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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Hosea 7

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 7:1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, [and] the troop of robbers spoileth without.

Ver. 1. When I would have healed Israel, &c.] Whereas Israel, hearing of a happy harvest promised to Judah, Hosea 6:11, and themselves excluded, might complain of hard dealing; God shows them here, that crudelem medicum intemperans aeger facit, the fault was merely in themselves. God came with his healing medicines to have cured them, but they hated to be healed, and, like madmen, railed and raged against the physician, spilt the portions, would have none of those slibber-sauces, (a) as they accounted them; yea, as if on purpose to cross God,

then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness ( malitia multiplex) of Samaria] Of so perverse a spirit were they; and therefore (in Solomen’s judgment, Proverbs 12:8) worthy to have been despised and let alone to perish in their corruptions. In Hippocrates’ time the physicians were bound by oath to leave such under their wounds to perish by them as were unruly, and would not be ordered. "We would have healed Babylon," (saith the Church), "but she would not be healed; forsake her therefore," saith God, Jeremiah 51:9. "Let them alone," saith Christ, Matthew 15:14. That which will die, let it die: a fearful sentence. Let them swelter and pine away in their iniquities, Leviticus 26:39. In their filthiness is lewdness, their disease is complicated, it is the leprosy in the head, it breaketh forth in their forehead, and my people love to have it so; but "what will they do in the end thereof?" Jeremiah 5:31. Ephraim here discovereth a headstrong wilfulness that was uncounsellable, incurable. He runs away after conviction, with a bit between his teeth, as it were; he runs, I say, upon the rock, Amos 6:12, where he first breaketh his hoofs, and then his neck. Some grow desperately sinful, like those Italian senators, that despairing of their lives (when upon submission they had been promised their lives, yet), being conscious of their villany, made a curious banquet; and at the end thereof every man drank up his glass of poison: and killed himself. So men, feeling such horrible hard hearts, and privy to such notorious sins they cast away souls and all for lust; and perish woefully, because they lived desperately, and so securely. It is a fearful sign of reprobation when God’s means and medicines do men no good, but hurt rather; when medicine, which should remove the disease, doth co-operate with it, then death comes with the more pain and speed. The stronger the conviction of sin is the deeper will be the wrath against it, if it be not by repentance avoided.

For they commit falsehood] They do not the truth, 1 John 1:6, but deal falsely, Jeremiah 6:13, every one of them, from the prophet even to the priest; they work a deceitful work, Proverbs 11:18, their bellies prepare deceit, Job 15:35, they have an art in lying, in stitching one lie to another, as the word signifieth, Psalms 119:69, Assuunt mendacium mendacio. Idolatry is a real lie, as she in the Book of Martyrs answered the doctor, that asked her, Dost thou believe that the body of Christ is in the sacrament of the altar really and substantially? I believe, said she, that so to hold is a real lie, and a substantial lie. These idolaters having played false with God, and treacherously dealt with him, what wonder though they lie, deceive, rob, spoil, both within doors and without, in private negotiations and public transactions? but especially forge lies against those that withstood their superstitious vanities, and prey upon their goods, as Hebrews 10:34. Sublata pietate tollitur fides, is a truth irrefutable. Take away piety, and fidelity is gone; as we see in that unrighteous judge, Luke 18:2, and as Abraham concluded of the men of Gerar, Genesis 20:11, and lastly, as Constantinus Chlorus, the father of Constantine the Great, experimented in his own councillors and courtiers; whence that famous maxim of his, recorded by Eusebius: He cannot be faithful to me who is unfaithful to God; religion being the ground of all true fidelity and loyalty.


Verse 2

Hosea 7:2 And they consider not in their hearts [that] I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.

Ver. 2. And they consider not in their hearts] Heb. They say not in their hearts; that is, they set not down themselves with this consideration, they commune not with their consciences upon this most needful, but much neglected matter. A good man’s work lieth much within doors; he loves to be dealing with himself, and working good and wholesome considerations upon his own affections. He is never less alone than when he is alone; for still he hath God and himself to talk to.

That I remember all their wickedness] i.e. Record and register them, as in a book, with a pen of iron and point of a diamond, Jeremiah 17:1; that I seal them up in a bag, Job 14:17, as the clerk of assizes seals up indictments, and at the assizes brings his bag, and produceth them. "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?" Deuteronomy 32:34. So little reason is there that wicked men should please themselves in hope of impunity. And yet they do, Psalms 94:7, they strive to persuade themselves that the Lord doth not see, neither doth the God of Jacob remember: they hide God from themselves, and then think they have hid themselves from him. Herein they are alike foolish as the ostrich, a bird as big as a camel, and taller than a man (Plin. lib. x., cap. 1). When this bustard (a) would hide herself she thrusts her head into a thicket, as conceiving that nobody seeth her because she seeth nobody, and so becomes a prey to the hunter. Caveatur carnalis securitas. Let us walk evermore in the sense of God’s presence, unless we had rather be carnally secured than soundly comforted.

Now their own doings have beset them about] Their studied wickedness, studia eorum (Tigurin), their contrived iniquities, so Luther expounds the word doings; for wicked men are great students, and break many a night’s sleep in pernicious ploddings, Proverbs 4:16. But as the blackbird is taken by birdlime made of his own excrements, so is the wicked beset by his own devices; as by so many sergents set on by God. Some think (and not without probable reason) that the prophet in this phrase of besetting them about alludeth to the future siege of Samaria; wherein these sinners against their own souls were so straitly beset by the enemy, that they could not flee or stir without danger. And this he saith shall befall them. Now, that is, shortly, and sooner than they think for. Indeed, how should it be otherwise, whereas their doings

are before my face] E regione et velut adversa ac detestata, Together and in full view, as a continual eye sore to me, Psalms 59:5; Psalms 90:8; so that though I could or would forget them, yet they will not suffer me to do so; such is their impudence, and importunace for vengeance. Lyra makes it a metaphor, from a thief taken in the act, with his back burden of stolen goods, and, as it were, beset with them, and so brought before the judge. "His own iniquities shall take the wicked," saith Solomon, Proverbs 5:22. For how can he escape the multitude of his sins within him, and the variety of God’s heavy judgments without him?


Verse 3

Hosea 7:3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.

