INSIDE THE HEARTS
OF BIBLE WOMEN

4 ~ Unfaithful
(Gomer)

(based on the book of Hosea in the Old Testament)





Part 1 ~ Beginnings of a Shaky Marriage
        Young Hosea left his home with his father, Beerie, and walked in the direction of Dibliam's house.  As he walked, he thought of how
beautiful the new love of his life was ~ raven hair, eyes like black diamonds, lips like scarlet, skin like lilies.  

        Dibliam was a very poor man.  And complicating this was his displaced pride with the right things for the wrong use.  Take his
daughters, for instance.  As each one grew old enough, he dedicated them to the Baal gods.  They were beautiful and brought very
inviting prices.  As priestesses of Baal, he could demand much money for them.  

        Whatever the feelings of the girls, it did not really matter.  The worshippers got their priestesses, he got his easy money, and
obviously everyone got what they wanted - at least according to him.  

        Any self-respecting believer in God would be sickened by the attitude of this man, and his obvious pride in getting easy money with
his daughters.  Admittedly, there weren't that many self-respecting Jews left these days.  Not with their modern liberated attitudes toward
accepting all religions equally.  But even those who had wandered into loving untrue gods shook their heads at the mercenary attitude of
Diblaim.  As a result, his family was not too popular.  [1]

        Hosea wanted to save Gomer from the history of prostitution in her family.  Was not his name a variation of Joshua, and of the name
Jesus?  Did not Hosea realize that he too could save people from bad things?  If this was not an opportunity to save a beautiful young
maiden just blooming into the flower of womanhood from a horrible fate, what was?  Yes he, Hosea, wanted to save Gomer and show her
what true love was.  At this point in his young life, little did he know what he would have to go through to accomplish this.  [2]   

        The father and son arrived at Dibliam's meager house.  He was awaiting them seated outside the door.  He escorted them up the
outside stairs to the roof of the house where they could speak in privacy.  Gomer came up, quietly washed the visitors' feet, stole a glance
at Hosea, and disappeared.  Soon she came back with mugs of cool drink for the men.  In her heart she drank in the love pouring from
Hosea's eyes, and left.  

        Then they began discussing the purpose of the visit.  Could a marriage be agreed upon between the youthful Hosea and Gomer?  
Not too particularly interested in the details of the arrangement, Hosea looked around.  At the sight of the Baal idol over in one corner, his
thoughts wandered.  

        "God said I would be doing the right thing if I requested to marry a daughter of these idol-worshippers.  Surely what He has in mind
is for me to bring her out of her sacrilege, and use her as an example to the people of how profitable it is to change and believe only in
the one true God.  

        "Gomer just really hasn't ever had a chance.  Given that chance, I know she will learn to love God as I do.  Her family has always
worshipped and loved idols and been untrue to God.  God says the people are committing whoredom and prostitution against Him, for he
desires all the people to be His spiritual wife.  Well, Gomer and I will just show them which is better.  I will love Gomer so much she will not
be able to resist my love, and eventually God's love as well."  [3]

        At last the negotiations were ended, and the two older men stood up.  By instinct, Hosea came out of his introspection and rose to
his feet in imitation.  He was promptly embraced by Diblaim.  Apparently the high dowry he was willing to pay for Gomer outdid the price of
a priestess, and was accepted.  Everyone was smiling.  Hosea knew that Gomer would soon be his.  

        The days that followed were alternately high with excessively ecstatic joy, and low with the agony of time nearly halted.  

        But, as do all things, the day did arrive.  The wedding feast did indeed take place.  And the bride and groom were sufficiently
whisked away from singleness by their young friends to blissful marriage.  

        For the last time, the young ladies met and giggled and got their lifetime friend all dressed in the ceremonial wedding gown.  And for
the last time, the young men met and teased with Hosea and got him attired for the ceremony.  Then they escorted him through the
streets in abandoned excitement to the home of Gomer.  The friends and families mingled and laughed and feasted and congratulated
the young couple.  Then they all went home.  The marriage began.  [4]

        Gomer was beautiful beyond description.  But her father had squandered everything he got, and his family wore old tattered
clothes.  Gomer deserved better.  Hosea loved to give her gifts and see her dressed in the very finest.  

        Linen dresses embroidered with threads of every imaginable color.  Silk cloaks that flowed about her like a sweet breeze.  Bracelets,
necklaces, earrings - all of pure gold and silver.  Tiaras for her head of gold and precious jewels.  And large precious stones for her
elegant forehead.  

        Beauty twice over.  The natural beauty of her body, and the added beauty of attire.  Nothing was too good or too much or too costly
for Gomer.  She was the light, the sparkle, the fountain of Hosea's very existence. [5]

        The first few months were blissful beyond imagination.  Hosea loved and adored his young bride, and she lavished him with every
thoughtfulness she could think of.  Yes, sometimes they had their disagreements.  But they could always work them out.  Or they'd
postpone them until the problems could work themselves out.  

        There was one thing, however, that they could not seem to come to an agreement on.  Hosea hadn't thought it would be like this.  It
was religion.  

        "You are not going to the Baal temple today!"  

