Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Hosea 11:1 - 11:12

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Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Hosea 11:1 - 11:12


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Hos_11:1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

God’s love was very early love. He began with the nation of Israel when it was a mere handful of men in Egypt. There he multiplied them; and, in due time, he called them out from among the heathen. God’s love to some of us manifested itself at a very early period of our lives, when we were yet children. It is among our most joyous memories that we have known the Lord from our youth up. Happy man, happy woman, of whom God can say, as he said concerning his ancient people, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”

Hos_11:2. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

The nation of Israel did not fulfill the promise of its youth; it was not faithful to God. The people heard from the lips of Moses the command “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:” yet they turned aside continually to the idols of the nations. Have not some of us also, although we have been loved by God, been faithless to him? Can we not look back, with great regret and sorrow, upon our many stumblings and backslidings? If it be so, let us repent of our sin, and never repeat it.

Hos_11:3. I taught Ephraim also to go, —

Just as nurses teach children to walk: “I taught Ephraim also to go,” —

Hos_11:3. Taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

God has done great things for many of us who, possibly, have never noticed his hand at work on our behalf. Lives which were in great peril have been saved, yet the goodness of God has never been acknowledged by those whom he has delivered. Men have been raised up from beds of sickness, yet the great and good Healer has never been thanked for what he has done for them. Oh, how sad it is that God should do too much for us, and yet that we should not even thank him for doing it.

Hos_11:4. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

As men do with the bullocks that have been ploughing, lifting the yoke from them, and giving them rest and food before they have to begin ploughing again. So did God to Israel, and so has he done to us. He lifted from us the heavy burden of our sin, and he gave us rest and heavenly food. But oh, what a poor return we have made for all the thoughtful kindness of our God! If any man here imagines that he can boast of his conduct towards his God, he does not feel as I do. Rather dear friends, I think that we all ought to humble ourselves in the Lord’s presence when we remember what ill returns we have made for all that he has done for us.

Hos_11:5-6. He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

If men will sin, they shall suffer; and God’s people will be the first to suffer for their sins against the Lord, as he said by the mouth of the prophet Amos, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” If a man lets other men’s children go unchastened, he will chastise his own children, if he is worthy of the name of a father; and God will do the same. He will not destroy us, but he will chasten us if we backslide from him.

Hos_11:7-8. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?

There seems to be a contest in the heart of God; at least, that is how he describes it himself, as though mercy pleaded with justice, and love contended with wrath: “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?

Hos_11:8. How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim?

“I cannot destroy thee, as I destroyed the guilty cities of the plain in the days of old.”

Hos_11:8. Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

O backsliders, if God’s repentings are kindled, will not yours also be kindled? If you have left him, and yet he will not give you up, Will you give him up? Will you not return to him? Listen to his own words: —

Hos_11:9. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; —

What a mercy this is for us! If the Lord had been man, he would have cast us off long ago; but, as he is God he is infinitely patient, and he loves to forgive: “I am God, and not man;” —

Hos_11:9-10. The Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. They shall walk after the LORD:

See what his almighty grace will do to make these wanderers come back to him.

Hos_11:10. He shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

Even his roaring like a lion will only make them tremblingly come back to him.

Hos_11:11-12. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

This exposition consisted of readings from Hosea 11, , 14.



Hos_11:1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

God remembers what he did for us when we were young; and sin against him is much aggravated by his long kindness to us. He brings this up against his rebellious people, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him.” Some of you may remember your childhood with deep regret — when you used to sing your hymn, and bow your knees on your mother’s lap. Times have greatly changed since then, but God remembers them.

Hos_11:2. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

These people only had to be called away, and away they went. There are some of that sort. You have only to beckon them anywhere. Like a dog that is whistled to, they will follow anybody’s call. They leave God for anything, for nothing. These people went and forgot the true God, and burnt incense to graven images.

Hos_11:3. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

God describes himself as acting like a nurse that holds a child up by its arms and teaches it its first steps. Yet they did not know what God was doing for them. God has done great things for many of us, and perhaps we have never recognized his command. Years of mercy, and yet never a day of gratitude. It is sad that it should be so.

Hos_11:4. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

As the good husbandman, when the oxen come to the end of the field, takes off the yoke and puts on the noseband, so has God often done with us in the day of our trouble. He has unyoked us, and he has relieved our wants, and fed us. Yet we have forgotten him.

Hos_11:5-6. He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

When men will have their own way, God sometimes lets them have their way, and that turns out to be the most unhappy thing that can be. They make a rod for their own backs. They pile the faggots for their own burning. It is a great pity that it should be so, but often and often have we seen it.

Hos_11:7. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

There is a propensity in the human heart to go away from God — even in the hearts of God’s own people. Oh! how sad it is that, though often called to God by the voice of Providence, and by the call of his Word, yet none at all would exalt him!

Hos_11:8. 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.

God represents himself as holding a controversy within himself, “These people I must punish. These people I love. I shall have to give them up. I cannot give them up.” Justice debating with mercy, and mercy triumphant over justice.

Hos_11:9. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee. and I will not enter into the city.

Remember that when God entered into Sodom and saw its sin, then he destroyed it; but he determines to have pity upon Samaria, and not to enter into it lest, seeing it, he should feel compelled to destroy it.

