Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

Gomer: An Unfaithful Woman with a Powerful Message

Gomer: An Unfaithful Woman with a Powerful Message

Women are an essential part of God’s story, and He certainly doesn’t discriminate when choosing the type of woman to use to further His message. They come from all walks of life. Some are from royal families while others are the daughters of shepherds. We know some are prostitutes and others are unfaithful wives.

In the Old Testament Scripture, God chooses a woman named Gomer to share a message and send a warning to His people. But who was Gomer? What was her purpose and what does her story teach us about the Gospel?

Who Was Gomer?

We first meet Gomer in the Old Testament book of Hosea. In chapter 1, God tells the prophet Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, and Hosea marries a woman named Gomer. There is not much known about this woman. Scripture tells us she is the daughter of Diblaim, but that is all. In the context of Scripture, we can conclude that she lived in the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and she was an unfaithful woman.

Scholars have differing opinions on who Gomer really was. Some believe she was a temple prostitute, which was common in Baal worship. Others think she was a woman whose life was driven by her sexual desires. Scripture doesn’t tell for certain if she was a temple prostitute or woman of licentious living.

We know Gomer for what she does once Hosea marries her. Scripture says she married him and bore Hosea three children. During the marriage, Gomer is unfaithful to Hosea. She continues to have affairs with other men, and some scholars even believe that two of her children are not Hosea’s.

Why Did God Have Hosea Marry Gomer?

This question has often crossed my mind. Adultery is a sin God included in the Ten Commandments as something we should not do. Since this is the case, why would He want a man who lived for the Lord to marry a woman who commits this forbidden act?

There are three answers to this question of why God would want this marriage to happen. The first is to use this marriage as a picture of where Israel stands in the eyes of God.

During the time the prophet Hosea is teaching and writing, Israel is in a spiritual and moral decline. The people are worshipping Baal and other gods. They are practicing traditional Jewish customs with an idolatrous flair. There are plots and acts of murder within the kingdom. Israel is looking a lot like the people Joshua drove out of the Promised Land. God is angry and ready to send judgement upon His people.

Secondly, God had used the imagery of a husband and wife relationship many times in the teaching of major prophets. Isaiah 54:5 says that our Maker is our husband. In Ezekiel 16, we can read about the unfaithful Jerusalem and in Jeremiah 31:32 God says He was husband to the people of Jerusalem, and they broke that covenant. The reoccurrence of this picture of marriage was important enough for God to use it over and over.

Thirdly, the marriage of Hosea and Gomer was to be a living picture of the restoration of Israel, and how people today can experience restoration if they turn away from idols and back to God. We know that the church is the bride of Christ and we are a sinful bride. What better way to teach us a lesson than to use a sin that unfortunately has become so common today?

Photo credit: Unsplash/Eric Ward

The Significance of Gomer’s Children

We cannot know who Gomer was without discussing her children. Scripture tells us she had three children. Those children are Jezreel, Lo Ruhamah, and Lo Ammi. Each of these names hold a significant meaning that continues to show the awesomeness of God.

Jezreel is a name that means “God sows or God scatters.” This is a reference to the judgement God will bring upon His people. The name also refers to the famous Valley of Jezreel. In this valley blood was shed as Jehu slaughtered the royal family in 2 Kings 10-11. Just the mention of the name Jezreel should remind the Israelites of how they rose to power and how quickly they can fall from grace.

Gomer’s second child was a girl named Lo Ruhamah, which means “not loved or pitied.” The name is a symbol that God will no longer love His people. He will no longer forgive them and in 722 B.C the destruction of Israel happens with the invasion of the Assyrians.

Hosea and Gomer’s third child has the most interesting name. Lo Ammi means “not my people.” This name refers to the covenant God made with His people. God repeatedly says, “I will be your God; you will be my people.” The name given to Gomer’s third child is an indication that the covenant between God and Israel will be shattered.

The Israelites would have known what these names meant. They would have known that Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea. The question remains; would they take heed and change their ways?

Why Did Gomer Continue Leaving Her Husband?

Obviously, we don’t know the details of Hosea and Gomer’s marriage. We can infer that since Hosea was a prophet of God, he treated Gomer as a husband should, according to the customs of the day. So why would she keep leaving?

God was using this marriage to prove a point. He wanted the Israelites to remember what God had done for them and turn from their sinful ways. Gomer would be with her husband and life was good. This is a picture of when Israel was with God. He blessed them abundantly. He led them to the land of milk and honey.

When Gomer would leave, God used this action to show His people the state they were in. They had forgotten their first love. They had turned away from Him.

The coming and going of Gomer was a symbol of how the Israelites were living for their Lord. They would come to Him and then turn away. This was a vicious cycle God was showing through Gomer’s marriage.

Significant Verses About Gomer

“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, Go take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2).

“Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink” (Hosea 2:5).

“She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now” (Hosea 2:7).

“I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot” (Hosea 2:13).

“The Lord said to me, Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes. So, I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, you are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you” (Hosea 3:1-3).

What Does This Story Teach Us About the Gospel?

The story of Gomer is one with a powerful message to the Israelites of her day and to Christians today.

She personified the actions of the Israelites. They would continue this cycle of repentance, redemption, and restoration. God was their husband, and they were committing adultery with the worship of idols. Idolatry is a spiritual form of prostitution. In our relationship with Christ, we must be faithful. We must keep Him at the center of everything we do.

God desperately wanted a relationship with His people. He wanted to bless the Israelites and give them a life full of joy. They were so stricken with sin that their vision became blurry. Sin took them to a place where God said repent or face my wrath. Sin can take us to that same place today, but we have the promise that restoration is possible.

The beautiful part of Gomer’s story is that she affirms that no one is beyond forgiveness and restoration. Hosea buys his wife back and tells her she can live with him. He chooses to love her regardless of what she has done.

God sent His son to save each of us. No matter how bad we think we have acted or what sins we have committed, we can still receive the gift of salvation.

We Can Never Go Too Far

Gomer was a woman who lived risqué. She was unfaithful to her husband on more than one occasion. Her children bore names that should have brought worry to the people of Israel. Although she committed acts of adultery, God chose to show how He can restore His people.

God desires an intimate relationship with us. He loves us, just as He loved Gomer. He showed mercy to her, and He continues to show mercy to us today. When we think we have strayed too far, we should think about Gomer and know that we can never go too far for God to bring us back.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Jon Asato

Ashley Hooker headshotAshley Hooker is a freelance writer passionate about missions. She has collaborated with mission teams in North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, West Virginia, and Vermont. Presently, she lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children, where she fulfills roles as a pastor's wife, a dance mom, and a farm girl.

This article is part of our People from the Bible Series featuring the most well-known historical names and figures from Scripture. We have compiled these articles to help you study those whom God chose to set before us as examples in His Word. May their lives and walks with God strengthen your faith and encourage your soul.

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