When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.
I. Self-destruction is possible to us men—even the destruction of the highest, noblest, and divinest part of our nature.
II. The only power by which we can destroy ourselves is the power of sinning.
III. Every finally destroyed man is self-destroyed.
IV. The self-destroyer who is in this perilous position may be saved from self-destruction. (1) A man cannot save himself. (2) No fellow-man can save the sinner. God can save the self-destroyer, but God alone. (3) Think of the encouragement to return. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should return unto Me and live."
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 4th series, No. 11.
References: Hosea 13:9.—W. Jay, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 61. Hosea 13:10.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 321.
Hosea 13:11The Israelites seem to have asked for a king from an unthankful caprice and waywardness. To punish them, God gave them a king after their own heart, Saul, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; of whom the text speaks in these terms: "I gave them a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath."
I. Saul, the king whom God gave them, had much to recommend him to minds greedy of the dust of the earth. He was brave, daring, resolute; gifted, too, with strength of body as well as of mind—a circumstance which seems to have attracted their admiration. Both his virtues and his faults were such as became an Eastern monarch, and were adapted to secure the fear and submission of his subjects. Pride, haughtiness, obstinacy, reserve, jealousy, caprice,—these, in their way, were not unbecoming qualities in the king after whom their imaginations roved. On the other hand, the better parts of his character were of an excellence sufficient to engage the affection of Samuel himself.
II. Why was Saul marked for vengeance from the beginning? Is his character so essentially faulty that it must be thus distinguished for reprobation above all the anointed kings after him? This question leads us to a deeper inspection of his character. Now we know the first duty of every man is the fear of God—a reverence for His Word, a love of Him, and a desire to obey Him; and besides, it was peculiarly incumbent on the king of Israel, as God's vicegerent, by virtue of his office, to promote His glory whom his subjects had rejected. Now Saul lacked this one thing. It would appear that he was never under the abiding influence of religion—or, in Scripture language, the fear of God—however he might be at times moved and softened. Mere natural virtue wears away, when men neglect to deepen it into religious principle. Saul appears in his youth to be unassuming and forbearing; in advanced life he is not only proud and gloomy (as he ever was in a degree), but cruel, resentful, and hardhearted, which he was not in his youth. He began by consulting Samuel as a diviner; this showed the direction of his mind. It steadily persevered in its evil way—and he ends by consulting a professed sorceress at Endor. Unbelief and wilfulness are the wretched characteristics of Saul's history—an ear deaf to the plainest commands, a heart hardened against the most gracious influences.
J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iii., p. 29.
Hosea 13:14I. There are other graves worse than the graves which lie in the churchyard. The grave of which Hosea and Isaiah speak is partly the grave of Israel's fallen state, and partly the consequence of that fallen state—their captivity at Babylon. Of every grave, physical and moral, Christ is the destruction. His own grave was a grave annihilated, simply because He was in it.
II. There are Kibroth-hattaavahs, "graves of lust." Do you wish to escape from that lust? Have you been wrestling to get out, and you cannot? It is a resurrection, it requires the supernatural agency of a resurrection. There is only one can do it, and that one is Christ. Use that Conqueror's hand; take Christ into your heart, and realize Him there. He will break through that iron-bound gate of the moral death in which you lie, and He will say to that evil which is enthralling you, "Oh grave, I will be thy destruction."
III. There is another state—a soul which has once tasted life, life from God. But now it is gone. The spiritual life is fled, it is in the dust, it cannot lift itself up again. Who will roll away the stone? What shall we do? Believe in the resurrection. The heart that has Christ in it cannot be a sepulchre long. He will make the way through as surely as He did in the sepulchre at the garden.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 69.
Reference: Hosea 13:14.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1994.
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.
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.
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.
I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:
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.
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
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?
I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.
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.
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.
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.
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.