on Hosea 9 :8
The watchman of Ephraim - The true prophet, was with - faithful to, God.
The prophet - The false prophet is the snare of a fowler; is continually deceiving the people, and leading them into snares, and infusing into their hearts deep hatred against God and his worship.
on Hosea 9 :8
The watchman of Ephraim was with my God - These words may well contrast the office of the true prophet with the false. For Israel had had many true prophets, and such was Hosea himself now. The true prophet was at all times with "God." He was "with God," as holpen by God, "watching" or looking out and on into the future by the help of God. He was "with God," as walking with God in a constant sense of His presence, and in continual communion with Him. He was "with God," as associated by God with Himself, in teaching, warning, correcting, exhorting His people, as the Apostle says, "we then as workers together with Him" 2 Corinthians 6:1.
It might also be rendered in nearly the same sense, "Ephraim was a watchman with my God," and this is more according to the Hebrew words. As though the whole people of Israel had an office from God , "and God addressed it as a whole, 'I made thee, as it were, a watchman and prophet of God to the neighboring nations, that through My providence concerning thee, and thy living according to the law, they too might receive the knowledge of Me. But thou hast acted altogether contrary to this, for thou hast become a snare to them. '"
Yet perhaps, if so construed, it would rather mean, "Ephraim is a watchman, beside my God," as it is said, "There is none upon earth, that I desire with Thee" Psalm 73:25, i. e., beside Thee. In God the Psalmist had all, and desired to have nothing "with," i. e., beside God. Ephraim was not content with God's revelations, but would himself be "a seer, an espier" of future events, the prophet says with indignation, "together with my God." God, in fact, sufficed. Ephraim not. Ahab hated God's prophet, "because he did not speak good concerning him but evil" 1 Kings 22:8, 1 Kings 22:18. And so the kings of Israel had court-prophets of their own, an establishment, as it would seem, of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and four hundred prophets of Ashtaroth 1 Kings 18:19, which was filled up again by new impostors 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Kings 10:19, when after the miracle of Mount Carmel, Elijah, according to the law Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 17:5, put to death the prophets of Baal. These false prophets, as well as those of Judah in her evil days, flattered the kings who supported them, misled them, encouraged them in disbelieving the threatenings of God, and so led to their destruction. By these means, the bad priests maintained their hold over the people. They were the antichrists of the Old Testament, disputing the authority of God, in whose name they prophesied. Ephraim encouraged their sins, as God says of Judah by Jeremiah, "My people love to have it so" Jeremiah 5:31. It willed to be deceived, and was so.
"On searching diligently ancient histories," says Jerome, "I could not find that any divided the Church, or seduced people from the house of the Lord, except those who have been set by God as priests and prophets, i. e. watchmen. These then are turned into a snare, setting a stumbling-block everywhere, so that whosoever entereth on their ways, falls, and cannot stand in Christ, and is led away by various errors and crooked paths to a precipice." : "No one," says another great father, "doth wider injury than one who acteth perversely, while he hath a name or an order of holiness." "God endureth no greater prejudice from any than from priests, when He seeth those whom He has set for the correction of others, give from themselves examples of perverseness, when "we" sin, who ought to restrain sin. What shall become of the flock, when the pastors become wolves?"
The false prophet is the snare of a fowler in - (literally, "upon") all his ways i. e., whatever Ephraim would do, wherever the people, as a whole or any of them, would go, there the false prophet beset them, endeavoring to make each and everything a means of holding them back from their God. This they did, "being hatred in the house of his God." As one says, "I am (all) prayer" Psalm 109:4, because he was so given up to prayer that he seemed turned into prayer; his whole soul was concentrated in prayer; so of these it is said, "they" were "hatred." They hated so intensely, that their whole soul was turned into hatred; they were as we say, hatred personified; hatred was embodied in them, and they ensouled with hate. They were also the source of hatred against God and man. And this each false prophet was "in the house of his God!" for God was still his God, although not owned by him as God. God is the sinners God to avenge, if he will not allow Him to be his God, to convert and pardon.
on Hosea 9 :8
9:8 The watchman - The old true prophets indeed were with God. My God - The God of Hosea. The prophet - The false prophets have, as well as the people, left God. Is a snare - Their pretended predictions are but a snare, such as fowlers lay. And hatred - Such prophets are full of hatred and malice: yea, they are hatred itself.