Blog / Thereto I Pledge Thee My Troth

While I like to reflect on the beauty of a January snowfall in the homeland (Canada), not so in Texas where snow flurries usually mean nothing more than icy roads and poor sledding. I am glad to let this January slide into oblivion and ease into February, with its glimpses of spring and its reputation as the month of love.

And what better way to approach the month of love than with the book of love, Hosea. Hosea, the book of love you say!? That cannot be true. Everyone has heard that story of infidelity and prostitution and adultery. But that is exactly what my NIV commentary says: Hosea was written “to illustrate God’s love for his sinful people.”* 

You see, “the land (meaning the nation Israel) is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). And so God chides Israel through Hosea. Hosea becomes God’s example of true love, Gomer the poster child for infidelity.

As the story goes, Hosea did as God told him to and married Gomer. But why in the world did God order His prophet to marry a woman who would be unfaithful? And then why did He say, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress” (Hosea 3:1)? I thought fidelity in love and marriage was the key.

At least, that was the relationship God intended when He created woman for man way back in the beginning: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).


Deeper than that, the intimacy of marriage is the closest word picture of the intimacy God desires with His chosen. It is evident in Isaiah 62:5: as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you; corroborated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5; and made perfect in Revelation 19:7: “For the wedding of the Lamb (Jesus) has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

Well, Gomer conceived and bore Hosea a son, a daughter, and another son (1:3). Then things went awry. Gomer became restless, in spite of the love of Hosea: “I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink” (2:5). She had totally forgotten who had rescued her, protected her, loved her, and supplied all her needs.

As Hosea’s friends watch him suffer through adultery, the intense word picture becomes personal to them. God had rescued His chosen “bride” (Israel/them) from Egypt, provided all they needed in the wilderness, and ushered them into the Promised Land with great victory. And instead of acknowledging His provision of grain, new wine, oil, silver and gold, they worshipped foreign gods (Hosea 2:8).

The depth of the love story in Hosea certainly caught me by surprise—prophecy has a way of sneaking up on you like that! In the past I’ve been quick to point fingers at Gomer. But I too am guilty of looking for love in all the wrong places. I too have prostituted my love to my desires and the ways of the world.


It dawned on me just how incomprehensible God’s love is. Israel/we were dead in our transgressions…but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5). Despite all the ways Israel prostituted themselves to foreign gods, despite my outright guilt, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

In Hosea 2:14-15 God hinted at His tenderness, at the renewal of Israel’s blessings and their hope, at the restoration of His intended relationship with them. “In that day” (2:16) He will be like the dew to Israel, refreshing its roots and its blossoms, its splendor and its fragrance. His covenant love will kick into gear; He can’t go back on His promises.

In Hosea 11:8-9 we see His heart: “How can I give you up/hand you over?...all my compassion is aroused…For I am God and not a man—the Holy One among you”. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:16), and He is anxious to share that love relationship with you.

If marriage is the closest word picture to the intimacy God desires with us, it is interesting to consider Denison Forum’s 9.4.23 article: “Many Christians are ‘dating’ Jesus when they should be married to him. …When we date someone, we see them as they fit into our schedules. …When we marry them, they (should) become the focus of our lives.”

Betrothal is a pledge to marry—all Israel understood this. Hosea paints this fascinating picture of future betrothal: “In that day” the bride of Christ will have made herself ready to call the LORD her husband forever. Righteousness and justice, love and compassion will all come together in not only a more complete understanding of just who God is, but in a heart to know Him.

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ …I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD” (Hosea 2:16,19-20).

When you said your wedding vows did you end, as we did, with the phrase “Thereto I pledge thee my troth”? Troth is that final step of fidelity forever. The covenant promise in betrothal is a fait accompli.

At the moment of Jesus’ death, when the “veil of the temple” (Matthew 27:51, KJV) was torn, entry into the presence of God became a possibility. As Paul writes, whenever anyone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16).

Think about it—turn to Jesus and the veil is taken away. As the lifting of the bridal veil in the wedding ceremony is the beginning of a new relationship, so too are we able to contemplate the Lord’s glory, unhindered. Our love life with God is transformed. Others see His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). And we become God’s example of true love, as Hosea was.     

*NIV Life Application Bible

All Scripture quotations are from the NIV 1973, 1978, 1984, unless otherwise noted.

Nancy Paul

Nancy Paul is Canadian born and bred but happily settled in Texas. She is married, mother of two, and grandmother of three busy boys. A long time Womenary student, she loves to read, is a lover of God's word and a wannabe writer. Nancy is a regular contributor to, a collection of blog articles regularly published by the women of Green Acres Baptist Church of Tyler. As well, she is the women's Bible study coordinator at GABC.
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