7. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
7 Et domum Jehudah misericordia prosequar, (vel, favore; vel, diligam: diximus enim jam de hoc verbo,) et servabo eos in Jehova Deo ipsorum, et non servabo eos in arcu, neque in gladio, neque in prelio, neque in equis, neque in equitibus
This verse sufficiently proves what I said yesterday, that the Prophet was specifically appointed to the kingdom of Israel; for he seems here to speak favourably of the Jews, who yet, we know, had been severely and deservedly reproved by their own teachers. For what does Isaiah say, after having spoken of the dreadful corruptions which then prevailed in the kingdom of Israel? Come,' he says, into the house of Judah, they at least continue as yet pure: there,' he says, all the tables are full of vomiting; they are drunken; there reigns also the contempt of God and all impiety,' (Isaiah 28:8.) We see then that the Jews were not a virtuous people, of whom the Prophet has spoken so honourably. For though the exterior worship of God continued at Jerusalem, and the temple, at least under Uzziah and Jotham, was free from every superstition, and also under king Hezekiah; yet the morals of the people, we know, were very corrupt. Avarice, and cruelty, and every kind of fraud, reigned there, and also filthy lusts. The conduct, then, of that people was nothing better than that of the Israelites. Why, then, does the Prophet dignify them with so great an honour as to exempt them from God's vengeance? Because he had an eye to the people to whom he was appointed a Prophet. He therefore institutes a comparison. He interferes not with the Jews, for he knew that they had faithful pastors who reproved their sins; but he continued among his own hearers. But this comparison served, in an especial manner, to touch the hearts of the people of Israel; for the Prophet, we know, made this reference particularly for this end, to condemn fictitious worship. He now sets the worship at Jerusalem in opposition to all those superstitions which Jeroboam first introduced, which Ahab increased, and all their posterity followed. Hence he says, |I will show favour| to the house of Judah.
That we may better understand the mind of the Prophet, it may be well to repeat what we said yesterday: -- The kingdom of Judah was then miserably wasted. The kingdom of Israel had ten tribes, the kingdom of Judah only one and a half, and it was also diminished by many slaughters; yea, the Israelites had spoiled the temple of the Lord, and had taken all the gold and silver they found there. The Jews, then, had been reduced to a very low state, they hardly dared to mutter; but the Israelites, as our Prophet will hereafter tell us, were like beasts well fed. Since, then, they despised the Jews, who seemed despicable in the eyes of the world, the Prophet beats down this vain confidence, and says, With mercy will I follow the house of Judah |The house of Judah seems now to be almost nothing, for they are few in number, nor are they very strong, and wealth abounds not among them as among you; but with them shall dwell my favour, and I will take it away from you.|
It afterwards follows, And I will save them by Jehovah their God. Salvation is here set in opposition to the destruction which the Prophet mentioned in the last verse. But Hosea shows that salvation depends not in the least either on arms or on any of the intervenients , as they say, of this world; but has its foundation only on God's favour. I will save them, he says -- why? because my favour will I show them This connection ought to be carefully noticed. Where the Lord's favour is, there is life. Thou art our God, then we shall never perish,' as it is written in the first chapter of Habakkuk. Hence the Prophet here connects salvation with God's gratuitous favour; for we cannot continue safe, but as long as God is propitious to us. He has, on the other hand, declared that it would be all over with the Israelites as soon as God would take away from them his favour.
But he says, By Jehovah their God. An antithesis is to be understood here between the false gods and Jehovah, who was the God of the house of Judah. It is the same as though the Prophet said, |Ye indeed profess the name of God, but ye worship the devil and not God: for ye have nothing to do with Jehovah, with the God who is the creator and maker of heaven and earth; for he dwells in his own temple; he pledged his faith to David, when he commanded him to build a temple for him on mount Zion; he dwells there between the cherubim, as the Prophets invariably declare: but the true God is become exiled from you.| We hence see how he condemns here all the worship which the Israelites then so highly valued. Why did he do so? Because it was not acceptable to God.
And this passage deserves to be noticed, for we see how stupid men are in this respect. When once they are persuaded that they worship God, they are seized by some fascination of Satan so as to become delighted with all their own dotages, as we see to be the case at this day with the Papists, who are not only insane, but doubly frantic. If any one reproves them and says, that they worship not the true God, they are instantly on fire -- |What! does not God accept our worship?| But the Prophet here shows by one word that Jehovah is not in any place, except where he is rightly worshipped according to the rule of his word. I will save them, he says -- How? By Jehovah their God; and God himself speaks: He might have said, |I will save them by myself;| but it was not without reason that he used this circuitous mode of speaking; it was to show the Israelites that they had no reason to think that God would be propitious to them. How so? Because God had chosen an habitation for himself on mount Zion and in Jerusalem. A fuller declaration afterwards follows, I will save them neither by the bow, nor by the sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen But this clause, by God's favour, I will explain tomorrow.