        "But Hosea, they are having a special ceremony.  All my friends will be there.  Most of the town will be there.  I can't miss it."  

        "Oh yes you can, and you will miss it."  

        "Well, you can miss if you like, but I'm not going to quit my religion just because you are so narrow minded and believe in only one
God."  

        "Gomer, you don't understand."  

        "Yes, I do understand.  And I'm going.  You never stopped me before, and you're not going to stop me now."  

        "Gomer, I tried to be patient with you and let you ease away from that old religion and your old friends gradually.  But all you've
done is get more and more involved with them.  You just cannot go any more."  

        "Just watch me," she replied as she put on her scarlet silk veil.  

        She left.  There was that terrible silence that would not end.  [6]

        That night Gomer did not come home.  What terrible thing could have happened to her?  About midnight he went out looking.  No,
she was not at her father's house.  Yes, she had been at the temple most of the day.  No, she was not with any of her friends.  Yes, she
seemed to be feeling fine.  No, they hadn't heard of any foul play that night anywhere.  But with the festival crowds, it would be hard to say
until morning when they could see to investigate.  

        Dawn was not too many hours away when Hosea returned home.  There he fell prostrate to the ground.  

        "Oh, God.  Where is my Gomer?  Where is my wife?  Is she safe?  Is she dead?  Oh, please take care of her this night.  I love her so
much.  I could not bear to lose her.  Please, God.  Please, God."  

        He lay there on the floor, his mind dizzy with wonderings and fear.  

         He was jarred out of his helplessness by a light tapping on the outside gate.  It was just lucky he had been able to hear it at all.  
God must have been guiding him.  

        Hosea got up and rushed to remove the bar.  There stood Gomer.  Dirty, stripped of her jewels, her veil missing, her dress torn.  

        "Oh my sweet Gomer."  

        He drew her to himself with one hand, and closed back the gate with the other.  She began weeping.  He walked with her slowly to
the house and laid her on her bed.  

        "Oh, my Gomer.  What has happened to you?"  

         "The robbers!  The robbers!  They did it.  Hosea, they took everything.  Then they knocked me out.  It was over on the market
street.  I know you told me not to walk over there when it is deserted.  But I didn't listen to you.  And now everything is lost!"  

        "But at least you are safe.  And that is what is important."  

        "The jewels.  What about my jewels?"  

        Hosea couldn't help but smile in the midst of his worries.  "So, we'll get you some more jewels."  

        "Will you, Hosea?  And a new dress too?  It was my favorite."  

        "A new dress too," he replied as he looked down at his still very young wife.  "Anything you want.  By the way, did you get a good
look at your assaulters?"  

         "Assaulters?  Uh, no.  It was hard to see, you know.  And my missing jewels and torn dress - that's proof they did it.  Isn't it,
Hosea?"  

         "Of course.  I believe you."  Vaguely in the back of his mind he registered the fact that she had no bruises.  But he would not allow
his conscious mind to acknowledge this.  [7]  

    Before long the ugliness of that night was forgotten, and life went on without much of anything unusual.  All except one thing.  It was
learned that Gomer was pregnant.  

        Hosea prayed daily for his child.  He had continued to worship God, though it had now become a very unpopular and ridiculed thing
in Israel.  He continued to pray for his wife and the unborn baby.  

         He encouraged his friends to pray for their own families, and to pray for the leader of their nation.  This was a sore point with
Hosea.  The last few leaders had led the people to worship idols.  They obeyed God when it was convenient to them, like killing the
children of the previous king to eliminate any threats to their own leadership.  Personally, Gomer thought all this talk of politics was
boring.  
         Hosea vowed that his children would follow God faithfully through life.  He would dedicate each of them to God.  Yes, he would be a
proud father.  Such great plans he had for his yet unborn sons.  They would remain faithful and true to God their entire lives.  Gomer
couldn't see what all the fuss was about and hoped her children didn't turn into fanatics like their father.  

         The day of birth arrived.  Gomer presented her husband with a healthy baby boy who must have been - to Hosea's mind ~ the
brightest, most alert and handsome little baby in the whole country!  [8]

        "What will you name him?" Hosea's family and friends asked him as the days went by.  

         "His name shall be Jezreel."  

        Well, that was a nice name.  It was the name of a valley nearby.  There was general agreement that it was a good choice.  But
Hosea disturbed them when he went on to explain why his son was given that name.  

         "My son will be a living message to our nation's leader and to our people.  He will be a daily reminder of what occurred in Jezreel
when our fathers were  young."  The older men knew what he was referring to.  

        "The sons of the previous leader who were executed?"  

        "Yes."  

        "But that was Jehovah's command for punishment."  

         "That was not capital punishment for idolatry.  That was a personal assassination of the competition by the new leader.  And our
leaders still don't follow God's commands.  They just do whichever ones are beneficial to them."  

        "Well, that certainly is a new way of looking at things," Hosea's friends and family consented, almost dotingly.  

         They thought he was through with his lecture, now that they all agreed with him.  But then he started in again.  

         "My son Jezreel will not only be a living reminder of the past, but a living warning of the future.  Our people are still not following
God."  

        "Warning?  What warning?"  

