Charles Simeon Commentary - Hosea 13:4 - 13:4

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Hosea 13:4 - 13:4

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:



Hos_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: Rom_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: Psa_73:25.].” To make pleasure, or riches, or honour, or any thing but God, our chief good, is idolatry [Note: Php_3:19. “Whose god is their belly.” Col_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: Isa_51:12-13,], who alone is worthy to be feared [Note: Luk_12:4-5. Isa_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: Psa_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: Psa_11:1; Psa_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: Jer_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 — — —]