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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Hosea 13

 

 

Verse 4

DISCOURSE: 1173

JEHOVAH ALONE DESERVING OF OUR FEAR OR CONFIDENCE

Hosea 13:4. Thou shalt know no God but me: for there is no Saviour beside me.

IN the Holy Scriptures, every kind of argument is urged that is proper to influence the minds of men: sometimes we are persuaded by the terrors of the Lord, and sometimes are allured by his exceeding great and precious promises. A difference is observed towards men differently disposed, and differently circumstanced: “towards some, compassion is exercised” in all its gentlest forms; whilst others are “saved with fear, and snatched out of the fire” with a kind of compulsive violence. But it not unfrequently happens, that where the obstinacy of men is such as almost to preclude a hope of prevailing with them, both the kinds of argument are combined, in order, if possible, by either, or by both, to overcome the obdurate soul. Thus, in the passage before us, the prophet, having represented the ten tribes as increasingly shameless in their idolatries, declares from God, that they shall pass away like the morning cloud, or early dew, and that, like chaff from a threshing-floor, or smoke from a chimney, they shall be scattered as with a whirlwind over the face of the whole earth [Note: ver. 2, 3.]. But still, as though God repented of denouncing so heavy a judgment against them, he addresses them with tender pity; “Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt; and thou shalt know no god before me; for there is no Saviour beside me:” that is, “I can never forget the relation which I bear towards thee; and I am as willing as ever to bestow on thee all the blessings of salvation, if only thou wilt banish from thee those rivals which have provoked me to jealousy.”

In these words there are two things to be noticed:

I. The command—

In its primary and literal sense, it refers to the putting away of their molten images which they had made to worship. But the terms used are nearly the same as those by which the first commandment in the Decalogue is expressed; and therefore we must consider them as extending also to the idolatry of the heart. Indeed, idolatry is, as St. Paul expresses it, “a worshipping and serving of the creature more than the Creator, who is God over all, blessed for ever [Note: Romans 1:25.]:” and consequently, we are here forbidden to pay to any creature that regard which is due to God alone, or to make it the chief object of,

1. Our love—

[In a subordinate way we may love the creature, but not so as to put it in competition with God. There is nothing in the whole universe which we should desire, or seek, in comparison of Him; nor any thing which we should not willingly part with, rather than offend him — — — The state of our minds towards God should be like that of David, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee [Note: Psalms 73:25.].” To make pleasure, or riches, or honour, or any thing but God, our chief good, is idolatry [Note: Philippians 3:19. “Whose god is their belly.” Colossians 3:5. “Covetousness, which is idolatry.”].]

2. Our fear—

[Scarcely do any begin to fear God, but their acknowledgment of him is retarded by the fear of man. Those who were never ashamed of sin, and who were wont to commit all manner of iniquity with greediness, are filled with apprehensions lest their change of sentiment should be discovered, and they should be called to suffer reproach or persecution for the Lord’s sake. But all such fear argues a forgetfulness of God [Note: Isaiah 51:12-13,], who alone is worthy to be feared [Note: Luke 12:4-5. Isaiah 8:12-13.] — — — If we regard God as we ought to do, our answer to every cowardly thought will be, “The Lord is my strength and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid [Note: Psalms 27:1.]?”]

3. Our confidence—

[When trials of any kind arise, we almost universally turn our eyes to the creature, rather than to God: either we look to our own wisdom and energy to deliver us, or to the favour and exertion of our fellow-creatures: we can scarcely ever realize the thought of a superintending Providence, who is able and willing to interpose for us: we are apt rather to imagine, that it would be an insult to the Most High to suppose that he will trouble himself about such trifling concerns as ours. In like manner, if our trials be of a spiritual nature, we look to our own wisdom to guide us, our own righteousness to justify us, and our own strength to obtain for us the victory over all our spiritual enemies. But in all this, we greatly dishonour God, in whom should be all our trust for body and for soul, for time and for eternity [Note: Psalms 11:1; Psalms 11:4.] — — — In all such creature-confidence we manifest an entire departure of heart from God, and subject ourselves to his just and heavy displeasure [Note: Jeremiah 17:5-6.].]

The equity of this command is strongly marked in,

II. The reason with which it is enforced—

Though God might well require obedience on the sole ground of his own authority, yet he is graciously pleased to assign a reason for this command; a reason, which, whilst it evinces the equity of the command, shews how deeply we are interested in obeying it. There is nothing besides God that can save us,

1. In this world—

[Suppose that all the wealth and honour that ever were possessed by man were centred in one person, would they ward off the incursions of disease, or repel the assaults of death? Would they even secure their own continuance, so that they should not speedily give way to poverty and disgrace? In the event of any great reverse of circumstances, will those perishing vanities assuage the anguish of a broken bone, or calm the tempest of a troubled spirit? Will a guilty conscience be quieted by them, or death be divested of its sting? Disease and death have no respect of persons; nor will peace of mind be procured by high-sounding titles, or great possessions. It is God alone that can avert trouble, or sanctify it to our good. He can keep us unhurt, when thousands are falling on our right hand, and on our left: or if he see fit to send us tribulation, he can enable us to rejoice and glory in it: and as for death, he has numbered it among the treasures of his people, whom he enables to long for it, that they may be with Christ, in complete and everlasting felicity — — — If then we look only to our happiness in this present life, who can bear a comparison with Jehovah, as the source of it to those who trust in him?]

