Hosea 11

Though men who have had relationship with God are ripe for ruin because of following their own counsels,
instead of God’s, God is slow to anger, loath to abandon them, longing to draw them with the cords of His love.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

10 They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

11 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.

12 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.

Hosea 11:1-11 – “Bands of Love.”

   This is a very tender chapter, full of moving appeals. God looks back on the happy, blessed past, as a fond parent on the innocent childhood of a son who is now causing endless pain and grief. He recapitulates the call from Egypt, and relates how, in obedience to his appeal, Israel came out of the idolatries of that country. He describes Israel as a tiny child beginning to walk, and says, I taught him to go. He compares the Israel of those days to horses or oxen, relieved of the yoke, before whom food is set. Let us remember that God is also willing to teach us to go, and to carry us when we are weary.
   The blessed childhood of Israel had become like an overcast morning. They were bent on backsliding. But God’s love is not easily repelled. What more pathetic words were ever uttered by broken-hearted parents than vs. 8-9! That is the motive of our plea still. If we were dealing with man, we might despair. But we are dealing with One who forgives us according to the riches of his grace. If a back-slider should read these touching appeals, let him be encouraged to retrace his steps one by one, sure that the Father waits to welcome him where the by-path has broken off from the main road. (Meyer)

Hosea 11:3—I taught Ephraim also to go.

​   This is very touching. It is one of the sweetest, tenderest words in the Bible—a metaphor borrowed fresh from the nursery. What an epoch it is in the child’s life when it first gets upon its feet! The mother sets it there, or it manages to get up by itself. But it dare not walk; it must be taught to go. Sometimes the mother holds the clothes from behind, or reaches out her hands in front, or hovers around the little hesitating figure with outstretched arms to guard against the fast sign of tumbling. The lesson is not learned all at once. Sometimes many a sad fall tutors the venturesome pupil; but the mother is not discouraged. With a kiss and a “never mind” she puts the little one on its feet again, and teaches it to go.
   God is teaching us to go. He holds our hands in his; walks beside us with outstretched arms to see that we do not fall to our entire undoing; catches us when we are about to stumble, and picks us up when we have fallen to our hurt. God is never discouraged, any more than the mother is; and the more weak our ankle-bones and nervous our gait the more care does He expend.
   There are stages beyond this. There is the walk that pleases God; the running, when He has enlarged our heart; the mounting up with the wings of eagles. But at the end of life we come back to the going: I will go unto the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the harp I will praise Thee, O God, my God.
       “I have no help but Thine, nor do I need
          Another arm save Thine to lean upon!
       It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
          My strength is in thy might, thy might alone! (Meyer)