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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Hosea 11

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 11:1 When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Ver. 1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him] On, because Israel was a child I loved him. Young things are lovely; young children especially, for their innocence and ignoscence. Some sense it thus, Israel was a child, and had nothing of worth or lovely in him; yet I loved him freely, Deuteronomy 7:7, Hosea 10:9, called him out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace, led him through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, Isaiah 63:13, possessed him of the promised land. Out of which though I shall shortly cast him for his ingratitudes, yet there is hope of his restoration, by the Messiah my Son, whom when I have called out of Egypt, he shall gather together again the dispersed of Israel, and bring life and immortality to light by the gospel. The foundation of which restoration he here maketh to be his own free grace. He hath holpen his servant (or his child, του παιδας, Luke 1:53) Israel, in remembrance of his mercy. "God so loved the world, that be gave his only begotten Son," &c., John 3:16. Here then beginneth our prophet’s first evangelical sermon, as Tarnovius observeth, who also readeth the text thus: Albeit Israel was a child, such a forlorn outcast child, as is described Ezekiel 17:1-24, Ezekiel 23:1-49, yet I loved him, and adopted him for my son; not for any defect on my part (for I had an only begotten Son, in whom I am well pleased), or for any desert on his part, for I found him in his blood, in his blood, in his blood, when I cast my skirt of love over him, and said unto him, Live, Ezekiel 16:6. Yea, and for his salvation’s sake, I have called, that is, I have decreed to call, out of Egypt (whither he fled from Herod, and where he abode two or three years at least) my child Jesus, whose office it is to "save his people from their sins," Matthew 1:21. And although I might justly have deprived them of such a Saviour for ever, because when he came to his own, his own received him not (yea, rejected him to whom their own signs given to Herod did so aptly and evidently agree), yet out of Eygpt, to show the constancy of my love to Israel, have I called (by mine angel, as Jacob by a messenger called his wives to him into the field, Genesis 31:4) my Son Christ, Matthew 2:23, who is God’s Son, first, by eternal generation, Proverbs 8:22-23; secondly, by personal union, Psalms 2:7. And thus God called out of Egypt, first Israel his people, and then Christ, the head of his people; in whom at length this prophecy was fulfilled.


Verse 2

Hosea 11:2 [As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

Ver. 2. As they called them] i.e. As the prophets and ministers (whose names are here concealed, that the Word only may be glorified, as Acts 13:48) called to them, to come out of spiritual Egypt, out of darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among the saints, by faith that is in Christ, Acts 26:18.

So they went from them] They went a contrary way, as the child Samuel, when God called him, ran to Eli; or rather as the wilful Jews, when God would have gathered them, as the hen doth her chickens, they would not. When God called his natural Son out of Egypt, he came presently, Hebrews 10:7, Psalms 40:7-8; not so his adopted sons; for they turned upon him the back, and not the face, Jeremiah 2:27, they refused to be reformed, they hated to be healed. See Hosea 7:1. {See Trapp on "Hosea 7:1"} Nay, to make up the full measure of their sins, and to heighten their contempt,

They sacrificed unto Baalim, and burnt incense to graven images] Quasi aegre facturi Deo, as if they would despite God on purpose, and spit in his very face; commit the like villany in his presence, as the Irish rebels lately did, when they bound the husband to the bedpost, while they abused his wife before him. See the notes on Hosea 2:1-23, and almost on every chapter where their idolatry is cried out upon, and their extreme ingratitude.


Verse 3

Hosea 11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

Ver. 3. I taught Ephraim also to go] A child he was, Hosea 11:1, and like a child I dealt with him, teaching him how to set his feet, pedare, to foot it, as nurses do their little ones: he keepeth the feet of his saints, 1 Samuel 2:9; he guideth their feet in the way of peace, Luke 1:79. See for this, Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:11, Numbers 11:12. So great is the goodness of God to his people, that he dealeth with us as with his little children, nos sublevando, submonendo, docendo, ducendo, regendo, tegendo, convocando, condonando, portando, confortando, &c., we are supported, admonished, taught, lead, guided, protected, assembled, forgiven, carried, comforted, saith a learned interpreter truly, and trimly (Tarnovius). He speaketh unto us as unto children, Hebrews 12:5 paterne diligit, amice dirigit, he loveth us as a father, he directs us as a friend, guiding us with his eye, leading us in his hand, setting us between his knees, as some interpret that text, Deuteronomy 33:3, setting us upon his knees, as a father doth his darling, and rejoicing over us with joy, yea, joying over us with singing, Zephaniah 3:17. His affections are more than fatherly; and his expressions are according. "We are like infants" (saith Mr Baine), "newly born in a manner. They are kept by the loving parents from fire and water; they are fed, laid to sleep, made ready, and unready, and shifted in their scapes, but they know not who doth all this for them. So doth our heavenly Father by us in Christ." But (he knows) little understanding have we of him. After this, he teacheth us to go,

taking us by the arms.] to help our feeble knees. And taking us up in his own arms, when we come to a foul or rough place, helping us over the quagmires of crosses, and the difficulties of duties. And whereas we fall seven times a day, and in many things fail all; he taketh us up after that we have caught a knock, and cherisheth us in his bosom, &c. Montanus and Junius carry the sense another way, as if the words were not a description of God’s love to the people, but of their unthankfulness to God; rendering the words thus: When, as I inform Ephraim, he taketh them in his arms, that is, he setteth up idols, and after the manner of impudent and shameless strumpets, he taketh the puppets in his arms, and embraceth them before my face. But I like the former sense better.

