Some notes on Gomer as we continue in the Hosea quest.
Many people try to turn Gomer into a romantically tragical character, implying in the process that we should pity her for her dire situation that she was unable to free herself from. While it is very true that she was unable to free herself, it’s not because of being captive by anyone or anything but her own selfish sinfulness. When we see her as a victim it’s easy to see Hosea as a savior and find the comparison to us in Gomer. The harder task is to stare into her glaringly sinful heart and see ourselves. We don’t want to think of her as deliberately sinful because we don’t want to see the deliberate sinfulness in ourselves.
Hosea 1:2a says,
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom…
God tells Hosea to go out and find a woman who is living a life characterized by a certain kind of sin. Not only does God want to send a clear message through Hosea’s life about the pain His people cause Him when they chase their sin, but he wants to strongly liken it to as distasteful a sin of betrayal as He can. This is the revulsion we are to feel for our passion to chase after our sin. The same kind of disgust we have when we hear of this sin of betrayal (or experience it ourselves) in our lives.
So, while we should resist pity, or sympathy, for Gomer, we can embrace empathy toward her. For we are her. We need God to come in all His loving mercy and forgive us, again and again. That Christ would know us in all our vile corruption and choose to “endure the cross, despising it’s shame” (Hebrews 12:2) for our sake, is a beauty we cannot take for granted. We can see a strong resemblance to this wretched shame of the cross of Christ in the shame that Hosea would have felt every day as he lived with Gomer. And, as Christ, still chose to love her and take her back. Our sympathy should be strongest felt for Hosea, the figure representing our long suffering Lord.
Does Hosea save her. For sure. But the question that we forget to ask sometimes is did she want to be saved? Hosea 3:3 says,
And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”
This language doesn’t suggest that she was excited that he had come to get her, or that she even realized that he was rescuing her.
If we think of Gomer as a pitifully trapped victim we miss the significance of the fact that she continues to return to her whoring again and again. We miss the significance of the proclamation of a rectified relationship in 1:10-2:1.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”
The ultimate victory of God’s love at the cross is the fulfillment of this prophecy made thousands of years before. Praise Him for His mercy in our shamefulness!