Hosea 1 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

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Hosea's wife and children — signs of Israel's rebellion and God's judgment

The first three chapters compose the first part, or the revelations of God's purposes with respect to Israel. From the outset Israel is treated as being in a state of rebellion against God The prophet was to unite himself to a corrupt woman (a prophetic type, I doubt not), whose conduct was the expression of that of the people. The son to whom she gives birth is a sign, by means of the name which the prophet is to give him, of the judgment of God on the house of Jehu, and on the kingdom of Israel, which should cease to exist. In fact, after the extinction of Jehu's family, although there were several kings, all was confusion in the kingdom of Israel—the kingdom was lost. It is evident, that, although the zeal of Jehu was energetic in extirpating idolatry, so that in His outward government God could sanction and reward it (and, as testimony, must needs do so), yet the motives that governed him were far from pure. God, therefore, while in His public government blessing Jehu, shews here, where He reveals His thoughts and His real estimate of the work, that He judges righteously and holily; and that that which man brings in of ambition, of cruelty, and even of that false zeal which is but hypocrisy, concealing the gratification of its own will under the name of zeal for Jehovah—all, in a word, which is of self, is not hidden from His eyes, and meets with its just reward, and so much the more from its being masked under the great name of Jehovah.

Jezreel, formerly a witness of the execution of God's judgment on the house of Ahab, should be so now of the ruin of all Israel.

A daughter is afterwards born to the woman whom the prophet has taken. God commands the prophet to call her Lo-ruhamah (that is, "no more mercy"). Not only was judgment executed upon Israel, but apart from sovereign grace —the exercise of which was reserved for the last days—this judgment was final. There was no longer any room for the long-suffering of God towards the kingdom of Israel. Judah should yet be preserved by the power of God.

A second son is named Lo-ammi (that is, "not my people"), for now Jehovah no more acknowledged the people to be His. Judah, who for a time maintained this position, although the ten tribes were lost, has at length by her unfaithfulness plunged the whole nation under the terrible judgment of being no longer the people of God, and Jehovah being no longer their God.

Sovereign grace to Israel and the Gentiles

God, having thus briefly but clearly pronounced the judgment of the people, immediately announces, with equal clearness, His sovereign grace towards them. "Nevertheless," saith He, by the mouth of the prophet, "the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered." But this grace opens the door to others besides the Jews. "In the place where it was said, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the sons of the living God." [1] The application of this passage to the Gentiles is stated by the apostle in Romans 9: 24-26; where he quotes the end of chapter 2 in our prophet, as expressing grace towards the Jews, and the verse we are now considering towards the Gentiles: while Peter (1 Peter 2: 10), who speaks only to converted Jews, quotes the end of chapter 2 only. There is no doubt that the Jews will come in, according to this principle in the last days; but the Holy Ghost expresses Himself here—as He has done in a multitude of passages quoted by the apostle —so as to adapt Himself to the admission of the Gentiles, when the time, foreseen of God, should come. But here He goes farther, and announces the return of the children of Judah and of the ten tribes, reunited, and subject to one head, in the great day of the seed of God. [2] It is said, "they shall come up out of the land"; and this has been supposed to mean their return from a foreign land; but I have an idea that it is rather that they all come up as one people in their solemn feasts.

Thus the judgment of a corrupt and faithless people, and grace towards the Gentiles, and afterwards towards Israel as a nation, are very plainly announced, in words which, although but few, embrace the whole series of God's dealings.

[1] We may observe that it is not said, "they shall be my people" (an expression less suitable to Gentiles), but "the sons of the living God"; which is precisely the privilege bestowed by grace on those who are brought to know the Lord since the resurrection of Christ.

[2] This is the meaning of "Jezreel": or, more exactly, "God will sow."