        Gomer was in the other room listening to all this.  "Does he always have to be talking about God?  Why doesn't he talk about
something else?"  

        But Hosea resumed again.  "Just as Jezreel means 'to scatter,' our nation will scatter and be destroyed one day in that very valley."  

         Since it was supposed to be a happy occasion, that of naming a new baby, his friends tried again to lighten things up a bit.  

        "Oh what foolishness!  You are always talking in puzzles.  What are we going to do with you?"  

        Another laughed good naturedly.  "Hosea, the savior.  He's going to save us from ourselves!"  

        "Yes," said another.  "That is, if he can manage it before the Day of Jezreel."  

        The group of men had one last good-hearted laugh, and then rose to leave.  

         "Well, Jezreel is still a good name.  Has a nice ring to it."  

         And they left.  

         Hosea was humbled now inside as he sat alone in the wide reception hall.  Laughed at.  Scorned.  Put up with because of his
riches, but considered full of strange idiosyncrasies.  So he said no more about it.  [9]

        Gomer was glad.  As the months followed, Gomer seemed so content and serene.  Hosea watched her as she nursed their child.  
She would sing softly, and cuddle little Jezreel in her arms.  How he loved her.  How he loved them both.  

         Things would still work out with him and Gomer, he knew.  Hadn't she settled down a lot in the past year?  That's all she needed to
develop a little maturity ~ a baby.  It does wonders for a person.  [10]

         As the novelty of the baby gradually wore off and Gomer regained her strength and slim form, she took a new interest in fixing
herself up.  Hosea thought that was just fine -even good for her.  It gave him an opportunity, too, to buy her more gifts.  

        But this time she started doing something a little more than in the past.  She bought some eye makeup at the market and began
using that.  A little would have been okay, but she seemed to be going overboard with it.  

        "Gomer, isn't that a little much?" Hosea asked one day.  

        "Oh no.  It's the style.  All the ladies are fixing up their eyes this way.  Don't you think I'm beautiful, Hosea?"  

        "Yes, Gomer, you are always beautiful - with and without your makeup."  

        "Well, I'm going in to town now.  I've got a dozen errands to run.  Running a household gets complicated, you know."  

         He smiled at her attempt at mature expressions.  She was still so young.  "When will you be back?"  

         "Oh, when you see me."  

         They gave each other a kiss and she left.  [11]

         Those days of getting all fixed up and going in to town for the entire day gradually increased.  The first year she would go out about
once a month.  By the second year it was every couple weeks.  And now, in the third year it was nearly daily.  

        "Well, you know Hosea, I've got Jezreel weaned now.  And I'm not so tied down like I used to be.  There are so many friends I haven't
seen or been able to spend much time with since Jezreel was born.  You can't blame me for wanting to be with my friends sometimes, can
you?  Of course not."  She answered for him as was her growing custom.  

        "But, Gomer.  These friends are not as important as your family.  You have obligations here at home too."  

         "Don't be so old fashioned, Hosea.  What am I going to do with you?"  She playfully kissed him good-bye and left.  

        Hosea sat down at the gate of his house watching her go down the street.  He half-way noticed the men along the way watching her
as she passed, then snicker.  Though she was covered with a robe and veil, he thought she must have winked at them.  He tried to keep
his thoughts away from what seemed to be.  As yet he could not acknowledge the signs.  Not Gomer.  Never.  He had to give her the
benefit of the doubt.  After all, he loved her. [12]
                               Part 2 ~ Coping With a Tumultuous Marriage  

        Finally Jezreel was four years old.  He'd been weaned about a year.  And for his birthday he was presented with a new baby sister.   
        Hosea tried to be as enthusiastic about this baby as he had been about the first one.  His friends noticed that he wasn't.  But then it
was probably because it was a girl and not another son.  

        "What are you going to name her, Hosea?" his friends asked.  

        He paused thoughtfully, then announced, "Her name shall be Loru Hamah."  

        "And what characteristic in this new little one of yours," teased the men, "did you pick out in choosing her name?"  

        "Oh, probably he's not feeling so very merciful for her being a girl and not a boy.  Right Hosea?"  

        "She is a token of mixed feelings."  

        "Yeah, just as I thought," one of the men teased.  

        Hosea went on.  "The mixed feelings belong to God.  He still loves the few people he has left who love him as a devoted wife loves
her husband.  But to those who have been unfaithful to him and loved other gods, other lovers, he will not show mercy any longer."  

        The celebration mood of the evening was suddenly hushed.  Other lovers?  What is he talking about?  Does he suspect?  Does he
know?  The party broke up early.  

        Things seemed somewhat better again after Loru Hamah was born.  Gomer settled back down.  She was her old self again.  So
serene and loving as she cared for her new little baby.  

        "Isn't she just the cutest thing you ever saw, Hosea?  She has your eyes, you know."  

        "Does she?"  He did not smile.  

        Gomer shrugged her shoulders.  "Well, whatever.  If that's the way you're going to be, just because she's a girl...."  

       "Oh Gomer.  I don't mean that I don't love her.  I do love her.  And I love you.  I could never bear it if I lost you."  [13]

        Again, through the months her strength gradually returned, and her form, though not as trim as before.  She began spending more
time in front of the mirror.  

