Hosea 4:1-10 The LORD’s Charge Against His Covenant People.
The prophet issues a charge or legal complaint in this “word of the LORD” (v. 1a Cf. 12:2; Mic. 6:2). Many regard this as a covenant lawsuit, some even to the extent of the entire book. Whether there is a limited or larger lawsuit structure here, there can be no doubt that a covenant lawsuit is the subject matter. “There is not truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (v. 1b). The reason for this is because they turned to dumb idols who could not speak, and refused to take heed to the word given by God. They forgot the LORD (2:13). Truth and mercy must go together. The truth of who we are is devastating with out the knowledge of His mercy, which is something else that Israel missed (v. 1b Cf. Jer. 4:22). They should have reasoned together with the LORD, that they might live their lives based on truth, and find mercy (Cf. Is. 1:18).
Ignorance of God’s law was deliberate, because the breaking of His law was their stock and trade (v. 2). “Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away” (v. 3a Cf. Is. 24:4; 33:9; Jer. 4:28; 12:4). The whole of creation would suffer (v. 3b Cf. Amos 8:8; Zeph. 1:3). The people contended with those who were charged with the giving and teaching of God’s word-priest and prophet (vv. 4-5 Cf. 2:2, 5: Dt. 17:12; Jer. 15:8). There would be no rebuking anyone for their sin, because priest, prophet, and people would stumble together. Because they rejected the knowledge of God in His law, He would reject them, including their children (v. 6 Cf. Is. 5:13; Ezek. 22:26). The more they increased in their ignorance of God’s law, the more they sinned against Him (v. 7).
What was once the glory of Israel, the possession of God’s law, now became their shame, in their ignorance of it (Mal. 2:9). In despising the LORD He would despise them (I Sam. 3:20). The actions of the priests were appalling. By encouraging the people to sin, and then to offer their sacrifices, they would have more to eat (v. 8). “Taken literally, the priests, who ate portions of the animals sacrificed for sin, encouraged the people to sin. Then the priests would have more to eat (Lev. 6:26). Taken figuratively, the priests were gratified by the people’s sin” (NGSB. p. 1365). People and priest would be judged together (v. 9 Cf. Is. 24:2; Jer. 5:30-31; II Tim. 4:3-4). “For they shall eat, but not have enough; they shall commit harlotry, but not increase; because they have ceased obeying the LORD” (v. 10 Cf. Lev. 26:26; Is. 65:13; Mic. 6:14; Hag. 1:6).