Hosea 4

Listen to Hosea 4

The Lord Accuses Israel

1 1Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for 2the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and 3no knowledge of God in the land;
2 4there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and 5bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore 6the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, 7and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, 8and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
4 9Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is 10my contention, O priest.[a]
5 You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy 11your mother.
6 My people are destroyed 12for lack of knowledge; 13because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you 14from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, 15I also will forget your children.
7 16The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; 17I will change their glory into shame.
8 18They feed on the sin[b] of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity.
9 19And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.
10 20They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the LORD to cherish
11 whoredom, wine, and new wine, which 21take away the understanding.
12 My people 22inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For 23a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.
13 24They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn offerings on the hills, 25under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters play the whore, and your brides commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for 26the men themselves go aside with prostitutes and sacrifice with 27cult prostitutes, and a people 28without understanding shall come to ruin.
15 Though you play the whore, O 29Israel, let not 30Judah become guilty. 31Enter not into 32Gilgal, nor go up to 33Beth-aven, and swear not, "As the LORD lives."
16 Like a stubborn heifer, Israel is stubborn; can the LORD now feed them like a lamb in a broad pasture?
17 34Ephraim is joined to idols; 35leave him alone.
18 When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring; 36their rulers[c] dearly love shame.
19 37A wind has wrapped them[d] in its wings, and they shall 38be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

Hosea 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

God's judgments against the sins of the people. (1-5) and of the priests. (6-11) Idolatry is reproved, and Judah is admonished. (12-19)

Verses 1-5 Hosea reproves for immorality, as well as idolatry. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in the land: it was ( 2 Kings. 21:16 ) which would desolate the country. Our sins, as separate persons, as a family, as a neighbourhood, as a nation, cause the Lord to have a controversy with us; let us submit and humble ourselves before Him, that he may not go on to destroy.

Verses 6-11 Both priests and people rejected knowledge; God will justly reject them. They forgot the law of God, neither desired nor endeavoured to retain it in mind, and to transmit the remembrance to their posterity; therefore God will justly forget them and their children. If we dishonour God with that which is our honour, it will, sooner or later, be turned into shame to us. Instead of warning the people against sin, from the consideration of the sacrifices, which showed what an offence sin was to God, since it needed an atonement, the priests encouraged the people to sin, since atonement might be made at so small an expense. It is very wicked to be pleased with the sins of others, because they may turn to our advantage. What is unlawfully gained, cannot be comfortably used. The people and the priests hardened one another in sin; therefore justly shall they share in the punishment. Sharers in sin must expect to share in ruin. Any lust harboured in the heart, in time will eat out all its strength and vigour. That is the reason why many professors grow so heavy, so dull, so dead in the way of religion. They have a liking for some secret lust, which takes away their hearts.

Verses 12-19 The people consulted images, and not the Divine word. This would lead to disorder and sin. Thus men prepare scourges for themselves, and vice is spread through a people. Let not Judah come near the idolatrous worship of Israel. For Israel was devoted to idols, and must now be let alone. When sinners cast off the easy yoke of Christ, they go on in sin till the Lord saith, Let them alone. Then they receive no more warnings, feel no more convictions: Satan takes full possession of them, and they ripen for destruction. It is a sad and sore judgment for any man to be let alone in sin. Those who are not disturbed in their sin, will be destroyed for their sin. May we be kept from this awful state; for the wrath of God, like a strong tempest, will soon hurry impenitent sinners into ruin.

Cross References 38

  • 1. See Hosea 5:1
  • 2. Isaiah 3:13, 14; Jeremiah 25:31; Micah 6:2
  • 3. [ver. 6, 14; Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 5:4]
  • 4. [Hosea 7:1]
  • 5. [Hosea 6:9; Hosea 12:14; Micah 3:10; Micah 7:2]
  • 6. Isaiah 24:4; Jeremiah 4:28; Joel 1:10
  • 7. [Joel 1:18; Zephaniah 1:3]
  • 8. [Ezekiel 38:20]
  • 9. [ver. 17]
  • 10. [Deuteronomy 17:12]
  • 11. Hosea 2:2
  • 12. [ver. 1; Isaiah 5:13]
  • 13. [Proverbs 1:29]
  • 14. [Exodus 19:6]
  • 15. [Jeremiah 23:39]
  • 16. [Hosea 13:6]
  • 17. 1 Samuel 2:30; Malachi 2:9
  • 18. [Leviticus 6:25, 26; Leviticus 10:17]
  • 19. Isaiah 24:2
  • 20. Leviticus 26:26; Micah 6:14; Haggai 1:6
  • 21. [1 Kings 11:4; Proverbs 20:1]
  • 22. [Judges 18:5]
  • 23. Hosea 5:4; [Hosea 2:2]
  • 24. Ezekiel 6:13
  • 25. [Isaiah 1:29]
  • 26. [Hosea 9:10]
  • 27. Deuteronomy 23:17
  • 28. [ver. 1, 6]
  • 29. See Hosea 6:4
  • 30. See Hosea 6:4
  • 31. Amos 4:4, 5; Amos 5:5
  • 32. Hosea 9:15; Hosea 12:11
  • 33. Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5; [Hosea 10:8; 1 Kings 12:29; Amos 1:5]
  • 34. [ver. 12; Hosea 5:3]
  • 35. [Matthew 15:14]
  • 36. [Hosea 9:10]
  • 37. Hosea 13:15; Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 51:1; [Zechariah 5:9]
  • 38. [Isaiah 1:29]

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or for your people are like those who contend with the priest
  • [b]. Or sin offering
  • [c]. Hebrew shields
  • [d]. Hebrew her

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a new sermon or prophecy, delivered in proper and express words, without types and figures, as before; in which the people of Israel are summoned to appear at the tribunal of God, to hear the charge brought against them, and the sentence to be pronounced upon them, and which would be executed. They are charged with sins of omission and commission; with want of truth and mercy to men, and with ignorance of God; with swearing, lying, murder, theft, and adultery, Ho 4:1,2, the punishment threatened is the sword, famine, and pestilence; which should affect the whole land, and all creatures in it, men, beasts, fowls, and fishes, Ho 4:3, then the priests and false prophets are threatened with falling into calamities along with the people, and with rejection from their office, and forgetfulness of their posterity, and a taking away their glory from them, because of their striving with the true prophets; their rejection of knowledge; forgetfulness of the law of God; covetousness, adultery, and drunkenness, Ho 4:4-11, then the discourse is turned to the people again, who are charged with divination and idolatry, which is spiritual adultery; and therefore, by way of retaliation, their wives and daughters would be left to commit adultery and fornication, Ho 4:12-14, and the chapter is concluded with advice to Israel not to tempt Judah to sin; or to Judah not to do the like, after the example of Israel, who were backsliders, idolaters, left of God and alone; guilty of bribery, and the like shameful things, and would be suddenly filled with shame, Ho 4:15-19.

Hosea 4 Commentaries