Hosea 14:8
This is the language of sincere repentance. The state of mind here revealed is decisively acceptable to God, and is the earnest and promise of better days. It is a sign of the Spirit's gracious working in the heart that every rival to God's dominion is forsaken and abjured.

I. THE EXPERIENCE THAT LEADS TO THIS RESOLUTION.

1. Disappointment in the service of others than the true God. Israel had addicted herself to strange gods, only to learn that all the flattering promises of their priests and ministers were delusive and vain. And whatever deity man has set before himself, as worthy of the homage and service due to God alone, it may be confidently asserted that such a rival has failed to answer prayer, to fulfill hope, to satisfy the heart.

2. Chastisement on the part of Divine Providence. As long as there is a Supreme Ruler, let men be assured he will not suffer his prerogatives to be invaded without inflicting the righteous penalties due to disobedience and defiance. Israel learned by bitter experience that Jehovah would tolerate no rival; and every generation of sinners has been taught the same lesson. "The way of transgressors is hard." Happy they who, through however painful an experience, have, nevertheless, come to see and feel that to have aught to do with idols is to involve themselves in distress and misery!

II. THE RESULTS THAT FLOW FROM THIS RESOLUTION.

1. When the soul abjures the objects of a foolish affection and devotion, Divine forgiveness and favor are waiting to restore and comfort it. The soul that is without idols shall not be left without God.

2. The rivals to the true worship and service shall lose their charms, and the soul shall wonder how it could have been captivated and enthralled.

3. A full and eternal satisfaction shall take possession of the nature which turns away from idols with abhorrence, and turns confidingly and devoutly unto God. What the false deities were powerless to bestow, the living God confers in perfect completeness. "His loving-kindness is better than life." - T.







Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols.
Compare this account of Ephraim with that given in Hosea 4:17. How is this surprising Change to he accounted for?

I. A SINNER IN HIS NATURAL STATE IS JOINED TO IDOLS. Herein consisteth the essence of man's apostasy. Something that is not God is the supreme object of his love, and possesseth that place in his heart which is due only to the living and true God. This world, the things of the world, its riches and pleasures and honours, are the great rivals of God which, ever since the fatal apostasy, have usurped the throne of the human heart. This present world, in one shape or other, is loved and served in preference to God by every man, without exception, who hath no other principle of life than what he derived from the first Adam.

II. TO SEPARATE A SINNER FROM HIS IDOLS MUST BE THE PECULIAR WORK OF GOD HIMSELF. The natural man may change the object of his devotion; but he will only turn from one idol to another. He stops short of God. All the objects of his pursuit belong to the present state of things. The conversion of a sinner is in Scripture represented as the effect of omnipotent creating power. It is called "a new creation," a being "born again," "a resurrection," a "passing from death to life." The apostate creature is really dead, in the truest and most important sense of the word.

III. HOW DOES GOD ACCOMPLISH THIS WORK? By the discovery and application of His pardoning mercy and sanctifying grace. Fear is the immediate consequence of guilt, which soon degenerates into hatred, or that enmity against God which is the distinguishing characteristic of the carnal mind. The report of God's pardoning mercy presents him in a light so suited to the necessities of the apostate creature that, in proportion as it is believed, the sinner is encouraged to look to Him with hope. Then how powerful must the actual experience of such pardoning mercy be.

IV. THESE WORDS OF EPHRAIM WILL BE ADOPTED BY ALL UPON WHOM GOD HATH BEEN PLEASED TO CONFER HIS PARDONING MERCY. By this means alone can the sinner be separated from idols. Learn —

1. How to account for that idolatry which is so prevalent in the world.

2. That nothing can avail for the cure of this idolatry which doth not relieve from the guilt of sin and vanquish the tormenting fear of wrath, by representing God in a light wherein we can behold Him with pleasure. 3 The importance and use of faith in Christ.

(R. Walker.)

