Hosea was an Old Testament prophet whose entire life was devoted to simply becoming a metaphor for future generations. His life was a difficult and confusing series of ups and downs in which his only constant was a seemingly unwavering allegiance to Yahweh, the God of his fathers.
Hosea was instructed by that very God to marry a specific woman with some clearly defined (by God, no less) sexual issues. As an upstanding man-of-God, this must have seemed an obtuse request. Imagine you’re a nice, bachelor who’s spent his entire adolescent life waiting for that special woman - and you finally get the chance to marry. Of all the girls you could choose from, you end up with none-other than a hot-ticket, prostitute. Your mother, faints, your father shakes his head, your sister laughs. Your brother is torn between being ashamed and being slightly envious. The neighbors chalk it up to inexperience and indiscretion and wait for the tragedy to unfold. You, on the other hand are following God’s request, assuming that reward for doing so is in your future.
As the years go on however, you find yourself still waiting for that reward. You did as instructed and are rewarded with a wandering wife; a “tart” as it were, sneaking off with every willing guy that looks into her eye. The neighbors have affirmed what a poor sap you are because you had not only the ability but the privilege, the right and the responsibility to dump her when she first betrayed you; yet you go find her, lovingly forgive her and bring her home. You’re angry, defeated, cheated and confused but you do it anyway. Then it happens again, and again, and yet again. Each time, you lovingly go find her, forgive her and bring her home. “Hosea, you’re a fool”.
Bear in mind, Hosea had no idea that this was his destiny. I’m certain that he had no way of knowing how his life would become a metaphor, a living example of what unconditional love looks like. I’m sure he went to his death wondering what it was all for. Was I wrong? Did God really tell me to do this? Were the neighbors right? What of her joy in the time of courtship where she must have felt redeemed? She, at his request of marriage must have felt the joy of a young girl who dreams of the perfect man, one who will treat her with love, respect and afford her the protection she needs. Did that joy of redemption simply fade with the daily grind of a predictable and uneventful life? Was Hosea’s inexperience simply one more dull event that allowed her mind to wander?
I wonder how many silently saw him and his devotion to this woman - with envy and hope in their eyes. How many men had been with her and saw how his respect for her in spite of her appetite, made her into a person rather than an object? How many others, guilty of the same crime saw that redemption and hope was actually possible? Hosea’s burden became someone else’s release, his enslavement – someone’s freedom; his sorrow, their joy.
Sometimes, I feel like Hosea. I did what God moved me to do. Of all the children on earth, we took the least-likely one and the strain of it on our marriage, the pressure of it on our health, the constant give-with-little-or-no-get… unconditional love? The tedium of hour-to-hour living, the lack of an exciting life, the inability to become what “I” want “me” to become, causes my eye to wander and I forget whether I’m the prostitute or the prophet: “David, you’re a fool”.