Ver. 3. They make the king glad with their wickedness] A sad commentary surely of king and people, exhilarating themselves and each other in wickedness. Their kings were well paid of their people’s compliances with their unlawful edicts; and the people no less well pleased to gratify and flatter their kings, as the Romans did Tiberius and other tyrants, who therefore said of them, that they were servum pecus, servile souls, et homines ad servitutem parati, men-made slaves. Tyrants care not how wicked their subjects are; for then they know they will swallow down any command, though never so impious, without scrupling or conscience-making. They like to have such about them as will down with anything, digest iron for a need, with the ostrich; and say, as that wretched man said (when one complained he could not do such a thing for his conscience), "I am master of my conscience, I can do anything for all that." Thus Balaam resolved to curse, whatever came of it; he went not aside as at other times, neither built he any more altars, but set his face towards the wilderness, as fully bent to do it, and nothing should hinder him now, Numbers 24:1-2 cf. Luke 9:51. He also gave wicked counsel to King Balak (and so made him glad at parting, though before he had angered him) to lay a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, viz. to set fair women to tempt them to corporal and spiritual fornication, that God might see sin flagrant in Jacob, some transgression in Israel, and so fall foul upon them with his plagues, Numbers 23:21. Parasites propound to kings suavia potius quam sana consilia, pleasing, but pestilent counsel; they also act for them, and under them, as Doeg did for Saul, and so gratify them, letify them, as here, make them glad; but it proves to be no better than risus Sardonius, such a mirth as brings bitterness in the end. Woe to such mirthmongers and mirth makers, for if they shall do thus wickedly, they shall be consumed, both they and their king, 1 Samuel 12:25.

And the princes with their lies] With calumnies and false accusations, wherewith they load God’s innocent servants, and that against their own consciences. Thus Doeg dealt by David, the priests and prophets by Jeremiah, the Persian courtiers by Daniel and his companions, Amaziah by Amos, Haman by the whole nation of the Jews, Tertullus by Paul, the heathen idolaters by the primitive Christians, which caused those many apologies made for them by Tertullian, Athenagoras, and others. If a ruler hearken to lies (and that is a common fault among them, as David tells Saul, 1 Samuel 24:9) all his servants will be wicked, Proverbs 29:12; he shall have his Aiones and Negones that will say as he says, and fit his humour to a hair; he shall have plenty of such as will slander the saints and cast an odium upon the conscientious. I once saw (saith Melancthon) an old coin, on the one side whereof was Zopyrus, on the other Zoilus; he adds, fuit imago aulae, comitantur calumniae bene merentes, It was a picture of princes’ courts, where are store of such as, by flattery, daub white upon black, and, by calumny, sprinkle black upon white.


Verse 4

Hosea 7:4 They [are] all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, [who] ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.

Ver. 4. They are all adulterers] εξεκαυσθησαν, adulterio caleseunt, so Paguine, scalded in their base lusts, as those in Romans 1:27, all (for the most part) were such; but especially the courtiers and clawback informers, as Hosea 7:3, God, in his just judgment, giving them up to those vile affections or passions of dishonour, and punishing their impieties with impurities, as he did also in those heathens, Romans 1:23.

As an oven heated by the baker] An apt similitude setting forth the intense heat of filthy lust (better marry than burn, 1 Corinthians 7:9), and of long continuance as the heat of an oven; yea, of Nebuchadnezzar’s oven, yea, of hell itself, whence it was enkindled, and where it shall be perpetually punished. The holy angels at the last day will be most active against such, to bring them to condign punishment: 2 Peter 2:10, "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness." Note the word chiefly, and consider the example of the Sodomites, and God most severe against them, Hebrews 13:4. How much they have lived deliciously, and drenched themselves in fleshly delights, so much torments and sorrow shall they have proportionably, Revelation 18:7. As their hearts have been as a hot oven or furnace, so they shall be bound up in bundles, and cast into a furnace of fire, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 13:42.


Verse 5

Hosea 7:5 In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.

Ver. 5. In the day of our king] Our good king, on whom they so much doted, that they forgot God and his sincerer service. Quaecunque a regibus dicuntur aut fiunt, Gallis mirifice solet placere. It is reported of the French by their own chronicles, that they are wonderfully well pleased with whatsoever is said or done by their king (Epit. Hist. Gallor. 134); so that they affect to speak like him, to be arrayed like him, and to imitate him in everything. Their song is, Mihi placet quicquid Regi placet. But is not this to idolize the creature? and have not many (otherwise well minded men) among us been by this means miscarried to their cost in our late combustions? This day of their king was either his birthday (so Pagnine rendereth it here, die natalis eius), or his coronation day (so the Chaldee paraphrast carrieth it), which also is the birthday of a king as he is king, 1 Samuel 13:1, unless haply he have the happiness to be crowned (not in his cradle only, as Europus, king of Macedon, and the late King James were, but) in his mother’s womb, as Misdaetus, king of Persia, was, the crown being set upon his mother’s great belly before he was born. Now in this solemn day of the king (when they should have been better busied), the princes have made him sick, or the princes were sick, they drank themselves sick, drowning their bodies and souls (as Richard III did his brother Clarence) in a butt of Malmsey. How many importunate and impudent drinkers are there, that by drinking other men’s health destroy their own! See Master Prinne’s Health’s-sickness, and accord him that said,

Una salus sanis, nullam potare salutem,

Non est in pota vera salute salus. ”

But what beastly bedlams, or rather incarnate devils, were those three drunkards mentioned by Jo. Manlius in his Common Places, who drank so long till one of them fell down stark dead; and yet the other two, nothing terrified with such a dreadful example of divine vengeance, went on to drink, and poured the dead man’s part into him as he lay by them? Oh horrible! Drunkenness is a detestable vice in any, but especially in men of place and power, Proverbs 31:4. Woe be to those drunken vice-gods (as I may in the worst sense best call them), woe to the very crown of their pride, in drinking down many, Isaiah 28:1, as Mark Antony wrote, or rather spued out, a book concerning his own abilities to bear strong drink! Darius also boasted of the same faculty in his very epitaph: a poor praise. Drunkenness in a king is a capital sin, and makes the land reel; witness Belshazzar carousing in the bowels of the sanctuary to the honour of Shar, his drunken god; Alexander the Great drinking himself to death, and killing forty-one more with excessive drinking, to get that crown of one hundred and eighty pounds weight, which he had provided for him that drank most (hence those feast days were called σακεαι ημεραι, they were like the Roman Saturnalia); Bonosus the emperor, that beastly drunkard, called therefore a tankard, ( Hic pendet Amphora); and Tiberius, surnamed Biberius, for his tippling; like as Erasmus, called Eccius Ieccius, for the same cause: and well he might; for as he lived a shameful drunkard, so being nonplust at Ratisbon by Melancthon in a public disputation, and drinking more tban was fit that night at the Bishop of Mundina’s lodgings (who had among the best Italian wines), he fell into a fever, whereof he died. Drunkenness is a flattering evil, a sweet poison, a cunning Circe, that besots the soul, destroys the body, dolores gignit in capite, in stomacho, in tote corpore acerrimos, grievous diseases and dolours in the head, stomach, whole man. At the last "it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder," Proverbs 23:32. The drunkard saith, as the vine in Jotham’s parable, Non possum relinquere vinum meum, Take away my liquor, you take away my life. But it proves to him in the issue like that wine mentioned by Moses, Deuteronomy 32:33 : their wine is the poison of dragons, and cruel venom of asps, which makes the spirits warm, and the body sick to death.