When the Holy Spirit comes into any heart He drives out the buyers and sellers. If you have received the Spirit you will be crying now in your heart: Lord, take these things hence; what have I to do any more with idols? Some of the idols to be cast away are —

1. Self-righteousness. The largest idol of the human heart — the idol which man loves most and God hates most.

2. Darling sins. Every man has his darling sins. Dash down family idols, and secret idols of your own heart.

3. Unlawful attachments. There is not a more fruitful source of sin and misery than this.

4. Ministers. It is right to love them, but beware of making idols of them.

5. Earthly pleasures. This is a smiling, dazzling idol. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Sometimes it is a gross idol.

6. Money. You must not love money. You must be more open-hearted, more open-handed.

7. Fear of man. Grim idol! Many souls has he devoured. His eyes are full of hatred to Christ's disciples. This keeps some of you from secret prayer, from worshipping God in your family, from going to lay your case before ministers, from openly confessing Christ.

(R. M. M'Cheyne.)

This is a touching delineation of true repentance, not the less applicable to us in our turning to God because it describes the repentance of a nation, not of an individual, or because it was written thousands of years ago. Israel and Judah were at this time in a miserable condition. The form under which the prophet presents the lesson he would teach his people is very curious. He was directed to take a wife; she was faithless to him, and fell lower and lower in infidelity and infamy. In his own distracted home-life the prophet is taught to see a parable of the state of his country. The words of the text are spoken partly by returning and repentant Israel, and partly by God. Ephraim exclaims, "What have I to do any more with idols?" The response of God is, "I have heard him, and observed him."

1. The recoil and disgust of Ephraim when he remembers his past idolatries. Idolatry in the Bible is always associated with moral debasement. It is not necessary that the idol should be an image of wood or stone. It may be money, position, a splendid establishment, or aesthetic feeling; it may be senseless parsimony, or drink, or licentiousness. And sooner or later there comes a sense of debasement, a wonder that we could have brought ourselves so low. If we have ever known true repentance, we must have known also that feeling which is of its very essence, — "What have I to do any more with idols" To hate our idol, even though we confess its power over our souls, is at least an advance, the beginning of spiritual life, But by one manly effort to say, — "What have I to do any more with idols?" and to lay our heart's allegiance and love and reverence before Him who deserves it and asks it, this is repentance or change of mind, this is to pass from death unto life.

2. But that is a tremendous revolution. Such a resolve demands the very highest form of moral courage. The spell of our false gods does not withdraw itself all at once: But God is not unaware of the struggle in which you are engaged. And to returning Ephraim His loving response is, "I have heard him and observed him." Our warfare is so feeble because we do not believe that God is witnessing and approving and aiding us. It is well to hear Ephraim recognising his own weakness in the words, "I am like a green fir-tree." "I do not think I am a giant of the forest; I know I am but a slight and delicate sapling." Then comes the response of God, deepening Ephraim's humility and trust, "From Me is thy fruit found." The great spiritual need of our souls is to trust God more perfectly, to lay the full weight of our spiritual being on His promises and His character; not to trust Him a little, and ourselves much, but to say out of the fulness of our hearts, "All my fresh springs are in Thee." Such trust means strength, not weakness. It is manly; it is truthful; it is self-respecting.

(J. A. Jacob, M. D.)

I. THE LANGUAGE AND CHARACTER OF TRUE PENITENTS. Godly sorrow for sin is always found when sin is perceived in its pollution and native deformity. The language, "What have I to do any more with idols?" is the language of confession: a sincere acknowledgement of sin committed against God. Unless the sinner confess his sins unto God he cannot entertain the least degree of hope that they will be forgiven. But this sorrow is not that godly sorrow which issues in repentance unto salvation, unless it has respect to Him who was made a sin-offering for us. Godly sorrow is the gift of God. It is the effect of His Spirit brooding on the heart, softening and melting it. A constituent part of true repentance is faith in the Saviour of sinners. It implies also a steadfast determination to break away from idols, to cast them off. The idols of the heart are to be treated as heathen should treat their idols of wood and stone. But this costs us supreme difficulty.

