They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. Hosea 7:2-4 (NIV)
Delight is somewhat of an old-fashioned word, yet I continue to find myself drawn to it whether in reading or writing. In the depths of a personal wilderness season, I read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This fictional story is loosely based on the book of Hosea. In Redeeming Love the main female character receives the name Tirzah meaning She is my delight.
After finishing the fictional account I opened my Bible and read Hosea astounded to see that God would ask one of his Prophets to marry Gomer “to illustrate the spiritual adultery of Israel and God’s boundless love for His sinful people. Hosea brings God’s message to the wicked Northern Kingdom.” (BibleHub.com)
Fiction has a unique way of painting imagery that Scripture can sometimes leave to the imagination. Because I read Hosea after Redeeming Love I found myself particularly sensitive to the humiliation Hosea intentionally submitted himself to out of obedience to God.
A Symbolic Marriage
Hosea and Gomer were married and had three children together. They established a life. It’s impossible for me to consider that there wasn’t affection, love, delight, hope that grew in this relationship. Yet in Hosea Chapter 2 Gomer leaves Hosea just as the Israelites abandon God.
Growing up in the Church I’ve heard more than once that the Christian “goal” is to enter heaven and hear “well done good and faithful servant.” In my wilderness season, I’d lost any drive to please God. “Good works” were running me into the ground and all the “good” wasn’t drawing me closer to understanding who God is because in truth, I didn’t have a correct understanding of the concept of delighting God yet. I was leaning into legalism rather than living in the freedom Jesus died for.
Just like the Israelites in Hosea 7, deeds can be good or bad and delight man rather than God if we don’t have a correct understanding of our relationships. If our goal is only to hear words life becomes about transactions and expectations. We weigh our choices and eventually, we fail at making “good” choices because we’re human. We are sinners.
At the time of the exodus, the law was considered a gift . . . But it was only ever a means to an end: relationship with Yahweh. In Christ a new pathway to that relationship opened for us, based on his own faithful obedience to the law. To continue to live under the law ourselves, ignoring Jesus’ faithfulness, would be a form of slavery not unlike slavery in Egypt . . . He destroyed the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, making a way for anyone to become part of his family, without circumcision. Laws regarding sacrifice and laws regarding ethnic separation were no longer appropriate. They had become a form of slavery to how things were. The law was never meant to offer salvation. It was merely the means of maintaining what had been given. Redemption was always made possible by God’s gracious gift. To reject that gracious gift in Jesus would be a return to Egypt.Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters by Carmen Joy Imes
To this day destain arises when I hear “well done” teachings. Even with an understanding of freedom vs. legalism my heart longs to hear “I delight in you.” More specifically than that, I hunger to hear I delighted in you when…
Now that I understand my calling and I’m partnering with God to glorify him in the unique way he created me using my strengths and gifts to thrive in my sweet spot I’m not exhausted by the choices I make. Rather, when I volunteer or invest in a ministry I’m energized. I’m learning that what delights me also delights God.
There’s a Reason God Used Marriage
The marriage imagery has so many layers when it comes to our relationship with God. As I began to truly wrestle through my wilderness season and the why behind my predicament I realized the way I viewed my husband was also impacting my view of understanding my relationship with God. I longed to heal wounds in both relationships.
Therefore, I am going to persuade her lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt. In that day?— this is the Lord’s declaration?— you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My Baal.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names. On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground. I will shatter bow, sword, and weapons of war in the land and will enable the people to rest securely. I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord.Hosea 2:14-20 (CSB)
Since November 2015 the word delight has captivated me. I’ve found that unlike others in Scripture this is one that remains fairly uncorrupted by the English language, yet there is much we can learn about the importance of this word outside of a transactional based relationship.
Delight in Freedom
The depths of this mercy and grace was something I understood for the first time while reading the book of Hosea. How could a husband continue to pursue his wife who didn’t just leave him once but twice? The second time Hosea bought his Gomer which was symbolic of Jesus paying the price for our sins. Hosea didn’t buy his wife and then require her to pay him back the expenses. He restored her fully as his wife. Can you imagine the strength Hosea must have had to muster to carry through with obeying God?
God remembers when we obey and disobey him. It’s our choice to delight our heavenly king or create kings and idols here on earth. Consider the differences in the books of Hosea and Jonah.
We are living in the AD years according to the calendar. The years after the death of Jesus. He was the perfect lamb who bore our sins and shed his blood to protect us from eternal separation from our creator.
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.Galatians 3:7-14
Readers Note: As I explored this word in 2017 I participated in Write 31 Days. I’m slowly updating these posts starting in October 2020 to extend what I’ve learned about delight, what God is delighted by, and how delight connects us to our Savior.