Skip to main content
9th May

Hosea 11-14; Psalm 124

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
9th May

Hosea 11-14; Psalm 124

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Hosea we've read through the illustrative example of Hosea and Gomer, and started the list of ways Israel has been unfaithful. Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II. God told him to marry a prostitute to be a real life demonstration of God's relationship with Israel. So Hosea married Gomer and has three children with her, though two were likely from other men. These children were given names that were to be prophetic messages to Israel.

Israel was similarly accused of being unfaithful, chasing after foreign gods and idols rather than staying faithful to God. They didn't recognise God as the source of their flourishing and so ignored him. But God remains committed to his people and, after letting them experience the consequences of their actions, will bring them back to himself and cause them to flourish. Then back to Hosea it seemed that Gomer and returned to prostitution and had been caught up in debt slavery to another man. So God tells Hosea to redeem her and restore his marriage to her, which he does.

We then moved on to the second section of the book, focused on Israel's unfaithfulness. They swear, lie, murder, steal, and commit adultery. The people are caught in a vicious cycle where, the more they sin, the more they want to sin. They are unable to turn back to God themselves and so need to reach rock bottom so they recognised their need for God afresh. Yesterday, we read as Hosea encouraged the people to repent, and how God lamented when they didn't.

The people have intermingled with the foreign nations, taking on their cultures and gods. Both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah have been infected by this adultery. So, like a frantic bird flying around in panic, God will trap them and contain them until they calm down again. Next came a challenge to Israel for setting up kings that God had not chosen, who then led them to worship false idols. They seek the help from the likes of Assyria now, but how interested will Assyria be when they have nothing to offer?

We then got a series of images for Israel. A promiscuous woman who is now barren because of her promiscuity. A vineyard that went from bearing fruit to being filled with poisonous weeds. A young calf that refused to plough as guided but wanted to run free, who has now been put to ploughing sin and injustice guided by another.

Hosea 11-14

Yesterday, we read how God made his second round of accusations against Israel, focusing on the trust they mistakenly put in their leaders and foreign gods. Today, we read God's response to this, and it is one of love. God declares his love for Israel. He refers to Israel as his son, who he brought out of Egypt. Like a parent, he bound up their wounds and taught them how to walk. But they continued in worshipping other gods, and chose to go right back into slavery, though this time to Assyria. Israel bring upon themselves war and other problems because they are determined to turn away from God.

Then, with such love and compassion, God asks how he could give up his own son Israel. His wrath is being replaced with compassion and tenderness for his people. God will roar like a lion and return his people to their land. He will bring them back out of Assyria because he cares for them.

We then get the third and final round of accusations, and for this one, God draws on Israel's history to show their wickedness. He starts of drawing on Jacob, mentioning how he 'took his brother by the heel' (Hosea 12:3). This is meant to remind you of the story of Jacob, who repeatedly cheated his brother, Esau, out of his inheritance. In this, Jacob was deceitful, much like Israel is now.

But Jacob learnt to rely on God. He was forced to flee home to escape his brother, but it was God that returned him to his land many years later. In a similar way, Israel will be sent away from their land because of their wickedness, but God will bring them back.

Having looked at the story of Jacob, God then points out the selfishness and pride that Israel are showing. They brag about their riches and claim that there is no sin in them. Even though God has sent prophets, the people still worship their idols. Even all the way back when God sent his prophet Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, the people still provoked God to anger and so God had punished them. The people were sinful then, but now they sin even more, with all their idols that they now worship. God will make them like smoke, easily blown away and disappears in the wind.

God then goes back to looking at the exodus from Egypt. He reminds them how he was the one to bring them out of Egypt. He was their saviour. He was the one that sustained them in the wilderness. And yet despite all that, the people turned away from him. So God will be like a wild animal that tears them apart in his rage.

He reminds them of when they asked him for a king and tells them that just as he was the one who gave them a king, he will be the one to take their kings away. He calls out Ephraim, Israel, for their stubbornness. He likeness them to a child in the womb. God wants to deliver them from their troubles, but Israel does not want to leave the womb.

God wants to deliver them from death. He wants to have compassion on them. But their stubbornness makes that compassion impossible. Because of this, God will come in an east wind and dry up all their fountains and remove all their treasures. And Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel, will bear the punishment of leading his people astray.

And then this third and final round of accusations is followed by God's final response, a cry to return to him. Hosea calls to the people to turn back to God; to turn away from their sin, and to bring their offerings and their praises once again to God, because Assyria will not save them.

Then God responds with his love. He will heal his people of their wickedness and will love them unconditionally. His blessing will be like dew, nourishing Israel, so it might grow deep roots once again and be strong in God. Israel will be like a beautiful tree, producing a great smell for the surrounding nations. So God encourages his people. He has nothing to do with idols. He is the one who rescues them. And he encourages the people to listen to his word. Those that are righteous will listen to them, but those that are wicked will ignore them and regret it.

Hosea primarily serves as a warning to a people before the exile who are far from God. It seeks to show them how faithful God has been and how faithless they have been. Hosea warns them of where their behaviour is leading to them. But on top of that, it speaks a message of hope. While Israel may be faithless, God is faithful. He might let them experience the consequences of their actions for a time, but he will redeem them and restore them, eventually.

Psalm 124

This psalm is attributed to king David and is named as a psalm of ascent. These psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Festival of Weeks, and Festival of Tabernacles) or possibly by the Levites as they ascended the steps of the Temple. Psalm 120-134 are all psalms of ascent. 

Psalm 124:1-5 - The Lord is on our side

Psalm 124:6-8 - The Lord has helped us escape

The psalmist starts with a reflection on what would have happened to them if the Lord hadn’t been on their side. Their enemies would have eaten them alive. Their anger would have built, and like a flood of chaotic waters, their enemies would have swallowed them up. The implicit understanding here is that this didn’t happen because the Lord was on their side.

So the psalmist praises the Lord for protecting them and guarding them. For not letting their enemies consume or trap them. Their helper is the Lord who made the heavens and the earth.

In this ascent journey we’ve gone from being far from God's presence (Psalm 120), to seeking God’s presence (Psalm 121), and then to reaching God’s presence (Psalm 122). From there, the psalmist has asked the Lord for help (Psalm 123) and then praised the Lord for his protection (Psalm 124).

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

Share this article