But they knew not that I healed them] Not only held them, that they might not fall, but healed them when they had fallen. Daring they would be sometimes to stand upon their own legs, to prevail by their own strength, 1 Samuel 2:9, to say with her in the poet, Consilii satis est in me mihi, &c. (Arachno apud Ovid. Metam.). I am wise enough, and able enough to go on, as if they were petty gods within themselves, and had no need of nor dependance upon me. Hence they hurt themselves, but I healed them. I forgave all their iniquities, I healed all their diseases, Psalms 103:3, their bruises and putrefying sores, that else had not been closed, bound up, nor mollified with ointment, Isaiah 1:6. God left not his people in their low estate, as some physicians do their patients; but provided a sovereign salve, a horn of salvation, such as would cure any disease or maim, (a) even the sin against the Holy Ghost too, but that it is the nature of it to rage and rave both against the physic and the physician. Christ is both the one and the other; as being made unto us of God, wisdom righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30. Quod sanitas in corpore, id sanctitas in corde. He is Jehovah that healeth for he is Jehovah that sanctifieth. This Ephraim knew not, that is, out of pride and stoutness they acknowledged it not, but sacrificed to their own nets, wits, endeavours, &c. Of all things God can least endure to be neglected or to have the glory of his benefits transferred upon others, {see Hosea 2:8, with the note} When men shall either say, in the language of Ashdod, It is a chance, or else, I have made myself thus and thus happy, 1 Samuel 6:9 this, though the saints should at any time do yet God will pardon their frowardness, and say as Isaiah 57:17-18, I have seen his ways, his waywardness, and will heal him nevertheless and restore comforts to him.


Verse 4

Hosea 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

Ver. 4. I drew them with cords of a man] Not of a beast; though they have deserved to be hampered as unruly heifers, and to be yoked and ruled over with rigour, to be tamed and taken down a link lower, yet I, out of my philanthropy, yea, out of singular grace, have dealt civilly, nay, courteously with them, in an amicable and amiable way, and not as I might have done out of my sovereignty, and according to my justice. I drew them by the cords of a man, that is, 1. Gently and favourably; suiting myself to their dispositions (which are often as different as their faces), hiring them to obedience, afflicting them in measure, with the rods of men, 2 Samuel 7:14, fitted to the weakness of men. If God should plead against us with his great power, as Job speaks, Job 23:6, it would soon grind us to powder; but he hath no such design; he correcteth his children, vel ad demonstrationem debitae miseriae vel ad emendationem labilis vitro, vel ad exercitationem necessariae patientiae, saith Augustine, Tract. in Joan. 124; ad exercitium non ad exitium, saith another ancient, to refine and not to ruin them. 2. Rationally, by cogent arguments and motives, befitting the nature of a man; able to convince them and set them down with right reason, would they but consider, Deuteronomy 32:29, would they but be wise and weigh things aright. This God wisheth they would do, calleth them to reason the case with him, Isaiah 1:18, pleads with them in a friendly way, Jeremiah 2:31, and then appeals to their own consciences, whether they have dealt well with him, yea or no, Isaiah 5:3, making them read the sentence against themselves, as did Judas the traitor, Matthew 27:4, and those Pharisees, Matthew 21:40. He bespeaks them, after most clear conviction, as Isaiah 46:8. Remember this, and show yourselves men; bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Most people are led on in a continued hurry of lusts and passions, and never bethink themselves, as 1 Kings 8:47, never say so much as, What have I done? Si haec duo tecum verba reputasses quid ago? saith Cicero to Nevius: Hadst thou but bethought thyself of those few words, What have I done? thou wouldst never have been so covetous a cormorant. Oh, could men have but so much power over their passions and lusts as to get alone and weigh God’s ways, much good might be done upon them; but for want of this, Fertur equis auriga, &c., they rush into all excess of riot, as a horse into the battle; yea, they are so far unmanned as to think that they have reason to be mad, and that tbere is no small sense in sinning. "I do well to be angry, even unto death," Jonah 4:9.

