Category Archives: Bible Stories

The Strongest Judge… Good News!

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The following story was taken from Judges 13…

A long, long time ago in Israel, before they had kings to rule over them, God was Israel’s King. For more than 300 years, after escaping from slavery in Egypt, under Moses’ leadership, and after wandering in the desert for 40 years, God appointed judges to rule and lead the children of Israel. Now, during the time of these judges, the children of Israel were sometimes very faithful to the Lord, while other times, (often when one of the judges would die, and before another took over), the Israelites would do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, choosing to do what was right in their own eyes, rather than walking in obedience to God. During this time, the nation of Israel did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and so He handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for 40 years.

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Now, it was when the nation of Israel had chosen to go their own way, rather than walking in obedience to God, and were suffering under the oppression of the Philistines, that a woman received a very special visitor, who brought her good news. This woman was married to a man named Manoah, who was from the tribe of Dan, and though they had been married for many years, they had no children, for she was barren.

When she was younger, she suffered from deep depression, especially when her friends were having one baby after another, year after year, while she was unable to conceive even one. For many years, she had cried out to YHWH, the Creator of all life, pleading for Him to give her a child, but finally, she had accepted the fact that she would never know the joy of carrying a new life in her womb. Therefore, she made up her mind that she would make the best of the situation, and though she couldn’t give her husband a baby, she determined to be the best wife any man could want in every other way.

That’s not to say that she didn’t still have bad days, because sometimes, when she thought about what it would have been like to give Manoah the son they both longed for, it felt like her heart would be rent apart. On those days, it was hard to stop the tears from flowing, but she tried not to let her husband see her pain, because it broke his heart to see her so upset. He was a good man, who loved her deeply, and the only thing worse than her own pain was seeing pain in Manoah’s eyes.

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And so this precious woman resolved that she would love and serve the Lord with all her heart, and place all of her trust in Him. For though He had given her no children, He had blessed her in other ways. After all, she had a wonderful husband who loved her dearly, despite the fact that she could give him no heirs. She also had a lovely home to live in, plenty of food, clothes on her back and so much more. How could she not love the Lord her Provider?

Yet, as deep as this woman’s love for the Lord was, His love for her was even deeper. You see, long before He laid the foundations of the earth, Elohim had given her a very special place in history, and though no one remembers her name, they do remember her story…

One day, while she was drawing water from the well, a Stranger appeared before her, saying, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”

She was elated. So strong was her faith in God, that it never occurred to her to question or doubt the Stranger’s words. As soon as He finished speaking and left, she gathered the hem of her robe in hand and took off running, (Yes, running at her age!) to find Manoah as quickly as possible and share the good news with him. 

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“Manoah! Manoah!” she shouted. “A Man of God came to me; His face was fearsome, like that of the Angel of God. I didn’t ask Him where He came from, and He didn’t tell me His name. But He told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’”

Manoah was stunned as he gazed down into his wife’s glowing eyes. She was radiant with joy, reminding him of the girl she had once been, before the cares of life had doused her youthful luminescence. Manoah didn’t question his wife’s sanity, for he, too, was a man who loved the Lord, and like his wife, he had a deep and abiding faith in the Almighty One. Therefore, in response to her joyful announcement, he dropped to his knees, praying, “Lord, please let the Man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”

In answer to Manoah’s earnest prayer, the Angel of the Lord appeared once again to the woman of God, this time, while she was sitting in the field. Hurriedly, she ran to find her husband, telling him, “The Man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”

Quickly, Manoah ran back to the field with his wife to find the Angel of the Lord and question Him. “Are you the One who spoke to my wife the other day?” When the Angel of the Lord responded that He was indeed the one who had spoken to Manoah’s wife, he began to question Him about what rules should govern the child’s life. He repeated to Manoah what He had spoken to his wife a few days prior.

After listening to the Angel of the Lord’s instructions, Manoah invited Him to stay, while he and his wife prepared a goat for Him to eat. The Angel of the Lord agreed to stay, but informed them that He would not be eating the goat. Instead, He instructed them to offer the goat as a sacrifice to the Lord.

Manoah, still unaware that this was the Angel of the Lord, agreed to do so, asking Him for His name. “Why do you ask for My name?” He responded, “since it is Wonderful?”

Manoah then offered the goat and a grain offering as well, on a rock. Then, what happened next, caused both Manoah and his wife to fall to the ground on their faces in worship, as a flame of fire shot up from the altar toward heaven, and the angel of the Lord soared up to heaven in the flame. It was then, that Manoah realized that this was the Angel of the Lord. As he grabbed his wife’s hand, and the two stood, looking up to heaven, he whispered fearfully, “Now, we shall surely die, for we have seen God!”

