Bible Commentaries
Hosea 11

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 1


Hosea 11:1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him; and called my Son out of Egypt.

WITHOUT supposing a primary and secondary sense of Scripture, it is impossible to interpret the prophetic writings, so as to make them accord with the construction put upon them in the New Testament. Indeed, on many occasions, we are necessitated to apply them also in a spiritual or mystical sense, so as to bring out from them that full instruction which they are intended to convey. Not that we are at liberty to indulge our own conceits in explaining God’s blessed word, or to put upon it any sense which a fanciful imagination may suggest; but if we follow the inspired writers of the New Testament, we are safe. The passage before us has doubtless an historical import, in relation to the ten tribes of Israel: nor can we doubt but that it has a prophetical meaning in reference to our blessed Lord. And I think the whole analogy of Scripture justifies us in affixing to it also a mystical meaning, in reference to the Church of God in all ages.
In accordance with this view, let us consider,


Its historical import, as relating to the Jewish people—

The prophet is reproving the ten tribes for their ingratitude to God; and in the words before us he shews them what signal mercies God had vouchsafed to them, from the earliest period of their existence.
“He had loved Israel when a child”—
[When Israel were yet but few in number, God had loved them; yea, when their great ancestor was yet in the womb, God had shewn to him his distinguishing grace and mercy: choosing him, whilst Esau, the elder brother, was rejected [Note: Malachi 1:2-3.]. If they looked for the true cause of this, they would find it in God, and in God alone: who had chosen them of his own sovereign will and pleasure, and “had loved them purely and solely because he would love them [Note: Deuteronomy 7:7-8.].” Nothing could exceed their weakness or unworthiness, at the instant when God brought them into covenant with himself [Note: Ezekiel 16:6.]: and therefore they were bound to bear this in remembrance, and to requite this love with a total surrender of themselves to God.]

He had brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand—
[God had set them apart as a peculiar people for himself. And, in demanding their liberation from Pharaoh, he honoured them with the name of “his son, his first-born [Note: Exodus 4:22-23.].” And vain was Pharaoh’s opposition to his will. By ten successive plagues, God subdued that proud monarch; and on the very day that had been foretold four hundred and thirty years before, brought them forth with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm: not so much as one was left behind: and this has been referred to, by all the inspired writers, as the most wonderful display of power and grace that ever was vouchsafed to any creatures since the foundation of the world.]

But let us view,


Its prophetical import, as relating to our blessed Lord—

It had been ordained of God, that every possible evidence should concur to establish beyond a doubt the Messiahship of Jesus—
[Nothing could be conceived more unlikely than that Jesus the Messiah should be brought forth out of Egypt. He was to be born at Bethlehem [Note: Matthew 2:5-6.], and to be educated at Nazareth [Note: Matthew 2:22-23.]. How, then, should it be possible for him to be brought out of Egypt? Behold, the rage and envy of Herod shall stimulate him to seek his utter destruction; and to secure it, by the destruction of all the infants from two years old and under, in all the vicinity of the place where Jesus was born. But, to defeat this murderous plot, an angel shall instruct Joseph to take the infant and its mother by night into Egypt; and there shall they be preserved in safety, till Herod himself is dead: and thus, without any design on the part of man, yea, through the murderous rage alone of this jealous prince, is the prophecy fulfilled; and the most convincing evidence is given, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

In this view, as confirming the faith of all Believers to the very end of the world, is this prophecy pre-eminently important; since it was beyond the power of man ever to imagine such an incident; and since it took place only through the cruelty of him who sought to destroy Christ as soon as he was come into the world.]
Let us further consider,


Its mystical import, as applicable to the Israel of God in all ages—

It is well known that the whole deliverance of Israel from Egypt was a type of the deliverance of God’s Israel from sin and Satan, death and hell. Taking, then, the passage in that view, we see in it,


The sovereignty of his grace—

[There is not a child of God, at whatever period he was converted to the faith of Christ, but was loved of God before the foundation of the world. Of every one of them it may be said, “God hath loved us with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness hath he drawn us [Note: Jeremiah 31:3.]” To this all the Scriptures bear witness [Note: Eph 1:4-5. 2 Timothy 1:9.] — — — And therefore, if we be God’s children, we must bear in mind to whose sovereign grace alone we owe it: “We have not chosen him; but he has chosen us [Note: John 15:16.].”]


