Read Hosea 3:1–5

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”

4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Consider

“O God, let me not interrupt you with my chatter. Let me listen, rather, to your still, small voice” (Geddes MacGregor, 1909–1998).

Think Further

According to the NIV, Hosea 3 tells how God instructs Hosea to love his wife again after she has been unfaithful with another man. Hosea buys back his wife and arranges for her to live with him. As in chapter 1, the story takes on a figurative meaning. Hosea uses it to proclaim that after a period of enforced separation, the people of Israel will return to seek after God and the Davidic kingship. Thus, they would come trembling with awe to the Lord and his blessings.

The husband–wife analogy is not without its difficulties (cf. Eph. 5:22–33). In the ancient Near East, the assumption was that the husband is superior to his wife. Thus, in this passage, the husband does all the acting, instructing, buying, telling and arranging. All the wife can do is come running home. What is more, in the narrative, the husband is the innocent party. This may give the impression that husbands are always in the right however they behave! We must clearly resist such extrapolation. The truth is that all analogies break down, and this one breaks down rather spectacularly.

For all of its possible problems, the image of God as husband is at once audacious and
instructive. I cannot accept the ancient Near-Eastern view of marriage as determinative for today, but I affirm with Hosea that God is superior to human beings, although he deals with us out of love. As creator and initiator, God calls us into a covenant relationship with him that is characterized not by force but by love. We may think of God as either divine master, lord or sovereign. Hosea wants us to know that, in relation to his people, God is also our friend and lover.

Apply

Is it helpful to think of God as divine lover? Has God ever rescued you from the things you love? Does God approve of the things you love now?