. Those wicked devices by which he designed and expected to secure himself becoming the instruments of his destruction. The essence of all wickedness is forsaking God.
Hosea 7:14. Cried] in anguish, not in penitence. Howled] in deep affliction and despair. Assemble] Crowd together in idol temple to deprecate famine and depart from God. Rebel] Lit. withdraw themselves. Against] From me; they cast off all allegiance to God.
THE HOWLING OF DISTRESS.—Hosea 7:14
If the sinner will not take warning, but madly rush on, he must take the consequence of his folly. But when sorrow and punishment come upon him, he frets and cries to God in distress. When Israel suffered, they wept for their sins. God reproves them; they should have turned to him before. It is often too late to repent when the deed is done.
I. Men are often in great distress. Suffering of some kind we cannot avoid; it is incident to our mortal state. The ills that flesh is heir to are many. But sin brings suffering; neglect of Divine warnings brings Divine chastisement.
1. Men often lack the necessities of life. “Corn and wine” are not always given, often in justice withheld, and then famine results. The Irish famine through failure of potatoes created great distress. The luxuries and the necessities are taken away to humble our pride, punish our sin, and teach us dependence upon God. “The Lord gave” is the language of Scripture; that of atheism and pride, “My own hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17). Heathens even acknowledged God as “the Giver of good things.” He has the right to withdraw at his pleasure. God’s hand must be seen in losses as well as gains. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.”
2. Men are often put on beds of affliction. “They howled upon their beds.” Active energetic persons are confined to their habitations, thrown helpless on their beds, and led to cry for mercy. Many have wearisome nights and days; bitter pains and sorrows; then they cry for mercy in sickness, which they despised in health. Their punishment is greater than they can bear. A sick bed is a place of trial and a school of discipline.
II. Men cry to God in great distress. In prosperity and freedom they are right enough. Even beasts do not utter their cry when they have food. But how natural to feel and complain under severe suffering! It is not palatable to reap the reward of our own doings. Hence—
1. Men cry, but it is not the cry of penitence. It is the howling of anguish; the cry of despair; mere noise without spiritual feeling.
2. They cry to God. Like the atheist on the Ægean Sea, they may forget or ridicule the idea of God in calm and sunshine. When the storms come they change their creed and cry to their God. Men may live without God, but they never want to suffer or die without him. “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble.”
3. Their cry is insincere. (a) It is not from the heart. “They have not cried unto me with their heart.” Their tears were wrung from them on account of distress and not sin. Their hearts were not set on God, and they could not pray unto him. The howling of the ancient heathen or the modern Indian is not true devotion. The prayer from a sense of pain and want is not the prayer of “a broken and contrite spirit,” which is acceptable to God.
Pleads he in earnest? look upon his face:
His eyes do drop no tears, his prayers are in jest;
His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast:
He prays but faintly, and would be denied:
We pray with heart and soul, and all beside.
(b) Their cry is public clamour. “They assemble themselves,” gather tumultuously together, to join in stormy debate or clamour to their gods. They thought more of corn and wine than pardon of sin and peace with God. Men are more anxious for the body than the soul, and when deprived of the blessings of this life fret and murmur against God.
4. Their cry ended in rebellion. “They rebel against me,” turn away from God, and then turn round to insult him to his face. This proved the insincerity of their prayer. Sanctified afflictions improve and wean from the world; unsanctified afflictions harden and lead to ungodliness. The iron when heated by the fire is soft and flexible, but afterwards goes hard and cold. When God slays men, then they seek him, return and inquire early after him. When restored they forget their vows and prayers, and live in estrangement from him. “For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works” (Psalms 78:32; Psalms 78:34).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:14. Cried. Many have been greatly afflicted and cried to God; been humbled, yet not made humble; humbled by force in their outward condition, but not humbled in their inward temper. “But when the sickness has passed away, the sweetness of the forbidden fruit again comes to mind; and as the dog returneth to his vomit,”—to the food which had caused his sickness,—“so a fool returneth to his folly” [Bridge].
Hosea 7:15. Bound] Weakened and relaxed, an image from surgery (chastened, marg.). “Instructing the arms, according to the analogy of Psalms 18:35, is equivalent to showing where and how strength is to be acquired. The Lord has not contented himself with merely instructing, he has also strengthened their arms and given them power to fight and victory over their foes (cf. 2 Kings 14:25-26)” [Keil].
Hosea 7:16. Deceitful] Which cannot carry the arrow; too slack or ill-constructed, which the archer fears will miss its aim. Rage] Blasphemy against God. Derision] Egypt, on which they depended, will ridicule them for their boasting and failure (Isaiah 30:33).
THE UNGRATEFUL RETURN.—Hosea 7:15-16
God tried all ways with his people, but of no use. He chastised them in judgment and remembered mercy. He gave them into the hands of enemies; they cried in distress, and he delivered them. Whatever God did, they were still the same. Four words sum up the varied methods of God to restore them; the one result was shameful abuse ending in fresh rebellion.
I. God’s kindness to man. “I have bound and strengthened their arms.” In whatever sense we take the words, the fact of ingratitude remains.
1. God chastised them. Time after time were they afflicted, but God withdraws his displeasure. Men see the greatness of Divine compassion, but never feel all the power of Divine anger. “He being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not; yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.”