Tenderly, this woman of great faith looked up into her husband’s eyes, taking his face into her hands, as she responded softly, “No Manoah. If the Lord was going to kill us, He wouldn’t have accepted our offering. And surely, He wouldn’t have appeared to us to give us such wonderful news and shown us such miraculous things!” Tears slid down both of their faces as they held one another in the field that day, and worshiped their Creator…

And so it was that before the year was over, the faithful woman truly did give birth to a son, as the Lord had promised, and she named him Samson, which means, “sun,” perhaps in homage to the brilliance of the Lord that flashed before her and her husband, the day they saw the Lord ascend into heaven in a flame…

© 2014
Cheryl Showers

A Love That Won’t Let Me Go – Part 4

“I had it all,” Gomer thought to herself as she drank some water and stared through the fire into her memories. She didn’t know when Phineas would return, but she prayed it wouldn’t be today. “Look at me,” she thought. “I married the most loving wonderful man there ever was, and I wasn’t satisfied with that. No, I left that life behind and traded it for this prison – what a fool I was!”

Staring into the fire, she thought back to that morning shortly after Jezreel’s birth. “There’s laundry, laundry and more laundry. Dirty diapers, breakfast to fix, then lunch and then dinner! Oh yes, and let’s not forget, I must clean the house too! And I never get a full night’s rest. No – I must get up every few hours to nurse the baby – and that may satisfy him and shut him up for awhile, or it may not. He might just decide to scream the night away. There’s got to be more out of life than this!” she shouted angrily at Hosea.

“I know you’re tired Gomer,” Hosea spoke gently to her, massaging her tense shoulders, but she angrily shrugged his hands off. “Why don’t you go lay down and rest while I take Jezreel for a walk?”

“A little ‘rest’ won’t make things right! I didn’t bank on all of this when we got married. Hosea, I’m still young – I want to have some fun, but at this rate, I’ll die of old age early. How about if I go take a walk while you stay behind, cooking and cleaning and taking care of him?” Gomer stormed, reaching for her cloak and stomping out, slamming the door behind her.

“I want to have some fun. I’m so sick of living with a prophet, always having to say the right things and do the right thing. Heaven forbid if I’m not pious enough and I laugh at an off-color joke or something. No, I must stay sober and always put everyone else first – well what about me?” Gomer continued fuming to herself as she marched through the town, kicking at the stones along the pathway and cursing loudly.

“Who cares if anyone sees me? I’ve heard how the other women talk about me – as though I’m not good enough to associate with! They’re probably just jealous anyway. I’ve seen how their husbands look at me – I could have anyone of them with just the snap of my fingers,” she said snapping her fingers, as she rounded the bend, coming to an abrupt halt as she ran headlong into Nabal, who caught her in his arms, thus preventing her from falling flat of her face.

Laughing loudly, he steadied her, looking down at her lustfully. “Be careful Gomer, there’s no telling what could happen to you if you keep storming about not watching where you’re going.”

Smiling flirtatiously, Gomer looked up at Nabal and noticed, not for the first time, how handsome he was. It boggled her mind to think of how such a handsome man would settle for that cow he was married to. Coquettishly, Gomer caressed his muscular arm, replying, “Well, isn’t it lucky that I ran into such a big strong man like you, Nabal?”

Nabal turned a deep shade of red as he pulled her closer to him, “Does that prophet realize how lucky he is to have you?”

“Well, I don’t know – does that wife of yours realize how lucky she is?”

Hitting her fist to the dirt floor, Gomer cried out in shame. “What a fool I was! My Lord, in my selfishness I ruined so many lives. I was so angry and stupid – so blind! I had everything and I threw it all away for a little fun.”

She remembered how she enjoyed the attention and the gifts that first Nabal, then others lavished on her. Wincing, she remembered walking home later that day to a clean house and the sound of Hosea singing to Jezreel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29MdtDlpNrQ  (open link in new tab and continue reading)

He smiled as she walked inside, never once suspecting what she had done that day, welcoming her back, loving her with arms wide open. “See Jezreel?” he said softly. “I told you Mama would return soon. I love you, Gomer. I love you with a love that will never let you go,” he said gently kissing her. “I’ve been thinking since you left earlier, and you’re right. You do need more help around here and I will help you.”

Tears welled up in her eyes as remorse swept over her. “What have I done?” she thought to herself. The guilt was overwhelmingly heavy, and she found it impossible to look into Hosea’s eyes as she took Jezreel in her arms and sat down to nurse him. “I can’t believe this! I go out and cheat on him and come home to find him doing my job. What kind of fool is he anyway?” she thought with contempt…

Sighing, Gomer ate some jerky, then slowly, unsteadily, she stood, shaking from the effort, but already the food had strengthened her. She brushed the tears from her eyes with her gnarled fingers, while talking to herself. “I thought he was the fool, but I see now that I was the only fool. I went from one man to another, openly mocking Hosea and not caring, and still, he kept right on loving me.”

A few short months later, she discovered she was pregnant. Gomer was panicked – what if it wasn’t Hosea’s baby? What if he found out? But if he suspected anything, Hosea never said so during her pregnancy. He kept right on loving her, but when her daughter was born, he named her Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved, saying, “… for I (the Lord) will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I, the LORD their God, will show love to the people of Judah. I will personally free them from their enemies without any help from weapons or armies” (Hosea 1:6b-7 NLT).

