Hosea 10:3
For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) To us.—Better, as for a king, what will he do for us? The prophet having witnessed a succession of Israelite kings overthrown, and anarchy as its consequence, predicts yet another time of confusion and helplessness, a full vindication of the threatenings of the prophet Samuel. (Comp. 1Samuel 8:19.)

10:1-8 A vine is only valuable for its fruit; but Israel now brought no fruit to perfection. Their hearts were divided. God is the Sovereign of the heart; he will have all, or none. Were the stream of the heart wholly after God, it would run strongly, and bear down all before it. Their pretences to covenant with God were false. Even the proceeding of justice was as poisonous hemlock. Alas, how empty a vine is the visible church even at this day! But all earthly prosperity is but a collection of bubbles, soon destroyed like foam upon the water. Sinners will in vain seek shelter from that Judge, whom they now despise as a Saviour.For now they shall say, we have no king - These are the words of despair, not of repentance; of people terrified by the consciousness of guilt, but not coming forth out of its darkness; describing their condition, not confessing the iniquity which brought it on them. In sin, all Israel had asked for a king, when the Lord was their king; in sin, Ephraim had made Jeroboam king; in sin, their subsequent kings were made, without the counsel and advice of God; and now as the close of all, they reflect how fruitless it all was. They had a king, and yet, as it were, they had no king, since, God being angry with them, he had no strength to deliver them. And now, without love, the memory of their evil deeds crushes them beyond hope of remedy. They groan for their losses, their sufferings, their fears, but do not repent. Such is the remorse of the damned. All which they had is lost; and what availed it now, since, when they had it, they feared not God? 3. now, &c.—Soon they, deprived of their king, shall be reduced to say, We have no king (Ho 10:7, 15), for Jehovah deprived us of him, because of our not fearing God. What then (seeing God is against us) should a king be able to do for us, if we had one? As they rejected the heavenly King, they were deprived of their earthly king. For; surely. Now; ere long.

They shall say; see, and feel, and be convinced too of this truth. We have no king; either no king at all, as in an interregnum, or no such king as we expected and hoped: our dependence was much upon the wise, valiant, and successful conduct of our king; but he is either less wise and valiant, or less successful in his enterprises.

Because we feared not the Lord; worshipped not, kept not his law, depended not on God, therefore we have no king, or one next to none, not able to help us.

What then should a king do to us? and now if we had our king, were he as powerful, wise, and successful as Jeroboam the Second, yet it would be too late, the Assyrian power hath so far prevailed, and God is so far departed from us: kings are not able to save without the God of kings.

For now they shall say, we have no king,.... This they would say, either when they had one; but by their conduct and behaviour said they had none; because they had no regard unto him, no affection for him, and reverence of him; but everyone did what was right in his own eyes: or during the interregnum, between the murder of Pekah, which was in the twentieth year of Jotham, and the settlement of Hoshea, which was in the twelfth of Ahaz; see 2 Kings 15:30; or when the land of Israel was invaded, and their king was shut up in prison, and Samaria besieged, so that it was as if they had no king; they had none to protect and defend them, to sally out at the head of them against the enemy, and fight their battles for them; or rather when the city was taken, the altars broke down, their images spoiled, and they and their king carried captive:

because we feared not the Lord: did not serve and worship him, but idols; and this sin, casting off the fear of the Lord, was the source and cause of all their troubles and sorrows; of the invasion of their land; of the besieging and taking their city, and having no king to rule over them, and protect them:

what then should a king do to us? if they had one, he could be of no service to them; for since they had offended God, the King of kings, and made him their enemy, what could an earthly king, a weak mortal man, do for them, or against him? it was now all over with them, and they could have no expectation of help and deliverance.

For now they shall say, We have no {d} king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?

(d) The day will come that God will take away their king, and then they will feel the fruit of their sins, and how they trusted in him in vain; 2Ki 17:6-7.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. For now they shall say …] Rather, Yea then, &c. They shall come to perceive that the kings set up on their own authority (Hosea 8:4) cannot help nor deliver them.

We have no king, &c.] i.e., none worthy of the name, for a king should be judge, counseller, general; hence, they continue, and the king [whom we have], what can he do for us?