        "Gomer, where did you get this scarf?"  

        "Oh that.  I, I uh, got it from a friend.  She said she had two nearly alike.  Isn't it pretty?"  

        Hosea looked down without saying any more.  

        "By the way," she went on while she arranged the curls in her hair.  "I need a new dress."  

        "A new dress?  You already have more than you can wear.  You hardly wear the same one twice any more."  

        "Well, if that's the way you're going to be, I'll just get them some other way."  

        "And how might that be?"  He wished immediately he had not asked.  

        "I have friends.  And I am resourceful.  I'll find a way."  

        As time went on, Gomer began to develop enthusiasm in a new way that was refreshing to her husband.  

        "What in the world are you so excited about these days, Gomer?  It's good to see you this way and not brooding."  

        "I'm going into business."  

        "What kind?"  

        "Well, you know all those clothes I have that I've lost interest in?  You're right about them.  So I've decided to sell them to different
merchants."  

        "Well, that's what I call being resourceful.  I'm proud of you!"  

       "One of my best customers will be the houses of Baal.  They like to dress up their priestesses."  

        "Gomer, you know I don't approve of you associating with them."  

        "Oh, it won't hurt just in business.  That's all it is."  

        Hosea's stomach tightened.  It was starting over again.  No, it wasn't obvious.  But he was beginning to sense the signs.  

        "Of course I'll have to spend the night out of town some times, as the market is so limited here.  But I've got relatives and friends so
many places to spend the night with.  I'll do fine."  

        "Gomer, are you sure you want to go into all this quite so heavily?"  

        Hosea was having difficulty refusing to acknowledge the signs of unfaithfulness as he had in the past.  He was frightened.  But his
love for her overshadowed it.  He couldn't really face head on what was happening yet.  

        His wife looked at him so lovingly, and put her arm around him, and he couldn't resist.  He loved her so very much, and wanted to
please her.  Maybe some day she would learn from his example what true love was.  He could be patient.  Then the wait would be well
worth it all.  

        A month went by involved in selling to local people.  Then a year.  Gomer was actually making her new business a success.  Then
one morning she told little Jezreel goodbye as usual.  But this was a little different.  She'd be gone longer this time.  

        "Be a good boy.  Mommy is going out of town for a few days to make more money.  Take care of your little sister.  Since she's
learned to walk, she is getting into everything.  And take good care of Daddy."  

        Gomer stayed gone several days at a time now.  She would often come home with new jewelry and clothes, which she claimed she
had traded her old things for.  But how could she?  She was running out of clothes to sell or exchange.  And the money was much more
than the clothes were even worth.  [14]

        This went on for another year.  Hosea saw less and less of his wife.  He was becoming increasingly moody.  And there were those
long lonely nights alone and wondering.  

        Who is she with tonight?  Who is she betraying me with?  She isn't even sorry.  She's getting a kick out of the whole thing.  She has
no remorse for anything she's doing.  Can't she see that she's blindly destroying herself?  

        Hosea prayed as he watched the blackness which enshrouded the terrible eternal night....  

        "My God.  How long must she torment me like this?  Yes, I know the law says I can have her stoned to death for what she is doing.  
But Lord, I still love her.  I keep hoping that if I show her enough mercy, she will repent and return to me, and things will be like the old
days with her."  

         "Ten years.  We've been married ten years now.  She does not have the youthful beauty she used to have.  Maybe she'll become
tired of it all and see that I am the only one who truly loves her.  All these lovers are just using her.  She doesn't know what she's doing."  

         "My Lord.  My God.  Hear me!  See my tears.  Hear my groans.  Feel my agonies.  Please, please don't let her keep doing these
things.  Oh my God, I keep forgiving, and forgiving, and forgiving...."  

        "How many times must I forgive before she returns to me the love I have for her?  I am getting so tired of trying.  How long will it last,
Lord?  How long?"  

        He sensed God's answer:  I, too, have been betrayed.  [15]

        Eventually Gomer began to slow down.  She left home less and less.  Things seemed to be getting better.  At least for awhile.  Then
one day she announced the reason why.  

        "Hosea, my husband.  I am pregnant again."  

        Pregnant?!  Who was the father this time?  Who was the father the other two times?  How could she flaunt this in front of him?  
Hosea did not say anything.  It would have been a mockery.  He was beginning to grow bitter.  How could he bear any more?  

        "Please, Hosea.  Don't be angry.  I'll bet it'll be another son."  She perked up, in relative oblivion of the feelings of her loyal but
shaken husband, and twirled around in the middle of the floor.  

        "You know," she went on when she stopped, "three is a good number.  Three is a charm.  At least it seems like I heard that
somewhere.  It must be so.  And another son would really make you proud, wouldn't it, Hosea?"  She didn't wait for a reply.  "My, we would
have to hire more servants too, wouldn't we?  Let me see now, we just might have to add on to the house.  And...."  

        She did not notice that Hosea had left the room.  

        When the birth of the child finally came, it was indeed a son.  Gomer was overjoyed and sent word to Hosea.  

        "Come look at our son."  

