My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you…
Both philosophers and divines agree that the first step to true know ledge is a discovery of our own ignorance; all wise men will confess that the more they know the more a modest sense of the narrow limits of their understanding increases. The recovery of true knowledge, with a constant improvement therein ourselves, and the using our utmost endeavours to propagate it among mankind, are some of the most noble and rational ends of our existence. Not. withstanding His severe reproachings and threatenings of Ephraim, how tenderly the Lord expostulates with them! A wilful neglect of true knowledge is represented as the spring of all their provocations and their danger. Ignorance is represented as the occasion of their ruin.
I. THE TITLE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPOSED TO THIS DESTRUCTION. Still, spite of their sin, they are called "My people." This title may be applied to mankind in general, and in a strict manner to those who are known as the "elect." Here it is applied to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, under the name Ephraim. Though they had revolted from Him, God still condescends to own His relation to them. And this relation materially aggravates their crimes.
II. WHAT IS THIS KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS OF SUCH IMPORTANCE? Men may be great strangers to philosophy, to human arts, and carnal wisdom, and yet not be involved in that destruction which is certainly connected with the ignorance mentioned in the text. As true religion is the only effectual security of private persons from this ruin, so it is with respect to society. Religious knowledge must be intended in this text.
1. Men might learn much by seriously observing what is presented to their view all round about them; and much more if they would examine their own frame, and reflect on the various warnings of that monitor which is in every breast.
2. It is the knowledge which God has been pleased to reveal, which is chiefly intended here. This was, in Hosea's time, to be found in the books of Moses and the prophets. This is, for us, the knowledge that is conveyed by the Gospel.
III. THE SAD OCCASIONS OF THE WANT OF THIS KNOWLEDGE, ESPECIALLY IN WHAT IS CALLED A LAND OF LIGHT.
1. A thoughtless neglect of those sober reflections to which we are led even by that measure of natural light, which, in the midst of all our depravity, is mercifully continued to us. Observation teaches us what effect negligence will have on our temporal affairs. When men come to divide precious time principally between the cares about the enlargement of their worldly substance, and the various methods their own corruptions will dictate, very little will be left for nobler improvements.
2. The want of the written revelation must Deeds be attended with the most deplorable ignorance. As may be seen in the history of those nations which have wanted this glorious advantage.
3. Ignorance of religion must needs prevail where there is the want of a skilful, faithful, and laborious ministry.
4. A pious education of our youth is another method of cultivating religious knowledge. This foundation must be chiefly laid in family instruction. We have lived to see the day when the impression of religious sentiments on young minds is not only by many laid aside, but such a neglect is defended. It is said to prevent any bar being put to what is called "free thinking." The great neglect of family religion, and the pious example which superiors by the laws of reason are indispensably obliged to set before those under their care, as it has long been complained of, if not soon reformed must bring peril on our Churches and on our land.
5. The growth of ignorance among the poorer sort is a matter of peculiar consequence.
6. Among good men there is too great a neglect of application to Heaven for a blessing on such attempts as are made to promote useful knowledge, and of a dependence on the Spirit of God, who is only able to make them successful.
IV. THE DESTRUCTION WHICH IS THE NATURAL AND SAD CONSEQUENCE OF THIS IGNORANCE. Reference is first to those temporal calamities which befell these people for their sins; or it relates to future temporal calamities which Hosea predicted. But ignorance persisted in exposes public communities to almost every criminal anal dangerous disorder, and in the end brings on national ruin; and it is big with every spiritual as well as temporal mischief to private persons where it prevails. Ignorance of Divine things keeps the conscience under a fatal stupidity, it exposes men to the devices of the old serpent, and to the crafty attempts of every seducer; it exposes us to every kind of error in conduct, and obstructs our usefulness both in public and in private life.
V. THE REMEDIES WHICH SHOULD BE APPLIED TO SO DANGEROUS A DISEASE.
1. We should cheerfully and constantly attend on those advantages Heaven has bestowed on us, that we read and hear, that we inquire and meditate, and watch and pray, as those who are convinced that ignorance has been their ruin, and that happiness in this life is absolutely connected with religious knowledge, and that the lives of our souls depend upon it.
2. We should do all we can to promote the influence of religious knowledge on the minds of others, by the careful instruction of our families, and the support of a well-qualified ministry.
VI. SOME APPLICATIONS CF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID.
1. How deplorable is the state of multitudes among us, who lie under the grossest ignorance.
2. We ought to rejoice in our civil constitution, and to encourage and defend our religious advantages.
(Joseph Stennett, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
WEB: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you may be no priest to me. Because you have forgotten your God's law, I will also forget your children.