Set the trumpet to your lips!
One like a vulture is over the house of the LORD,
because they have transgressed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.
To me they cry,
“My God, we—Israel—know you.”
Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him.
They made kings, but not through me.
They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
shall be broken to pieces.
For they sow the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads;
it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield,
strangers would devour it.
Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations
as a useless vessel.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
a wild donkey wandering alone;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
Though they hire allies among the nations,
I will soon gather them up.
And the king and princes shall soon writhe
because of the tribute.
Because Ephraim has multiplied altars for sinning,
they have become to him altars for sinning.
Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
As for my sacrificial offerings,
they sacrifice meat and eat it,
but the LORD does not accept them.
Now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.
For Israel has forgotten his Maker
and built palaces,
and Judah has multiplied fortified cities;
so I will send a fire upon his cities,
and it shall devour her strongholds.
(Hosea 8 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalm 123 ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 124 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!
(Psalm 125 ESV)
For the Love of God
PERHAPS THE SINGLE ELEMENT that holds together the various sins condemned in Hosea 8 is human self-reliance. The “eagle” in 8:1 is probably a vulture. A “[vulture] . . . over the house of the LORD” is a way of saying that Jerusalem is as good as dead: the carrion eaters are already gathering for their feast. The people might be living in relative prosperity and peace, but the ominous signs were there for those with eyes to see. Evidences of sinful self-sufficiency include:
(1) A hypocritical allegiance to the covenant (8:1-3). What makes it hypo- critical is that Israel cries out, “O our God, we acknowledge you!” (8:2) while breaking the covenant and rebelling against God’s law (8:1). This is the rejection of what is good — and there are consequences (8:3).
(2) Defiant alternatives to the Davidic dynasty (8:4). That is what is meant by the charge, “They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.” The Lord set his seal on the Davidic dynasty, but to preserve their independence from Jerusalem the northern ten tribes, now constituted as Israel, opted for their own monarchs. They were not “chosen” in any democratic sense; frequently they succeeded one another in bloody coups. But they were the choice of the northern tribes nonetheless, insofar as they preferred these to allegiance to David’s line. It is always the case that unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor do so in vain (Ps. 127:1); here the sin is compounded by the alienation from the messianic line.
(3) The development of idols, of the culture’s choice of religion (8:4-6, 11-13). Initially two golden calves were set up, one in Dan and one in Bethel, to offset the draw of Jerusalem’s temple (1 Kings 12:27-30). Moreover, people in Israel would not have to travel so far. Thus, although they formally preserve the altars for sin offerings, these have become “altars for sinning” (8:11).
(4) The constant dependence on expensive and tricky allies (8:8-10). Instead of trusting the Lord, they think their clever diplomacy with regional superpowers will save the day. God is demeaned, and Israel (“Ephraim”) is further seduced by idolatry.
(5) Reliance on wealth and military strength (8:14). Israel (the north) has its palaces; Judah (the south) fortifies many towns — forty-six of them, in fact. But God will destroy them (8:14b). When Assyria vanquished Israel (722 B.C.), it also took all the walled cities of Judah except Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13), which was spared until the rise of Nebuchadnezzar more than a century later.
What signs of self-reliance characterize our culture? What will God do about them?