The statement with which this prophecy opens, "When the Lord spake at the first," is a declaration by Hosea long after the events. Looking back, he understood that the impulse which resulted in the heart agony was also part of the divine method of teaching him. There is no reason to believe that Gomer was outwardly impure in the days when Hosea married her. If impurity were in her heart, Hosea did not how it, and it was not apparent during the early days of their married life.
In the picture of their domestic life the important matter is its revelation of Hosea's national consciousness. Three children were born to him, and there is still no reason to believe that during this period Gomer was unfaithful In naming the children he revealed his conviction concerning the condition of his nation. Living in close fellowship with God, he saw his people in the light of the divine purpose, and as the children were born, named them in such a way as to indicate his profound convictions. Jezreel means the threatened judgment; Lo- ruhamah means mercy not obtained; Lo-ammi means cast out, not my people. While the outlook was dark, the section ends with words which show that, in spite of all contradictory appearances, the prophet's faith in the final fulfilment of the first divine purposes was unshaken.
No details of the unfaithfulness of Gomer are given, but in the second movement the prophet is seen nursing his own agony, and by that process learning the true nature of the sin of his people as God knew and felt it. All that Hosea said concerning Gomer was also the language of Jehovah concerning Israel. As she had violated her covenant with him, so had Israel with Jehovah. He charged her with the worst form of infidelity, harlotry, which is sinning for a price; and apparent in the charge is the mingling of the awful anger of wounded love, with a suggestion of pity and mercy.
In the latter part of this section the prophet speaks for Jehovah only, the tragedy in his own life being the background of illustration. The divine attitude was severe and tender. Jehovah would hedge up the way of His peopIe, and their vain search after the fruits of harlotry is graphically described. In tenderness He would lead them to the wilderness, speaking to their heart, and in the valley of Achor open before them adoor of hope. The prophet's coddence in this method is manifested in his prediction that Israel would yet answer, as in the days of her youth, that her betrothal to Jehovah would be forever, and that she would be described as Ruhamah instead of Loruhamah, as Ammi instead of Loammi.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26