With bottles of wine] Or, with heat through wine, as Isaiah 5:11, and so Jarchi expoundeth it. The same word signifieth the poison of a serpent, Psalms 58:4, which inflameth and killeth: confer Proverbs 23:32, and think of that cup of fire and brimstone, Psalms 11:6, to be one day turned down the wide gullets of intemperate drinkers; which will be much worse to them than was that ladle full of boiling lead, which the Turkish bashaw caused to be poured down the throat of a drunken wretch, without giving him any respite for the recovery of his lost wits.

He stretched out his hand with scorners] He, that is, the king, forgetting his kingly dignity, authority, and gravity (for there is a decorum, το πρεπον, to be observed in every calling, but by great ones especially), stretched out his hand, as a companion and comrade, as a hail-fellow-well-met (as they say), prostituting his regal authority to every scoundrel that would pledge him; or at least, giving them his hand to kiss, which Job saith God will not do, Job 8:20.

With scorners] Those worst of men, Psalms 1:1, those pests, ακολαστοι λοιμοι, as the Septuagint here render it, those incorrigible persons, as they translate the word, Proverbs 20:1, where also it is fitly said, that wine is a mocker, because it maketh men mockers. Hence that of David, "with hypocritical mockers at feasts they gnashed upon me with their teeth," Psalms 35:16. And that holy jealousy of Job for his children, lest (while they were feasting and merry-making) they should curse God, or mock at men. Tales enim evadunt qui strenue helluantur (Tarnov.). It is ordinary with such as are full-gorged with good cheer, and throughly heated with wine, to set their mouths against heaven, and to license their tongues to walk through the earth, Psalms 73:9; they have a flout to fling, and a fool’s bolt to shoot at their betters by many degrees; yea, though they be kings that do it (as here), they stretch out their hands with scorners, and jeer at the power and profession of godliness; they are no better than base fellows, as great Antiochus is called, Daniel 11:21, and as Kimchi upon this text noteth from his Father, that those that at the beginning of the feast or compotation were here called princes, are afterwards, when they fell to quafflngand flouting, called (in contempt) scoffers and scorners. Polanus and others, by stretching out the hand, understand, ad aequales haustus potare, &c., a drinking share and share alike with every base companion, till drunk; they became despicable. Nempe ubi, neque mens, neque pes suum facit officium. The Greeks, when they meet at feasts or banquets, drink small draughts at first, which by degrees they increase, till they come to the height of intemperance. Hence Graecari, and as merry as a Greek. How much better those Spartans, of whom the poet,

Quinetiam Spartae mos est laudabilis ille,

Ut bibat arbitrio pocula quisque suo? ”

How much better the Persians in Esther’s time, Esther 1:8, "the drinking was according to the law, none did compel," &c. And what a drunken beast was Domitius, the father of Nero, who slew Liberius, an honest Roman, because he refused to take up his cups, as he commanded him! (Sueton.). The Carthaginians made a law, that none of their magistrates during their office should drink any wine. Romulus being invited to a feast, would not drink much, quia postridie negotium haberet, because he had public business to despatch on the morrow. Ahasuerus, drinking more freely on the first day of the feast, became so frolic, that in his mirth he forgot what was convenient; and guided by his passions, sent for Vashti, Esther 1:5; Esther 1:10.


Verse 6

Hosea 7:6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.

Ver. 6. For they have made ready their hearts like an oven] As an oven red-hot is ready to bake whatsoever is cast into it, so are wicked men’s hearts, heated from hell, prepared for any evil purpose or practice that the devil shall suggest ( ad male cogitandum, Pagnin., ad pessima facinora, Tigur.); but especially to lie in wait for blood, and to hunt every man his brother with a net, Micah 7:2. David complains of some that lay in wait for his soul, Psalms 59:8, that Satanically hated him, Psalms 38:20; Psalms 7:13; Psalms 109:4; Psalms 109:6; Psalms 109:20; Psalms 109:29; that sought his soul to destroy it; not his life only, but his soul too; as that monster of Milan did, that made his adversary first forswear Christ in hope of life, and then, stabbing him to the heart, said, Now go thy ways soul and body to the devil; and as the Papists dealt by John Huss and Jerome of Prague, to whom they denied a confessor, which he required, after the manner of those times, to fit him for heaven; and for John Huss, after they had burnt him, how despitefully did they beat his heart (which was left untouched by the fire) with their staves! Besides that the bishops, when they put the triple crown of paper (painted with ugly devils on it) on his head, they said, Now we commit thy soul to the devil. Did not these men’s hearts burn like an oven with hellish rage and cruelty?

Their baker sleepeth all the night] Concoquens illa, scilicet corda, so Vatabius. He that concocteth or worketh their hearts, that is, the devil, as some interpret it, or evil concupiscence, as others; tota nocte protrahitur furor eorum, so the Chaldee; their rage is deferred, or drawn out to the length all night long, till in the morning, i.e. at a convenient season, it break out and bestir itself. A metaphor from a baker, who casting fire into the oven with good store of lasting fuel, lets it burn all night and sleeps securely; as knowing that he shall find it thoroughly hot in the morning. Those scorners in the former verse, by being overly familiar with their drunken king, came not only to fight him for his base behaviours, but also to conspire against him, and to plot his death; wherein their heart is the oven, ambition the fire, treason the flame of that fire, Satan, that old manslayer, the baker; who, though he make as if he slept all night, yet by the morning he hath set his agents, the traitors, to work (either by secret treacheries or open seditions) to do as in the next verse, and as is to be seen, 2 Kings 15:10; 2 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:25; 2 Kings 15:30.


Verse 7

Hosea 7:7 They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: [there is] none among them that calleth unto me.

Ver. 7. They are all hot as an oven] That none might post it off to others, all are accused of this mad desire to do mischief; as all the Sodomites, full and whole, young and old, came clattering about Lot’s house, Genesis 19:4. ( Dedit haec contagio labem, Et dabit in plures. Juven. Sat. 2.)