II. GOD'S DISPOSITION TOWARDS SUCH AS CALL UPON HIM IN PENITENTIAL PRAYER.

1. His attentive observation. The words of this passage depict the notice which God takes of those who have any spark of generous indignation against themselves. The ears of the Almighty are open to the very first words which betoken humiliation and penitence.

2. His favourable mind towards them. He regards them with a placable mind, as well as a favourable eye. If there is any one truth to which we should cling with the greatest tenacity it is surely this, the favourable disposition of God towards returning penitents.

3. He is a shadow of protection for those who repair to Him in penitence and faith. "I am a green fir-tree." He will shield and defend them from the fiery darts of Satan, from their own clamorous lusts, and from the depraved examples of the world.

III. FRUIT PROCEEDING PROM THE RELATION INTO WHICH THE TRULY PENITENT ARE BROUGHT WITH GOD.

1. What is to be deemed "fruit." The worth of a tree consists in its bringing forth the fruit which is proper to its nature. The fruit differs according to the kind of the tree. God's people are called "trees of righteousness." They bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.

2. This fruit is produced by the grace of God working in those who are in union with Christ.

3. This fruit is found in all who are truly turned to God, truly converted to God. Faith is lifeless and dead if it produce no fruit. There must be. life and reality in our religion if we would glorify our Father who is in heaven.

(H. J. Hastings, M. A.)

Here are two voices — first, the penitent voice of the returning wanderer, then the welcoming answer of the Father. Here is a wonderful expression of the perfect simplicity of a true return to God. "What have I to do any more with idols?" That is all! No paroxysms of grief, no agonies of repentance, no prescription of so much sorrow, so much grief, for so much sin; no long, tedious process, but, like the finger put upon the key here, the sound yonder. Look at the answer, the echo of this confession which comes from heaven: it is the welcoming voice of the Father, "I hear him, and observe him." Note how instantaneously that Divine ear, strong enough to hear the grass grow, fine enough to hear the first faint shootings of the new life in a man's heart, catches the sound that is inaudible to all besides, and as soon as the word comes from the pale penitent lip of Ephraim the answer comes from God. Observation is here used in a good sense: watching as a nurse watches a feeble child. Then comes a singular metaphor. "I am like a green cyprus-tree." The cyprus is an evergreen. So God means, I am unchanged amidst the changing seasons, unaffected by all the change. To the prophet this tree, with its wealth of continual shadow, was an emblem of an unchanging blessing and protection. There is another possible association in these words — fanciful but beautiful — for which I am indebted to an old Jewish rabbi and commentator. He says a cyprus-tree bends down, and anybody that has seen one knows that its shelves of leafage do droop and come down near to the ground; that a man may lift up his hand and grasp the branches. There is an old legend that the boughs of the tree of life used to droop of themselves to the level of Adam's hand when he was pure and good. And when he had sinned and fallen they lifted themselves above his reach. This metaphor, then, may hint the condescension of the great loving Father, who stoops down from heaven in order that He may bring Himself within our reach. If you take these three points, unchangeableness, protection, condescension, you exhaust the force of this lovely emblem. And so it all comes to this: the humblest voice of conscious unworthiness and lowly resolve to forsake evil, though it be whispered only in the very depths of the heart, finds its way into the ears of the merciful Father, and brings down the immediate answer, the benediction of His shadowing love and perpetual presence, and the fulness of fruit, which He alone can bestow.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The text exhibits the temper of all converted people towards God. Converted men forsake their idols. The Christian knows that everything becomes an idol to a man which occupies more of his thoughts, his time, his care, his desires, and his pursuit than God and His glory. In setting before you the temper and characteristics of a child of God, our attention must be directed before all things to its principles, which is that of universal conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. If it be said that the character of our blessed Lord is too grand and too holy for our imitation, the excuse may be met by saying, that imitation does not mean perfection. It is by the perpetual earnest study of the character of Christ that we are first of all brought to love, and afterwards impelled to imitation. The more we study Christ, the more we must love Him; and the more we love Him, the more we shall assuredly copy His features. The Christian's temper of heart and mind is, of course, displayed in the two great duties of life —