The work which he has ordained to accomplish in all his people—

[Every one of them does he bring out of Egypt. However long we may have been in bondage there, he looses our bonds, and “brings us into the glorious liberty of his children.” See what he did for his people of old, and then you will see what he will do for us: did he cause them to go from their bondage, and to commit themselves altogether to the guidance and protection of their God? That is what he will do for us: neither sin nor Satan shall detain us any longer under their dominion: but we shall devote ourselves altogether to the Lord, to be to him a holy and a peculiar people — — —]


The efficacy of his grace in their behalf—

[Not one was left behind: “not one feeble person was found,” at that juncture, amidst all the tribes of Israel. And shall there be one amongst all his people, whom he has redeemed, unable to withstand his spiritual enemies? No, not one: “It is not the will of our Father that one of his little ones should perish.” There may be a diversity in the mode of their preservation, as at the shipwreck of St. Paul: but not one shall be lost; nor shall a hair fall from the head of any one amongst them [Note: Acts 27:34; Acts 27:44.].]


Have any of you been called to God as from early childhood?

[O, “bless God for this unspeakable gift.” How much have you avoided, which might have ensnared and destroyed your souls! Verily, to be called to the knowledge of the truth in early life, is a far richer blessing than to have been called to the possession of crowns and kingdoms.]


Are any of you brought into a state of deep affliction?

[This is no proof that God does not “love you,” or deal with you as “his children.” Israel of old were scarcely escaped from Egypt, before they were menaced with destruction at the Red Sea. And our blessed Lord was scarcely born into the world, before it was necessary that he should be carried to Egypt, to avoid the sword of the destroyer. Indeed, you will find that God in general calls his people to trials. “John the Baptist must be in the deserts, till the time of his shewing unto Israel [Note: Luke 1:80.]:” our blessed Lord must be “forty days tempted of the devil in the wilderness,” before he shall enter on the office to which he had been baptized [Note: Matthew 4:1.Mark 1:9-13; Mark 1:9-13.]: St. Paul shall be three days and three nights without sight; and even then shall go into Arabia before he enters fully on his apostolic office [Note: Act 9:9 and Galatians 1:17.]. Thus does God generally cause his people’s faith to be tried [Note: Hebrews 12:8.]; and “allures them into the wilderness, before he speaks comfortably to them [Note: Hosea 2:14-15.].” if, then, your faith be tried, know that it is needful for your best interests [Note: 1 Peter 1:6-7.], and that it is by your tribulations that he will further in you the work of “patience and experience and hope [Note: Romans 5:3-5.].”]


Are there amongst you those who have never yet come out of Egypt?

[Be sure, that if you fancy yourselves children of God, whilst yet you have no desire to relinquish this vain world, you do but deceive your own souls. Your “faith,” if it be genuine, “will overcome the world [Note: 1 John 5:4.];” and “the cross of Christ,” if ever its saving power be felt, will cause you “to be crucified to the world, and the world to be as a crucified object unto you [Note: Galatians 6:14.].” They who are the Lord’s people indeed, “are not of the world, even as he was not of the world [Note: John 17:14; John 17:16.].” I call you, therefore, to shew “whose you are, and whom you serve:” as for “serving God and Mammon too, it is impossible [Note: Matthew 6:24.];” and to attempt it, is an act of treason against God [Note: James 4:4. the Greek.]. Come out, then, from Egypt and its pollutions, as God has commanded you: and then “he will be a Father unto you; and ye shall be his sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.].”]

Verse 4


Hosea 11:4. I drew them with of a man, with bands of love.