And have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen, &c.] sc. being slain with the sword of those that succeeded them in the throne, as may be read, 2 Kings 15:8-9, &c., and as it was in the Roman state, where all or most of the Caesars, till Constantine, died unnatural deaths. Neither was it much better here in England during the difference between the two houses of York and Lancaster; wherein were slain fourscore princes of royal blood, and twice as many natives of England as were lost in the two conquests of France. This is the fruit of sin: Proverbs 28:2, "For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof"; either many at once (as once here in the heptarchy), or many ejecting and succeeding one another, to the great calamity and utter undoing of the people by their new lords, new laws.

There is none among them that calleth unto me] Though in so great a confusion, and under so heavy calamities: a strange stupor, that there should be none to set to his shoulder to shore up the falling state. None there were (to speak of) in a considerable number of praying people to stand in the gap, and to divert the Divine displeasure. Their sins cried loud for vengeance, their blood guiltiness especially. But had there been but a few voices more of praying saints, their prayers had haply out cried them. A few birds of song are shriller than many crocitating birds of prey; stir up yourselves, therefore, ye that are God’s remembrancers, to take hold of him, and give him no rest. Lie night and day at the gate of his grace, knocking thereat by the hand of faith, and praying for the peace of our Jerusalem. If England’s fears were greater, thy prayers might preserve it, Jeremiah 5:1; as, if our hopes were greater, thy sin and security aright undo it, Ecclesiastes 9:18.


Verse 8

Hosea 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

Ver. 8. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people] viz. in confederacies, marriages, manners, superstitions. They were conformed to those nations from whom God had separated them with a wonderful separation, Exodus 33:16, and put them up by themselves from all the world in the promised land, as it were in an island, Isaiah 20:6. And this they had done not once, but often, as the conjugation importeth; and that wilfully, without any necessity; yea and that constantly and of custom, or desperate obstinace (Heb. יתבלל he will mingle himself). so that there was little difference to be discerned between Ephraim, the professed people of God: and profane heathens. Hence that, Amos 9:7. "Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord." Hence Saul is called Cush, or an Ethiopian, fox his black and ill conditions, Psal. vii., title, as the Chaldee interpreteth it. Cast we may be upon bad company, but we must not mingle with them. The rivers of Peru, after they have run into the main sea, yea, some write twenty or thirty miles, they keep themselves unmixed with the salt water; so that a very great way within the sea men may take up as fresh water as if they were near the land. At Belgrad, in Hungary, where the Danube and Sava (two great rivers) meet, their waters mingle no more than water and oil (Abbat’s Geog.); not that either float above other: but join unmixed: so that near the middle of the river I have gone in a boat (saith mine author, Sir Henry Blount), and tasted of the Danube as clear and pure as a well; then putting mine hand not an inch farther, I have taken of the Sava as troubled as a street-channel, tasting the gravel in my teeth. Thus they run 60 miles together, and for a day’s journey I have been an eyewitness of it. To come nearer home, the river Dee, in Merionethshire, running through Pemblemere, remains entire, and mingleth not her streams with the water of the lake. Let not Ephraim mix himself among the people, but cry with David, "Gather not my soul with sinners," Psalms 26:9, and Hosea 7:5, "I have hated the congregration of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked,"

Ephraim is a cake not turned] And so but half-baked, or dough-baked; neque crudus, neque coctus, neither hot nor cold, as Laodicea, Revelation 3:15, halting between two, as 1 Kings 18:21. Mongrels, as those 2 Kings 17:33, Zephaniah 1:5. Barnacles, that are neither fish nor flesh; Amphibians, that will conform to the world, and yet seem to be for the Lord. But he likes no such retainers, no such holy day servants; he requireth to be served truly, that there be no halting; and totally, that there be no halving; he cannot away with dough baked duties. Men must be "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," they must he "zealous of good works," if they look to be accepted, Romans 12:11, Titus 2:14. The "effectual fervent prayer," or the thorough wrought prayer, "of a righteous man availeth much," James 5:16, ενεργουμενη. A cake that is half baked, half burnt pleaseth not the palate; no more do customary, formal, bedulling performances please the Lord. It is Gualther’s note upon this text; As a cake, saith he, that is raw on the one side and scorched on the other is cast away; so hypocrites that are hot in their superstitions, but cold in their devotions, are rejected of God;

Introrsum turpes, speciosi pelle decora.

I know the words are otherwise interpreted by Luther, Mercer, Polanus, and others, with reference to the following words, thus: that Ephraim’s adversaries, even those strangers with whom he hath mixed himself, shall be so greedy to devour him, that they shall not stay till he be baked on both sides, but shall eat him raw. But I like the former better.


Verse 9

Hosea 7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it] not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.

Ver. 9. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not] Strange stupidity, such as was that of Samson, who had lost his hair, and therewith his strength, and wist not at it. These strangers were the kings of Syria, but especially of Assyria. See 2 Kings 13:7; 2 Kings 14:25-27; 2 Kings 15:19-20; 2 Kings 15:29-30; 2 Kings 17:6. Salmanasar, as a deep gulf, swallowed them up whole. Now that they should not know how these strangers had devoured their strength, that is, their wealth and warlike power, this was very strange. The Chaldee paraphrast helps us to the meaning of it; Non novit formidare a facie mea. He knew it not, that is, he knew not how to fear before me, to tremble at my judgments, and to flee to my mercies; this he knew not, that is, he cared not to do, as the old world "knew not till the flood came," though fairly forewarned, Matthew 24:39, and as the Greeks would not know that the Turks had invaded their empire till they were got into the very bowels of it. So was it with Ephraim. A spirit of pride and of slumber had so surprised and seized him, that he took no knowledge of the enemies and evils that were upon him. Thus the spiritual sleeper stirs not, with Saul, though the waterpot and spear be taken from his bolster. Like the foolish hen, which loseth her chickens one by one by the devouring kite; when one, or two, or three, are snatched away, she still continues to pick up what lies before her. It is our wisest way to observe and improve God’s dealings with us, to be sensible of his strokes, and to return to him that smote us, and can as soon heal us, if we come to him for cure, Leviticus 26:40.

Yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him] Heb. sprinkled, sparci, non spissi. He began but to decline and decay, as a man doth when he grows toward fifty. And as gray hairs come the sooner through cares and grief (histories tell us of a young man, who being for some capital offence condemned to die, grew gray in one night’s space, and was therefore pitied and spared), and are forerunners and forewarners of death. So the many and grievous miseries inflicted upon this people foreshowed their utter destruction to be even at next door by. And this the rather, because they knew it not (as before), but (as it is said of the Flemings) that the older they grow the foolisher they are, Quo magis senescunt eo magis stultescunt (Erasm. Apoph.). Cleanthes was wont sometimes to chide himself; Ariston wondering thereat, asked him, whom chidest thou? Cleanthes laughed and answered, I chide an old fellow, qui canos quidem habet, sed mentem non habet, who hath gray hairs indeed, but lacks understanding and prudence worthy of them. It was Chrysippus (I think) that offered to the world that sore distribution and choice, Aut mentem, nut restim comparandam, Either get wit worthy of your years, or go out of the world by a halter. That of Eleazer is very remarkable, who would not do anything which might seem to be evil, because he would not spot his white head. Gray hairs should be a strong argument to move men to live blamelessly (because "old age is a crown, when found in the way of righteousness," as it is said of Abraham, that he went to his grave with a "good gray head," Proverbs 16:31, Genesis 25:8); and gray hairs in a state, that is, lesser and lighter judgments, should make men prepare to meet and prevent God; because, as in a house, stillicidia praecedunt ruinam, and as in a man gray hairs foresignify death, so do these desolation, if course be not timely taken.


Verse 10

Hosea 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

Ver. 10. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face] Sept. the ignominy, or impudence of Israel: q.d. They think to brave it out in a stout and stomachful way. Low they are, but not lowly; humbled, but not humble. God thrust him downward, as it were with a thump on the back; but he stood stouting it out with him; and so discovered a great deal of arrogance and folly. Plectimur, may such say, nec tamen flectimur; Corripimur sed non corrigimur (Salvian.). We have been stricken, but not sick; beaten, but not sensible, &c.; the drunkards’ ditty, Proverbs 23:35. When for all this, for all that God can do to tame them, and turn them again, they will on in their wicked ways, and not "accept the punishment of their iniquities"; not confess and forsake their sins, that they have mercy; not seek him, that is, come unto him by faith, Hebrews 11:6, and subject themselves unto him by true obedience, 2 Chronicles 7:14, this is such a piece of pride as testifieth to men’s faces, that they deserve to be destroyed; this is wickedness with a witness; this is fastus adeo enormis atque notorius, saith Pareus, such horrible and notorious insolence, as is not to be endured. God complains of Israel for this with a sigh, Ah sinful nation, &c., and resolves upon revenge, Hosea 7:12. {See Trapp on "Hosea 5:5"} of turning to God. See Zechariah 1:3, and of seeking God, see Hosea 5:15.


Verse 11

Hosea 7:11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

Ver. 11. Ephraim also is like a silly dove] That may be drawn any way for want of wit (so the word פיתה signifieth), easily persuaded, enticed, deceived. The Septuagint render it ανους, insensata, witless, or wanting a heart, as the next words explain it; the heart being put for the understanding, as Jeremiah 5:21, and often in the Proverbs, Proverbs 6:32; Proverbs 11:12; Proverbs 10:13. Lo, such a thing is Ephraim; and yet he holds himself wondrous wise, in calling to Egypt, and going to Assyria for help. Which was as wisely done as if sheep should commit themselves to the wolf for safeguard. The Egyptians were their ancient oppressors; the Assyrians should be shortly their executioners. Between these two, as between two millstones, they had been, and were to be ground to powder, as it were; and yet to these they were ready to run for refuge. This was indeed to be like a silly dove, which flies from the claws of the hawk into the net of the fowler, who will soon make a breakfast of them; or that waits till the fowler be gone, that she may fall upon the bait, never fearing the snare that is laid for her. See 2 Kings 17:4. A serpent’s eye in a dove’s head is a singular ornament. "Be ye wise as serpents, innocent as doves," Matthew 10:16. The serpent, when charmed, stoppeth his ears, by applying one to the earth, and covering the other with his tail. The dove is too credulous and persuasible, dulce canente fistula. She is also dull, and defends not her young ones, as other creatures do. She will sit quiet in her columbary, and see her nest destroyed, her young ones taken away and killed before her eyes, and never offer to rescue or revenge; which the hen and other fowls seem in some sort to do. Lo, such was Ephraim’s stupidity. The Philistines were upon him, the enemies spoiled and made a prey of him, yet he knew it not, as it is Hosea 7:9; he was not affected with it, nor driven to God by it; but either sat still, as the spoiled dove doth in her nest, or upon her dove cot, delighted in the beauty of her feathers, priding herself in the clapping of her wings; or else ran a wrong way for refuge; flew to king Jareb, to human helps, to carnal confederates, which never were true to those that trusted them. See Hosea 5:13. {See Trapp on "Hosea 5:13"} where you shall see that from the Assyrian they had pro praesidio ludibrium as likewise those Christians had that called in the Turk or the like to help them. True it is that religion without policy is too simple to be safe; but it is no less true that policy without religion is too subtle to be good. As the dove without the serpent is easily caught; so the serpent without the dove stings deadly. Let that be held and remembered, that there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord, Proverbs 21:30, and that he takes it very ill when we decline him, and knock at the creature’s door for help, Jeremiah 2:13, shifting and sharking in every bycorner for comfort. This is the devil’s policy, to draw men from God, the Rock of ages (as Joshua did the men of Ai out of their city, Joshua 8:5, and as Bristow counselleth his fellows, the pope’s janissaries, to draw the Lutherans out of their stronghold of the Scriptures, into the open field of councils and fathers), that he may do what he will with them, and destroy them. For he knows, that be our hopes never so high, our helps from the creature never so likely, yet if God deny his concurrence and influence, the arm of flesh (as Jeroboam’s) shrinks up presently; and the strongest sinew of it cracks, and becomes useless.


Verse 12

Hosea 7:12 When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.

Ver. 12. When they go] Yea, flee (as the dove doth very swiftly, pleasing herself in the clapping of her wings and cutting of the air); they cannot flee so high but I shall easily reach them, Obadiah 1:3-4, for in the thing wherein they deal proudly I am above them, Exodus 18:11. I can overtop them, melt their waxen wings, and bring them down with a vengeance. "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." And again, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain," 1 Corinthians 3:19-20. So saith the apostle out of the Psalmist; but with this difference: the Psalmist saith, the "thoughts of men," Psalms 94:11; the apostle, the "thoughs of the wise," meaning the world’s wizards, the choicest and most picked men, the greatest politicians, the most nimble and Mercurial wits: quorum praecordia ex meliore luto finxit Titan. These God will take, saith Paul; he will "lay hold upon them, as they are running away" (so the word significth), "as brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed," 2 Peter 2:12; or as "fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in a snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them," Ecclesiastes 9:12, δρασσομενος, Fugientes in cursu deprehendit manuque iniecta captat (Eras. Annot.).

