Hosea 1:2
When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He told him, "Go, take a prostitute as your wife and have children of adultery, because this land is flagrantly prostituting itself by departing from the LORD."
God's Strange Command to HoseaE. B. Pusey, D. D.Hosea 1:2
Mysterious CommandsChristian AgeHosea 1:2
Scripture Picture -- TeachingJ. Burroughs.Hosea 1:2
Spiritual InfidelityJ.R. Thomson Hosea 1:2
The Prophet HoseaDean Stanley.Hosea 1:2
The Wife of WhoredomsJ. Orr Hosea 1:1-3
Hosea's Marriage and Prophetic TrainingC. Jerdan Hosea 1:2, 3
When this text is announced, possibly some may say, "What a shocking subject to preach about! Well it is shocking, indeed. God intends it to be so. But to our feelings spiritual adultery should be even more revolting than the literal whoredom which the Holy Spirit presents here as its prophetic symbol. And we must not forget that this painful passage records "the beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea."

I. HOSEA'S CONJUGAL DISHONOR. How are we to explain the narrative portions (Hosea 1. and 3.) of this book? The most interesting problem of Hosea's life, and the "vexed question" in the exposition of his prophecy, lies in the meaning of this story of his domestic experiences. There have been three principal interpretations. At the one extreme is the severely literal view; viz. that Hosea, in obedience to a Divine command, united himself in marriage with a woman notorious for her impurity (Augustine, Pusey, Dean Stanley, etc.). At the other extreme is the purely allegorical view; viz. that the narrative is to be regarded merely as a parable; or, at most, that the marriage took place in prophetic vision only (Jerome, Calvin, Hengstenberg, etc.). The exegesis which the writer of this homily prefers lies between these two; viz. that Hosea's marriage was real, but that Gomer did not become profligate until after she had borne the prophet's three children (Ewald, Professor A.B. Davidson, Dr. Robertson Smith, etc.). No view which it is possible to take is free from difficulties; but this last one is not exposed to the insurmountable objections which, in the writer's judgment, adhere to the two extreme interpretations. It also furnishes an appropriate parallel in Hosea's experience to the love of God for his people Israel. The prophet, accordingly, contracted a marriage which turned out to be unhappy. Gomer did not love God. Her heart became contaminated with the moral miasma which was poisoning the social life of the whole nation. Hosea's quiet home, his simple occupations, and his devout sabbath-keeping, grew distasteful to her. She felt her life intolerably slow. After the birth of her third child she was directly tempted, and wandered and fell. Gomer joined the throng of the priestesses of Ashtoreth, took part in the abominable rites of the Phoenician idolatry, and left her poor husband to "cry to vacant chairs and widowed walls" that she had made his home desolate. Hosea's love for his spouse had been very deep and tender, and he felt that he loved her still, despite the fierce conflict which his affection had now to wage against his outraged honor. It would almost seem too, from the ominous names given to the children, that they also, as they grew up, followed for a time in their mother's evil ways. So Hosea begins his book by showing that it was the blighting of his fireside joys and the breaking of his household gods that first made him "a man of sorrows."

"Now I sit
All lonely, homeless, weary of my life,
Thick darkness round me, and the stars all dumb,
That erst had sung their wondrous tale of joy.
And thou hast done it all, O faithless one!
O Gomer! whom I loved as never wife
Was loved in Israel, all the wrong is thine!
Thy hand hath spoiled all my tender vines,
Thy foot hath trampled all my pleasant fruits,
Thy sin hath laid my honor in the dust."

(Dean Plumptre.)

