on Hosea 11 :8
How shall I give thee up - See the notes on Hosea 6:4, where we have similar words from similar feeling.
Mine heart is turned within me - Justice demands thy punishment; Mercy pleads for thy life. As thou changest, Justice resolves to destroy, or Mercy to save. My heart is oppressed, and I am weary with repenting - with so frequently changing my purpose. All this, though spoken after the manner of men, shows how merciful, compassionate, and loath to punish the God of heaven is. What sinner or saint upon earth has not been a subject of these gracious operations?
on Hosea 11 :8
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? - o: "God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful. The two attributes are so united in Him, yea, so one in Him who is always one, and in whose counsels "there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning," that the one doth not ever thwart the proceeding of the other. Yet, in order to shew that our ills are from our own ill-deserts, not from any pleasure of His in inflicting ill, and that what mercy He sheweth, is from His own goodness, not from any in us, God is represented in this empassioned expression as in doubt, and (so to say) divided between justice and mercy, the one pleading against the other. At the last, God so determines, that both should have their share in the issue, and that Israel should be both justly punished and mercifully spared and relieved."
God pronounces on the evil deserts of Israel, even while He mitigates His sentence. The depth of the sinner's guilt reflects the more vividly the depth of God's mercy. In saying, "how shall I make thee as Admah?" how "shall I set thee as Zeboim?" He says, in fact, that they were, for their sins, worthy to be utterly destroyed, with no trace, no memorial, save that eternal desolation like the five "cities of the plain," of which were Sodom and Gomorrah, which God "hath set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" Jde 1:7. Such was their desert. But God says, with inexpressible tenderness, "Mine heart is turned within Me" literally, "upon Me or against Me," so as to be a burden to Him; as we say of the heart, that it is "heavy." God deigneth to speak as if His love was heavy, or a weight upon Him, while He thought of the punishment which their sins deserved.
My heart is turned - o: "As soon as I had spoken evil against thee, mercy prevailed, tenderness touched Me; the tenderness of the Father overcame the austerity of the Judge."
My repentings are kindled together, - or My strong compassions are kindled. i. e., with the heat and glow of love; as the disciples say, "Did not our hearts burn within us?" Luke 24:32, and as it is said of Joseph "his bowels did yearn Genesis 43:30 (literally, were hot) toward his brother;" and of the true mother before Solomon, "her bowels yearned 1 Kings 3:26 (English margin, were hot) upon her son."
"Admah" and "Zeboim" were cities in the same plain with Sodom and Gomorrah, and each had their petty king Genesis 14:2. In the history of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they are not named, but are included in the general title "those cities and all the plain" (Genesis 19:25). The more then would Hosea's hearers think of that place in Moses where he does mention them, and where he threatens them with the like end; "when the stranger shall see, that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath" Deuteronomy 29:22-23. Such was the end, at which all their sins aimed; such the end, which God had held out to them; but His "strong compassions were kindled."
on Hosea 11 :8
11:8 Give thee up - To utter destruction. Admah and Zeboim were two of the four cities which were destroyed with fire from heaven. My repentings - Not that God is ever fluctuating or unresolved; but these are expressions after the manner of men, to shew what severity Israel had deserved, and yet how divine grace would be glorified in sparing them.