Hosea 13

1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but when he became guilty in Baal, he died. 2 Now they sin more and more, and have made themselves molten images of their silver, even idols according to their own understanding, all of them the work of the craftsmen. They say of them, ‘They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calves.’ 3 Therefore they will be like the morning mist, and like the dew that passes away early, like the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the threshing floor, and like the smoke out of the chimney. 4 “Yet I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; and you shall acknowledge no god but me, and besides me there is no savior. 5 I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted. Therefore they have forgotten me. 7 Therefore I am like a lion to them. Like a leopard, I will lurk by the path. 8 I will meet them like a bear that is bereaved of her cubs, and will tear the covering of their heart. There I will devour them like a lioness. The wild animal will tear them. 9 You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your help. 10 Where is your king now, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes?’ 11 I have given you a king in my anger, and have taken him away in my wrath. 12 The guilt of Ephraim is stored up. His sin is stored up. 13 The sorrows of a travailing woman will come on him. He is an unwise son; for when it is time, he doesn’t come to the opening of the womb. 14 I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death! Death, where are your plagues? Sheol, where is your destruction? “Compassion will be hidden from my eyes. 15 Though he is fruitful amongst his brothers, an east wind will come, the breath of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his spring will become dry, and his fountain will be dried up. He will plunder the storehouse of treasure. 16 Samaria will bear her guilt; for she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1-8

While Ephraim kept up a holy fear of God, and worshipped Him in that fear, so long he was very considerable. When Ephraim forsook God, and followed idolatry, he sunk. Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves, in token of their adoration of them, affection for them, and obedience to them; but the Lord will not give his glory to another, and therefore all that worship images shall be confounded. No solid, lasting comfort, is to be expected any where but in God. God not only took care of the Israelites in the wilderness, he put them in possession of Canaan, a good land; but worldly prosperity, when it feeds men’s pride, makes them forgetful of God. Therefore the Lord would meet them in just vengeance, as the most terrible beast that inhabited their forests. Abused goodness calls for greater severity.

Verses 9-16

Israel had destroyed himself by his rebellion; but he could not save himself, his help was from the Lord only. This may well be applied to the case of spiritual redemption, from that lost state into which all have fallen by wilful sins. God often gives in displeasure what we sinfully desire. It is the happiness of the saints, that, whether God gives or takes away, all is in love. But it is the misery of the wicked, that, whether God gives or takes away, it is all in wrath, nothing is comfortable. Except sinners repent and believe the gospel, anguish will soon come upon them. The prophecy of the ruin of Israel as a nation, also showed there would be a merciful and powerful interposition of God, to save a remnant of them. Yet this was but a shadow of the ransom of the true Israel, by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He will destroy death and the grave. The Lord would not repent of his purpose and promise. Yet, in the mean time, Israel would be desolated for her sins. Without fruitfulness in good works, springing from the Holy Spirit, all other fruitfulness will be found as empty as the uncertain riches of the world. The wrath of God will wither its branches, its sprigs shall be dried up, it shall come to nothing. Woes, more terrible than any from the most cruel warfare, shall fall on those who rebel against God. From such miseries, and from sin, the cause of them, may the Lord deliver us.

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