I will spread my net upon them] As a skilful fowler. By net understand captivity, and other miseries, compared to a net, Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 17:20; Ezekiel 19:8, Lamentations 1:13, Psalms 9:16; wherein being once caught, the more they struggle the faster they stick; the more they seek to extricate themselves, the more they are entangled; snares are round about them, and sudden fear surpriseth them, Job 22:10; the steps of their strength shall be straitened, and their own counsels shall bring them down, Job 18:7.

I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven] Though they may think themselves extra iactum, out of gunshot, I will cause them to descend, as the Hebrew word signifieth; and though lifted up to heaven, as Capernaum, and nested in the clouds; yea, among the stars, as Edom, Obadiah 1:4, yet shall they be brought down to the nethermost hell. God will meet with them in their strays, casting his net over them; or bring them down with his bow, while (with the foolish bird) they are gazing at the bolt: he hath ways enough to hamper such as go out of his way; to be for a trap and for a snare unto them, Isaiah 8:14, to shoot at them with an arrow, suddenly shall they be wounded, Psalms 64:7. "How are they brought into desolation in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terror," Psalms 73:19.

I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard] Or, I will bind them (as a bird is bound in a net that she cannot stir forth), and, by binding, nurture them; as Gideon taught the men of Succoth, by tawing and tearing them with thorns and briars of the wilderness; παιδευσω αυτους, Sept.; ligabo eos, Kimchi. 8:16. "The hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when God bindeth them," Job 36:13. God expects men should cry peccavi, I have sinned, when they are bound as Paul was, to be beaten with rods; and not be silent in darkness, 1 Samuel 2:9, or, not make moan when he hath them under hand. "Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it." Ye must now do so, that would not hear the word sounding in your congregations.

I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard] Crebro et clare, I have plainly and plentifully told them my mind, and foretold them by my prophets what would be the issue of their evil practices. Sed surdo fabulam, They would not hear Moses and the prophets. See 2 Kings 17:13, 2 Chronicles 24:18-19. They thought that my words were but wind, and that all my threats were but in terrorem, to frighten them a little, and not in good earnest, Jeremiah 5:13. Therefore they shall find that "the just Lord is in the midst of them, he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame," Zephaniah 3:5, feareth no colours, trembleth not at God’s word, though it come never so close to his conscience, though it even dash him in the mouth as it were, and make him spit blood. See Jeremiah 7:13.


Verse 13

Hosea 7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.

Ver. 13. Woe unto them! for they have fled from me] As Cain (the devil’s patriarch) did when he went out from the presence of the Lord, in his father’s family, into the land of Nod, Genesis 4:16, being himself a "have not," that is, a runaway, Hosea 7:12, of the same root that is here made use of in the text (Nadedu). Now as that land took name of Cain, and his woeful state therein, so is every land and place a Nod to apostates; and St Jude throws a woe after them, "Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain," 1:11, that is, they have wickedly departed from God and his blessing, and gotten into the world’s warm sun; yea, they not only go from God, but flee from him in hurried haste, as from an enemy; a metaphor from birds flying amain: Proverbs 27:8, "As a bird that wandereth from her nest" (where God took order for her security, Deuteronomy 22:6-7), "so is a man that wandereth from his place" (how much more from his God, that infinite good!), exposed to misery and mischief, to ruth and ruin. Woe to such, yea, double woe: Woe and alas: destruction to such, and devastation, as the word signifieth, שׁר. Perdition and destruction, as the apostle phraseth it, 1 Timothy 6:9, whereby is meant torments without end, and past imagination; remediless misery, mischief without measure. This truth must be told, however it be taken, that wicked men may not perish without warning. Toothless truths and silken words would better please people, who are most of them sick of a Noli me tangere, and cry out against these fierce preachers, that come with their Woe unto them, Destruction unto them, &c. This is the way, say they, to drive men into utter despair. We answer, first, if it should be so, yet that is not the proper effect of the word so dispensed; but to abate the pleasure that reprobates take in sin, and to restrain them from outrage; that they despair, it proceeds merely from their own corruption and guiltiness. They reply, that it comes rather from the severity of the teachers, who set themselves to preach damnation, and utter terrible things. Secondly, therefore, we answer, that the mad world (ever beside itself in point of salvation) is herein very much mistaken. Let them give us an instance of any one that was ever driven to despair by the sincere preaching of the word: and yet for one bitter word given by us, the prophets gave ten. This whole Prophecy of Hosea is much more comminatory then consolatory. God himself comes here with Woe unto them, Destruction to them. Indeed by this pathetic exclamation he declareth his affection toward them whom he threateneth; and how little delight he takes either in their destruction or in such denunciation thereof; and so must God’s ministers, &c.

Because they have transgressed against me] This is a new degree of their apostasy from God. Wicked men and deceivers grow worse and worse, and add rebellion to sin. As a stone will fall down to come to its centre, though it break itself in twenty pieces; so will apostates, till they come to their own place with Judas; they cease not till they become altogether filthy, Psalms 53:3, as the dog at his vomit, or the sow in her slough, 2 Peter 2:22. It fareth with such as in that case, Leviticus 13:18-20; if a man had a boil healed, and it afterwards broke out, it proved the plague of leprosy.

Though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me] All was done against God, whence the word "me" is so often inculcated in this and the next verse. God is, as it were, a sufferer in all the sins of the sons of men; and this is no small aggravation of the evil of sin, that it strikes at God’s face, lifts at his throne, makes to his dishonour. "Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, and wearied me with thine iniquities," Isaiah 43:23. And to show this to be so, it was, that the offender was confined to the city of refuge during the high priest’s life, as being the chief god on earth. Good David was very sensible of this, and much humbled, when he said, "Against thee, thee only have I sinned," Psalms 51:4. The trespass was against Uriah, but the transgression against God, so gracious a God; and there lay the pinch of his grief; viz. the unkindness that was in his sin. Therefore also Moses, in his swan song, sets on this humbling consideration, Deuteronomy 32:6, "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father?" and wilt thou kick against his naked bowels? hast nowhere else to hit him but there? Again, "Is not he thy Redeemer," that hath bought thee, and brought thee out of the iron furnace, where thou labouredst in the very fire, and wast wearied out with unsufferable servitude? More, "hath he not made thee," and dost thou rebel against thy Maker, thy Master? Or, "hath he not made thee," that is, exalted thee? in which sense he is said to have made Moses and Aaron, 1 Samuel 12:6, that is, to have advanced them to that honour in his Church; and so we say, such a one is made for ever. Lastly, "hath he not established thee," that thou mightest abide in his grace, and remain unmoveable? and dost thou yet "evil requite him?" &c. To render good for evil is divine; good for good is human; evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good is devilish. See how grievously God taketh it here. "Though I have redeemed them," viz. out of the hands of their enemies in general (see an ample proof hereof, Nehemiah 9:1-38 and the whole Book of Judges throughout), and in special, as a late particular mercy to Ephraim; I have delivered and prospered them in their wars, under Jeroboam, the son of Joash, 2 Kings 14:27, and therefore they should have given me their good word at least, and spoken good of my name; yet "they have spoken lies against me," ascribing the glory of their deliverances to their idols, or arrogating it to themselves, or fathering their false worship upon me as the author, or at least, abettor thereof, by my present prospering of them. See Jeremiah 7:10.


