Kings and other rulers have ranged from savage and fierce to pathetic and effeminate. There have been magnanimous and moral kings, but many more depraved and vile ones. In the history of Israel, many of these descriptions would have fit kings serving God's people. Hosea, still pleading with Israel to return to God, reviews Israelite history. In the process, the prophet reminds the people that God wished to rule over them as their only sovereign from their very beginning. They were ravaged and destroyed; yet, He still wished to rule over them. Hosea reminds them that back in Samuel's day He only relented and allowed their foolish wish to be granted. He had not rejected them, but they had instead rejected Him as king. He reminds them that they truly had no other king but Himself.
We have earthly rulers whom we must honor (1 Peter 2:17) and for whom we must pray (1 Timothy 2:2). Yet, God still wants to rule in His church and in His people's lives in a theocracy. He would remind us that, though we are to be respectful and obedient to the laws of our nations, He is our ultimate sovereign. We must obey Him above and before all others (Acts 5:29).