How shall I give thee up - See the notes on Hosea 6:4, where we have similar words from similar feeling.
Mine heart is turned within me - Justice demands thy punishment; Mercy pleads for thy life. As thou changest, Justice resolves to destroy, or Mercy to save. My heart is oppressed, and I am weary with repenting - with so frequently changing my purpose. All this, though spoken after the manner of men, shows how merciful, compassionate, and loath to punish the God of heaven is. What sinner or saint upon earth has not been a subject of these gracious operations?
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? - o“God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful. The two attributes are so united in Him, yea, so one in Him who is always one, and in whose counsels “there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning,” that the one doth not ever thwart the proceeding of the other. Yet, in order to shew that our ills are from our own ill-deserts, not from any pleasure of His in inflicting ill, and that what mercy He sheweth, is from His own goodness, not from any in us, God is represented in this empassioned expression as in doubt, and (so to say) divided between justice and mercy, the one pleading against the other. At the last, God so determines, that both should have their share in the issue, and that Israel should be both justly punished and mercifully spared and relieved.”
God pronounces on the evil deserts of Israel, even while He mitigates His sentence. The depth of the sinner‘s guilt reflects the more vividly the depth of God‘s mercy. In saying, “how shall I make thee as Admah?” how “shall I set thee as Zeboim?” He says, in fact, that they were, for their sins, worthy to be utterly destroyed, with no trace, no memorial, save that eternal desolation like the five “cities of the plain,” of which were Sodom and Gomorrah, which God “hath set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” Jude 1:7. Such was their desert. But God says, with inexpressible tenderness, “Mine heart is turned within Me” literally, “upon Me or against Me,” so as to be a burden to Him; as we say of the heart, that it is “heavy.” God deigneth to speak as if His love was heavy, or a weight upon Him, while He thought of the punishment which their sins deserved.
My heart is turned - o“As soon as I had spoken evil against thee, mercy prevailed, tenderness touched Me; the tenderness of the Father overcame the austerity of the Judge.”
My repentings are kindled together, - or My strong compassions are kindled. i. e., with the heat and glow of love; as the disciples say, “Did not our hearts burn within us?” Luke 24:32, and as it is said of Joseph “his bowels did yearn Genesis 43:30 (literally, were hot) toward his brother;” and of the true mother before Solomon, “her bowels yearned 1 Kings 3:26 (English margin, were hot) upon her son.”
“Admah” and “Zeboim” were cities in the same plain with Sodom and Gomorrah, and each had their petty king Genesis 14:2. In the history of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they are not named, but are included in the general title “those cities and all the plain” (Genesis 19:25). The more then would Hosea‘s hearers think of that place in Moses where he does mention them, and where he threatens them with the like end; “when the stranger shall see, that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath” Deuteronomy 29:22-23. Such was the end, at which all their sins aimed; such the end, which God had held out to them; but His “strong compassions were kindled.”
The command given in the parable, to “compel them to come in,” has often been misinterpreted. It has been regarded as teaching that we should force men to receive the gospel. But it denotes rather the urgency of the invitation, and the effectiveness of the inducements presented. The gospel never employs force in bringing men to Christ. Its message is “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” Isaiah 55:1. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.... And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. The power of God's love and grace constrains us to come. COL 235.1
The Saviour says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20. He is not repulsed by scorn or turned aside by threatening, but continually seeks the lost ones, saying, “How shall I give thee up?” Hosea 11:8. Although His love is driven back by the stubborn heart, He returns to plead with greater force, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” The winning power of His love compels souls to come in. And to Christ they say, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Psalm 18:35. COL 235.2
Christ will impart to His messengers the same yearning love that He Himself has in seeking for the lost. We are not merely to say, “Come.” There are those who hear the call, but their ears are too dull to take in its meaning. Their eyes are too blind to see anything good in store for them. Many realize their great degradation. They say, I am not fit to be helped; leave me alone. But the workers must not desist. In tender, pitying love, lay hold of the discouraged and helpless ones. Give them your courage, your hope, your strength. By kindness compel them to come. “Of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” Jude 22, 23. COL 235.3Read in context »
I cannot give you up. I must see you what God would have you to be, filled with repentance and remorse, which will be followed by a sweet sense of pardon and pure, holy joy. Jesus is sorry for you; He pities you; He wants to save you. He is not willing that you should perish but that you should have eternal life. TSB 151.2Read in context »
When men, themselves liable to temptation, erring mortals, shall be free to pronounce upon another's case, who is humbled in the dust, and shall take it on themselves to decide by their own feelings or the feelings of their brethren, just how much feeling the erring one should manifest to be pardoned, [they are] taking on themselves that which God has not required of them. When I know that there are those who have fallen into great sin, but we have labored with and for them, and God has afterwards accepted their labors, when these have pleaded for me to let them go and not to burden myself for them, I have said, “I will not give you up; you must gather strength to overcome.” These men are now in active service.... TSB 241.3Read in context »