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Hosea 11:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I drew them with cords of a man - This is a reference to leading strings, one end of which is held by the child, the other by the nurse, by which the little one, feeling some support, and gaining confidence, endeavors to walk. God, their heavenly Father, made use of every means and method to teach them to walk in the right and only safe path; for, as the Targum says, "As beloved children are drawn I drew them by the strength of love."

That take of the yoke on their jaws - I did every thing that mercy could suggest, and justice permit, to make their duty their delight and profit. There appears to be here an illusion to the moving and pulling forward the collar or yoke of beasts which have been hard at work, to let in the cool air between it and their neck, so as to refresh them, and prevent that heat, which with the sweat would scald their necks, and take off not only the hair, but the skin. I have often done this at the land ends, in ploughing, when at the turnings the cattle were permitted a few moments to draw their breath after the hard pull that terminated the furrow at either end of the field: -

And I laid meat unto them - Giving them at the same time a bite of grass or hay, to encourage them to go on afresh. The metaphor is strong and expressive; and he who ever had or saw the management of cattle in the plough or cart must admire it. Thus God acted with the people on whose necks was the yoke of his law. How many privileges, advantages, and comforts did he mingle with his precepts, to make them at once a righteous and happy people!

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I drew them with the cords of a man - o“Wanton heifers such as was Israel, are drawn with ropes; but although Ephraim struggled against Me, I would not draw him as a beast, but I drew him as a man, (not a servant, but a son) with cords of love.” “Love is the magnet of love.”: “The first and chief commandment of the law, is not of fear, but of love, because He willeth those whom He commandeth, to be sons rather than servants.”: “Our Lord saith, ‹No man cometh unto Me, except the father who hath sent me, draw him.‘ He did not say, lead ‹him,‘ but ‹draw him.‘ This violence is done to the heart, not to the body. Why marvel? Believe and thou comest; love and thou art drawn. Think it not a rough and uneasy violence: it is sweet, alluring; the sweetness draws thee. Is not a hungry sheep drawn, when the grass is shewn it? It is not, I ween, driven on in body, but is bound tight by longing. So do thou too come to Christ. Do not conceive of long journeyings. When thou believest, then thou comest. For to Him who is everywhere, people come by loving, not by traveling.” So the Bride saith, “draw me and I will run after Thee” John 12:32; and Paul, “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Galatians 2:20. This most loving drawing, our dullness and weakness needoth, who ever, without grace, grovel amidst vile and earthly things.”

“All the methods and parts of God‘s government are twined together, as so many twisted cords of love from Him, so ordered, that they ought to draw man with all his heart to love Him again.”: “Man, the image of the Mind of God, is impelled to zeal for the service of God, not by fear, but by love. No band is mightier, nor constrains more firmly all the feelings of the mind. For it holdeth not the body enchained, while the mind revolteth and longeth to break away, but it so bindeth to itself the mind and will, that it should will, long for, compass, nought beside, save how, even amid threats of death, to obey the commands of God. Bands they are, but bands so gentle and so passing sweet, that we must account them perfect freedom and the highest dignity.”

And I was to them as they that take off - (literally, “that lift up”) the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them Thus explained, the words carry on the description of God‘s goodness, that He allowed not the yoke of slavery to weigh heavy upon them, as He saith, “I am the Lord your God, Which brought you out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen, and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright” Leviticus 26:13; and God appealeth to them, “Wherein have I wearied thee? testify against Me” Micah 6:3.

But the words seem more naturally to mean, “I was to them,” in their sight, I was regarded by them, “as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws,” i. e., that raise the yoke, (not being already upon them) to place it “over their jaws.” “For plainly the yoke never rests on the jaws, but only passed over them, either when put on the neck, or taken off.” This, God seemed to them to be doing, ever placing some new yoke or constraint upon them. “And I, God” adds, all the while “was placing meat before them;” i. e., while God was taking all manner of care of them, and providing for them “all things richly to enjoy,” He was regarded by them as one who, instead of “laying food before them, was lifting the yoke over their jaws.” God did them all good, and they thought it all hardship.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
When Israel were weak and helpless as children, foolish and froward as children, then God loved them; he bore them as the nurse does the sucking child, nourished them, and suffered their manners. All who are grown up, ought often to reflect upon the goodness of God to them in their childhood. He took care of them, took pains with them, not only as a father, or a tutor, but as a mother, or nurse. When they were in the wilderness, God showed them the way in which they should go, and bore them up, taking them by the arms. He taught them the way of his commandments by the ceremonial law given by Moses. He took them by the arms, to guide them, that they might not stray, and to hold them up, that they might not stumble and fall. God's spiritual Israel are all thus supported. It is God's work to draw poor souls to himself; and none can come to him except he draw them. With bands of love; this word signifies stronger cords than the former. He eased them of the burdens they had long groaned under. Israel is very ungrateful to God. God's counsels would have saved them, but their own counsels ruined them. They backslide; there is no hold of them, no stedfastness in them. They backslide from me, from God, the chief good. They are bent to backslide; they are ready to sin; they are forward to close with every temptation. Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil. Those only are truly happy, whom the Lord teaches by his Spirit, upholds by his power, and causes to walk in his ways. By his grace he takes away the love and dominion of sin, and creates a desire for the blessed feast of the gospel, that they may feed thereon, and live for ever.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 480

