COMMENTARY ON HOSEA
“ 13:10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? 11 I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.” (Hosea 13:10-13)
Sin is not a simplistic matter – even though men are sinners by nature, being “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). The whole person is involved when transgression is committed. Such things as preference, will, choice, inclination, and deliberation are involved. There is also forgetfulness of God, ignoring the Word of God, refusing to consider Divine benefits, and refusing to think on on death, the day of judgment, and the penalty incurred when sin is committed. This is particularly true of those to whom God has revealed Himself. In general, this is seen in Israel. More extensively, it is seen in those who have been added to the church (Acts 2:47). Because of this, God will not forget sin from which men have not repented, and which, consequently, has not been forgotten. After the passage of time, men naturally forget their folly. There appears to be in “the flesh” the notion that time erodes guilt, diminishes contamination, and causes the effects of iniquity to dissipate. But this is a delusion. We will behold this in our text. God will bring up a choice Israel made at least three hundred years before Hosea’s prophecy. While that choice may have been long forgotten by many Israelites, it was still remembered by the Lord. It was a sort turning point for Israel – a choice that had effects that rippled throughout their entire history. This will confirm that they learned nothing from this event.
THE REAL KING VERSUS THOSE CHOSEN BY MEN
“ 13:10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?”
I WILL BE THY KING. Other versions read, “Where now is your king?” NASB and “I am,” GENEVA There is a blending of verses nine and ten that must be seen. Verse nine ends with the Lord affirming the help of Israel is in Him: “but in Me is thy help.” That thought continues in the first part of the tenth verse. It is as though the Lord said, “not only is your help, in Me, I want to be your King!” This particular phrase can be rendered, “I WILL to be your King.” This is a correct translation of the text when it is viewed as an extension of the concluding thought of verse nine. It is also proper from a strict language point of view. The versions that represent this as a question (Where is your king?) are associating the expression with the clause that follows.
God’s desire was to bless, care, and lead Israel. The fact that they were not being blessed by Him was not owing to any lack of desire on God’s part. As He said through Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer 29:11).
There is also a prophetic note in this statement. Throughout the prophets, the Lord pointed to a time when Israel would, in fact, actually rely upon the Lord, and not upon kings of their own choosing. These prophecies have to do with the Lord Jesus. “But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them” (Jer 30:9). “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5). “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even my servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd” (Ezek 34:23). “Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them” (Ezek 37:23-24).
These promises were not contingent upon Israel’s obedience, as the promises that attended the Law (Lev 18:5). These were the consequence of God removing their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh. It involves the covenant He has made, as affirmed in Romans 11:27: “For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”
WHERE IS ANY OTHER? The Lord emphasizes that there is “help” in none but Himself. Here, He is not speaking of being helped in the hour of ordinary crisis – if, indeed, there is such a thing. Hosea has declared that Divine judgment is on the way. God is going to be to them as a lion, and as a bear that has been robbed of her cubs. Under that circumstance, “where is any other that may save thee in all the cities?” How well those who are in Christ know, “If God be for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31). Or, as the book of Job says, “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Job 34:29).
Here, however, the reverse is true: “there is none that can deliver out of My hand: I will work, and who shall let it?” (Isa 43:13). It is as though the Lord challenges wayward Israel to find some one who can assist them while He is dealing with them – someone who can give them deliverance, solace, or any measure of assistance. Is there some king capable of offsetting the the hand of the Lord when it is against them?
And what of the “judges,” or rulers, they preferred over God when they said, “Give me a king and princes.” This refers to the request Israel addressed to Samuel, the last Judge of the nation. “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam 8:5). That saying displeased Samuel (1 Sam 8:5), but not nearly as much as it did God Himself. Of that request the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Sam 8:7). Not only were they incapable of seeing the Lord as competent of setting up another godly judge, they wanted to be like other nations.
Although the generation to whom Hosea was speaking was not the one who asked for a king, they had adopted the same spirit. They also had refused to have God reign over over them, choosing to solicit help from other nations, and offer their sacrifices to other gods. That made them of the same generation as those who spoke to Samuel. Now, after hundreds of years, the Lord clearly identifies them with the generation who had rejected Him. That is the way the Lord thinks, because that is the way it is.
A KING IS GIVEN, THEN TAKEN AWAY
“ 11 I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.” This refers to the time when Israel asked Samuel to give them a king like other nations.
A KING GIVEN IN ANGER. This refers to king Saul – the first king of Israel – given at the request of Israel, who had rejected the Lord Himself. When Samuel summoned the people together to select a king, he told them, “And ye have this day rejected your God, who Himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto Him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands” (1 Sam 10:19). When the tribe of Benjamin presented itself before the Lord, they came by families. The family of Matri was taken, and from among them Saul, the son of Kish, was chosen. When the people could not locate Saul, they “inquired of the Lord,” and He told them whereto find Saul (1 Sam 10:21-22). When they had found him, and brought him before the people, he stood head and shoulders above “any of the people” (10:23).
Samuel then presented him to the people saying, “See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king” (1 Sam 10:24). The people responding by shouting, “God save the king.” Saul then returned home with “a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” (10:26). Later “the Spirit of God came upon Saul,” and he so challenged the people to be devoted to him and Samuel that “the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent” (11:6-7). In the beginning he proved to be a wise and perceptive king, once stopping the vengeance of the people by saying, “There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel” (1 Sam 11:13). Samuel once said of Saul, “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?” (1 Sam 15:17). Surely this would begin a triumphant phase of Israel’s history.