With bands of love] Heb, thick cords, cart ropes (as it is rendered, Isaiah 5:18), ropes of many wreaths, twisted and intertwined with love, that sweetest attractive. So Jeremiah 31:3, "With lovingkindness have I drawn thee"; and Isaiah 63:9, "In his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old." He gave them a law, the sum of which was nothing but love; and multiplied mercies upon them without measure, as is amply set forth by those holy Levites, Nehemiah 9:4-5. Now, mercy commands duty; and every new deliverance is a new tie to obedience. Love should have love, publicans and sinners yield that, Matthew 5:46. Yea, love should show itself strong as death, Song of Solomon 8:6. Jonathan would have died for his David; David for his Absalom; Priscilla and Aquila for Paul, Romans 16:4. Christ out of his love did die for his people. Have I but one life to lose for Christ? said that holy martyr ( Cos amoris amor). Let men take heed how they sin against love, for this is the greatest aggravation of sin; this is bestial, this is like unruly horses in a team, to break the gears, to snap in sunder the traces that should hold them. Such yokeless sons of Belial shall one day be held by the cords of their own sin, and whipped with those cords of conviction, that they would not be drawn by. Shall the harlot’s hands be bands, her words cords to draw men to destruction, and shall God stretch out his hand all day long to them to no purpose? Shall he lose his sweet words upon them? &c. Peter’s heart burst, and he brake out in weeping, when he saw love sparkling in Christ’s looks, Mark 14:72, and considered how he had burst asunder the bands of love, sinned against such manifestations of mercy, wiped off all his comfortables for the present, drew from Christ those piercing quick questions, Lovest thou me? yea, but dost love me indeed? O let the cords of God’s kindness draw us nearer to him, hold us closer; to sin against mercy is to sin against humanity; and as no surfeit is more dangerous than that of bread, so no judgment is more terrible than that which grows out of love felt and slighted.

And I was to them as they that take off the yoke on the jaws, &c.] i.e. on their neck; albeit it seemeth by that law, made for not muzzling the ox that treadeth out the corn, that those creatures when they wrought were muzzled or haltered up; and that halter fastened to the yoke that was upon their necks. The sense is this, I unyoked them often to give them meat, as the good husbandman doth that is merciful to his beast; he lifts up the yoke that lies hard upon its neck, leads it to the manger, lays food before it. So dealt God by this people all along from the wilderness, and forward; not suffering them to abide, iugiter, sub iugis Gentium, long under their enemy’s yoke; but delivering them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them, Ezekiel 34:27. Christ also hath delivered his out of the hands of those that hated them, and lay hard upon them; as the devil is a hard taskmaster, that neither takes off the yoke nor lays meat; gives no rest or refreshment to his drudges and dromedaries; but acts them and agitates them day and night, &c. Now, those that are his, Christ brings them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may do works meet for repentance, that weigh just as much as repentance doth, Acts 26:18; Acts 26:20, and so find rest to their souls; provided that they take and keep Christ’s yoke upon them (not thinking to live as they list more, saying, as those libertines in Jeremiah 7:10, "we are delivered to do all these abominations") and learn of him to be meek and lowly in heart, Matthew 11:29, so shall they soon find Christ’s yoke easy, and his burden light, Matthew 11:30. And of this easy yoke of Christ Luther understands this text in Hosea; and thereupon discourseth of the law’s rigour, and gospel’s relaxation, according to that of Austin, Lex iubet, gratia iuvat; the law commandeth, but the gospel helpeth; God by his Spirit assisting, and farther accepting pence for pounds, the will for the work, the desire for the deed done, and laying meat before us, meat that the world knows not of, hidden manna, the convivium iuge ever flowing banquet of a good conscience.


Verse 5

Hosea 11:5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

Ver. 5. He shall not return unto the land of Egypt] That is, he needs not run to Egypt for help (as King Hoshea did), nor to the Assyrian, to whom they were tributaries from the time of Menahem; for they wanted nothing, and less should have wanted if they would have been ruled by me.

But they refused to return] He was not to have returned to the land of Egypt or of the Assyrian, who is his king; so some read the text. Others sense it thus: When I threaten them with the Assyrian they think to move and shelter themselves in Egypt; but I shall keep them thence, or find and ferret them out there. God knows how to cross wicked men of their will, to spoil their plots. Egypt shall prove no better than a broken reed running into the hand of him that leaneth on it, 2 Kings 18:21. The Egyptian was ever an enemy to Israel; and though for his own ends he gave goodly words, and seemed reconciled, yet such reconciliations are but vulpine amicitiae, friends to the fox. But were he never so fast a friend, yet sin guilty Israel shall not have there an asylum, nec stabile stabulum {see Hosea 9:3} {See Trapp on "Hosea 9:3"} because the "desire of the wicked shall perish," Psalms 112:10. They take counsel together, but it shall come to nought, they speak the word, but it shall not stand, Isaiah 8:10. Confer Isaiah 30:1-2; Isaiah 31:1-3; Proverbs 21:30.