Hos_11:10. They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion:

If God can make his people follow him when he roars like a lion, how we ought to follow him. who is the Lamb of God, that takes our sins upon him!

Hos_11:10. When he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

When God puts on the lion’s form, and his grave, majestic voice is heard,

full of thundering threatenings, then men are constrained and tremble.

Hos_11:11. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria:

They shall come on hasty wings, trembling along, to find a shelter.

Hos_11:11-12. And I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit:

It is a dreadful thing when men go to God and, as it were, make a ring round about him, and compass him about with falsehood and with lies. Many profess to worship God when they are not worshipping at all. Their bodies are in the assembly of the saints, but their minds are far away.

Hos_11:12. But Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

And it was to the honour of Judah that it was so. When others are false, then is the time for God’s servants to be true. If you held your tongue before, speak out for truth and God in the day when God is compassed about with deceit.



Hos_11:1. When Israel was a child,

When the nation was yet young, and had scarcely started on its march among the peoples of the earth: “When Israel was a child,” —

Hos_11:1. Then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

God’s love does not depend upon the standard of our spiritual attainments. While we are yet children in grace, the Father’s love is set upon us, as it was upon Israel in its beginnings as a nation.

Hos_11:2. As they called them, so they went from them;

Such was the perversity of this child-nation, whom nevertheless God loved that though galled by Jehovah, he went away, and refused to obey the divine call. The Israelites in Egypt “hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage;” and, even after their great deliverance, they were constantly turning aside from the path pointed out by Moses, who bade them be faithful to their God.

Hos_11:2. They sacrificed unto Baalim, —

They offered sacrifice to many Baals, first to one and then to another, for men will readily change their idols when they know not the true God.

Hos_11:2-3. And burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, —

This child-nation was taught by God how to walk; —

Hos_11:3. Taking them by their arms;

As nurses hold up their little children when for the first time they try to stand or toddle along.

Hos_11:3. But they knew not that I healed them.

This was a singular thing, and it shows the great blindness of man, that he does not know his own Physician. It was so with Israel: “They knew not that I healed them.” Surely, brethren, it seems impossible that we should not know our Divine Healer; yet our blindness is extreme by nature, and leads to many a folly.

Hos_11:4. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

As men do to their cattle when they have been ploughing, and they come to the end of the day’s work, then the bit is removed, or the yoke is lifted off the shoulder, and fit fodder is provided for the cattle that they may be refreshed. This is what God did to his people Israel; he brought them out of Egypt, where they had to perform hard tasks, caused them to rest from their labours, and gave them both material and spiritual meat to eat; yet nevertheless they were ungrateful to him. We say that ingratitude is the worst of sins; but, alas, it is one of the commonest of evils, and we ourselves are ingrates to our God.

Hos_11:5. He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

If we try to escape from our trouble without hearing the voice of God in it we shall run into another; if, by our own plotting and scheming, we escape from Egypt, then the Assyrian shall be our king, and there is small choice between Assyria and Egypt. It is always best to take with submission the sorrow that God appoints, lest, by fleeing from the bear the serpent bite us, and so we go from bad to worse.

Hos_11:6. And the word shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

That is a very striking expression, “Because of their own counsels.” It should be a solemn warning to us not to follow the devices of our own heart when we see the consequences of Israel’s walking after his own way.

Hos_11:7. And my people are bent to backsliding from me:

They seemed as if they must do it, as if their hearts were set upon it; they were “bent” upon it. Oh, that our bent and bias were towards holiness, and not towards backsliding!

Hos_11:7. Though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

See how Israel puts God away, and will not hear Jehovah’s voice. Now observe the change in the chapter, for God speaks of his faithfulness even to backsliding Israel. He does not give his people up, and he still yearns over them in tenderest pity and forbearance.

Hos_11:8. 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.

And this divine turning and repenting, remember, were toward a people who did not turn to the Lord. God turned towards a people that would not turn towards him, and his repentings were “kindled together” towards the nation that would not repent. Oh, the unspeakable, the unthinkable grace of God! He doeth for us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Hos_11:9. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man;

Our hope lies in the fact that God is God. Sometimes, that truth is a terror to men; they are distressed at the thought of the great and holy God, yet in this truth is their only hope of salvation. The Lord says, “I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God, and not man.”

Hos_11:9. The Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

That is, the Lord says, “I will not come into it to see all its iniquities, lest in my wrath I smite and destroy it.” How tenderly doth God bear with wicked men! How great is his long-suffering! How graciously he seems to close his eyes, as if he would not see that which must bring upon us swift destruction if he looked upon it in his righteous anger!

Hos_11:10. They shall walk after the LORD:

It is a great blessing when men begin to seek the Lord whom they formerly shunned. This proves that there has been wrought in them a complete change of heart.

Hos_11:10. He shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

God’s terrible voice often makes men tremble, and that is one proof of the working of his grace in their hearts, for they tremble before him, and flee unto him.

Hos_11:11-12. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD. Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

There are still some left to serve Jehovah; there is a remnant according to the election of grace even in the very worst of times. “Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.” May we be found among the faithful few! Amen.