1. That which concerns his Maker.

2. That which concerns his neighbour.With the former of these only are we now engaged. In casting away the idols of his heart and life, the Christian, like Ephraim, serves, loves, and acknowledges no other but God. The first thing in the character of the child of God is holy fear. The next is obedience. How many idols are overthrown by obedience! Then comes gratitude, which makes a man seek all occasions of showing love and honour to his benefactor. Then trust. This is ever a peculiar mark of the Christian's temper towards God. This trust keeps the Christian watching, striving, praying, and expecting. Then comes supreme desire for the glory of God, which over throws the great idol of selfishness. This temper is very necessary to prevent many deceptions of the heart. It is of all things most difficult to keep the motives pure; and without pure motives how barren and contemptible 'is our abstinence from evil and our practice of good. Purity is the temper of right motives. Purity of heart is the most eminent and distinguished temper in the circuit of the Christian graces. This temper brings with it the love of God. Love is the spring that moves all the wheels. It is that delight in God which makes us choose Him above all things. There is one more characteristic of the child of God — a constant endeavour to draw nigh to Him. For this cause the Christian loves and values the ordinances of religion. He prizes them as gracious means whereby he is brought into that nearer fellowship with God after which he is aspiring. Humility forms the crowning feature in the Christian's temper towards God. It is the seeing our own proper position before God.

(W. Harrison, M. A.)

The necessity and power of Divine influence to regenerate the heart is a truth in which all Christians will agree who make the Word of God their sole guide. This doctrine receives confirmation from the history of Ephraim. Two things. Ephraim's abandonment of idols; and God's reception of him.

I. THE RENUNCIATION. Here is —

1. The language of confession. The strong aversion he expresses is a virtual admission of his precious attachment. The state of Ephraim in his degeneracy is a correct picture of the entire family of man in their irreligious condition.

2. The language of detestation. The predominating sin of Israel was the worship of idols. With us the sin which has been most prevalent lies the heaviest on the conscience, and becomes the object of the most unqualified indignation.

3. Ephraim resolved on the abandonment of his idols. There is a noble promptitude in this pious determination.

II. THE RECEPTION.

1. The Divine attention. "I have heard him."

2. The Divine observation. "I have observed him:"

3. The Divine protection. "I am like a green fir-tree," which affords grateful shade and security to the traveller. It conveys the ideas of repose, refreshment, safety.

4. Fruitfulness is provided for. This extends the previous image. Reference probably is to the fruit which the penitent bears after conversion to God. This subject is a check to despondency. No true penitent has cause for despair.

(Anon.)

1. What men pursue, before conversion, are idols, i.e. things which give trouble.

2. When the grace of the Gospel is received into the heart it divorces the sinner from his sins.

3. The language of a penitent renouncing his sins is most pleasing to God.

4. Converts shall find that happiness in Christ Which idols offered, but gave not.

5. Whatever good we do and enjoy is in and from Jesus Christ.

6. True wisdom is to know and understand God's Word, in its threatenings and in its promises.

(H. Foster.)