But the Assyrian shall be his king] Will they, nill they, they shall be carried captive to Assyria; and since they will needs be crossing of God, he will cross them much more; he will walk contrary, to those that walk contrary to him, Leviticus 26:21, and be as froward as they for the hearts of them, Psalms 18:26. They will not return to me, saith the Lord, they shall not therefore return to Egypt; they will not submit to my sceptre, they shall therefore have the Assyrian for their king, that proud, cruel, stout-hearted prince, Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:7; Isaiah 10:12, who will tyrannize over their bodies and over their cattle at their pleasure, so that they shall be in great distress, Nehemiah 9:37.

Because they refused to return] Heb. ( מאנו ) they disdained to do it, scorned the motion, slighted the messenger. By their sins they had run from God; by repentance they should have returned unto him, and then the amends had been well nigh made: for quem poenitet peccasse poene est innocens, the penitent is in almost as good a case as the innocent (Sen. in Agamem.); Ambrose saith he is in a better ( plus est a vitiis se revocasse quam vitia ipsa nescivisse). But for these men, to all other their sins to add obstinace and impenitence, as Herod to all his former evils did the death of the Baptist, this was to "heap up wrath against the day of wrath," Romans 2:5. The word here rendered "refused" is by the Seventy turned they would not ( ουκ ηθελησαν). That therefore they returned not to God, it was the fault of their will. True it is, they had no power to turn themselves; but the cause of that inability too was in themselves. They therefore neither could nor would return; and both by their own fault and folly.


Verse 6

Hosea 11:6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour [them], because of their own counsels.

Ver. 6. And the sword shall abide on his cities] Heb. shall keep residence or rush upon his cities. It can do no less; it cannot return into the scabbard, rest or be still, till the Lord, who put it into commission, call back again his commission, Jeremiah 47:6-7. It is a dreadful thing when the sword abideth on a people; as in Germany, that stage of war; Ireland, still a land of divine ire, &c. England hath some halcyons at present, praise be given to God; and let every good man pray with David, "Scatter thou the people that delight in war," Psalms 68:30. The Pirates’ war was despatched by Pompey with incredible swiftness, to his eternal commendation ( incredibili celeritate et temporis brevitate a Pompeio confectum). And we have cause to bless God (saith a countryman of ours) that God hath raised up instruments for us, who have hazarded the shortening of their own lives for the shortening of the war; who have done their work of late, as if they had took it by the great, &c. And the same author observeth, that it is a sad thing for the sword to be in the field; but for the sword to be in the cities it is much more sad: and he instanceth in Jerusalem out of Josephus, where the number of the slain was 1,100,000 (Jos. de Bell. Jud. l. 7 c. 7.). We may further instance in that unhappy city of Magdeburg, in Germany, where so much cruelty was exercised first by Charles V (much regretted by him at last in his retired life, taking account of his actions), and since that in our memory by M. Tilly, who, like a bloody villain, put to the sword there 20,000 persons at least of all ranks, ages, and sexes: that great city also he burned down, utterly turning it into cinders, excepting 139 houses. The like immunity was exercised by the pope’s champions upon the poor Protestants at Angrogue, in France; where they killed and burned without mercy; but could never set fire upon the two temples there, nor upon the minister’s house, which remained whole, the houses round about being all consumed with fire.

And shall consume his branches and devour them] His branches, or his villages, which are as branches of the greater cities. The trees of America (but especially of Brazil) are so large, that it is reported of them that several families have lived in several arms or branches of one tree, to such a number as are in some petty village or parish here. The greater cities are as the body or root of a tree, the village as the branches. The Scripture often calleth them mother and daughter, as Heshbon and all her daughters, that is, villages, Numbers 21:25, as the Chaldee here explaineth it. See Ezekiel 16:44-45; Ezekiel 16:48; Ezekiel 16:53. Hence we read of a city and mother in Israel, 2 Samuel 20:19. Branches also are called daughters of the trees they grow from, Genesis 49:22. The word here rendered branches is by some rendered bars, by others, diviners or liars, as the word here used is interpreted, Jeremiah 50:36. A sword is upon the liars or diviners, and they shall dote: potest Augur Augurem videre et non ridere? saith Cicero of such diviners: that is, Can they one look upon another and not laugh, considering how they gull people with their lies and fopperies? The sword shall be upon such, as it was upon Balaam, Satan’s spelman, they shall be a portion for foxes, Psalms 63:10, as those that

Astutam vapido servant sub pectore vulpem.

Because of their own counsels] He that goeth to school to his own carnal reason is sure to have a fool to his master; an ignis fatuus, a foolish fire, that will bring him into the bogs and briers. The wisdom of the flesh is enmity to God. Nemo daeditur nisi a seipso. {See Trapp on "Hosea 10:6"}


Verse 7

Hosea 11:7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him].

