Hosea 6
Expositor's Bible Commentary
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

Hosea 4:1-19; Hosea 5:1-15; Hosea 6:1-11; Hosea 7:1-16; Hosea 8:1-14; Hosea 9:1-17; Hosea 10:1-15; Hosea 11:1-12; Hosea 12:1-14; Hosea 13:1-16; Hosea 14:1-9It was indeed a "thick night" into which this Arthur of Israel stepped from his shattered home. The mists drive across Hosea’s long agony with his people, and what we see, we see blurred and broken. There are stumbling and clashing; crowds in drift; confused rallies; gangs of assassins breaking across the highways; doors opening upon lurid interiors full of drunken riot. Voices, which other voices mock, cry for a dawn that never comes. God Himself is Laughter, Lightning, a Lion, a Gnawing Worm. Only one clear note breaks over the confusion-the trumpet summoning to war.

Take courage, O great heart! Not thus shall it always be! There wait thee, before the end, of open Visions at least two-one of Memory and one of Hope, one of Childhood and one of Spring. Past this night, past the swamp and jungle of these fetid years, thou shalt see thy land in her beauty, and God shall look on the face of His Bride.

Chapters 4-14 are almost indivisible. The two Visions just mentioned, chapters 11 and Hosea 14:3-9, may be detached by virtue of contributing the only strains of gospel which rise victorious above the Lord’s controversy with His people and the troubled story of their sins. All the rest is the noise of a nation falling to pieces, the crumbling of a splendid past. And as decay has no climax and ruin no rhythm, so we may understand why it is impossible to divide with any certainty Hosea’s record of Israel’s fall. Some arrangement we must attempt, but it is more or less artificial, and to be undertaken for the sake of our own minds, that cannot grasp so great a collapse all at once. Chapter 4 has a certain unity, and is followed by a new exordium, but as it forms only the theme of which the subsequent chapters are variations, we may take it with them as far as Hosea 7:7; after which there is a slight transition from the moral signs of Israel’s dissolution to the political-although Hoses still combines the religious offences of idolatry with the anarchy of the land. These form the chief interest to the end of chapter 10. Then breaks the bright Vision of the Past, chapter 11, the temporary victory of the Gospel of the Prophet over his Curse. In chapters 12-14:2 we are plunged into the latter once more, and reach in Hosea 14:3 if. the second bright vision, the Vision of the Future. To each of these phases of Israel’s Thick Night-we can hardly call them Sections-we may devote a chapter of simple exposition, adding three chapters more of detailed examination of the main doctrines we shall have encountered on our way-the Knowledge of God, Repentance, and the Sin against Love.


Hosea 4:1-19 - Hosea 7:7PURSUING the plan laid down in the last chapter, we now take the section of Hosea’s discourse which lies between chapter 4 and Hosea 7:7. Chapter 4 is the only really separable bit of it; but there are also slight breaks at Hosea 5:15 and Hosea 7:2. So we may attempt a division into four periods:

1. Chapter 4, which states God’s general charge against the people;

2Hosea 5:1-14, which discusses the priests and princes;

3Hosea 5:15 - Hosea 7:2, which abjures the people’s attempts at repentance; and

4Hosea 7:3-7, which is a lurid spectacle of the drunken and profligate court.

All these give symptoms of the moral decay of the people, -the family destroyed by impurity, and society by theft and murder; the corruption of the spiritual guides of the people; the debauchery of the nobles; the sympathy of the throne with evil, -with the despairing judgment that such a people are incapable even of repentance. The keynotes are these: "No truth, nor real love, nor knowledge of God in the land. Priest and Prophet stumble. Ephraim and Judah stumble. I am as the moth to Ephraim. What can I make of thee, Ephraim? When I would heal them, their guilt is only the more exposed." Morally, Israel is rotten. The prophet, of course, cannot help adding signs of their political incoherence. But these he deals with more especially in the part of his discourse which follows chapter 7:7.

elete_me Hosea 6:1-113. REPENTANCE FALLS

Hosea 5:15 - Hosea 7:2Seeing that their leaders are so helpless, and feeling their wounds, the people may themselves turn to God for healing, but that will be with a repentance so shallow as also to be futile. They have no conviction of sin, nor appreciation of how deeply their evils have eaten.

This too facile repentance is expressed in a prayer which the Christian Church has paraphrased into one of its most beautiful hymns of conversion. Yet the introduction to this prayer, and its own easy assurance of how soon God will heal the wounds He has made, as well as the impatience with which God receives it, oblige us to take the prayer in another sense than the hymn which has been derived from it. It offers but one more symptom of the optimism of this light-hearted people, whom no discipline and no judgment can impress with the reality of their incurable decay. They said of themselves, "The bricks are fallen, let us build with stones," and now they say just as easily and airily of their God, "He hath torn" only "that He may heal: "we are fallen, but" He will raise us up again in a day or two." At first it is still God who speaks.

"I am going My way, I am returning to My own place, until they feel their guilt and seek My face. When trouble comes upon them, they will soon enough seek Me, saying":-

"Come and let us return to Jehovah;

For He hath rent, that He may heal us,

And hath wounded, that He may bind us up.

He will bring us to life in a couple of days;

On the third day He will raise us up again,

That we may live in His presence."

"Let us know, let us follow up to know, Jehovah:

As soon as we seek Him, we shall find Him

And He shall come to us like the winter-rain,

Like the spring-rain, pouring on the land!"

But how is this fair prayer received by God? With incredulity, with impatience. What can I make of thee, Ephraim? what can I make of thee, Judah? since your love is like the morning cloud and like the dew so early gone. Their shallow hearts need deepening. Have they not been deepened enough? "Wherefore I have hewn" them "by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth, and My judgment goeth forth like the lightning. For real love have I desired, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings."

That the discourse comes back to the ritual is very intelligible. For what could make repentance stem so easy as the belief that forgiveness can be won by simply offering sacrifices? Then the prophet leaps upon what each new year of that anarchy revealed afresh-the profound sinfulness of the people.

"But they in human fashion have transgressed the covenant! There"-he will now point out the very spots-"have they betrayed Me! Gilead is a city of evil-doers: stamped with the bloody footprints; assassins in troops; a gang of priests murder on the way to Shechem. Yea, crime have they done. In the house of Israel I have seen horrors: there Ephraim hath played the harlot: Israel is defiled-Judah as well."

Truly the sinfulness of Israel is endless. Every effort to redeem them only discovers more of it. "When I would turn, when I would heal Israel, then the guilt of Ephraim displays itself and the evils of Samaria," these namely: "that they work fraud and the thief cometh in"-evidently a technical term for housebreaking -" while abroad a crew" of highwaymen foray. And they never think in their hearts that all their evil is recorded by Me. Now have their deeds encompassed them: they are constantly before

Evidently real repentance on the part of such a people is impossible. As Hosea said before, "Their deeds will not let them return." {Hosea 5:4}

The Expositor's Bible

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