        "Our son?" he questioned in his mind.  He had never been able to confront Gomer with her unfaithfulness all these years.  But it was
still difficult for him to show any enthusiasm for this baby.  

        People in town did not say a whole lot about the event.  They knew all too well about Gomer by now.  Everyone did.  How could he
stay with her so long like this?  Surely it's been a dozen years or so since he married her.  

        However, the customary name-announcing celebration had to be held.  So Hosea ordered it to be done.  

        The men came and told their jokes as usual.  They laughed about the antics of their own sons, and prudently tried to stay away
from comments about wives in general.  Finally Hosea knew he had to say something.  He arose, and everyone became quiet.  

        "His name shall be Lo Ammi."  

        The usual cheering and laughter did not follow.  All knew what it meant.  "Not Mine."  They thought Hosea would leave the room or at
least sit down after such a statement, but he did not.  They remained silent.  

        "Not only is this child not mine, but our nation no longer belongs to God."  

        And with the inner agonies of knowing first hand what it is like to be betrayed by a loved one who really didn't care, Hosea poured
out his heart.  

       "Our nation plays around like a prostitute.  She continues to join herself to idols.  Let her alone.  Her drink is sour.  She has
committed prostitution continually.  Her leaders with shame do love.  The wind has bound her up in her wings, and she shall be ashamed
because of her offering."  

       "Now see here, Hosea.  We know you are upset over your wife.  But don't get our nation involved in it.  Sure, we worship a few more
gods than you do.  We can love them all equally, can't we?  Why should Jehovah be so jealous?"  

        "Besides.  Some of our neighboring nations have helped us and given us much wealth.  So why should we worry?  Sure, God was
the head of our nation when we were young, and brought us out of slavery to riches.  But what's wrong with looking around a little?"  

        Hosea had nothing more to say.  This time he just left the room.  The servants distributed the sandals to everyone who had entered
the house, opened the gate out in the courtyard, and they all left.  

        "What's getting in to him anyway?  Just because he had a little bad luck...."  [16]

        Gomer nursed this third child as usual.  But at the end of the weaning period, she realized she had not been able to return to quite
the youthful shape she used to have.  Annoyed, she started wearing more makeup and more jewelry.  

        Now the children were twelve, eight, and four - stair steps.  And Gomer decided to not bother with excuses any longer.  He wasn't
doing anything about it anyway.  

        "Where are you going tonight, Gomer?"  

        "Where do you think, dear husband?  Do you think I want to be stuck with a religious fanatic all my life?  No way.  I'll be home in the
morning."  

        Again the nights of aloneness and agony.  How much could one person bear?  And she seemed proud of it.  Not sorry enough to
cover it up even any more.  At least Hosea knew these agonies were also being suffered and understood by one very close to him - his
God, the spiritual husband of his nation.  

        "Oh my Lord.  Not again.  Not again.  How many times must she do this to me - to herself?  She says it's just her life style.  She says
I could do the same thing if I weren't so prudish.  She says she isn't hurting anyone.  She says it's good for her to get out like this.  She
says so much that doesn't make sense."  

        Night after night he prayed and agonized with his God.  

        "My Lord and Maker.  I had so many plans for her and did so much for her.  But she didn't understand it was out of love for her, and
not because she deserved it more than some other woman I might have chosen and married.  I took her to be my wife when her family
was looked down on.  I elevated her and made her rich...."  

        He turned on to one side.  Than to the other.  He sat up.  He paced.  He pounded the wall.  He sobbed.  He cried out in the night.  
[17]

        "Yes, God, I know you have gone through these same things with our nation which you took away from Egypt when slaves.  You
clothed this nation and made her rich and influential.  Yes, I know the nation did nothing to deserve it above others.  You just loved her
most and wanted her to be your wife in spirit..."  

        He tried to keep himself busy during the day and hide from the children just what their mother had become.  He laughed when his
heart was bleeding with pain.  And he tried to stay away from town.  

        "Oh God.  You have been patient with our nation so long, while she went prostituting herself after other gods.  I have tried to be
patient with Gomer too.  I can see now why you wanted me to marry the daughter of a prostitute, one likely to become one herself.  I now
understand your love for our unfaithful nation, and I can explain it better.  But it is so much harder for me to keep loving her, for I am a
mere man."  

        The terrible hurt to the children was something else.  The kids in town teased them about their mother.  They called her names.  
Hosea's children came home with scratches from fights more often now.  

        One night Gomer decided not to come back at all.  She was gone one night, then two, then three.  After subtly checking in town, he
learned who her latest lover was - someone right there whom he knew.  The humiliation.  Right in front of him.  How could she do this to
him?  How could she do this to her children?  

        More months passed.  Finally, seeing no sign of repentance, Hosea could take no more.  He sent for his children whom he now
realized knew what their mother had become.  

        "Go plead with your mother.  Tell her she is no longer my wife.  Neither am I her husband.  Beg her to quit doing these things.  
Maybe she'll listen to you."  