Ephraim does not give up his idols without a reason. He says, I have tried you, and you are vain; I have leaned upon you, and you are broken staves; I have consulted you, and you had no answer; I have looked to you, but you never turned a kind eye upon me. The great apostle says, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols"; the old Scotch version says, "Wee bairns, keep yourselves frae dolls"; the meaning is the same. I like the quaintness of the Scotch version. There is a caressing tenderness in that gruff old tone; listen to it; it is the kind of tone that grows upon the heart. At first it is very singular, and not wholly desirable, but there is in it a latent music; if you say the words over and over again you will come to like them. The time is on the surface; open it, and you find eternity.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

e: —

I. THE EVIDENCE OF A TRUE REPENT ANCE. Entire renunciation of idolatry. The repentant sinner is led to confess the folly and sin of his empty pursuits (Romans 6:21). Sinful pleasures (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). False confidences: e.g., self-righteousness. Unconditional mercy, etc. And to determine to renounce them. This gracious melting: of heart is the Lord's doing. Jesus is exalted to give repentance (Acts 5:31):It is produced here as the blessed fruit of sanctified afflictions. Illus. — Manasseh. Prodigal.

II. THE NOTICE WHICH GOD TAKES OF A REPENTANT SINNER. "He listens to his meanings." (Job 33:27). He watches for his return. His eye is upon the repentant sinner when least he thinks so. He observes him.

III. THE GRACIOUS ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH GOD GIVES TO HIM.

1. A promise of security. Shadow from the heat. Shelter from the storm.

2. An assurance of supply. Fruits of comfort derived from God. Fruits of grace produced by God's help.

(John D. Lowe, M. A.)

Whatever we set our affections upon, in preference to God, is an idol; and grace will teach us to renounce it. Every man in an impenitent state seeks his happiness in some forbidden and sinful enjoyment. He is therefore an idolater. We have here —

I. A CONFESSION OF GUILT. "Any more" implies that in the past he had been concerned with idols.

II. A DETERMINATION TO RENOUNCE SINS. Implied in the language taken form as an interrogation.

III. THE DETERMINATION IS A HUMBLE ONE, FORMED IN RELIANCE ON GOD'S HEAVENLY GRACE. Reasons for renunciation of sin are —

1. Penitent sees something of the real nature and evil of it.

2. Penitent has had experience of the vanity and unprofitableness of all sinful pleasures and pursuits.

3. Penitent has already experienced some, and expects more of, solid and permanent happiness.

4. A principle of love and gratitude to God in the penitent's heart cannot but operate to make him abhor and renounce all iniquity.

5. Every true penitent has the strongest reason to express and maintain the most determined disavowal of all iniquity, in consequence of having surrendered himself to God, and in solemn covenant devoted himself to His service. And this is true religion. This is genuine repentance. All that comes short of this is but vanity and deception.

(S. Knight, M. A.)

The statement here is, that Ephraim shall and will go on in abominating idols, be constant in his former resolution. Under the term "idols" gather —

1. False doctrine, which is the foundation of idolatry.

2. Idols themselves.

3. Idolatry, which they tend to.

4. Idolaters. Idolatry frameth base conceits of God.Consider the opposition between any representation of God, and God. Because God is a jealous God, He will not give His glory to another. Unconverted persons are prone to idolatry; to set up their own wits and wills, instead of God's. Some commit this great sin of idolatry by trusting to the outward performances and tasks of religion. Consider God's hatred unto all sorts of idolaters; for He accounts such to hate Him, and so accordingly punishes them.

( Sibbes, Richard, D. D.)

There are two causes of repentance, one is fear, the other is love. That repentance which owes its existence to fear is to be repented of, but that which originates in love tends to the soul's salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Repentance which owes its existence to love is distinguished by the infallible effects of a new heart and a right spirit. Penitents, from the effects of redeeming love, endeavour to keep God's commandments. The truly penitent is never left to the treachery of self-dependence The text is a ratification or corroboration of the terms of the covenant which Israel promises to fulfil. Unless the Almighty confirms our promises and resolves our own determination would be of no avail. We learn the confidence of the truly penitent in God's mercy. The truly penitent ascribes all to the great First Cause. And the truly penitent loses no time to make a firm stand against his former sins. The words also express that the penitent does not cavil or reason as to the effect his conversion might have upon his worldly prospects. Genuine repentance affords comfort in every condition of life.

(Moses Margoliouth, B. A.).

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