THE doctrine of Divine influences is generally considered as enthusiastic and absurd. But though we grant that there is much in it which is above our comprehension, there is nothing in it that is contrary to reason. We know not how mind operates upon matter, when we move any of the members of our body: but does any one, on this account, question the influence of volition upon our motions? So, though there be much in Divine influences that is inexplicable, we affirm, that to them must be ascribed all the good which we do. In fact, we have, in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, a very striking illustration of the way in which the Spirit of God operates upon the souls of men. In reference to that event God says, “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love [Note: Compare ver. 1. with the text.]:” and the same may be said of all who are delivered from the infinitely sorer bondage of sin and Satan.

Let us then consider,


How God drew his people out of Egypt—

They were not of themselves seeking deliverance. On the contrary, when Moses interposed for them by slaying one of their oppressors, and proceeded to encourage in them a hope of yet further deliverance, “they thrust him from them, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?” But when God’s time was fully come, “he drew them,” as we are told, “by the cords of a man, and by bands of love”—
[He made them to feel their sore bondage, and to cry so bitterly by reason of it, that God himself was afflicted by their afflictions. He then sent them a Saviour, even Moses, whom he commissioned and qualified to effect their deliverance. By him he displayed his almighty power; and in ten successive plagues inflicted upon Egypt, (from all of which they were exempt,) he shewed them, that, under the guidance of Moses, they might safely go forth from Egypt, and cast off the yoke of their oppressors. Thus he drew them by such considerations as are proper to influence a rational being: for it is impossible for a man under the pressure of grievous affliction not to desire relief, and gladly to avail himself of such aid as promises to be effectual: He drew them, I say, “with cords of a man.”
Further, God put himself at the head of them, and undertook to be their guide: and, when their danger became so imminent, that they were reduced to utter despair, he opened the sea before them, and led them through on dry ground, and overwhelmed all their enemies in the waves, which had just before been a wall for the protection of his chosen people. Here “he drew them with the bands of love,” as he did afterwards in all their journeys, supplying by miracle their every want, and manifesting his glory to them, and giving them a written revelation of his will and taking them for his own peculiar people above all the people upon the face of the whole earth. To them also he held forth the prospect of an inheritance. even of a land flowing with milk and honey. where they should enjoy such peace and plenty and happiness. as were unknown to the whole world besides.
Now these distinguishing favours were well calculated to bind them to him in such love and gratitude. that nothing should ever be able to draw them from him. or to damp their ardour in his service.
True indeed these means did not produce their full effect upon that generation. all of whom perished in the wilderness. excepting two. What addresses itself to our senses only. is but transient in its operation on the mind; whereas the things which are seen by faith are always present and abidingly influential and uniformly effectual. In this respect. therefore. the parallel between God’s dealings with the Jews and with us will not hold good. But still the manner in which God drew them serves as “a shadow of good things to come.” and affords to us a striking illustration of the way in which he will draw his people to himself under the better dispensation which we are privileged to enjoy.]

To elucidate this. I will shew.


How he will draw us at this day—

We need his influences as much as ever his ancient people did—
[No man ever comes to God by any power of his own. Our blessed Lord expressly says. “No man cometh unto me. except the Father who hath sent me draw him [Note: John 6:44.].” In fact. we have not in ourselves a power to do a good act [Note: John 15:5.]. or speak a good word [Note: Matthew 12:34.]. or think a good thoughts [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:5.]. “Our sufficiency for every thing is of God alone;” “nor without him can we either will or do any one thing that is pleasing in his sight [Note: Philippians 2:13.]. If any man could have exerted such a power. it would have been the Apostle Paul. But he confesses. “By the grace of God I am what I am;” and. when constrained to speak of his labours, he recalls. as it were. his words. and. with holy jealousy for God’s honour. adds. “yet not I. but the grace of God which was with me [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.].” If any man think he can renew and sanctify his own soul. let him make the effort; and his own experience shall attest all that the Scriptures have spoken.]