         Yes, Hosea could do nothing more, except send her a bill of divorcement.  Even then it was painful - like an amputation.  She had
turned into a disease in his soul and body, and the disease was eating away at him and destroying him.  He had to amputate her, like a
disease-filled arm, or be completely destroyed by her.  He could try no longer, or he would die.  [18]

        "Gomer, my darling.  Why couldn't you accept my love?  Why couldn't you turn from all those men who are just using you, and let
me love and take care of you?  Oh Gomer, I love you still.  Will this wake you up?  Will divorce do it?  Will anything bring you out of what
you are doing to yourself?  My Gomer, my love...."  

        Time passed.  Years.  Gomer went from one lover to another.  Hosea sent clothes to wherever she was living.  Her lovers claimed
the credit for these gifts, just like the false gods were claiming credit for the gifts of nature on mankind.  But at least she was taken care
of.  

        Now and then Hosea would catch sight of her in town.  How she was aging.  She did not look well at all.  [19]

        Time indeed was not good to Gomer any more.  Instead of enriching her beauty as it had years earlier, it was now destroying it.  

        One day Hosea realized that he had not seen her in town for a long time.  

        "Jezreel, do you know where your mother is?  Has she come to any harm?"  

        "Father, I do know, but I'm ashamed."  

        "Tell me, Jezreel.  How can we be hurt any more than we have been?"  
        Jezreel had learned to love the God of his father.  And this was difficult for him to talk about.  

        "I heard some people talking.  No one in town wanted her to live with them any more.  So she became a priestess at the Baal
temple."  

       "A prostitute.  That's all it is.  In the name of religion.  How low can a human being get?"  

       "Do you think our mother will ever be any different?" asked their daughter, a teenager now.  

        "I don't know any more.  I thought the divorce would bring her to her senses.  But it didn't seem to work.  She's growing old.  She
cannot possibly keep this up many more years.  Her beauty is not what it used to be.  Even the men who pay money to Baal for her favors
will quit going to her eventually."  

        "Then what will happen to her?"  
        "Who cares?"  

        "Now, children.  No matter what, we must never quit caring.  Even if no one else cares, we must."  Hosea's family and friends thought
he was nuts for thinking that way.  

        More years.  The children continued to be teased about their mother but could never get used to it.  The only difference is that the
point of the teasing changed as the years did.  

        "Nobody wants your mother."  

        "Your mother is so ugly."  

        "Yeah.  She's just like a witch."  [20]
                            Part 3 ~ Salvaging an Impossible Marriage  

        Finally the family found out what would happen to Gomer once she was of no use to the temple.  

        "Father.  I saw the most terrible thing just now," Lo Ammi sobbed as he came through the court gate to where Hosea was sitting.  

        "Hey, you're much too big to cry.  What's wrong.  Tell me."  

        "It was Mother."  

        "Oh."  

        "Dad, she's for sale!  The temple is selling her for whatever they can get out of her.  Father, I nearly gagged when I saw her.  I
almost didn't even recognize her."  

        What Hosea did at that moment was not at all what his son expected.  Instead of sitting down and weeping too, he rushed out the
door.  

        "Where's he going?"  

        "Not to Mother.  He couldn't be going to Mother."  

        Hurriedly he ran to the town square and to the sale block.  

        "Was anyone sold today?"  

        "No buyers."  

        "You mean you had someone for sale?"  

        "Yeah, but no one was interested."  [21]

        "Will you hold the sale tomorrow?"  

        "Yes, as usual.  Got any money?"  

         Hosea went home and took out fifteen pieces of silver.  Plus he measured out some grain.  The total value came to thirty pieces of
silver - the price of a slave.  

         But why in this combination?  The dealer would not realize this was the offering for a woman who had been untrue to her husband.  
But Hosea knew this was the amount called for in the Law of Moses for the sin offering to God.  The dealer was a Jew, but probably had
never bothered to read the holy scriptures.  

         The next day, Hosea left his house early with his two bags - one of silver, one of grain - and went to the sale block.  It would be
hours yet before the sale began.  But there he sat in seeming oblivion to the nudges of people passing by and seeing him there.  

        "He couldn't be here for the reason he seems to be here," they commented to each other.  Many of them had seen Gomer there the
day before too.  It was true.  No one wanted her.  

        When Gomer was finally brought to the block, Hosea's heart filled with the old love he had felt for her so many years since their
youth.  As he watched her, his heart bled.  

        "Here's your money, sir.  For Gomer."  

        Gomer was led off the platform and stood face to face before her former husband without any expression or any word.  Hosea took
her by the hand, but it was rigid and cold.  Then he began walking back to their home, and she quietly followed, without a word.  [22]

        When they arrived, Hosea took her to a different room from his.  Gomer, still not smiling, neither expressive of anything in particular,
followed in continued silence.  

         "You will stay here, Gomer.  I will clothe you again as in the old days.  And I will feed you.  But these are the only privileges you will
receive.  You will not leave the house.  You will sit here with nothing to do but think."  

        Hosea announced to the townsmen that he would take Gomer back now to be his wife.  They were aghast.  He must be out of his
mind in his old age.  

        But this time it would be different.  Then Hosea reminded them how much God wanted them back after they went prostituting
themselves after other gods.  He wanted them to realize that God was their only true husband.  