Every soul is as fully known to Jesus as if he were the only one for whom the Saviour died. The distress of every one touches His heart. The cry for aid reaches His ear. He came to draw all men unto Himself. He bids them, “Follow Me,” and His Spirit moves upon their hearts to draw them to come to Him. Many refuse to be drawn. Jesus knows who they are. He also knows who gladly hear His call, and are ready to come under His pastoral care. He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” He cares for each one as if there were not another on the face of the earth. DA 480.1

“He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.... And the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.” The Eastern shepherd does not drive his sheep. He depends not upon force or fear; but going before, he calls them. They know his voice, and obey the call. So does the Saviour-Shepherd with His sheep. The Scripture says, “Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Through the prophet, Jesus declares, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” He compels none to follow Him. “I drew them,” He says, “with cords of a man, with bands of love.” Psalm 77:20; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:4. DA 480.2

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. DA 480.3

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Ellen G. White
Evangelism, 211

Amusement is not to be interwoven with instruction in the Scriptures. When this is done, the hearers, amused by some cheap nonsense, lose the burden of conviction. The opportunity passes away, and no one is drawn by the cords of love to the Saviour.—Manuscript 83, 1901. Ev 211.1

Free From Cheap, Common Expressions—The messages of truth are to be kept entirely free from cheap, common words of human devising. Thus forcible impressions will be made upon hearts. Let not our ministers cherish the idea that they must bring forth something new and strange, or that cheap, common expressions will give them influence. Ministers are to be the mouthpiece of God, and they must eradicate from their speech every expression that is cheap or common. Let them be careful lest by attempting during their discourse to cause laughter, they dishonor God. Ev 211.2

Our message is a solemn and sacred one, and we must watch unto prayer. The words uttered must be of such a character that through them God can make an impression on heart and mind. Let the ministers of the gospel be sanctified through the truth.—Letter 356, 1906. Ev 211.3

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 198.4

Christ is drawing sinners to Himself by the cords of love, seeking to unite them to Himself, that they may be laborers together with God, not in pride and self-sufficiency, but in meekness and lowliness. When sinners are converted, God is glorified before the principalities and powers of heaven and earth. These converted ones are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. “Ye are my witnesses,” God says. By looking to Me you are to become transformed in character. By the manifestation of Christlike forbearance and love you are to reveal this transformation. RC 198.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 66

Weakened Will Power—Some things that look impossible to you now will certainly change in appearance when your heart is changed by the grace of God. Your heart has become sad at times as you know you are in an unsaved state and that you are grieving the Saviour by your wrong doings. When you come to yourself you are amazed at the distance you have placed between yourself and your Saviour. You have again and again resolved to reform, but you have as often failed because you made these resolutions in your own strength. Your moral power has become weak. Your will power is strong enough, but it is not strong on the Lord's side. You are not able to fix your mind upon the Word of God. You have talked enough, but it has only sunk you lower. Your heart does not feel when you try to pray. TSB 66.1

The Sinner's Cry—Now make a desperate effort. Take your mind off from yourself, off from your securing a divorce, off from Walter, off from everything mortal; and commence with your own soul. Cry out in earnest, Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I; save, Lord, or I perish. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.... Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:10, 7). TSB 66.2

We are surrounded with iniquity in its various forms. You need a helper. The Lord knows all our works; even our thoughts are before Him as an open book. I now make my appeal to you. It is to change right about. Step from under Satan's hellish banner, and step under the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ. Will you do this? Will you change your spirit for the spirit of Christ? When your mind delights to dwell upon heaven and heavenly things, there will be no desire with you to enjoy the society of young men. There will be kindled in the soul the most intense desire to be like Jesus. By beholding we become changed into the same image. Carnal thoughts, carnal feelings, will be no longer entertained. You will no longer be frivolous, cheap in talk, and unholy in life. Then you will reach, through the grace of Christ, the highest standard of purity and elevation of character. TSB 67.1

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