Ver. 7. My people are bent to backsliding from me] They have a principle of apostasy in them, as those Galatians had of whom the apostle, "I marvel that you are so soon removed unto another gospel," Galatians 1:6, and as those old apostates in the wilderness, who, as soon as Moses’ back was turned almost, cried out to Aaron, Make us golden gods. This people was before accused to be acted by a spirit of fornication, a certain violent impetus, a strong inclination to whoredom, and to be apt to backslide with a perpetual backsliding: all their recidivations and revolts were but a fruit of the bent of their spirits, which were false and unsettled; not resolved whether yet to turn to God, though they were beset with so many mischiefs; they hanged in suspense, and rather inclined to the negative than else. Suspensi sunt, so Calvin, Pareus, and others read this text. My people are in suspense, or in a mamering whether to turn to me or not; they hang in doubt, as the same word is rendered, Deuteronomy 28:66. God liketh not that his people should stand doubtful as sceptics, and adhere to nothing certainly; to be in religion as idle beggars are in their way, ready to go which way soever the staff falleth; but that they should strive to a full assurance in what they believe, Luke 1:4, to be fully persuaded, as Luke 1:1, and to a firm purpose of heart in what they should practise, Acts 11:23. Irresolution against sin or for God can hardly consist with the power of godliness: be not off and on with him, halt not, hang not in doubt what to do, but follow God fully as Caleb did; come off freely as David, who had chosen God’s precepts when he was solicited to have done otherwise, Psalms 119:173. And again, "I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me," Psalms 119:30. I have weighed them, and am resolved to keep them, I am come to a full determination. Mr Diodati senseth the words thus, They desire and expect that I should turn in favour to them and relieve them; whereas they should turn to me by repentance, which they will not do: and herein he followeth Arias Montanus. Thus those stiffnecked Jews in Jeremiah expected that God should still deal with them (however they dealt with him) according to all his wondrous works, Jeremiah 21:2, presuming and promising themselves impunity; and thus Judas also had the face to ask, Matthew 26:25, as the rest did, "Is it I?" as resting upon Christ’s accustomed gentleness, and that he would conceal him still, as he had done certain days before.

Though they called them to the most High] They, that is, the prophets, as Hosea 11:2, called them with great importunity, upon every opportunity, to the most High, to God (in opposition to those dii minutuli, petty deities, whom they doted on. See Hosea 7:16), to come up to him, to have high and honourable conceptions of him, not casting him in a base mould, as those miscreants did, Psalms 50:21, but saying as David, and with a David-like spirit, "Thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods"; and therehence inferring, "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil," Psalms 97:9-10. "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be upright," Genesis 17:1. "The God of glory appeared to Abraham," Acts 7:2, he so conceived of God; and hence his unchangeable resolutions for God.

None at all would exalt him] Heb. together he exalted not, scarce a he, a single man, that would do it, that would lift up his head to listen to such good counsel (so some sense it), or that would exalt and extol the most High; who, though he be high above all praise, as Nehemiah 9:5, and cannot be praised according to his excellent greatness; yet is he pleased to account himself exalted and magnified by us, when, considering the infinite distance and disproportion that is between him and us, we lay ourselves low at his feet for mercy, we set him up in our hearts for our sole sovereign, we esteem him as the people did David, more worth than ten thousand, 2 Samuel 18:3, we give him room in our souls, and with highest apprehensions, most vigorous affections, and utmost endeavours we bestow ourselves upon him, as the only worthy. Now this is done but of a very few, and well done but of fewer yet; so drossy and drowsy are men’s spirits, and so little is the Lord lifted up by the sons of men. See the prophet Isaiah’s complaint, Isaiah 64:7.


Verse 8

Hosea 11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? [how] shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

Ver. 8. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim] Here beginneth the second part of this chapter, full of many sweet evangelical promises, and here, if ever, mercy rejoiceth against judgment, or treadeth on the very neck of it, as St James’s word importeth, James 2:18, κατακαυχαται from αυχην ( cervix). The Lord seemeth here to be at a stand, or at strife with himself, about the destruction of this people fore warning; which well might have been a guff to swallow them up, and a grave to bury them in for ever, being most worthy to perish, as were the cities which God destroyed in his wrath, Genesis 19:23-25. Howbeit God in the bowels of his mercy yearning and taking pity of his elect among them (for he had reserved seven thousand hidden ones that had not bowed their knees to Baal), spareth to lay upon them the extremity of his wrath, and is ready to save them for his mercy’s sake. Hear how father-like he melts over them:

How should I expose thee, O Ephraim? how should I deliver thee up, O Israel? How should I dispose thee as Admah? how should I set thee as Zeboim] q.d. Justice requires that I should lay thee utterly waste, and even rain down hell from heaven upon thee, as once upon Sodom and her sisters. But mercy interposeth her four "hows" (in the original two only expressed, but the other two necessarily understood, and by interpreters fitly supplied), for such pathetic interrogations as the like are not to be found in the whole book of God, and not to be answered by any but God himself; as indeed he doth to each particular in the following words: "My heart is turned within me," that is the first answer; the second, "My repentings are kindled together"; the third, "I will not execute the fierceness of my wrath"; the fourth, "I will not return to destroy Ephraim." And why? First, "I am God and not man"; secondly, the "Holy One in the midst of thee."

