James Smith, 1860
"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope." Hosea 2:14-15
The Lord having allured his people, brought them away from all others, to feel alone with himself; having turned the shadow of death into morning, and given the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and put a new song into their mouths; God then takes them into the closest possible union with himself, and indulges them with the sweetest views of his love. Hence we read, "It shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi, and shall call me no more Baali." Hosea 2:16.
There is a difference in the terms, though there is some similarity. Sarah called Abraham, "Baali, my Lord," though he was her husband, manifesting profound reverence as well as tender affection. "Baali," signifies, "my Lord," and conveys the idea of owner, and patron — implying inferiority, rule, subjection, and fear.
"Ishi," signifies "my man," signifying my husband, my strength, my protector — and implying, love, familiarity, and boldness. The contrast, therefore, is between lordly and loving.
"Baali," had become ambiguous, being applied to idols as well as Jehovah; and it befit the servant, better than the bride; therefore it must be dispensed with. But there are still some dry professors, some backsliders, and some who live at a distance from God, who prefer "Baali," to "Ishi;" they prefer . . .
distance to nearness,
reserve to familiarity, and
doubt to assurance.
But the Lord would have us know and enjoy his love to us; and see us come boldly to his throne, and feel confidence in his presence.
The relationship indicated, is the marriage relationship. It is the Lord saying, "I am married unto you!" "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord almighty is his name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called." It indicates, that we are God's portion — and that he is ours! That he has chosen us for his own — set his heart and his love upon us — and has brought us into nearness and union with himself — giving us a sweet assurance of his love, so that we can say, "My beloved is mine — and I am his!"
Not only so — but he brings us into a state of positive dependence upon him; so that as the wife, who brings no portion with her, is dependent upon her husband for all — so we must look to the Lord for all, and trust in him alone.
But we must not omit to observe, that the relation into which the Lord brings us is permanent and perpetual. He takes us as we are, and knowing all about us, to be his own, and his own forever; and we take him to be ours, and ours forever. He says, "I will be for you, and you shall be for me," and the union is formed for eternity, the relationship is entered into forever.
The privileges flowing out of this relationship, are many, and very great. "You shall call me Ishi, my husband." This intends that we shall acknowledge and treat him as such. We are to look to him . . .
for counsel, in all our difficulties and perplexities;
for comfort in all seasons of sadness and sorrow;
for sympathy in all our sufferings and trials; and
for our maintenance, both as creatures and Christians.
We are to expect from him . . .
all that the wisest head can devise,
all that the kindest heart bestow,
all that the most experienced hand can perform,
all that the most eloquent tongue can express
all that the wealth of God can procure!
"You shall call me Ishi," that is —
you shall serve me from love, rather than fear;
you shall make me the object of confidence, rather than of dread;
you shall receive the spirit of adoption, rather than the spirit of bondage.
O what a privilege to be thus related to God, to be one with God! To be delivered from all terror, alarm, and dismay — and enjoy peace, confidence, and courage, in our approaches to him, and dealings with him. Blessed be God, for alluring us, and drawing us out of the world! Blessed be God, for our afflictions and trials! Blessed be God, for all the gifts of his grace. Blessed be God, for taking us into union with himself, in the person of his beloved Son!
Observe, God would have us look to him with love and delight — not with fear and dread. Think of this, lost sinner. Think of this, poor legalist. God does not want our works, or our sufferings — but our persons, and our love. He wishes us to think kindly of him, and to set our love upon him. We should view God in Christ, as . . .
And as our portion — we should live upon him,
as our strength — we should lean upon him, and
as our husband — we should abide in his presence, and enjoy constant fellowship and communion with him.
He will cleanse his people from all their idols, and take the name of Baali out of their mouth. Yes, every idol must fall, and Jesus must become the object of our supreme love, confidence, and adoration.
Let us, then, admire the love, tenderness, and condescension of our God — let us submit to all his discipline and dispensations, with meekness and humility — and let us seek grace, that realizing our union with him, we may walk before him as befits the objects of his highest love and sovereign grace. Let us be willing . . .
to be weaned from all others,
to endure the afflictions appointed for our good, and
to be shut up to God in Christ, for all our comfort, peace, and joy.
Gracious God, let us often experience your alluring influence — let us often find ourselves alone with you — let us in every trouble look unto the door of hope — let us often sing of your delivering mercy and grace — and let us realize that we are one with you, and that you are one with us, so that in all our approaches to you, and dealings with you — we may exercise love, confidence, and joy!