And how is it that God will work in us?—
[He will draw us, even as he did them, by rational considerations, and by gracious influences, or, as my text expresses it, “by the cords of a man, and by the bands of love”

When first God begins a work of grace upon the soul, he shews to a man his fallen state, and his utter incapacity to save himself. Then He makes known to him the Lord Jesus, who has died for the redemption of a ruined world, and shews to him, that through that adorable Saviour he may obtain a deliverance from all guilt and misery, and be made a partaker of everlasting happiness and glory. Now the question necessarily arises in his mind, ‘Shall I persist in ray wickedness? Shall I pour contempt upon these offers of mercy? Shall I plunge my soul into irremediable and endless perdition? No: This were to act more stupidly than the beasts, and to forfeit all title to the rationality of man.’ Thus is he drawn in the first instance by “the cords of a man.” But in his further progress he experiences the still more influential drawings of God’s love, which, as “bands,” constrain him to surrender up himself a willing captive to his God. The Holy Spirit, whose office it is to “glorify Christ, takes of the things that are Christ’s, and shews them to the believing soul [Note: John 16:14.],” and thus makes “Christ more precious to him” than ten thousand worlds [Note: 1 Peter 2:7.]. In time he enables the soul to “comprehend the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of that love of Christ which passeth knowledge [Note: Ephesians 3:18.];” and by witnessing with the soul that it is an object of God’s love, he enables it with boldness and with confidence to address him by the endearing name of Father [Note: Romans 8:15-16.], and to assure itself of an everlasting participation of his kingdom and glory. With such bands cast around him, the Believer is drawn to God in a way of holy obedience, and can “defy all the hosts of hell itself ever to separate him from his love [Note: Romans 8:35-39.].” The abiding feeling of his heart from henceforth is, “The love of Christ constraineth me, because I thus judge; that, if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them and rose again [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.].”]

Observe from hence,

What reason unconverted men have to blush and be ashamed—

[They will take occasion from the doctrine of Divine influences to justify themselves, saying, ‘If God do not draw me, how can I go to him?’ But I ask. Have not the cords of a man been spread around you, yea, and the bands of redeeming love also, and you have burst all these bands asunder, and cast all these cords from you? Do you not know that heaven and hell are before you? and are you acting the part of rational beings, whilst you take no care to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold on eternal life? And have you never heard of what Christ has done and suffered for you, and felt too the influences of his Holy Spirit calling you to repentance? Yet have you not ungratefully slighted all the love of Christ, and wickedly resisted the Holy Ghost? Tell me, then, whether such conduct do not call for the deepest humiliation before God? Verily, you may vindicate yourselves, as you will, now; but you shall stand self-condemned at the judgment-seat of Christ.]


What reason believers have to bless and adore their God—

[Though the unbeliever must ascribe to himself alone the misery to which he is hastening, you owe to God and to his sovereign grace all the blessedness which you enjoy. Had not God of his infinite mercy drawn you, you had no more turned to him, than Satan himself has done [Note: John 6:44.]. In the view of all the good that you either possess or hope for, you must say, “He that hath wrought us to the self-same thing is God [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:5.].” Give him then the glory due unto his name — — — and look to him for a continuance of his grace, that his work may be carried on and perfected in your souls. Beg of him to fasten his bands yet more firmly about you, that nothing either within or without may break them. And endeavour at all times to yield to his attractive influences, and to comply with the first intimations of his will. And, if you be treated with contempt for this by an ungodly world, comfort yourselves with the reflection, that you are acting the part of rational beings; and that the more closely you are drawn to God in this world, the more intimately you will enjoy him to all eternity in the world to come.]

Verses 7-9


Hosea 11:7-9. My people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him: [yet] how shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together: I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger.