Verse 3. - For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the Lord. In the day of their destruction Israel would be brought to see and even feel that the king appointed through their own self-will and fancied plenitude of power was unable to protect or help them, and that because they had rejected Jehovah and cast aside his fear. The point of time denoted by "now" is either when they see destruction before their eyes, or when Israel is already in captivity. Rashi explains it in the former sense: "When destruction shall come upon them, they shall say, 'We have no king,' that is, our king on whom we set our hopes when we said, 'Our king shall go out before us and light our battles,' affords us no help whatever." Kimchi explains similarly, but fixes the "now" in the time of the Captivity: "Now, when they shall be carried out of their land, they shall recognize and say, 'We have no king;' the explanation is, as it' we had no king among us, for there is no strength in him to deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, as we thought when we asked for a king who should march at our head and fight our battles. God - blessed be he! - was our King, and we needed no king, and he it was that delivered us out of the hand of our enemies when we did his will." Aben Ezra and others understand it as the expression of a wild licorice on the part of Israel, recklessly giving vent to an anarchical and atheistic spirit: "As soon as their heart was divided they had no wish to have a king over them, and had no fear of Jehovah; therefore they had no fear, and every one did what was right in his own eyes." This exposition neglects the note of time, as also the causal particle that follows. They bethought themselves that, as they had not feared Jehovah, but neglected his Law, the king which they had demanded could do them no good. "What," they asked, "can the king do for us? He has no power to deliver us, since God is angry with us, for we have sinned against him?" Such is the confession of Israel in captivity. Pusey remarks in reference to this: "In sin, all Israel had asked for a king, when the Lord was their King; in sin, Ephraim had made Jeroboam king; in sin, their subsequent kings were made, without the counsel and advice of God; and now, as the close of all, they reflect how fruitless it all was." Hosea 10:3In a fresh turn the concluding thought of the last strophe (Hosea 9:10) is resumed, and the guilt and punishment of Israel still more fully described in two sections, Hosea 10:1-8 and Hosea 10:9-15. Hosea 10:1. "Israel is a running vine; it set fruit for itself: the more of its fruit, the more altars did it prepare; the better its land, the better pillars did they make. Hosea 10:2. Smooth was their heart, ow will they atone. He will break in pieces their altars, desolate their pillars. Hosea 10:3. Yea, now will they say, No king to us! for we feared not Jehovah; and the king, what shall he do to us?" Under the figure of a vine running luxuriantly, which did indeed set some good fruit, but bore no sound ripe grapes, the prophet describes Israel as a glorious plantation of God Himself, which did not answer the expectations of its Creator. The figure is simply sketched in a few bold lines. We have an explanatory parallel in Psalm 80:9-12. The participle bōqēq does not mean "empty" or "emptying out" here; for this does not suit the next clause, according to which the fruit was set, but from the primary meaning of bâqaq, to pour out, pouring itself out, overflowing, i.e., running luxuriantly. It has the same meaning, therefore, as ג סרחת in Ezekiel 17:6, that which extends its branches far and wide, that is to say, grows most vigorously. The next sentence, "it set fruit," still belongs to the figure; but in the third sentence the figure passes over into a literal prophecy. According to the abundance of its fruit, Israel made many altars; and in proportion to the goodness of its land, it made better מצּבות, Baal's pillars (see at 1 Kings 14:23); i.e., as Israel multiplied, and under the blessing of God attained to prosperity, wealth, and power in the good land (Exodus 3:8), it forgot its God, and fell more and more into idolatry (cf. Hosea 2:10; Hosea 8:4, Hosea 8:11). The reason of all this was, that their heart was smooth, i.e., dissimulating, not sincerely devoted to the Lord, inasmuch as, under the appearance of devotedness to God, they still clung to idols (for the fact, see 2 Kings 17:9). The word châlâq, to be smooth, was mostly applied by a Hebrew to the tongue, lip, mouth, throat, and speech (Psalm 5:10; Psalm 12:3; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 5:3), and not to the heart. But in Ezekiel 12:24 we read of smooth, i.e., deceitful prophesying; and there is all the more reason for retaining the meaning "smooth" here, that the rendering "their heart is divided," which is supported by the ancient versions, cannot be grammatically defended. For châlâq is not used in kal in an intransitive sense; and the active rendering, "He (i.e., God) has divided their heart" (Hitzig), gives an unscriptural thought. They will now atone for this, for God will destroy their altars and pillars. ערף, "to break the neck of the altars," is a bold expression, applied to the destruction of the altars by breaking off the horns (compare Amos 3:14). Then will the people see and be compelled to confess that it has no longer a king, because it has not feared the Lord, since the king who has been set up in opposition to the will of the Lord (Hosea 8:4) cannot bring either help or deliverance (Ezekiel 13:10). עשׂה, to do, i.e., to help or be of use to a person (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:2).
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