2. God taught them. Taught them to walk by their arms, as parents teach their children (ch. Hosea 11:3; Deuteronomy 1:31); taught them to war (Psalms 18:34); gave them victory over enemies (2 Kings 14:25-26); “girded them with strength for battle.” To him they owed all their military skill, strength, and success. All warlike prowess is the gift of God. The Lord is mighty in battle, and “the Holy Spirit is the great Drill-Master of heavenly soldiers.” God taught and instructed Israel by his prophets and providence, by his word and worship, and by a peculiar mode of discipline trained them up for his service and honour.
3. God strengthened them. Weak within and wounded without, like a kind physician he bound up their wounds and healed their sores. He strengthened their arms and relieved them in sickness. God often restores individuals and reinstates nations in prosperity and health, but what thanks has he? “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help.”
II. Man’s ingratitude to God. Men like Hezekiah render not again according to the benefit done unto them (2 Chronicles 32:25). God intends to do them good, but they hate and forsake him.
1. In wicked thoughts. “Yet do they imagine mischief against me.” Right thoughts of God are essential to right conduct. If we think evil in our hearts, evil will be manifest in our lives. “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Men think lightly of the responsibility of thought, and declare that thoughts can hurt no one. As the thought is the fountain of the act, God counts it as the act, and holds us responsible for it. Bunyan, unlike many professors, was deeply troubled in remembrance of one sinful thought. Yet how men devise wickedness in their hearts! One meditates on objects of lust and avarice; another on schemes of ambition. Some think in envy, and others in malice and revenge “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall vain thoughts lodge within thee?”
2. In evil conduct. “They return, but not to the Most High.” The health restored and the life preserved from death should be given to God. God’s kindness should beget loving thoughts and constant gratitude to him. But the conversion of many is feigned and hypocritical; a turning point in life, but not return to God in acknowledgment of his majesty, and dependence upon his word. Man changes from one thing to another: turns “from the sins of youth to the sins of age, from the sins of prosperity to the sins of adversity; but he himself remains unchanged,” says a writer. True turning is upwards, in recognition of God’s presence and holiness. The sinner looks forward and round, but forgets God in thought and conduct. The prodigal must come home. The penitent must return not half way, but entirely up to God. To forsake some sins and indulge in others, to denounce earthly things without devoting ourselves entirely to God, is not genuine conversion nor guarantee of amendment. “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me.”
3. In blasphemous language. “For the rage of their tongue.” The princes were enraged themselves, and gave vent to their anger against God and his providence to others. The tongue, that unruly member, uttered lies and blasphemy. The nearer destruction approached the more madly princes and politicians contradicted the prediction. “Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit.” Thus did Israel and thus do men treat the kindness of God. In evil thought, rebellious conduct, and abusive language do they manifest ingratitude. Mark the fearful gradations of their sin. (a) Surrounded by mercies, they design mischief. (b) Invited to return, they turn further away from God. (c) Then insults were added to ingratitude and rebellion. (d) Finally their language and conduct drew down God’s anger upon them, and were the instruments of their own destruction. To render good for evil is God-like, but to render evil for good is devilish. What should we do with an undutiful, rebellious child nourished up in tender care? Could any virtue atone for this unnatural conduct? Yet God complains. “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Rewarding evil for good is condemned by the heathen, hateful to God, and will bring destruction to the sinner himself and his house. “Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Hosea 7:15. Mischief. Sin is essentially mischief; mischievous in its designs and consequences—to God and man. In one sense man can do no hurt to God, but so bold is he in his sins that he tries, by robbing God of his glory and abusing his gifts. “Man would dethrone God if he could” [Pusey].
Subject. Divine dispensations abused. I. God’s dispensations with men are characterized by variety. II. That whatever the character of the Divine dispensations they are often perverted. Observe—First, The force of the human will. Secondly, The depravity of the human heart [The Homilist].
Hosea 7:16. A deceitful bow.
1. Misdirected in its aim. Looked more to selfish and sinful things than things of God.
2. Treacherous in its acting. When bent, would suddenly start aside and recover its former position. Not to be depended upon. The bow of Jonathan “turned not back” (2 Samuel 1:22).
3. Unfit for use. Israel boasted of the bow, and sang the song of the bow, and a deceitful bow is made a type of their own unstedfastness and degenerate condition. God can turn man’s glory into shame, and cast them away as unfit for his purpose in the earth. “They were turned aside like a deceitful bow” (Psalms 78:57).
Men’s shortcoming, in the matter of repentance and conversion to God, showeth from their want of straightness in not intending what they pretend to, which is also a great sin: therefore it is added they are like a deceitful bow, that is, as a bow which hath a throw in it does never direct the arrow to the mark, however it seem to aim at it; so, however they pretend true repentance, yet they do not intend it, but only to deceive and flatter God till they might get out of trouble [Hutcheson].
Return. True repentance consists—
1. In decided turning away from evil. Not half turning, nor halting short of God. 2 In decided turning to God. Positive devotion to God, so that he only is served and worshipped. It is not outward reformation, but inward renewal.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7
Hosea 7:15-16. Ingratitude. At the battle of the Alma, in September, 1854, a wounded Russian was piteously calling for water. Captain Eddington, whose heart was kind and charitable, ran up to him, and stooping, gave him the much-desired beverage. The wounded man revived. The Captain ran forward to join his regiment, when the wretch who had just been restored by his kindness fired and shot him who had been his friend in time of need. So many seek to injure God by returning him evil for good [Biblical Treasury].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Hosea 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29