A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
She was part of a dishonorable profession. One of the lowest of society and looked down upon by self-righteous individuals in good company but sought after under the cover of darkness. Most well-respected men would not consider marrying her due to her sordid past; therefore, she had little hope of ever leaving her chosen profession even if she wanted to. Nevertheless, there was one man who saw her and chose to marry her despite her vocation. But did she view him as the knight in shining armor that he was? And did she recognize the blessing she had received in the form of a husband?
Let’s find out! The woman’s name was Gomer, and this is her story.
“So he [Hosea] went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaimo…”
As we learned in the last post, God called Hosea to take a wife of unfaithfulness and harlotry, and Hosea immediately and unquestioningly obeyed. That obedience led Hosea to marry Gomer, most likely a well-known prostitute of her day.
There is much debate among Bible scholars and commentators about the history, person, and character of Gomer. Was she unfaithful before marrying Hosea or not? Did the events in Hosea literally happen or were they merely allegorical?
Some believe that God wouldn’t and couldn’t actually ask Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife, and therefore, believe that events of Hosea didn’t literally happen but were merely an allegory, a word picture. On the other hand, those who believe that the events in this book really did happen still have problems with God’s command for Hosea to marry a prostitute, and thus believe that Gomer was “prone to unfaithfulness” but wasn’t unfaithful before marrying Hosea.
However, as we read through Hosea and study, we see that God’s command was crystal clear: “take a wife of whoredom.” There is no discussion of “marry someone prone to unfaithfulness” or “write all these things down, but you don’t need to do them.” God gave us the details in Scripture for a reason and purpose, they’re not just random facts that have no significance or value. Gomer was to be a picture of Israel and God’s unconditional love for this wayward people. But this analogy loses its power if the story of Hosea and Gomer never really happened, or if Gomer was merely “prone to unfaithfulness.”
Therefore, my stance on this issue is that the events in Hosea really did take place and that Gomer was a prostitute whom Hosea married in direct obedience to God’s command. This position is summed up well by the Bible commentator, Dr. James Boice: “If Hosea’s story cannot be real (because ‘God could not ask a man to marry an unfaithful woman’), then neither is the story of salvation real, because that is precisely what Christ has done for us.”
Now that we’ve cleared up any confusion or uncertainty surrounding the person of Gomer, let’s look at how she handled her part of this story and see what we can learn from this lucky lady.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Gomer was a prostitute and therefore not someone a respectable man would marry. However, someone did marry her and not just some decent guy, but a godly man devoted to serving the Lord and dedicated to loving her despite her past. She was undeserving and unworthy of the love and favor shown her, but was given it nonetheless.
This is amazing, unmerited love. Love that looks beyond past faults and embraces the person right where they are, as they are. And this is the kind of love Hosea was commanded to demonstrate, and the love Gomer received.
However, the tragedy lies in the fact that Gomer didn’t recognize how privileged and blessed she was. She did not receive the unconditional love shown her and allow it to transform her heart. Rather, she took it for granted and returned to chasing after fleeting happiness. She completely spurned the grace and mercy extended to her and returned to her life of sin.
We look at Gomer’s life and think, “How could she be so foolish and blind? Why would she return to her life of sin when Hosea had given her a new life filled with promise and hope?” But the truth is that our story mirrors Gomer’s in so many ways. We were stained with the sin of our past and living a life filled with transgression and wrongdoing, but then Christ stepped in and offered us new life and hope through the cleansing of His blood. And by accepting His gracious offer, we entered into a spiritual marriage built upon unconditional and unmerited love, grace, and mercy.
But how often do we share Gomer’s attitude? How often do we take Christ’s unconditional love towards us for granted? Are we guilty of spurning the love and sacrifice of God in order to return to pursue our own will and desire for pleasure? How closely does our spiritual life’s story resemble Gomer’s tragic saga?
We cannot point fingers at Gomer’s dismal life choices and scoff at her blatant foolishness without examining our own lives and seeing how often we are just like this former prostitute. For to God, rebellion, disobedience, wandering hearts, and unfaithfulness are equivalent to spiritual adultery. So may we never forget the story of Gomer and the tragic choices she made, learning from her mistakes and always remembering to not undervalue the unconditional love of a holy God.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”