        Some days Hosea went to see Gomer and talked with her.  

         "Our marriage this time will be different.  I am betrothing you to me forever.  It will be based on rightness, and proper judgment, and
not overlooking actions.  It will have love from both of us, and kindness, and mercy.  

        "You have no where else to go.  I have brought you to our home.  But you will stay separated from me, and watch your family that I
have kept together.  I believe your heart will soften, hopefully to the point of repentance, and you will learn to want me again."  [23]

         Time passed, and so did the hardness of Gomer's heart.  She watched the oldest one marry.  She watched birthday celebrations.  
She watched common everyday living.  She watched the joy, the sharing, the caring, the purity of intentions and actions around her.  It
had been so long since she had been part of a normal loving family.  She'd forgotten.  She wanted to be part of it again.  [24]

        On one of Hosea's daily visits to her room, he opened the door and stopped abruptly.  Gomer was sprawled on the floor.  

        "Oh, no!"  

        He bent over her.  Her body was not cold yet.  Then she raised her head.  

        "Oh Gomer.  I thought....  I thought...."  

         He wept.  She wept.  

        "I was talking to Jehovah, the only God who ever loved me," she quietly said.  "I was talking to him about you, the only man who ever
truly loved me.  I was asking his forgiveness.  Do I dare ask yours?"  

        Hosea embraced his wife.  Tears flowed uncontrollably from them both and mingled into oneness.  

        "Hosea, I tried to come back to you once.  It was about the time I went to the Baal temple to serve.  I couldn't seem to keep a man
any more.  But every time I sent word to our home, I wouldn't get any message back.  It was like you didn't hear me and didn't care what
happened to me.  I wanted to return to you."  

        "Yes, Gomer.  I received your messages.  But I knew you weren't ready to return.  I knew it would be the same old things all over
again.  You had to find out for yourself who really did love you - and have the time to try every possibility to see that those people cared
nothing for you like I do.  I just couldn't take half of you back."  

        "Hosea, I am begging you now.  I know that I was wrong all those years.  I have lost my looks and my youth.  I was finally in rags as
much as when you first saw me so many years ago.  I was back where I started ~ no husband, no dignity, no love.  I finally realized those
men didn't love me; they were just using me. "  

        He held her close.  

        "Please take me back, Hosea.  Make me your wife completely.  I repent to you.  I am so sorry.  I'd enslaved myself to those others
and didn't even know it.   You freed me from my slavery.  Become my husband again."  

        "Oh Gomer.  How can I give you up?  I will no longer be angry with you.  I love you, and will love you freely.  To me, you will be as the
dew and the lily you were the day I first met you.  Your beauty shall return.  Not outwardly as before, but in a more special and wonderful
way:  The beauty of love."  [25]
                                               THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                  Part 1 ~ Beginnings of a Shaky Marriage

Note:  There will be some role reversals in this account of Gomer and her husband Hosea in order to center on how to pull such a "hopeless" marriage
back together from both sides.

1.          Gomer was apparently the daughter of a prostitute.  Later she became a prostitute herself and lost all conscience.  How does a person reach the
point of not having a conscience?  See 1 Timothy 4:2.  Tell of someone you know who lost their conscience (no names please).

2.          Sometimes a young lady meets someone who "cheats on her" while dating, but when confronted promises he'll be okay after they are married.  
But he does not follow through on his promise (Proverbs 5:3,4; 27:6; 26:28).  Why is such a marriage based on future changes practically doomed to
failure in the first place?

3.          Gomer came from a different religious background from Hosea.  How can different religious backgrouonds create yet another terrible hardship
on a marriage (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

4.          Hosea's friends surely knew he was in for trouble by marrying into such a family.  When we see a friend considering marriage to someone with
an already troubled life, what could we say or do?  If the wedding occurs anyway, should we stay away from it or attend (Proverbs 17:17)?

5.          Read Ezekiel 16:1-14 where the lady's savior became her husband and greatest fan.  Gomer was probably very attractive.  What is likely to
happen to a marriage based on looks and material things, and with all the giving coming from only one side?

6.          Gomer at first seemed to hide her infidelity and probably used various excuses to go in to town to her lovers.  What are some of the excuses
unfaithful husbands or wives use today (Proverbs 12:20a)?

7.          We know that Hosea did not acknowledge his wife's unfaithfulness at first by the names he gave his children.  Why do people refuse to
acknowledge the signs (Proverbs 17:9)?

8.          How can having a baby bring couples closer (Psalm 139:13-17)?

9.          What is a marriage like with one a "party-goer" and self-centered, and the other person serious and concerned about others?  How can such
differences be reconciled?  How long might it take (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)?

GOOD WORK:  Make a list to be compiled and merged by some of your friends on how to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" in choosing a
marriage partner.  Give the list to a high school or college class at church or school.

    
                            Part 2 ~ Coping With a Tumultuous Marriage

10.          Often we hear that what a troubled marriage needs to stabilize it is children.  In what circumstances might children help?  Why are children
usually not the answer (Proverbs 11:29; Colossians 3:21)?

11.          A little makeup to cover unsightly blemishes and to give a woman a healthy color has through the centuries been generally accepted (Ezekiel
23:40-44).  What do you think is a woman's motivation for going overboard?

