From Praying the Names of God Week Eighteen, Day Two

The Name
Ish is the Hebrew word for "husband" in Hosea 2:16  The word baal in the Hebrew Scriptures can also be translated "husband" (as well as "lord," "owner," or "master"), though it usually refers to the Canaanite fertility god Baal (baal does occur in Hosea 2:16, "master").

Remarkably, in Isaiah and Jeremiah, this is also used to describe God as the husband of his people Israel. Though we never pray to baal, we do pray to the God who is the ideal husband, the one who provides for and protects his people and who refuses to divorce us no matter how unfaithful we may be. In the New Testament Jesus is presented as the bridegroom and the church as his bride.

Key Scripture
"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)



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 2:19-20)

Reflect OnHosea 1; Hosea 2:16-20

Praise God: Because he is not power or knowledge or wealth but he is love.

Offer Thanks: That God has pursued an intimate relationship with you.

Confess: Any tendency to settle for less in your relationship with God than he intends.

Ask God: To reveal himself to you as the one who loves you no matter what.

My maternal grandparents, Earl and Opal Dunbar, were the original odd couple, at least in certain superficial respects. She was a short woman, whose head didn't reach his shoulders, even on tiptoe. She had only an eighth-grade education, while he graduated from a private men's college. He was a chemist and an entrepreneur, and she was a housewife who cared for their two daughters. Despite their superficial differences they were devoted to each other.

When it comes to love and marriage, the strangest match in all of history is the one between God and his people. At first glance it looks like a complete mismatch! A holy God linked to weak and sinful human beings. Greatness linked to smallness. Wisdom linked to folly. Yet God says: "I will betroth you to me forever." This is his intent, his idea, his plan. Whether you are a man or a woman, married or single, makes no difference. Because you are a member of his people, God wants you to know him as your protector, as friend and provider, as the lover of your soul—as your husband.

Let's not settle, then, for a relationship that keeps God at arm's length, one that expects little from him and experiences less. Instead, we can allow him to close the gap between our smallness and his greatness, our sin and his holiness, our weakness and his power. We can lower our guard, being honest about our longings and our need for him. We can acknowledge that we want him more than anything or anyone. And we can plead with him to open our souls to his faithful, intimate love.

Take some time today to think about how an ideal husband provides for his wife. Now think about how the ideal wife responds. Ask God to give you the grace to respond in the same way—with faithfulness, trust, and gratitude, as well as the ever-increasing joy that belongs to all those who love God.

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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.