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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Hosea 11



Verse 4

Hosea 11:4

This is not a day for difficult doctrines, but for the simplest and humblest feelings. The appeal is not made to our understanding nor even directly to our conscience. With the cords of a man we are drawn. The human affections in which all men share, the feelings which even the poorest, the meanest, the most ignorant partake in; the pity, the tenderness, the love that can only be called forth by love—these are now the cords by which our Father draws us, the cords of a man.

I. We are sometimes cold and dead. There are times when our feelings towards God seem to lose their warmth. We can obey and we do, but we feel like servants, not like children, and we are unhappy because we cannot rouse any warmer feelings in ourselves. When this is so, where can we go but to the Cross of Christ? Can our hearts long resist the pleading of that story, or can we refuse to come when the Father begins to draw us with the cords of a man, with bands of love.

II. Perhaps under a decent exterior we hide some sinful habit which has long been eating into our souls. Our besetting sin has clung to us, and we cannot get rid of it. If this be so, yet once more let us turn to God, and gaze upon the Cross of Christ. Let us think of that sorrow which was beyond all other sorrows, and that love which caused all the sorrow. Let us look on this till our thoughts are filled with the sight, till our hearts answer to the affection which could thus suffer, till we feel the cords draw us, the cords of a man, and we sit at the foot of the Cross and never wish to leave it.

III. Or perhaps we have never really striven to serve God at all. We have lived as best suited the society in which we were, as most conduced to our own pleasure. Whenever the thought of God or conscience comes across us, we immediately find that but a dull subject to think on, and we turn to pleasanter and more exciting themes. What then shall warm our hearts but this plain story of sadness? Here shall all men find the medicine to heal their sore disease. Proud thoughts, self-conscious contentment, cannot stand here. We come as sheep that have gone astray. We hasten to the Shepherd whose voice we hear calling us from afar. He hath sought us long. We think not of the pastures, but of Him; to lie in His bosom, to be carried in His arms, to hear His words of comfort once more, to see His face, to feel that we are pressed to His heart.

Bishop Temple, Rugby Sermons, 1st series, p. 1.

Consider the place of love in the Gospel.

I. The Gospel is a revelation of love. Herein lies its power, the secret of its strength. It reveals the love of God. It tells how He, in whose Divine holiness there beats not, as in the best of us) one pulse of sympathy with evil, yet loves with an unqualified love all the souls which He has made. In the immense, immeasurable love of God there is room for all His creatures. He loves, and therefore He pleads. He loved first, and therefore He gave His Son to be the life of the fallen.

II. In addition to the revelation of love, there is, in the Gospel, an invitation of love. There is something always pathetic to the unsophisticated ear in the petition of love. Hearts athirst, hearts dried up, just for lack of love, sometimes see in the far distance, something, some one, whom they feel they could have lived and died for. Pitiable, most pitiable, when we think of it, is the wilderness of the unloved. And yet there was a love for them, would they but have had it; a love better than of son or daughter, better than of wife or husband; a love indestructible, satisfying, eternal. The place of love in the Gospel is first a revelation, and then, a permission and an invitation. (3) In the Gospel there is a communication or transmission of love. He who has been loved, and therefore loves, is bidden, by the love of God to love his brother also. And then, in that transmission, that tradition, that handing on of the love, the whole of the Gospel, its precept as its comfort—is in deed and in truth perfected. Little indeed do they know of the power of the Gospel, who think either that obedience will replace the love of God, or duty be a substitute for the love of man. Christ teaches us that both towards God and towards man love goes first and duty follows after.

C. J. Vaughan, Last Words at Doncaster, p. 87.

The words of the text suggest: (1) The humaneness of God's discipline; (2) the importance of human relations as well as Divine.

I. The humaneness of God's rule is seen (1) in the way in which God conceals His laws under the forms and influences of human society. Dependence—we learned the lesson when we hung upon our mother's breast; obedience—we were broken into it by all the varied discipline of our early home; reverence—our souls learned reverence by the perception of sanctity of character in some one whom we had before learned to love; authority—we felt its constraint in human excellence before we knew the source of all authority to be in God. (2) God makes use of human influences to draw us to Himself. Among such influences are the necessary restrictions of society. (3) The sense of responsibility is another influence by which God draws men to Himself. The pressure of responsibility has made many pray who never prayed before; the human obligation has been a cord to draw to God.

II. Consider the sanctity of human relations and the way to use them. They are the temple of the living God, the channels of His grace; sacred as the form that enshrines an eternal power. To be true to all human relations is not to be godly; but God intends this to be the way to godliness. There is not a human affection that will not gain in beauty, a human obligation that will not increase in sanctity, a human life that will not bloom anew, when the End and Author of its grace and being is recognized and adored in God.

A. Mackennal, Sermons from a Sick Room, p. 49.

References: Hosea 11:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 934; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 141. Hosea 11:8.—J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 261. Hosea 12:4.—E. Paxton Hood, Preacher's Lantern, vol. iii., p. 346. Hosea 12:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 206. Hosea 12:12.—Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 327. Hosea 13:1.—J. A. Macfadyen, Old Testament Outlines, p. 268. Hosea 13:1, Hosea 13:2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 103. Hosea 13:2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 185. Hosea 13:5.—Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 307. Hosea 13:5-8.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1441.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Hosea 11:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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