12.          Proverbs 7:10 & 11 describes a prostitute.  What does it say about her home?  Give some practical suggestions on substitutes and wholesome
activities that could be followed by a woman who craves excitement?

13.          Gradually Hosea began to acknowledge that his wife was being unfaithful.  The King James Version of the Bible translates his new baby
daughter's name as "not having obtained mercy" (1:6).  Mercy is defined as "undeserved favor".  He was not yet rejecting his wife, but only withholding
favor.  A betrayed marriage partner maintains the love but begins to withdraw because of hurt.  What are the signs and symptoms of the hurt?  Give
some scriptures from the Psalms that could help a person through this terrible time.

14.          Hosea 2:7, 12, 13 seems to indicate that Gomer was having illicit affairs but gradually lost the interest of the men, possibly due to aging.  So
later she became a prostitute and was paid by individuals, and in Baal worship.  She had to make up more and more stories to explain to her husband
why she was gone so much and where her "rewards" or "goods for services rendered" were coming from.  Satan is called the father of liars (John
8:44).  Show how a love for truth can be a deterrent to sin.

15.          This betrayed partner must have agonized alone with a pain worse than losing a mate by death.  He must have truly experienced Jesus'
command to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22).  Discuss what is necessary to forgive someone who shows no signs of changing.  Try using
"hating the sin but loving the sinner" as a possible guide.  Tell what attitude steps must be taken.

16.        Once a mate admits to him- or herself the unfaithfulness of the other, hurt and bitterness set in.  Bitterness arises when we are not at peace
(Hebrews 12:14, 15).  If we cannot make peace with the unfaithful partner, how can we still make peace with ourselves during such a time?

17.          Emotions are either very high or are buried during such a marriage.  Since refusing to acknowledge the emotional infection is dangerous, the
negative emotions must be let out.  Shouting and hitting is a kind of release.  Suggest some releases that do not hurt anyone.

GOOD WORK:  Write a note of encouragement, sympathy, and/or prayer to someone you know going through the possibility of a future separation or
divorce.  If you do not know anyone, give your note to a preacher to pass on to a counselee anonymously.


                            Part 3 ~ Salvaging an Impossible Marriage

18.          The decision to divorce is a terrible one;  separating from someone once loved with whom dreams were dreamed, children were created, and
with whom there were at least some happy times.  It is like pulling the switch on a life support system and letting the nearly-dead complete the death.  
God did not like divorce but allowed it as a way out.  Consider 1 Corinthians 10:13 in light of the innocent party taking a way out to avoid temptation to
sin.  At what point should a person pursue a divorce in order to save one's own soul?

19.          After the divorce, how can a person secretly do things for the ex-partner out of concern but not as a gesture of reconciliation (Hosea 2:8)?

20.          Gomer seemed to have a warped view of happiness.  Read 2 Peter 2:13-22 and discuss how people can be so easily fooled.

21.          Gomer seemed to be more and more self-destructive.  She literally fled from the peace of true love.  Why (Proverbs 10:23; 14:12)?  Do you
think fear of not getting what is desired (fear of rejection) drives one away?  Could 1 John 4:18 be a cure?  A self-destructive person is a fool.  A fool is
someone who, if not in word, still has done what in deed (Psalm 14:1)?

22.          Years later, Hosea decided Gomer had gone far enough and perhaps now she was ready for the first step back up.  He took his first step by
remarrying her (2:19) and buying her back - redeeming her (3:2).  He must have done this by practicing the principle of 1 John 4:19.  If he had spent the
rest of his life licking his wounds, could he have done this?  Compare this kind of love with God's love after we reject him by sinning.

23.          Hosea 11:8, 9; 13:9 explains why Hosea took Gomer back.  Should a person remarry a former mate based solely on promises?  Does Hosea's
method of giving her time to take her first step back up (repentance) seem like a good one?  Read 3:3.  How can we tell a person has truly repented?  
Everyone who has a bad habit has a normal time limit of abstinence before giving in again - a day, a month, three months.  Could observing a person
well past their normal time limit of abstinence from a bad habit help us see if repentance and change had taken place?

24.          Is taking a person away from a bad atmosphere helpful or necessary to rejecting the bad ways (1 Corinthians 15:33)?  Is this all that is
necessary for a change?  Consider Matthew 12:43-45 as what not to do, and John 13:15 as what to do.

25.          Repentance comes when people realize Ecclesiastes 12:13, 1 John 5:3, and Matthew 11:28, 29.  Luke 15:4-10 explodes with excitement over
what happens when someone repents.  Sometimes it takes people years to realize this as Solomon indicated in his Ecclesiastes.  Should a person who
hopes an unfaithful spouse will repent some day - perhaps late in life as Gomer did (Hosea 1:1) - wait for that person or remarry?  Consider 1
Corinthians 7:1, 2.  Can the ordinary person wait a life time?  Was Hosea an ordinary person?

GOOD WORK:  Write a note to someone who has gone through a divorce, possibly years ago.  Tell her you admire her courage and determination to
hold her head high and continue to be a worthwhile Christian person.