THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE
Hosea 1:2-3 “When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him: ‘Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the LORD’S. ‘ So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim.”
The story of Gomer reflects the story of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah in the eight century BC. After being chosen by God, then faithfully loved and generously blessed by him for centuries, God’s people got bored. Deciding they wanted a more exciting “religious life,” they began to cheat. They turned to other gods.
This both angered and saddened God. He was very much a husband to the people of Israel (read Isa 54:5). The joint covenant they had made at Sinai was essentially a marriage agreement (read Exod 24:3-11). They had willingly, even gladly, pledged to be faithful. And now they were blatantly cheating on Yahweh. They shamelessly “moved in” with their other gods and made no attempt to hide their illicit dalliances.
God was furious and heartbroken all at once. He sent a prophet named Hosea to speak to his rebellious bride. In addition to asking Hosea to deliver a series of both tough and tender messages, God expected him to do something shocking and unthinkable: to give his people a vivid picture of their gross unfaithfulness. God actually commanded his prophet Hosea to marry a sexually immoral woman!
The woman’s name was Gomer. We know almost nothing about her, except that she was the “daughter of Diblaim.” (This fact alone is strong evidence that Gomer was a real person and not just a made-up character in a morality lesson.) We don’t know if Gomer was already a known prostitute when Hosea popped the question or if she only became promiscuous after saying “I do.” We just know this unlikely couple married.
And we know that whatever we decide to call Gomer-prostitute, unfaithful wife, adulterer-she ran around on Hosea. Morally untethered, she hopped in and out of strange men’s beds. People gossiped with glee about “the prophet and the prostitute.” They shook their heads and clucked their tongues in disgust. Can you imagine the embarrassment, the hurt, the disgrace for Hosea?
To complicate matters, Gomer gave birth to three children, the paternity in each instance being a subject of great debate. Her firstborn son was named after the famous Valley of Jezreel, prophesying a day of reckoning yet to come (read Hos 1:3-5). Next was the daughter Hosea name Loruhamah, or “No Compassion” (1:6-7). Finally, a son was given the worst name of all, Lo-ammi, or “Not my People” (1:8-11).
And yet, even as Hosea kept coming up with disturbing names that broadcast bad news every time the kids were called to dinner, he also continued to care about his wayward wife. At her lowest point, Gomer ended up for sale in a disgraceful sort of slave market. in a remarkable act of grace, Hosea purchased her freedom and brought her back home. She isn’t mentioned by name again in the Bible, though her shameful unfaithfulness is the vivid backdrop for all of Hosea’s sermons.
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