Worldly prosperity, which feeds men’s pride, makes them forgetful of God, and sends them on a downhill course in which they cannot easily stop themselves.
Those whom God has in vain endured with long-suffering,
and appealed to with much affection, will finally be made the vessels of His wrath.
1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.
2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.
3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.
4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.
5 ¶ I did know thee 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 have they forgotten me.
7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:
8 I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
9 ¶ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
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.
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.
14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
15 ¶ Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Hosea 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Hosea 13:1-14 – To Oppose God Is Destruction.
Again, a very tender chapter. The lips that speak with trembling betray the heart that God can exalt. But when we turn to Baal, the emblem of self-confidence, we pass as the morning cloud the dew, the chaff, and the smoke.
In v.4 we again get the sweet strain of early memory. God had not changed and was waiting to save. They had refused his help and had destroyed themselves, and he who would have done his best for them had been constrained to act as though he were a lion, a leopard, or a bear. In the wilderness we are thankful enough for his help, but when we reach the land of the vine and olive, we follow the devices and desires of our own hearts.
What a magnificent outburst is that which declares the divine intention to ransom even from death and the grave! We all know the New Testament setting of these words. Our Saviour by his death destroyed him that had the power of death. He is death’s plague and the grave’s destruction. The sting of death is sin, but Jesus has borne sin away. The strength of sin is a violated law, but he has fulfilled the law. He is more than conqueror, and the soul that is one with him shall share his triumph. (Meyer)
Hosea 13:14—O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction?
These words are made familiar to us in the magnificent apostrophe with which Paul’s great resurrection chapter closes (1 Corinthians 15:55). They have been recited for centuries over Christian graves.
In their first utterance they record Jehovah’s resolve to deliver his people, in spite of all their sins. The conflict in the Divine heart between hatred of the abominable idolatries by which they were cursed, and his ancient, unalterable love, gives this chapter, and indeed the whole book, its remarkably disjointed character. There is hardly a paragraph which is not marked by abrupt transitions, agitation of speech, appeals, enquiries, expressions of infinite regret. But notwithstanding all, God had given commandment to bless, and He neither could nor would reverse it. Let death and Hades do their worst against his chosen, He was stronger far.
In these intermediate ages these words may be quoted over every Christian’s death, whether it be a martyrdom or the quiet yielding up of life. In comparison with the great gain that death brings to those who pass to the “far better” of being with Christ (Philippians 1:23), wherein are we losers by it? Nay, do we not greatly gain?
But the full realization of these words awaits the hour when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, at the sudden appearance of the Savior in his advent glory. Then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. There shall not a hoof be left behind. Not one of the redeemed shall remain in the prison-house; and even in their bodies, raised in the likeness of Christ, there will be no evidence of the triumph of death or the grave. (Meyer)