Lecture Nineteenth

Hosea 7:7

7. They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me.

7. Omnes calent tanquam clibanus, comederunt judices suos: omne reges eorum ceciderunt; nemo in illis clamat ad me.


The Prophet repeats what he had said before, that the Israelites were carried away by a mad zeal into their own superstitions and wicked practices, and could not be allayed or quieted by any remedies; and he shows at the same time that this malady or intemperance raged in the whole people, lest the vulgar should accuse a few men, as if they were the authors of all the wickedness. He gives proof of their frenzy, because they could not have been hitherto amended by any corrections. They have eaten, he says, their own judges; their kings have fallen; and in the meantime not one of them cries to me. What the Prophet says here I refer to good kings, or to those who were able to uphold an ordinary government among the people. He says that judges as well as kings had fallen; by which words he means, that 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. He says, in short, that the body was mangled and mutilated, because the Lord had taken away the kings and judges. We indeed know that kings in continual succession reigned among the Israelites; but we must consider of what kings the Prophet here speaks.

But let us now notice what he says: Judges have been devoured. Some hold that the people through their wantonness had risen up against their judges, and, as if freed from all laws, had by main force upset all order; but this seems to me strained. The Prophet, I doubt not, means that the judges had been devoured, because the people had through their own fault made, as it were, entirely void the favor of God, as it often happens daily. God indeed so begins to do good, that he intends to continue his benefits to us to the end; but we devour his benefits; for we dry up, as it were, the fountain of his goodness, which would otherwise be exhaustless and perpetually flow to us. As then the goodness of God, which is otherwise inexhaustible, is in a manner dried up to us, when we allow it not to approach us; it is in this sense that the Prophet now complains that judges had been devoured by the Israelites; for through their impiety they had been deprived of this singular kindness of God; and they had consumed it, as rust or some other fault in brass destroys good fruit. We now comprehend the meaning of this verse.

God first shows that the Israelites were so ardent, that their frenzy could not be corrected or quieted. How so? "I have tried," he says, "whether their disease was healable; for I have taken away their kings and governors, which was no obscure sign of my displeasure: but I have effected nothing." Then it follows, yla Mhb arq Nya, ain kora beem ali, There is no one, he says, among them who cries to me. He had said that all were burning with the lust of committing sin; now, accusing their stupidity, he excepts none. We hence see that the whole people were so seized with frenzy, that when chastised by God's hand, they did not yet cry to him. It is indeed certain that the Israelites did cry, but without repentance; and it is usual with hypocrites to howl when God punishes them; but they yet direct not to him their supplications and their groans, for their heart is locked up by obstinacy. Thus then ought this clause to be expounded, that they repented not, nor fled to God for mercy. Then it follows --