2. In the world to come—

[If the vanities of time and sense can do nothing for us in this present life, how much less can they in the life to come! There they cannot so much as purchase for us a drop of water to cool our tongue. But O! what a Saviour will Jehovah be! yea, what crowns and kingdoms will he bestow on his believing and obedient people! — — — Behold the Rich Man stripped of all his transient joys, and plunged into that abyss of misery which once he despised! Behold, on the other hand, the once destitute and neglected Lazarus in the bosom of his God! Which of the two had chosen the better part; he who had walked in the ways of this world, and made Mammon his god; or he who had sought Jehovah as his God and portion? Truly, one glance of the celestial world is quite sufficient to evince the reasonableness of the injunction given us in our text — — —]

This subject may be improved,

1. For our conviction—

[It is an awful truth, that instead of preferring God before every thing, we have preferred every thing before him. Only let us compare the anxiety we have felt about created objects, with that which we have felt in reference to God, and we shall need no further evidence of our being idolaters in the sight of God. What then have we reason to expect at his hands, in the day when he shall judge the world? Let us not judge of ourselves by some of the grosser sins which are injurious to society, but by those which strike at the honour and authority of God. Then we shall see, that, instead of being a Saviour to us, we have reason to fear lest he arise and plead his own cause, and become an avenger of his own insulted Majesty.]

2. For our consolation—

[If we take Jehovah for our God, there is not any good thing which we may not expect at his hands. The declaration that there is no Saviour beside him, is, in fact, an assurance, that he will be a Saviour to us, and do for us more than the whole universe can do. We may view salvation in all its bearings, and in its utmost extent; and then say “All this will my God be to me; all this he will do for me.” We cannot possibly raise our expectations too high; for “he will do exceeding abundantly for us above all that we can ask or think:” nor need it be any grief to us that there is no Saviour besides him; for we shall want no other: He is almighty, and will be all-sufficient — — —]


Verse 9

DISCOURSE: 1174

HELP IN CHRIST FOR SELF-DESTROYED SINNERS

Hosea 13:9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

THE great mass of nominal Christians need to be informed respecting their state by nature, and the means by which they are to be delivered from it; and they who have a theoretical acquaintance with these things, yet need to be put frequently in remembrance of them, in order that they may be more abidingly influenced by the consideration of them. In the words of our text, all mistakes on these points are clearly rectified; and we are told on the authority of God himself, that,

I. Man’s destruction is of himself—

Whatever we may imagine to the contrary, there are multitudes of the human race eternally destroyed [Note: Matthew 7:13-14.]. Their destruction too is altogether of themselves: for,

1. They will walk in the way that leads to it—

[God has told them plainly that eternal misery must be the fruit of sin and impenitence [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Luke 13:3.]. Yet men will continue to disregard the warnings of God, and to practise the things which are displeasing to him! What then must become of them, if there be any truth in the word of God? Or whom must they blame, when they feel the judgments which they would not fear? The man, who by a poisonous draught, or by any other means, puts a period to his life, is not more the author of his own death, than these are of their own destruction.]

2. They will not use the means which God has prescribed for their escape—

[God has graciously opened a way for the salvation of a ruined world: he has sent his only dear Son to die for sinners, and his good Spirit to instruct and sanctify them. But men will not seek to be washed in the Redeemer’s blood: they will not pray for the influences of the Holy Spirit: they will not cordially accept the salvation offered them. They are so intent on their worldly business or pleasure, that they will not afford time for spiritual employments. Is it not then utterly their own fault if they perish? A man, who having taken a poisonous draught, whether intentionally or not, would be justly considered as the author of his own death, if he obstinately refused an antidote that was tendered to him: and so must they be considered as destroying themselves who neglect the means which God has provided for their escape.]

3. They make use of every thing ultimately to ensure their own destruction—

[Whether they look upwards to God, or around them to the world, or within them to their own experience, they turn every thing into an occasion of fostering their own delusions, and of lulling themselves asleep in a fatal security [Note: This truth will be seen in the most striking point of view, by the following concise statement. Men take this occasion,

1. From God himself—

From his perfections—

From his sovereignty; “If he will not give me his grace, how can I help myself?”

From his mercy: “God is too merciful to condemn any man.”

