on Hosea 2 :3
Lest I strip her naked - Lest I expose her to infamy, want, and punishment. The punishment of an adulteress among the ancient Germans was this: "They shaved off her hair, stripped her naked in the presence of her relatives, and in this state drove her from the house of her husband." See on Isaiah 3:17 (note); and see also Ezekiel 16:39; Ezekiel 23:26. However reproachful this might be to such delinquents, it had no tendency to promote their moral reformation.
And set her like a dry land - The Israelites, if obedient, were promised a land flowing with milk and honey; but, should they be disobedient, the reverse. And this is what God here threatens against disobedient Israel.
on Hosea 2 :3
Lest I strip her naked - "There is an outward visible nakedness and an inward, which is invisible. The invisible nakedness is, when the soul within is bared of the glory and the grace of God." The visible nakedness is the privation of God's temporal and visible gifts, the goods of this world, or outward distinction. God's inward gifts the sinful soul or nation despises, while those outward gifts she prizes. And therefore, when the soul parts with the inward ornaments of God's grace, He strips her of the outward, His gifts of nature, of His providence and of His protection, if so be, through her outward misery and shame and poverty, she may come to feel that deeper misery and emptiness and disgrace within, which she had had no heart to feel. So, when our first parents lost the robe of innocence, "they knew that they were naked" Genesis 3:7.
And set her - (Literally "I will fix her," so that she shall have no power to free herself, but must remain as a gazing stock,) "as in the day that she was born," i. e., helpless, defiled, uncleansed, uncared for, unformed, cast out and loathsome. Such she was in Egypt, which is in Holy Scripture spoken of, as her birthplace Ezekiel 16:4; for there she first became a people; thence the God of her fathers called her to be His people. There she was naked of the grace and of the love of God, and of the wisdom of the law; indwelt by an evil spirit, as being an idolatress; without God; and under hard bondage, in works of mire and clay, to Pharaoh, the type of Satan, and her little ones a prey. For when a soul casts off the defense of heavenly grace, it is an easy prey to Satan.
And make her as a wilderness, and set her as a dry land, and slay her with thirst - The outward desolation, which God inflicts, is a picture of the inward. Drought and famine are among the four sore judgments, with which God threatened the land, and our Lord forewarned them, "Your house is left unto you desolate" Matthew 23:38; and Isaiah says, "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee" Isaiah 60:15. But the prophet does not say, make her a wilderness, but make "her as a wilderness." The soul of the sinner is solitary and desolate, for it has not the presence of God; unfruitful, bearing briars and thorns only, for it is unbedewed by God's grace, unwatered by the Fountain of living waters; athirst, "not with thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord," yet also, burning with desire, which the foul streams of this world's pleasure never slake. In contrast with such thirst, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit which He would give to them that believe in Him, "Whosoever drinketh of the water, that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water, that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life" John 4:14; John 7:38-39.
: "But was not that certain, which God had said, 'I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel?' How then does God recall it, saying, 'Let her put away her fornications, etc. lest I do to her this or that which I have spoken?' This is not unlike to that, when sentence had been passed on Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel saying, 'This is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my Lord the king; they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling; the same Daniel says, Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and redeem thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy on the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility' Daniel 4:24-25, Daniel 4:27. What should we learn hereby, but that it hangs upon our own will, whether God suspend the judgment or no? For we ought not to impute our own evil to God, or impiously think that fate rules us. In other words, this or that evil comes, not because God foreknew or foreordained it; but, because this evil was to be, or would be done, therefore God both foreknew it, and prefixed His sentence upon it. Why then does God predetermine an irrevocable sentence? Because He foresaw incorrigible malice. Why, again, after pronouncing sentence, doth God counsel amendment? That we may know by experience, that they are incorrigible. Therefore, He waits for them, although they will not return, and with much patience invites them to repentance." Individuals also repented, although the nation was incorrigible.
on Hosea 2 :3
2:3 Strip her - As was usually done by incensed husbands, divorcing impudent adulteresses. As a wilderness - Barren and desolate.