My heart is turned, or turneth itself, within me] That is, my mind is changed, or at least is in doubt what to do in this business. This is spoken, ανθρωποπαθως, after the manner of men, and must be understood, θεοπρεπως, agreeably to God’s greatness. Here is mutatio rei non Dei, effectus non affectus, facti non consilii, a change of a matter not of God, to effect and not to alter, to do senselessly. Repentance with man is the changing of his will. Repentance with God is no more than the willing of a change: ill is not a change of his will, but of his work. Confer Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:11, Amos 1:12. There are those who render it, My heart is turned against me, that is, against my former severe sentence of cutting them all utterly off at one blow; Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus. Oh! I cannot find in my heart to do it. For my

Repentings are kindled together] Simul aestuant viscera mea poenitentia. So Tremellius; My bowels are altogether on a light fire with repentings, as Genesis 43:30, 1 Kings 3:26. Now repentings are as improperly attributed to God as bowels. There were a sort of ignorant monks in Egypt, who started this foolish and ridiculous question (which yet bred no small stirs there, A.D. 403), An Deus corporeus sit? Whether the Divine essence be a body, having hands, heart, bowels? &c. The ruder sort of them held it affirmatively. What blasphemies Vorstius hath vented in that base book of his, de Deo, I need not relate. How God is said to repent hath been said already. Sure it is, that herein he graciously accommodateth himself to our rudeness, and speaketh as we are able to bear (Calvin). It appeareth that fury is not in God, Isaiah 27:4. Our sins put thunderbolts into his hands, and it is, Non nisi coactus with him, when he proceeds to punishment. His bowels are very ready to work in the ways of grace and mercy toward sinners; and the least act of faith in that mercy would certainly set bowels on work amain. This the Church in Isaiah well knew, and therefore prayed when deserted, Look down from heaven, &c. Where is thy zeal, and thy strength? the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained? Doubtless thou art our Father, notwithstanding thine austerities, Isaiah 63:15-16. God seemeth sometimes to lose his bowels, and then we must find them for him; to sleep, and we must awake him; to hide himself, and then we must fetch him out, as the woman of Canaan did by the force of her faith, Mark 7:24-25. God will come, but he will have the faithful prayers of his people to lead him. I came for thy word, Daniel 10:12.


Verse 9

Hosea 11:9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I [am] God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

Ver. 9. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger] Heb. the heat of it. God’s heart kindled, and whatsoever might cause repentance came together, and lay glowing, as it were, at his heart; and this cooled and even quenched the heat of his wrath (as the sunbeams when they shine full upon the fire), so that now he resolves not to execute the height of his heat, the extremity of his fury, for then the spirit should fail before him. Ephraim is God’s dear son, his pleasant child; whom, when he hears bemoaning himself, as Jeremiah 30:18-20, he soon repents him of the evil, and cries,

- “ Satis hoc pro crimine magno

Paulum supplicii lenem sumpsisse parentem. ”

I will not return to destroy Ephraim] I will not undo him twice over, or utterly ruin him; as those that have laid their enemy for dead, return to see whether he be dead outright; or as soldiers that have once pillaged a city return after a while to take all that little that was left before, and to set the rest on fire. God will not deal so hardly with Ephraim, though he might do it. Reprobates indeed shall have an evil, an only evil, Ezekiel 7:5, without mixture of mercy; they must expect one plague upon another, as it fared with Pharaoh, till God had dashed the very breath out of his body. But for his elect people, Hath he smitten them, as he smote those that smote them? No, but in measure, in the branches only; he stayeth his rough wind, &c., Isaiah 27:7-8. And as Croesus’ dumb son burst out into, Kill not King Croesus (’ Aνθρωπε, μη κτεινε τον χροισον. Herod.), so when enemies are ready to devour the Church, or Satan to swallow God’s child up in despair, his heart’s work; he can hold no longer, but cries, Save my child, save my Church. Why should "the spirit fail before me, and the souls which I have made? I have seen his ways and" (though bad enough) "I will heal him, I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners," Isaiah 57:16-18.