Verse 14

Hosea 7:14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, [and] they rebel against me.

Ver. 14. And they have not cried unto me with their heart] Hitherto hath been said what they had done; now what they had not done. Omissions are sins as well as commissions. Not serving of God, not sacrificing, is condemned, Malachi 3:18, Ecclesiastes 9:2. Not robbing only, but the not relieving of the poor, was the rich man’s ruin, Luke 16:19. Omission of diet breeds diseases, and makes work for hell, or for the physician of our souls. It is the character of a graceless man, that he calleth not upon God; and we have too many of that profane Earl of Westmoreland’s mind, who said, that he needed not to pray at all, for he had tenants enough to pray for him. Some wicked pray (so as it is; indeed they cant, or charm, rather than pray; Isaiah 26:16, they poured forth a charm, לחשׁ when thy chastening was upon them), but they pray not with their heart. Their hearts are exercised with covetousness, 2 Peter 2:14, and inhabited by the devil, Acts 5:3. Simon Magus’ heart was not right with the Lord, Acts 8:21. How could it be, when it was "in the gall of bitterness, and bond of perdition," Acts 8:23, as every unregenerate heart is? Hence though God be near in their mouths, yet he is far from their reins, Jeremiah 12:2; and though they honour him a little with their lips, yet their heart is far from him, Matthew 15:8. A little artificial breath they can give God; and that is all. The breath that comes from life is warm (as that from the body), whereas artificial breath is cold, as that from bellows. The deeper and hollower the belly of the lute or viol the more pleasant is the sound; the fleeter, the more grating and harsh in our ears. The voice which is made in the mouth is nothing so sweet as that which comes from the depth of the breast. Ephesians 6:6, Do the will of God "from the heart": serve God "in the spirit," Romans 1:9. Lift up hands and hearts to God in the heavens, Lamentations 3:41. Lip labour is but lost labour, yea, it is sin, Proverbs 15:8. Displeasing service is double dishonour; as dissembled sanctity is double iniquity. These men cried vociferabantur, voce stentorea sonum edebant. They did set up their note, yea, they howled upon their beds, whereupon they had cast themselves, being sick, not of wantonness, as once Ahab was, but of want: which made them howl as dogs do when tied up from their meat and hunger bitten; but were no more regarded than a dog that howleth, or than the cuckoo in June. For what reason? They howled indeed to some tune (as they say), the Hebrew word hath a letter more than ordinary, to note as much (Jejelilu). {Hebrew Text Note} It was the heathen fashion to cry hideously to their gods; as also the Indians do to this day. So did these, because kept short, and held to strait allowance. It is said of the ravens of Arabia, that when they are hungry they screech horribly. And a parrot, when he is beaten, utters a hoarse and harsh voice. "The songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day," Amos 8:3; their sacrifices as the cutting off a dog’s neck, which is not done without much howling and yelling, Isaiah 66:3.

They assemble themselves] sc. to make public supplication in their idol temples; called beds before (as some conceive), because as corporal fornication is committed in beds, so is spiritual in those places of superstition. Here therefore they met; not ad ruminandum (as the Vulgate Latin), to feed as beasts, nor to cut and lance themselves as Baal’s priests did (as the Septuagint, κατετεμνοντο), and the heathens in great afflictions, Deuteronomy 14:1. But to howl for wheat, for provender, for daily allowance of food, as now the Papists do in their sacra Ambarvalia; and as of old the Pagans did in extreme famine, or other public calamity: Inops Senatus auxilii humani ad Deos populum et vota convertit: omnia delubra implent (Liv. lib. 3). But as the grasshopper hops not much above the earth, and as vapours exhaled and drawn up by the sun do soon fall down again; so do drossy and earthy hearts in prayers, they seldom rise above grain and wine in their desires. Si ventri bene, si lateri, as Epicurus in Horace. If the belly may be filled, the back fitted, their own turns served, it is enough to them, whose belly is their god, and who mind earthly things only. Which when they have once got, then they rebel against me, they consume it upon their lust, James 4:2, and so fight against God with his own weapons, as Jehu did against Jehoram with his own men; they abuse their store to his dishonour; like grain fed cattle, they kick against their master; or as the young mule, that when she hath sucked her fill, kicks her dam; or as the wild ass, that snuffs up the wind, and cannot be taken. Or, secondly, they rebel after they have assembled themselves, and made a show of no small devotion; when once the duty is over they go to their old courses again, and undo all their prayers, as Jeremiah 5:3, as if, now they had prayed, they had purchased a license to live as they wish. Whereas duties should mightily engage us against sin, and deliverances command obedience.


Verse 15

Hosea 7:15 Though I have bound [and] strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me.

Ver. 15. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms] Quum ego erudivi, so Pagnine, Polanus, and others; when I taught them, or chastened them, as Hosea 7:12, "and strengthened their arms"; there is no and in the original; it is an asyndeton; to show that God had done both for them, together and at once: he had acted the part both of an instructor and of a surgeon (like as, Revelation 3:18, he takes upon him the person both of a rich merchant and a skilful physician); he had done all that could be done to do them good; teaching their hands to war and their fingers to fight, Psalms 144:1, binding up their broken arms, {see Ezekiel 30:24} and strengthening their feeble sinews, their hands that hung down, Hebrews 12:12. After I have scourged them I have re-established them; but what thanks for my labour? what Minerval or pay for my pains? The world’s wages; such as Hercules paid the schoolmaster Linus, whom he knocked on the head, Hoc ictu ceu didactro accepto Linus mortuus est (Buchol.); or as Agricola’s scholars in Germany killed their master with their penknives; or as physicians and surgeons are many times paid by their penurious patients, of whom the poet wittily,

Tres medicus facies habet, unam, quando rogatur;

Angelicam, mox est cum iuvat, ipse Deus.