But this was not at all the case! God says of that very occasion – when Saul was made king – “I gave thee a king in Mine anger!” In Antioch of Pisidia, Paul said of this king, “And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years” (Acts 13:21). When the event took place, Samuel reminded them that the Lord had “chosen” Saul to be their king. However, our text says He did it “in anger.”
This incident is similar to the the occaion when Israel asked for meat, doing so in a bitter and murmuring spirit. The Lord did give them flesh in abundance, but did so in anger. Here is what Moses said to the people. “therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” (Num 11:20). Later it is said of that event: “And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted” (Num 11:34). God had given them theior request, but did so in anger.
This, then, is a Divine manner – one that is to be avoided at all cost. It is possible to receive things from God that are not of themselves blessings. Such things are given “in anger,” because of a faulty spirit among the people. This is not the sort of thing we can systematize. However, it is worthy of note that when requests are addressed to God because of inordinate desires, or lust, no ultimate good will come from it, even though it may have the appearance of true blessing at the first.
A KING TAKEN AWAY IN WRATH. There is a two-fold sense in which this is true. First, it applies to king Saul himself, whom God took away. Paul said of this, “And when He had removed him, He raised up unto them David to be their king” (Acts 13:22). When the actual expulsion took place, Samuel said to Saul, “for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” (1 Sam 15:26). This was done in wrath because Saul had disobeyed the Lord by not destroying the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:13-26).
Second, this can be viewed as the office of a king instead of a particular king. In that case, Saul was given to them in God’s anger, and Hoshea, the last king of Israel (2 Kgs 18:10-12), was taken away in His wrath, when the kingdom Israel had stubbornly refused to follow on to know the Lord, and ceased to be a kingdom. Being taken away by Assyria.
ISRAEL WILL CONFRONT THEIR SIN
“ 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. 13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”
BOUND UP. Other versions read, “is stored up,” NASB “is shut up,” BBE “wrapped up,” NAB “packed away,” NJB and “collected and stored away.” NLT This is a picture of sins being enveloped and placed in a place of safe keeping. It is the opposite of sins being “blotted out as a thick clod” (Isa 44:22), casting sins “into the depths of the sea” (Mic 7:19), and God remembering sins and iniquities “no more” (Heb 10:17).
Elsewhere this action is called “visiting upon you the evil of your doings” (Jer 23:2), or visiting “their sin upon them” (Ex 32:34). The idea is that although the people appear to be getting by with their sin, a meticulous record was being kept of it all. The time would come when they would be faced with their sin, and reap what they had sown.
The ONLY sin that God forgets is the sin that is justly remitted. That remission is based particularly upon faith in the blood of Christ (Rom 3:25). Prior to Christ it was based upon believing God, and anticipating the coming Redeemer (Gen 15:6).
HID. By saying Israel’s sin was “hid,” God did not mean it could not be found, or that He could not see it. Rather, it means it was being kept in a secret place, “stored up,” NASB, or “kept on record.” NIV More specifically, it was recorded in “the books” which will ultimately be opened up, and out of which men will be judged (Rev 20:12).
Moses wisely reminded the people they would eventually face their sins. “behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23), or “your sin will overtake you.” DOUAY One version reads, “you will not escape the consequences of your sin.” NAB In other words, though presently hidden from human view, sins that are not remitted will eventually be associated with the ones committing them, and they will pay the appropriate consequences for committing them.
A knowledge of this drove sensitive David to pray, “blot out my transgressions,” and “blot out all mine iniquities” (Psa 51:1,9). How precious such pleas are to the Lord. Has He not said, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put Me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified” (Isa 43:26).
After Moses had pled with them, and the Prophets had admonished them; after they had been chastened many times, and suffered hard things, Israel chose to continue in their sin, growing worse and worse. All of those sins were wrapped up and hidden. Not a single one of them had disappeared.
THE SORROWS OF A TRAVAILING WOMAN. Here is another contrast. Israel would suddenly enter into the painful chastening of the Lord – like labor pains coming suddenly upon a woman. Life would become difficult, to say the least. However, because Israel was like AN UNWISE SON, they would not be able to make an association between their sin and their judgment – between their transgression and their grief. One version reads, “Pangs as of childbirth overtake him, and a stupid child he is.” NJB It is as though the infant that is to be birthed does not know enough to come out of the womb – that is the figure that is presented. One might object, saying that such a thing is not possible. Unless the infant has died, it always knows when it is time to exit the womb, and begins to do so as soon as the birth pangs begin. However, because of its sin, Israel had been reduced to a state of spiritual stupidity that could only be likened to something utterly absurd and unreasonable. In other words, when an opportunity to return to the Lord was presented to them, they did not recognize it. They were like Jerusalem during the time of Jesus, of whom the Savior said, “thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Lk 19:44).
NOT STAY LONG. The figure is carried forward, likening Israel to a child in the womb that does not come forward at the opening of the womb: “he does not come to the opening of the womb.” NIV And why not? The time is right: “the time arrives.” NIV The circumstance are favorable: “the opening of the womb.” NIV It is as though the infant remains in the birth canal, but makes no movement to come forth.
This is what the prophet would call being “in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). A time has arrived when recovery can be realized, and a return to God effected. The bondage of iniquity can be broken because the time is right – the time of Divine visitation. The person can walk out of the prison, for the doors have been removed, and it is the “accepted time” (2 Cor 6:2). And what can be said of souls who remain unmoved, still dominated by sin under such circumstances? They are like “a stupid child!” NJB