For I am God, and not man] Yea, such a God as the like is not, for pardoning iniquity, and passing by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage, Micah 7:18. It is natural to him, Exodus 34:6; it is usual, Nehemiah 9:17, there he is called a God of pardons, as, Isaiah 55:7, he is said to multiply pardons. He hath commanded men to forgive an offending but repenting brother, seventy times seven times in a day, Matthew 18:22. What then will himself do? For he is God Almighty, and not man. Man is an angry, vindictive, cruel creature; one man is a wolf, yea, a devil, to another; unsociable, implacable, unmerciful, as those were, Romans 1:31. Beware of men, saith our Saviour to his disciples, Matthew 10:17; absurd and wicked men, 1 Thessalonians 3:2; barbarous and brutish, skilful to destroy, Ezekiel 21:31. Yea, beware of good men when enraged. What strange deaths doth David (soon after his foul fall and not fully recovered) put the poor Ammonites to, 2 Samuel 12:31. Further, men as they are unmerciful so they are unmindful of their promises. But God is not a man that he should lie, Numbers 23:18. What he hath spoken with his mouth he will make good with his hand. The Eternity of Israel will not lie (as men will, Romans 3:4), nor repent (as men do, whatever he may seem to do; {See Trapp on "Romans 3:3"} Romans 3:3); for he is not a man that he should repent, 1 Samuel 15:29. Men are mutable; the truest friend is ευμεταβλητον ζων, an easily changeable creature, as the heathen complained; all in changeable colours, as Tertullian saith of the peacock; as often changed as moved. Not so Almighty God. "I am Jehovah, I change not," Malachi 3:6. {See Trapp On: Malachi 3:6"} and remember still to retain high thoughts of God; not measuring him by our model; as to think him to be as merciful as we are, as powerful as our understanding can reach, &c. See Isaiah 55:8-9, and beg supernatural grace; without which it is impossible for a finite creature to believe the infinite attributes of Almighty God.

The Holy One in the midst of thee] Though Israel had deeply revolted, set up golden gods, and done wickedly as they could, so that there was no visible Church among them, yet God was the Holy One in the midst of them; seven thousand he had reserved that Elijah knew not of, 1 Kings 19:18, and a Church there was in Israel when at worst. Like as there was in medio Papatu, in the darkest midnight of damned Popery; and at this very day there are said to be thousands of professed Protestants, even in Italy itself; and in Seville, a chief city of Spain, there are thought to be no fewer than twenty thousand.

And I will not enter into the city] I will not invade the city as an enemy, to waste all with fire and sword, as once at Sodom. For what reason? there are holy ones in the midst of thee (so Rivet expoundeth it by an enallage of the number), a considerable company of righteous people, for whose sake I will spare thee, Jeremiah 5:1.


Verse 10

Hosea 11:10 They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

Ver. 10. They shall walk after the Lord] Powerfully calling them by his Word and Spirit, going before them, and bringing up the rear, Isaiah 3:12; their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them, Micah 2:13. There was a time when they fled from God, Hosea 7:13, and said, "I will go after my lovers," &c. Hosea 2:5-7. Now they are of another mind and other manners; they shall walk after the Lord, non pedibus sed affectibus; they shall be carried after him with strength of desire and delight, which he shall work in them; they shall follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, Revelation 14:4. God’s people are said in Scripture to walk before him in godly sincerity, to walk with him in a humble familiarity, to walk after him in a holy conformity, yielding unto him the obedience of faith. As Israel in the wilderness, so must we, follow God and the line of his law, though it seem to lead us in and out, backward and forward (as them), as if he were treading a maze.

He shall roar like a lion] By the preaching of the gospel he shall shake heaven and earth. The voice of the gospel is, repent. Aut poenitendum, aut pereundum, except ye repent ye shall all perish. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," was a terrible voice, Mark 16:16. Of the lion it is reported, that he roareth so fiercely that the rest of the creatures stand amazed; and that, whereas his own whelps come dead into the world, he roareth over them and reviveth them. Afterwards, when he meeteth with prey, he roareth for them to come about him. Let this be applied to the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Confer Joel 3:16.

Then the children shall tremble from the west] The children of grace, Deuteronomy 14:1, shall join themselves in spirit to the communion of the Church from all the ends of the world, where they have been scattered; they shall serve the Lord with fear, rejoice with trembling. The ancient Hebrews applied this promise to the coming of the Messiah; only they dreamed of an earthly kingdom of his, as did also the disciples, being soured with the leaven of the Pharisees. Others think it to be a prophecy of the conversion and calling of the Jews, to be accomplished in the last days; as also of the general spreading of the gospel, and gathering of the elect, far and wide, from one end of the heavens to another. And this they call the time of the restitution of all things.


Verse 11

Hosea 11:11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.

Ver. 11. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt] Trepide accurrent, so Tremellius; they shall run tremblingly. Fear causeth haste. Men delay and trifle till God strikes their hearts with fear; then it is Ecce ego, mitre me, Here I am, send me; Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth; What wilt thou have me to do, Lord? &c. Timor addidit alas. As the doves when pursued by the hawk fly quicky into their dove cotes, as birds frightened fly to their nests, and other creatures to their holes and harbours; so do those that are pricked at heart with the terrors of the law flee to the precious promises of the gospel, hiding themselves in the wounds of Christ crucified, and are relieved. All St Paul’s care was, that when he was sought for by the justice of God, he might be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, Philippians 3:9.

And as a dove out of the land of Assyria] i.e. out of what country soever, where they shall be scattered, I will recollect them by my gospel, which is therefore called God’s arm, because thereby he gathereth his elect into his bosom. Doves fly swiftly, Psalms 55:6, and by flocks, Isaiah 60:8; so shall the elect to Christ, both of Jews and Gentiles. By the children of the west may be meant these western Churches, and plus the northern parts. By Egypt, the whole south. By Asshur, all the eastern tract, those large and mighty kingdoms that lie eastward from Judea, even to the sunrising. Thus "many shall come from east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven," Matthew 8:11. The molten sea stood upon twelve oxen, which looked to all the four quarters of the world; so did the twelve gates of the new Jerusalem.

