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The Lord's Relentless Judgment on Israel

1When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;
he was exalted in Israel,
but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.
2And now they sin more and more,
and make for themselves metal images,
idols skillfully made of their silver,
all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of them,
“Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!”
3Therefore they shall be like the morning mist
or like the dew that goes early away,
like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor
or like smoke from a window.

4But I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.
5It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
6but when they had grazed,11Hebrew according to their pasture they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.
7So I am to them like a lion;
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
8I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open.

9He destroys22Or I will destroy you, O Israel,
for you are against me, against your helper.
10Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities?
Where are all your rulers—
those of whom you said,
“Give me a king and princes”?
11I gave you a king in my anger,
and I took him away in my wrath.

12The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
his sin is kept in store.
13The pangs of childbirth come for him,
but he is an unwise son,
for at the right time he does not present himself
at the opening of the womb.

14Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from Death?
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

15Though he may flourish among his brothers,
the east wind, the wind of the Lord, shall come,
rising from the wilderness,
and his fountain shall dry up;
his spring shall be parched;
it shall strip his treasury
of every precious thing.
1633Ch 14:1 in Hebrew Samaria shall bear her guilt,
because she has rebelled against her God;
they shall fall by the sword;
their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open.

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These are the princes, of whom thou hast said, Give me a king and princes. I gave to thee in my wrath, and took away in my fury; that is “It was a cursed beginning, and it shall be a cursed end; for the election of Jeroboam was not lawful; but through an impious wilfulness, the people then rebelled against me, when they revolted from the family of David.” Nothing successful could then proceed from so inauspicious a beginning. For it is only then an auspicious token, when we obey God, when his Spirit presides over our counsels, when we ask at his mouth, and when we begin with prayer to him. But when we despise the word of God, and give loose reins to our own humour, and fix on whatever pleases us, it cannot be but that an unhappy and disastrous issue will follow. God therefore says, that he gave them a king in his wrath; as though he said, “Ye think that you have done nobly, when Jeroboam was raised to the throne, that he might become eminent: for the kingdom of Judah was then far inferior to that of Israel, which not only excelled in power, but also in the number of its subjects. Ye think that you were then happy, because Jeroboam ruled over you: but he was given you in the anger and wrath of God,” saith the Prophet. “But God commanded Jeroboam to be anointed.” True, it was so: but this, says God, I did in my wrath; and now I will take away in my fury; that is, “I will deprive you of that kingdom which I see is the cause of your blindness. For if that kingdom remains entire, I shall be nothing, the authority of my word will be of no weight among you. It is then necessary that this kingdom should be wholly subverted; for ye began to be unhappy as soon as ye sought a new king.”

We now understand what the Prophet means. At the same time, we learn from this passage, that God so executes his judgements, that whatever evil there is, it ought to be ascribed to men. For the raising of Jeroboam to the kingdom, we certainly allow to have been rash and unjust; for thereby was violated that celestial decree made known to David,

“My Son art thou, I have this day begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles,’ etc., (Psalm 2:7,8.)

But who appointed Jeroboam to be king? The Lord himself. How could it be, that God raised Jeroboam to the throne, and that he yet by his decree set David, not only over the children of Abraham, but also over the Gentiles, with reference to Christ who was to come? God seems here to be inconsistent with himself. By no means; for when he set David over his chosen people, it was a lawful appointment: but when he raised Jeroboam to the throne, it was a singular judgement; so that in God there is no inconsistency. The people at the same time, who by their suffrages adopted Jeroboam and made him their king, acted impiously and perversely. “Yet God seems to have directed the whole by his providence.” True; for before the people knew any thing of the new king, God had already determined to elect him and resolved also to punish in this way the defection and ingratitude of Solomon. All these things are true, that is, that God by his secret counsel had directed the whole business, and yet that he had no participation in the sin of the people.

Thus let us learn wisely to admire the secret judgements of God, and not imitate those profane cavillers, who make a great noise, because they cannot understand how God thus makes use of wicked men, and how he directs for the best end what is done by men wickedly and foolishly. As they do not perceive this, they conclude that if the Lord governs all things, he must be the author of sin. But the Scripture, as we see, when it speaks of the wrath and fury of God, does at the same time set forth to us his rectitude in all his judgements, and distinguishes between God and men, even as the difference is great; for God does not turn the perverse designs of men to answer their own ends — he is a just judge. And yet his purpose is not always apparent to us: it is, however, our duty reverently and with chastened minds to admire and adore those mysteries which surpass our comprehension. It follows —