1 "When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria was disclosed, for they commit falsehood. And the thief comes in, and the troop of robbers raids outside.
2 And they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their own doings have beset them around. They are before my face.
3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
4 They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker who ceases to stir the fire from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
5 In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine. He stretched out his hand with scorners.
6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven while they lie in wait. Their baker sleeps all the night. In the morning it burns as a flaming fire.
7 They are all hot as an oven and have devoured their judges. All their kings have fallen. There is no one among them who calls to me.
8 Ephraim, he has mixed himself among the people. Ephraim is a cake not turned.
9 Strangers have devoured his strength, and he does not know it. Even gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he does not know.
10 And the pride of Israel testifies to his face. And they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
11 Ephraim is also like a silly dove without heart. They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
12 When they go, I will spread my net upon them. I will bring them down as the birds of the heaven. I will chastise them, as their congregation has heard.
13 Woe to them! For they have fled from me. Destruction to them! For they have transgressed against me. Though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
14 And they have not cried to me with their heart when they howled upon their beds. They assemble themselves for corn and wine and they rebel against me.
15 Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet they devise mischief against me.
16 They return, but not to the most High. They are like a deceitful bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter either begins a new sermon, discourse, or prophecy, or it is a continuation of the former; at least it seems to be of the same argument with the latter part of it, only it is directed to Israel alone; and consists of complaints against them because of their manifold sins, and of denunciations of punishment for them. They are charged with ingratitude to God, sinning in a daring manner against mercy, and with falsehood, thefts, and robberies (Hosea 7:1); with lack of consideration of the omniscience of God, and his notice of their sins, which surrounded them (Hosea 7:2); with flattery to their king and princes (Hosea 7:3); with adultery, which lust raged in them like a heated oven (Hosea 7:4); with drunkenness, aggravated by drawing their king into it (Hosea 7:5); with raging lusts, which devoured their judges, made their kings to fall, and brought on such a general corruption, that there were none who called upon the Lord (Hosea 7:6-7); with mixing themselves with the nations of the earth, and so learning their ways, and bringing their superstition and idolatry into the worship of God, so that they were nothing in religion, like a half baked cake (Hosea 7:8); with stupidity and insensibility of their declining state (Hosea 7:9); with pride, impenitence, and stubbornness (Hosea 7:10); with folly, in seeking to Egypt and Assyria for help, and not to the Lord; for which they would be taken as birds in a net, and sorely chastised (Hosea 7:11-12); with ingratitude, hypocrisy, and deceitfulness; for all which they are threatened with destruction (Hosea 7:13-16).
[v.1] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Now this place teaches, that though the vices of men do not immediately appear, yet those who deceive themselves, and disguise themselves to others, gain nothing, nor are they made free before God, and their fault is not lessened, nor are they absolved from guilt; for at last their hidden vices will come to light: and this especially happens, when the Lord performs the office of a physician towards them; for we see that men then cast out their bitterness, when the Lord seeks to heal their corruptions... Having said that the Israelites and the citizens of Samaria had conducted themselves so deceitfully, he now, by specifying two things, shows how they had departed from all uprightness, and prostituted themselves to every kind of wickedness; because where violence reigned, there also frauds and all kinds of evil reigned. The thief then had entered in, and the robber plundered abroad; that is, they secretly circumvented their neighbors, and also went forth like robbers openly and without any shame."
[v.2] - Here the people view God as one of their own dead idols, void of real power, and neglect His omniscience. God is well aware of their sins, for He knows the heart of man (1st Samuel 16:7; Luke 16:15). Through their neglect, they do not see God in His office as Judge, nor do they see that they are surrounded by their sins. Nothing is hid from God. "There is nothing that can stir us up more to repentance, than when we adorn God with his own power, and be persuaded that he is the judge of the world, and also when we walk as in his sight, and know that our sins cannot come to oblivion, except when he buries them by pardon." —John Calvin
[v.3] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet now arraigns all the citizens of Samaria, and in their persons the whole people, because they rendered obedience to the king by flattery, and to the princes in wicked things, respecting which their own conscience convicted them. He had already in the fifth chapter mentioned the defection of the people in this respect, that they had obeyed the royal edict (see Hosea 5:11 and its notes). It might indeed have appeared a matter worthy of praise, that the people had quietly embraced what the king commanded."
[v.4] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "He speaks not here of common fornication, but calls them adulterers, because they had violated their faith pledged to God, because they gave themselves up to filthy superstitions, and also, because they had wholly corrupted themselves, for faith and sincerity of heart constitute spiritual chastity before God. When men become corrupt in their whole life, and degenerate from the pure worship of God, they are justly deemed adulterers." The idea that they had wholly corrupted themselves is expressed in Hosea's similitude of leaven in this verse. In this case, leaven means something which corrupts or depraves that with which it is mixed. Both Jesus (Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1) and Paul (1st Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9) used leaven as an example of total depravity (see also the notes for Exodus 12:14-20).
[v.5] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "In short, the Prophet means, that the members of government in the kingdom of Israel had become so corrupt, that in the hall or palace of the king there was no regard for decency, and no shame."
