Gomer was a trophy wife. Did you know that? Yes, I am aware that she was promiscuous both before and after marriage, but her life is a trophy of God’s mercy.
Gomer was a real, historical woman whose life became a word picture for the backslidden nation of Israel and for believers of all time.
Hosea 1:2-3 The LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take unto you a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry: for the land has committed great harlotry, departing from the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim.
Although I am not a man, I can imagine that every man wants a woman who will be faithful to him, love him, care for him, bear his children, keep his house, and complete him in every way imaginable. No doubt Hosea was the same as other men in this regard, but God had a special plan for him. God told him to marry a harlot. Now, it would be heartbreaking to marry a woman you thought would be faithful and then find out later she had broken the marriage vows. But to marry a woman knowing she will not keep them? Wow! He obeyed God without question. Kudos to Hosea for his incredible faith in Jehovah.
What’s in a Name?
In the case of Gomer, her husband, and her children, there was a sermon in their names.
The name Gomer means “completion.” Did she complete Hosea in the traditional sense? No. She was completely debauched in her character, to be sure. In the context of the writings of Hosea, I believe her name signifies the complete forsaking of God by His people. They had rebelled against Him for a long time, living in spiritual adultery, and now the time of their judgment was at hand.
Hosea’s name means “Savior.” In a very real sense, he was a picture of Christ. He was unquestioningly obedient to the Father, he married a woman unworthy of him, and he loved her and cared for her in spite of her unfaithfulness. Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom, and the church is the bride. We are unworthy of Him, but He chose us. We have been unfaithful to Him, but He continues to love and care for us.
The marriage of the prophet Hosea to the harlot Gomer was a living testimony of God’s mercy. Not only that, but all of her children, by virtue of their very names, were a testimony of God’s nature and a warning of judgment to come, if the people did not repent of their sin.
So what are their names, and what do they mean?
- Jezreel (son) — “God will sow (scatter)”
- Lo-Ruhamah (daughter) — “not having obtained mercy; not pitied”
- Lo-Ammi (son) — “not my people”
This was the reality of the horrible moral and spiritual decline of the nation of Israel, but it didn’t have to be this way. God was angry with their wickedness, and justifiably so. But at the same God is gracious, full of pity, and waiting with His hand outstretched to receive the repentant sinner.
Hosea 2:23 And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, “Thou art My people,” and they shall say, “Thou art my God.”
Here in this verse are references to the names of all three of Gomer’s children, as well as the assurance that the prophecies contained in their names will one day be reversed. She who had been scattered will be gathered up again; he for whom there had been no mercy will receive mercy; and they who were not God’s people will be called God’s people.
Gomer was confused about a few very important things. For one thing, she despised her husband and believed that her lovers were the ones who were meeting her needs (2:5). She had no idea that they were merely using her, and that her husband had been caring for her all along.
Hosea had to show her that, so he made it hard for her to find her lovers. And when they could not be found, she finally came to herself and said, “I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now” (2:7). But when she returned to her husband, then he took away all the gifts he had given her so that she could see just how destitute she was without him. Did her lovers come to her rescue? No way! They had run in the other direction. They had no more interest in her. He brought her to the end of herself, but he didn’t leave her there. Look at the next two verses.
Hosea 2:14-15 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
I love this. Hosea allured his wife back to himself, taking her on a second honeymoon, so to speak, getting her into the wilderness, away from the city and the influence of evil men. And once he had her there, he spoke kindly to her, from a heart of love. And there, in the wilderness, where it was just the two of them, he gave her back the abundance he had given her before.
The passage says, “her vineyards from [the wilderness], and the valley of Achor for a door of hope.”
…her vineyards from [the wilderness]… Hosea made Gomer to be fruitful in a barren land. And hold onto your seatbelts, folks, because that’s not all.
...and the valley of Achor for a door of hope… The name Achor means “trouble.” In the midst trouble, he gave her hope. Better than that, he opened the door of hope to her in the midst of trouble. Only God can do that!
A New Name
Hosea 2:16-17 “And it shall be at that day,” says the LORD, “that you shall call Me Ishi, and shall call Me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.”
Ishi and Baali are both names for God, but Baalim is the name for the false gods worshiped by the heathen. In the Old Testament times, it was common for the wives to refer to their husbands as Baali, or Lord. You may recall that Sarah called Abraham lord out of respect to him. But Hosea (and by extension, God) wants Gomer to no more call him Baali, but Ishi, meaning “husband,” or “my man.” It’s a term of endearment, showing not only the relationship between the husband and wife, but also the love between them.
God wants to be called Ishi for two reasons.
- He wants a love relationship with us, not just a conjugal one.
- He wants us to forget the other lovers, the false gods, and so He even puts away the name that is similar to theirs, to help us forget them.
A Renewal of the Vows
Hosea 2:20 I will even betroth you unto Me in faithfulness: and you shall know the LORD.
They were married once, but she had not changed. She had remained unfaithful, and had continued in her sin of fornication. Now he longs to start over and give her a second chance. He wants to renew the vows, get married again, but this time in faithfulness. What a picture of mercy! If you will recall, Gomer’s name means “completion.” She did not complete Hosea; Hosea completed her. If you’ll pardon the expression, he made an honest woman out of her. In the same way, God completes us by reconciling us to Himself in love, mercy, and forgiveness.
We have no record that Gomer ever asked for mercy. Hosea gave it freely.
God freely gives mercy to all of us as well. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We don’t seek Him; He seeks us. We don’t choose Him; He chooses us. If we love Him, it is only because He first loved us.
Gomer was a trophy wife—a trophy of mercy. Have you received God’s mercy?
Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.
Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn to your God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on your God continually.
Next week: Two mothers, one baby
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