II. GOD'S PROVIDENCE IN THIS DISHONOR. The shipwreck of his home-happiness taught Hosea very solemn spiritual lessons. He heard in it the voice of Jehovah pointing out to him his life-work. Looking around, he perceived that his experience was not an isolated one. Rather, his home was a picture of the moral state of the entire northern kingdom. The land was reeking with sensuality. And with that sin the sin of idolatry was closely intertwined. So Hosea became very deeply convinced that all the crime and vice of the age sprang from one spiritual root: "The land had committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord." He reflected that his own bitter experience was but a parable of God's experience. What Gomer was to him, the Israelitish nation had been to Jehovah. She had been betrothed to God "in the days of her youth, when she came up out of the land of Egypt;" and the nuptials had been celebrated at Mount Sinai. But, alas I she had fallen now into foul and shameless idolatry. Hosea, from his own sad experience, could have sympathy with God. Himself a victim - and not an eye-witness merely - of the wickedness of his age, he realized more fully than he could otherwise have done the odiousness of Israel's apostasy. When he thought of Gomer, he could understand the words of the second commandment, "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." And thus his conjugal dishonor was his birth as a prophet. It was "the beginning of the word of the Lord in Hosea." The Book of Hosea is a poem; and while, of course, "the poet is born, not reader events in his own life are oftentimes needed to strike from him the poetic fire. Although the poet is "dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, the love of love," it is also true that

"Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong:
They learn in suffering what they teach in song."

(Shelley.) It was notably so with Hoses. Affliction was his one prophetical school. So, when he now sits down to begin his book, he recounts at the outset his domestic wrongs, in the light of his ripe experience of their Divine meaning. God had "girded" him, though at first he had "not known" it. The Lord had said, in his own Divine plan of Hosea's life, "Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms." The event had taught him that his desolate home was a type of Israel's ruin; and his pity for Gomer - which longed to restore her from her wasted life - a faint shadow of the yearning love of God for his apostate people.


1. God himself is the supreme end of our life. He is so:

(1) To the individual. "Man's chief end is to glorify God." The life which does not do this is a failure.

(2) To the family. This sad story reminds us of the blessedness of household piety, and of a pure family life. Holy Scripture everywhere magnifies the family, and enjoins that the fear of God be enthroned in its very heart. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

(3) To the nation. National religion, on the part of a self-governing people, depends upon the spiritual state of the persons and households which compose the nation. "Departure from the Lord," whether in the case of the individual, or the family, or the commonwealth, is idolatry and adultery; and it leads inevitably to ruin (Psalm 73:27).

2. All of us require to repent of Gomer's sin. Our evil hearts have gone a-whoring from our God; our wrong words and actions are the children born of our adultery. Each of us may say -

"Thou, my soul, wast loved,
As bride by bridegroom, by the eternal Lord;
And thou, too, hast been false."

(Dean Plumptre.)

3. A course of affliction affords a valuable prophetic curriculum. There is a sense in which "all the Lord's people" should be "prophets." But, before we can be fully qualified and accomplished to teach the truth as it is in Jesus, we must be washed, not only in his blood, but in our own hearts' blood also. - C.J.

The beginning Of the Wold of the Lord by Hosea.
The prophet Hosea is the only individual character that stands out amidst the darkness of this period — the Jeremiah, as he may be called, of Israel. His life had extended over nearly the whole of the last century of the northern kingdom. In early youth, whilst the great Jeroboam was still on the throne, he had been called to the prophetic office. In his own personal history he shared in the misery brought on his country by the profligacy of the age. In early youth he had been united in marriage with a woman who had fallen into the vices which surrounded her. He had loved her with a tender love; she had borne to him two sons and a daughter; she had then deserted him, wandered from her home, fallen again into wild licentiousness, and been carried off as a slave. From this wretched state, with all the tenderness of his nature, he bought her, and gave her one more chance of recovery, by living with him, though apart. No one who has observed the manner in which individual experience often colours the general religious doctrine of a gifted teacher can be surprised at the close con nection that exists between the life of Hosea and the mission to which he was called. In his own grief for his own great calamity — the greatest that can befall a tender human soul — he was taught to feel for the Divine grief over the lost opportunities of the nation once so full of hope.

(Dean Stanley.)

Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms
Holy Scripture relates that all this was done, and tells us the birth and names of the children, as real history. As such, then, we must receive it. We must not imagine things to be unworthy of God, because they do not commend themselves to us. God does not dispense with the moral law, because the moral law has its source in the mind of God Himself. To dispense with it would be to contradict Himself. But God, who is the absolute Lord of all things which He made, may, at His sovereign will, dispose of the lives or things which He created. Thus, as Sovereign Judge, He commanded the lives of the Canaanites to be taken away by Israel, as, in His ordinary providence, He has ordained that the magistrate should not bear the sword in vain, but has made him His "minister, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." So, again, He, whose are all things, willed to repay to the Israelites their hard and unjust servitude, by commanding them to "spoil the Egyptians." He who created marriage, commanded to Hosea whom he should marry. The prophet was not defiled, by taking as his lawful wife, at God's bidding, one defiled, however hard a thing this was. "He who remains good, is not defiled by coming in contact with one evil; but the evil, following his example, is turned into good." But through his simple obedience, he foreshadowed Him, God the Word, who was culled the "friend of publicans and sinners"; who warned the Pharisees, that "the publicans and harlots should enter into the kingdom of God before them"; and who now vouchsafes to espouse, dwell in, and unite Himself with, and so to hallow, our sinful souls. The acts which God enjoined to the prophets, and which to us seem strange, must have had an impressiveness to the people, in proportion to their strangeness. The life of the prophet became a sermon to the people. Sight impresses more than words.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

in modern times picture-teaching is almost confined to work among children, because education and culture have made adults capable of apprehending plain statements, and even elaborate arguments. In child-conditions of nations child methods of instruction were wisely employed. And it is well for preachers to bear in mind that a large proportion of those whom they address are as incapable of following argument as children, and therefore need the pictorial, dramatic, and illustrative methods of instruction. It is even more to the point to observe that the dramatic acting out of representative and suggestive scenes, has always been, and still is, one of the most effective methods of moral instruction. What we have in Hosea, whether what is stated concerning him be regarded as history or vision, is a dramatising of the history of the nation of the Ten Tribes in its relation to God figured as its husband. The facts of individual experience are these. Hosea takes as wife a woman who had gone astray. All his love and care fail to recover her and settle her in her home-life. Presently the old wilfulness revives, and she breaks away from home, to live again a life of sinful indulgence, and come under burdens of pain and slavery. Spite of it all, Hosea is willing, if she will give up her sins, to receive her back, and give her the old place in home and love. The individual represents the national. The Ten Tribes wilfully broke away under Jeroboam I. determined to live an independent life of self-willedness, which always means a life of sin. God graciously took this nation as His, and strove with tending, patience, gentleness, and love to win it as His own. But it was in vain. The nation again and again broke away from God, dishonoured Him, and at last in its seemingly outward prosperity, under Jeroboam II., broke away entirely from Him. Nevertheless, patient mercy still pleads. Only now there is the intimation that it is the nation s last chance. Hosea, then, in his ways with his wife is to represent God's ways with the nation. In telling how he thought and felt, and what he did, and was willing to do, Hosea revealed to the people the thought and hope and anxiety of God concerning them.

I. IN TAKING THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL AS HIS, GOD DID NOT TAKE A CHASTE NATION. Under Jeroboam I. the nation broke away from its home, and duty, and right relations. It was a soiled, wilful nation. Nevertheless, and as such God took it for His own.

II. WHILE CALLING IT HIS OWN, GOD DID EVERYTHING THAT LOVE AND CARE COULD DO TO WIN THE NATION WHOLLY FOR HIMSELF AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. Pathetic is the tender love of Hosea, as representing the patience, gentleness, and love of God.

III. THE OLD WILFULNESS WILL NOT BE SUBDUED, AND AT LAST IT BROKE OUT AGAIN, LEADING TO WORSE SINS THAN AT FIRST. Compare the moral and social life of Israel under Jeroboam I. and Jeroboam II.

IV. DIVINE SEVERITIES MUST ATTEND ON DIVINE LOVE WHEN MORAL CONDITIONS BECOME SO UTTERLY HOPELESS. And yet how evident it becomes, that judgment is God's strange work, and mercy His delight!

(J. Burroughs.)

Christian Age.
In the Memorial Hall at Harvard University there is a wonderful array of beautiful sentences frescoed on the walls in various colours, but they are all in Latin. And it is said that some of the workmen did not know the meaning of the sentences they painted, but could only put the letters and the colours on the walls as they were told, without understanding the wondrous meaning wrapped up in them. So we are often writing our lives in an unknown tongue; we can only do as we are bidden.

(Christian Age.)

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