[v.6] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We see that the similitude of an oven is set forth here by the Prophet in a sense different from what it had been before [in verse 4]... But the meaning, as it is evident, is far different. For he intended only, in the first instance, to reprove the mad lust with which they were burning; but he now speaks of their plots and concealed frauds; that is, that the Israelites before openly showed themselves to be ungodly and wicked, but that they were now wicked before God. How so? Because they were now like an oven lighted up in the night; for as the baker, having closed the door of his house, puts in fire, while none perceive that the furnace or the oven is being heated; so also the people fed and nourished their wickedness before God; and afterward, in course of time, it broke forth openly, whenever an opportunity was offered."
[v.7] - The Israelites were so burning with zeal for their superstitions and wicked practices that they had devoured (i.e., refused the sound teaching and reproofs to the point of rendering the judges fruitless) their judges and their kings had fallen (see Proverbs 12:15, 14:16). This is referring to the good kings and judges who were able to uphold a sound government. John Calvin gives further meaning to this verse by saying, "the Israelites had been deprived of good and wise governors; and this was a sad and miserable disorder to the people; it was the same as if the head were taken from the body." In other words, God's favor had been removed from them.
[v.8] - From the Geneva Bible study notes: "That is, he counterfeits the religion of the Gentiles, yet is but as a cake baked on the one side, and raw on the other, that is, neither thoroughly hot nor thoroughly cold, but partly a Jew and partly a Gentile." This is very similar to the accusation Jesus mad to the church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22. Israel was chosen to be a peculiar people to the Lord (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2, 26:18; Psalm 135:4), but in this verse, God says they differ nothing from the other, that is, uncircumcised, nations (see Genesis 17:10-14 where God distinguishes His people through the token of circumcision).
[v.9] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet follows the same subject, that is, that Israel had not repented, though the Lord had in various ways invited them to repentance, and even constrained them by his scourges. It is indeed a proof of desperate and incurable wickedness, when God prevails nothing with us either by his word or by his stripes." Hosea here intimates the danger of the blindness caused by obstinacy. There is the unawareness of God's protection being removed, and then there is the unawareness of the nearness of ruin (God's impending judgment), yet nothing is done to prevent it.
[v.10] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet now confirms his previous doctrine, and speaks generally, that the pride of Israel shall bear testimony to him to his face, or shall humble him to his face... What he means is, that God had so openly chastised the Israelites, that they must have perceived his hand, except they were blind indeed, and that, being at the same time warned, they ought to have suppliantly humbled themselves." Because of their pride, the Israelites would not repent, despite all that God had done to drive them to it.
[v.11] - "silly dove" - That is, a dove deceived by various lures, or in other words, they were enticed by flatteries. From John Gill's Exposition: "Thus Ephraim, going to Egypt and Assyria for help, were ensnared by them, not having sense enough to perceive that this would be their ruin; and though they had [before now] suffered by them, yet still they continued to make their addresses to them; and instead of keeping close to the Lord, and to his worship and the place of it, and asking counsel and help of him they ran about and sought for it here and there."
[v.12a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "God shows that though the Israelites might turn about here and there, yet their end would be unhappy; for he would have his expanded net: and he follows up the simile he used in the last verse. He had said that they were like doves, which are carried by a sudden instinct to the bait, and consider not the expanded net. If then the dove sees only the lure, and at the same time shuns not the danger, it is a proof of foolish simplicity. Hence God says, 'I will expand my net;' that is, 'I will cause all your endeavors and purposes to be disappointed, and all your hopes to be vain; for whereever they shall fly, my net shall be expanded.' This is a remarkable passage; for we here learn, that the issue will always be unfortunate, if we attempt anything contrary to the word of the Lord, and if we hold consultations over which his Spirit does not preside."
[v.12b] - "I will chastise them, as their congregation has heard" - From John Gill's Exposition: "[That is], what was written in the law, and in the prophets, were read and explained in the congregations of Israel on their stated days they met together on for religious worship; in which it was threatened, that if they did not observe the laws and statutes of the Lord their God, but neglected and broke them, they should be severely chastised and corrected with his sore judgments, famine, pestilence, the sword of the enemy, and captivity: and now the Lord would fulfill his word, agreeably to what had often been heard by them, but not regarded (see Leviticus, ch. 26 and Deuteronomy, ch. 28)."
[v.13] - The idea behind this verse is that even though God has at many times redeemed the people from peril, yet they continue to despise His word and be unfaithful to Him, and therefore, woe and destruction is deserving to them.
[v.14] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "As calling on God is the chief exercise of religion, and especially manifests our repentance, the Prophet expressly notices this defect in the Israelites — that they cried not to the Lord. But as they might object and say, that they had formally prayed, he adds, that they did not do so from the heart; for the outward act without the exercise of the heart, is nothing else but a profanation of God's name."
[v.15] - "Now we are reminded in this place, that whenever God heals our evils, and raises us up in adversity and succors us, we ought devoutly to acknowledge his favor, and not to meditate evil against him, when he so kindly extends his hand to us." —John Calvin
[v.16a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet again assails the perverse wickedness of Israel, and also their fraud and unfaithfulness. Hence he says that they feigned some sort of repentance, but it was nothing else than false; for they returned not to God."
[v.16b] - "This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt" - This is saying that the Israelites will be the laughing stock of any nation, such as Egypt, in which they put any confidence for help or aid. Since they won't turn to God, they will be held in derision by their confederate nations.