And I will place them in their houses] Not in strong garrisons, but in their own houses; where they shall dwell securely under their own vines and fig trees; for they shall have the gospel of peace and the peace of the gospel, see 2 Samuel 7:10. Or thus, I will place them in their own houses, that is, in my Church (saith Polanus), which hath its houses and places of receipt among all people the whole world throughout, where they may serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all their days. Thus the apostles in their travels, wherever they came, found brethren, &c., and having nothing, yet they possessed all things, 2 Corinthians 6:10. True tranquillity and sound security is to be found nowhere but in Christ, Micah 4:4; Micah 5:5, nor by any but by those that hear him roaring, and calling them to the participation of his grace and peace. Those that hearken to Christ’s oracles shall dwell in his tabernacle.


Verse 12

Hosea 11:12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

Ver. 12. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies] They get about me as if they would do me doughty service (Psalms 76:11, the saints are called a people that are round about God; and Psalms 148:14, a people near unto him, and that compasseth his altar. See Revelation 4:4), but all is but counterfeit; a mere imposture, a loud lie, Psalms 78:36, whereby they would deceive me of heaven if they could; putting upon me false coin silvered over a little; and circumventing me, if it lay in their power. But what saith Bernard? Sapiens nummularius Deus est; nummum fictum non recipiet. God is a wise mint man; there is no beguiling him with counterfeit coin. Hypocrisy (that real lie) is an odious, a complexive evil; for it hath in it, 1. Guile, opposite to simplicity, as intending to beguile God, which he cannot, and man, which he fain would, and often doth, to farther his worldly and wicked designs, as Judas, Herod, Matthew 2:8, Pharisees, Matthew 23:14. 2. Falsehood, opposite to truth; as only acting religion, playing devotion, compassing God with deceit, as the house of Israel here, deceiving him not by impotence only, and in the event, but by imposture, and so in purpose; contenting themselves with a show, with a semblance, Luke 8:18, with a form of knowledge, Romans 2:20, and of godliness, 2 Timothy 3:5, rather seeming to be good than seeking to be so. These are hell’s freeholders; and other sinners are said but to have their part with them. There are those who thus interpret this text: "Ephraim compasseth me," the prophet preaching mercy, and promising good things, they beset me, and gather close about me, as desirous of my doctrine: but it is in mendacio, in hateful hypocrisy, {see Ezekiel 33:31-32} and when I cross them never so little, they craftily conspire to prejudice my ministry, to asperse my person, &c. To preach, saith one, is nothing else but to derive the rage of the whole world upon a man’s self, to become the butt mark, yea, the centre ad quod omnes lineae dolorum tendunt, to which all the lines of lies and falsehoods do tend (Meisner in loc.).

But Judah yet ruleth with God] To serve God is to rule with him; as Livia said, she ruled her husband Augustus by obeying him. It is the greatest liberty, Romans 6:18; Romans 6:22, 1 Peter 2:16. Abraham was a prince of God. Jacob prevailed with God, and had power as a prince, Genesis 32:28. Moses (as if he had been chancellor of heaven) overruled the business, and God is fain to bespeak his own freedom, Exodus 32:10. Judah also is here said to rule with God, to be potent with him; because God was sincerely served among them, and they held fast their first integrity; the true religion was openly professed, and the true worship of God incorruptly maintained in the temple at Jerusalem. This made Abijah (though none of the best) so boldly to boast, and he prevailed; so that there fell down of Israel slain 500,000, 2 Chronicles 13:10; 2 Chronicles 13:17, and yet the men of Judah that slew them were but 400,000 in all, Hosea 11:3. Israel’s apostasy is here aggravated by Judah’s integrity; they were not under the temptation of evil example. Judah was the worse for them, and not they for Judah.

And is faithful with the saints] Or, with the most Holy: he keepeth the faith to God, those holy ones, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (so some sense it), as Joshua 24:19, Proverbs 9:10; he is far from those false and fraudulent dealings wherewith the ten tribes seek to circumvent and beguile God. Or thus, Judah is faithful with the saints of former ages; he holds to his old principles, to the good old way, wherein Abraham and the other ancients went before him. He is also faithful with such as are sanctified, the true priests of God, consecrated to himself, and set apart for holy use: in opposition to the ten tribes, who went after those leaden priests made by Jeroboam of the lower sort of the people, and well fitted to golden deities. Lastly, he is faithful with the people of God, those good souls that left the ten tribes and went to Judah, to the true worship of God. With these Judah was faithful, courteous, and communicative; embracing and encouraging them all that might be. This was a singular commendation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hosea-11.html. 1865-1868.

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