From his providence—

If it be indulgent; “These blessings are proofs of his love.”

If it he afflictive; “I have my sufferings in this life.”

From his grace—

“He gave his Son to die for me; therefore I have nothing to fear.”

2. From the world around them—

From the godly—

If they are consistent; “They are unreasonably precise.”

If they are inconsistent; “They are hypocrites; they are all alike; I am as good as they; only I make less talk about religion.”

From the ungodly—

“I can never think that so many are wrong, and so few right.”

3. From their own experience—

If they have been corrupt; “Why did God give me these passions?”

If they have been moral; “I thank thee that I am not as other men are.”

If they are learned; “Cannot I understand my Bible without Divine illumination?”

If they are unlearned; “My ignorance is excusable; I am no scholar.”

If they have been neglectful of religious duties; “I have done no one any harm.”

If they have been observant of religious duties; they put their formal services in the place of Christ, and consider them as decisive evidences of their conversion.

Thus instead of arguing from these topics so as to stimulate their exertions, they derive encouragement from them all to continue in their sins.] — — —]

But though man’s destruction is of himself, we must not suppose that his salvation also is of himself: no;

II. His salvation is of God alone—

If we inquire who it is, that thus arrogates to himself the exclusive power of saving sinners, we shall find that it is the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is “King” in Sion [Note: ver. 10. with Matthew 21:5 and Acts 5:31.], “besides whom there is no Saviour [Note: ver. 4.],” and who invariably claims this as his unalienable prerogative [Note: Isaiah 45:22. with Matthew 11:28 and John 7:37.].

1. There is help for us in no other—

[Who besides him could possibly make atonement for our sins? Man himself could never satisfy Divine Justice — — — Nor could all the angels in heaven offer unto God a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of men? — — — None but He who was “Jehovah’s Fellow” was equal to the task of expiating transgression, and effecting a reconciliation between God and man [Note: Psalms 89:19. with Hebrews 10:4-10.] — — —

Who besides him could rescue us out of the hands of our spiritual enemies? He is that stronger man, who alone can vanquish our mighty adversary, and deliver us from our sore bondage [Note: Luke 11:21; Luke 11:23.] — — —

Who besides him can teach us the way of salvation [Note: Matthew 11:27.]? or incline us to seek after it [Note: Philippians 2:13.]? or render our endeavours effectual [Note: John 15:5.]?

We may truly say then, that as there is no other foundation on which to build our hopes [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:11.], so neither is there any other name or power whereby we can be saved [Note: Acts 4:12.]? “Christ is all, and in all [Note: Colossians 3:11.].”]

2. In him there is help sufficient—

[There is nothing wanting in sinful man, which is not abundantly supplied in Jesus Christ. In him there is wisdom to direct the most ignorant [Note: Matthew 11:29.],—merit to justify the most guilty [Note: Acts 13:39.],—grace to sanctify the most polluted [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:11.],—and strength to render even the weakest of the human race a conqueror, yea, “more than conqueror,” over all his enemies [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:9. Philippians 4:13.]. He is furnished of God for this very end [Note: Isaiah 61:1.], and appointed of him to this very office [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:30.], and is in every respect “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him [Note: Hebrews 7:25.].”]

Address—

1. Those who are ignorant of their real state—

[Too many, alas! are altogether ignorant of their undone state, and still more so of the guilt attaching to them as the authors of their own misery. But whether we know these things or not, it is an indisputable fact that we have destroyed ourselves, and that there is no possibility of recovery for us but in and through Christ. Let us then seek instruction on these infinitely important subjects, lest we “perish for ever for lack of knowledge [Note: Hosea 4:6.].” And let us not for one moment look for acceptance in any other way than through the Lord Jesus Christ, as though we were not self-destroved, or there remained in us any sufficiency to help ourselves. For so destitute are we of all help in ourselves, that, if a good thought would cancel all our past iniquities, and open the kingdom of heaven to us, we could not supply it [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:5.]. If ever we would partake of the felicity of heaven, we must renounce all self-dependence, and look for our help in Christ alone [Note: Romans 9:30-33.].]

2. Those who are desponding on account of it—

[When men begin to see their perishing condition, and to fuel a consciousness that they have been the authors of their own ruin, they often distress themselves with apprehensions that their state is irremediable. Now the text affords a complete antidote to all desponding fears: in it God addresses himself immediately to the self-ruined sinner, and says to him, “I am thy help.” Whatever guilt therefore any one may have contracted, and whatever cause he may have to reproach himself, let him only consider who it is that says to him, “In me is thy help,” and he may instantly dismiss his fears. Let him “be strong in faith, giving glory to God;” and he shall find that, “before Zerubbabel the mountains will become a plain [Note: Isaiah 40:27-31. Zechariah 4:7.].”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 13:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/hosea-13.html. 1832.

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