Ast ubi curato poscit sun munera morbo,

Horridus apparet terribilisque Satan. ”

Yet do they imagine mischief against me] All goes against God. {See Trapp on "Hosea 7:13"} Here they "imagine mischief" against him, as before they "spake lies against him," Hosea 7:13, and acted rebellion against him, Hosea 7:14. Thus they spake and did evil things as they could, Jeremiah 3:5; and the reason of all was, they imagined mischief, cogitabant quasi coagitabant, they were men of wicked devices, Proverbs 12:2, wholly made up of sinful projects and purposes; they plotted and ploughed mischief, and that against God himself (which is horrible); David thought much that his enemies should machinate mischief against him, though but dust and ashes; and threateneth them sore for so doing, Psalms 62:3, "How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence": he meaneth, ye shall be surely and suddenly ruined. What then will become of those Zamzummims that imagine mischief against the Lord? and such a Lord as hath bound and strengthened their arms, that had been broken by the enemies, and sought their good every way, puniendo, muniendo, malis et bonis afficiendo, &c. If they had slipped into some small offence against him, of infirmity and at unawares, it had been nothing so grievous; but to busy their brains, and bend their wits and studies scientes, volentes, et deliberate consilio, to plot and practise mischief, or (as the Septuagint render it) τα πονηρα, mischiefs against God, (for every transgression and disobedience is contrary to his most pure nature and sacred law, and shall therefore "receive a just recompense of reward," Hebrews 2:2), so gracious a God, this is detestable ingratitude. This is as if those in the Gospel should have railed against Christ for raising them from the dead; it is like the matchless mischievousness of that monster Michael Balbus, who that night that his prince pardoned and released him got out and slew him (Zonaras in Annul.). Omne peccatum est deicidium, for although wicked men cannot reach God, yet they reach at him; shooting up their darts against heaven (as the Thracians did once in a storm), and saying in effect as Caligula did to his Jupiter, η μ αναειρ η εγω σε! either kill me or I will kill thee (Herodot. Homer).


Verse 16

Hosea 7:16 They return, [but] not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this [shall be] their derision in the land of Egypt.

Ver. 16. They return, but not to the most High] Gnal for Gnelion by contraction; as Jah for Jehovah; so afterwards, Hosea 11:7, 2 Samuel 23:1. Return they do, or seem to do at least (for it is their hypocrisy that is here described), but not to the most High: to whom then? to idols, or human helps, or anything rather, and sooner, than to God. Jehu went far in the work of reformation, and made a great flaunt at first, as if he would have done as much that way as ever Josiah did; but he and his people came not up to the height, turned not to the most High God, honoured him not as a just and jealous God, that can endure no corrivals. They gave the half turn, but "returned not with all their hearts," Joel 2:12; they turned from west to north, but not from west to east, to the full counterpoint, setting their faces toward God, and having their backs towards their sins. They had haply a kind of velleity, some short winded wishes and wamblings, as I may so say, but it boiled not up to the full height of a resolution for God; they made believe they would cast away their transgressions, but it was as the mother makes her child believe that she will cast him to the puttock or into the water; when she holds him fast enough, and means him no hurt at all. These faint essays of returning are not worthy of the most High; he delighteth not to be dallied with, but requireth the best of the best; and that we serve him like himself, that is, after a godly sort, or worthy of God, αξιως του Yεον, as St John phraseth it, 3 John 1:6. Thus if we do, we shall be drawn up to him, and have cause to rejoice in our sublimity, εν τω υψει, or in that we are exalted, James 1:9. For indeed the most High stoopeth to the true convert (who considering his distance, repents and abhors himself in dust and ashes, Job 42:6), he dwelleth in the highest heavens and lowest hearts, Isaiah 57:17.

They are like a deceitful bow] A rotten bow (though otherwise fair) when an arrow is drawn to the head breaks and deceives the archer. Or thus, when a man shoots with a deceitful bow, though he level his eye and his arrow directly to the mark, and thinks with himself to hit it; yet indeed the arrow, by reason of his deceitful bow, goes the exact opposite way; yea, and sometimes comes upon the archer himself: likewise these false Israelites dealt with God. Their hearts were as the bow, their purposes and promises to return as arrows; the mark they aimed at, conversion; to the which they, in their afflictions, looked with so accurate and intent an eye, as though they would repent indeed; but their hearts deceived them as being unsound; hence they started aside like a deceitful bow, Psalms 78:57, and the arrows of their fair promises and pretences vanished in the air as smoke. Some take the words in another sense, as if punishment and disappointment were here threatened; but I best like the former. Let us look to the secret warpings of our hearts, and, seeing we are God’s bow, Zechariah 9:13, let us not be deceitful.

Their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue] And the people with them; for princes fall not alone, as we have seen in our late wars, wherein lords and losels fell together, not a few at Newbury fight especially. Kοινος ενυαλιος, "the sword devoureth one as well as the other," 2 Samuel 11:25. God hangs up the heads of the people as it were in gibbets, Numbers 25:4, their greatness cannot bear them out, nor their lifeguards defend them, for the detestation of their tongue (so some read this text), for the hatred that God beareth to them for their blasphemies and great swelling words of vanity, uttered against him, his people, and his ordinances. "With our tongue, say they, we will prevail, our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?" Lo, this and worse is the rage of their tongue; as his that said he would not leave one Lutheran in his dominions; another, that he would ride his horse up to the saddle in the blood of the Lutherans; a third, that he would send them all to dine with the devil. God will cut off the spirit of such outrageous princes. "They shall fall by the sword, they shall be a portion for foxes," Psalms 63:10, and a derision to the Egyptians.

This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt] Their confederates in whom they trusted, and upon whose help bearing themselves overly bold, they had spoken loftily, setting their mouths against heaven, and their tongues walked through the earth, Psalms 73:9; lo, these should not only fail them, but jeer them; not only not succour them, but scorn them; as the monarch of Morocco did our King John, that sent to him for help in the Barons’ wars. He grew into such dislike of our king (saith the story) that ever after he abhorred the mention of him. Neither met he with better entertainment from the pope, to whom he basely submitted and surrendered his kingdom. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes; for, Deo confisi nunquam confusi, they that trust in the Lord shall never be ashamed.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hosea-7.html. 1865-1868.

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