Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.…
Hosea, who lived in a corrupt age of the Israelitish Church, was commissioned to show forth, with great faithfulness and plainness of speech, the gross departures of that people from the laws and service of God, and at the same time to exhibit the mingled actings of judgment and mercy wherewith God would visit His people.
I. THE SIN OF ISRAEL. Their sin was departing from the Lord, and going after forbidden sources of dependence, and forbidden objects of desire. We need not a more striking proof of the depravity of man's heart universally, than we find in this ungrateful conduct of Israel. The manner in which their sin is set forth is peculiarly striking. They are represented in the character of an unfaithful wife toward the most tender and affectionate husband. There is scarcely anything affects a well-regulated mind more painfully than an instance of unfaithfulness on the part of a beloved wife towards an affectionate husband. It excites in our minds mingled emotions of pity, sorrow, and indignation. How deeply should we feel the dishonour done to God by the unfaithfulness of Israel, and-how humbling a lesson should we learn of the depraved nature of our own hearts! The sin of Israel was summed up in this: departing from the God of love — setting at nought the love of God. This is our sin, nationally and individually. We have our national idols; we have our personal idols. The condition of Israel further represents the case of those who have had some experience of the love of God, yet forsake the guide of their youth, and become entangled with the world.
II. THE CHASTISEMENT OF ISRAEL. God's forbearance and long-suffering with His people was very great. He was continually provoked to anger by their evil doings, but nevertheless He bare long with them. But the time came when it was necessary to throw obstacles in the way of their idolatry, and so hinder the accomplishment of their desires after worldly enjoyments, that they should be like persons hedged in with thorns and briars. This time came with the Captivity. The instruction of this fact belongs to us specially as a nation whom God has signally blessed with the pure light of Gospel truth. It is not, however, to be limited to God's chastisement of nations. It applies to those amongst us who have been personally convinced of sin, and of our need of such a Saviour as Jesus. God's rule of dealing with us is the same as with nations. God will make us feel the bitterness of sin. If ever you are saved, it shall be by first bringing you through the deep waters of soul affliction for sin. You must see yourself hedged in by the greatness and the number of your sins. It is a merciful chastisement which makes us feel the utter vanity of things of time and sense.
III. THE BLESSED CONSEQUENCES OF THE CHASTISEMENT. As regards us individually, God's dealings with Israel find a perfect parallel. All the chastisements for sin issue in nearness to God, and peaceful communion with God, and holy confidence in His love.
(James Cooper, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.