THE riches of divine grace are manifest in all the promises; but they are more eminently displayed in the manner in which the promises are given. God often introduces them after an enumeration of his people’s sins. The passage before us well exemplifies this remark [Note: See similar instances, Isaiah 43:22-25; Isaiah 57:17-18.]. God has been contrasting his kindness to Israel, and their ingratitude towards him; in the text he sets forth their wickedness with all its aggravations: yet all this is preparatory, not to a heavy denunciation of his wrath, but to the tenderest expressions of paternal love—


The conduct of men towards God—

The ten tribes, since their separation from Judah, had become idolaters: yet God calls them his people because they had been admitted into covenant with him, and still professed to be his. Thus all who call themselves Christians are “God’s people.”
But they “are bent to backsliding from him”—
[The ungodly are justly compared to an unruly heifer: they will not submit to the yoke of God’s laws: their whole spirit and temper is like that of Pharaoh [Note: Exodus 5:2.]; the “bent” and inclination of their hearts is wholly towards sin. An outward conformity to God’s will they may approve, but they have a rooted aversion to spiritual obedience.]

Nor can they by any means be prevailed on to “exalt and honour him”—
[They are “called” frequently by God’s ministers; they are exhorted and entreated to return to the Most High; but neither promises can allure nor threatenings alarm them:. they turn a deaf ear to all admonitions; they will not “exalt” God in their hearts and lives.]
This is almost universally the conduct of mankind—
[There are a few indeed who desire and delight to serve God; they wish him to be the sole Lord and Governor of their hearts; it is their study to exalt him both in their words and actions: but these are few in every age and place; so few, that, in comparison of the rebellious, they may be said to be “none at all.”]
What might such persons expect at the hand of God?


God’s conduct towards them—

How different are God’s ways from the ways of man! Instead of executing vengeance in a moment,
He deliberates—
[Admah and Zeboim were cities destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah; and such monuments of wrath do the unregenerate deserve to be; but God knows not, as it were, how to inflict the deserved punishment: he calls to mind that they are his people [Note: The repetition of their names, “thee, Ephraim, and thee, Israel,” seems to import tenderness and affection towards them.]; he hesitates, like a parent that is about to disinherit his son; thus is he distracted between his affection for them, and his regard for his own honour [Note: Thus also in Hosea 6:4.].]

He relents—
[To accommodate himself to our weak apprehensions, he speaks of himself after the manner of men: he cannot endure the thought of making men the objects of his everlasting displeasure. Thus did Jesus weep over the murderous Jerusalem [Note: Luke 19:41.]; and thus do the bowels of our Father yearn over us [Note: Jeremiah 31:20.].]

He resolves—
[Often has “the fierce anger” of the Lord been kindled against us; yet many times has he turned away from his wrathful indignation [Note: Psalms 78:38.]: often, when his bow was bent, has he forborne to strike [Note: Psalms 7:11-12.]: be waits, if peradventure we may yet return to him. His language to his rebellious creatures is the same as ever [Note: Jeremiah 3:12-13.]—.]


How precious in the sight of God are the souls of men!

[When it was necessary for man’s salvation, God gave his Son: nor did he then deliberate, “how shall I do this [Note: Romans 8:32.]?” neither did he relent, when he laid our iniquities on him [Note: Mark 14:35-36.]; yea, he was even pleased in bruising his own Son for us [Note: This is the proper sense of Isaiah 53:10.]. But when a sinner seems irreclaimable, every tender emotion is excited; God sustains a conflict in his mind, and cannot give him up. O that men would duly estimate the worth of their own souls!]


How just will be the condemnation of the impenitent!

[This compassion of God greatly aggravates their backslidings; and at last it will give way to wrath and indignation [Note: Genesis 6:3.]. Soon God will not deliberate, but decide; not relent, but laugh at their calamity; not resolve to pardon, but swear they shall not enter into his rest. Then how just will their condemnation appear! May this goodness of God now lead us to repentance!]


How certainly shall the returning sinner find mercy!

[If God feel thus for the rebellious, how much more for the penitent! Let all then seek him with humble confidence in his mercy. Let them offer their supplications like those of old [Note: Isaiah 63:15.]—; so shall that song of praise succeed their present disquietude [Note: Isaiah 12:1.]—]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Hosea 11". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.