As he spoke, Gomer’s heart pounded wildly, worriedly wondering, “Did he suspect that Lo-Ruhamah might not be his daughter? Did he know that she had been cheating on him?” He didn’t act as though he suspected anything. He still kept loving her, helping her around the house and with both children, while Gomer would disappear some days leaving the children to Hosea.

Then, after Lo-Ruhamah was weaned, Gomer found herself pregnant yet again. And when her third child, a son, was born, there was no longer any question as to whether Hosea knew what was going on. The child was of another race, and Hosea, with tears in his eyes, said, “The LORD said, “Name him Lo-Ammi — ‘Not my people’ — for Israel is not My people, and I am not their God” (Hosea 1:9 NLT). 

“I’m sorry Hosea,” Gomer wept, seeing the tears and the pain in Hosea’s eyes. “Please forgive me.”

“I do forgive you Gomer,” he said as the tears flowed freely down his cheeks. “I told you before – I love you with a love that will never let you go.”

Collapsing in a heap on the floor, Gomer wept and cried out, “And I took that love and destroyed it!”

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

A Love That Won’t Let Me Go – Part 3

The Lord spoke to Gomer that night that night before she fell asleep, saying, “I have loved you, my daughter, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. I will rebuild you, My virgin. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.” 

“But Lord,” Gomer softly replied, “I left You for raisin cakes… I left You for other lovers… O Adonai! I left You for nothing.”

“Yes,” the Lord replied, “You have cheated on Me and gone astray, and I am indeed married to a harlot, but My love will make you pure.”

“Lord, I’ve hurt so many people – my husband. O Yaweh! Hosea is such a good and loving man, and I betrayed him and left him to raise my children. My Lord,” she wept, trembling as waves of grief and remorse swept over her. “I’ve lost Hosea, but if You will have me, I will give myself to You and I will walk in obedience to You from this day forth, only please, please help me. Don’t let me wander away again. Hedge me in Lord!”

The Word of the Lord came to Gomer, wife of Hosea, daughter of Diblaim, Fear not, My daughter. I have hedged you in with thorns on every side so that you cannot chase after those other lovers anymore. And yes, I will have you as My bride and I will help you. “

For the first time in many months, Gomer slept soundly and peacefully. She awakened the next morning to the sound of cursing. He was still there! “Adonai, please protect me,” she prayed fearfully as her heart pounded rapidly in her chest. “O Lord, You are my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? You are the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Slowly, she inhaled, then, as she exhaled, she felt a strange peace envelope her.

She opened her eyes to find him looming over her, his beady eyes scrutinizing her. “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help,” she silently prayed as she cowered on the floor where she had slept so peacefully the night before, slowly rising up to sit and look up at her intimidator, holding the rag she had used for a blanket tightly in front of her.

“Here,” he said gruffly, throwing a loaf of bread and some jerky on the ground beside her, “eat this. There’s water by the fire.”

“What are you  up to, Phineas? Why are you suddenly so interested in my well-being? You’ve never cared before,” Gomer calmly stated, bracing herself for the blow which was sure to follow.

Instead of the rage that normally possessed him, Phineas threw his big ugly head back and laughed uproariously. “Let’s just say I’ve had a change of heart,” he said evilly, and his seemingly benevolent words brought a chill of fear down Gomer’s spine. “Go ahead, eat up! You’ll need your strength.” At this, he cackled gleefully, as he left the cave that was their makeshift home.

Ravenously, Gomer grabbed the loaf of bread and the jerky as soon as she was sure he had gone, and began to eat. She had only eaten a little, when she felt her stomach revolting in pain against the food, so she quickly put it aside and crawled to the warm fire that her foe had rekindled before he left. Thanks be to Elohim! He had also left enough firewood in the cold damp little cave to keep the fire burning for the rest of that day and the next. “And look at that,” she marveled. “There’s more food and water too! O Lord, I don’t know what he’s up to or why he’s being so generous and kind all of a sudden, but thank You. Whatever his motives are, I will trust You to protect me.”

Gomer smiled as she settled herself before the warmth of the fire, and she thought back to better days. She smiled as she remembered the look in Hosea’s eyes when Jezreel was born, as she held him to her breast for the first time. They were both so happy then…

“Just look at him Gomer! Have you ever seen a more beautiful child? Or a more beautiful mother?” Hosea softly spoke, as he leaned down to kiss her gently on her mouth.

“Oh! He is beautiful Hosea, and so are you my love! You are such a good man, Hosea and I love you so much,” Gomer said passionately. “So, what shall we call him?”

“The Lord said we are to call this child Jezreel, because He is about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel,” Hosea said with passion. “Yes, we will name him Jezreel, which means God sows, because He has planted this child as the firstborn of our family. He has blessed our union!”

“Yes He has blessed us, but really Hosea, can’t we just enjoy this time together with our new baby without you always preaching? I’m grateful and happy, but I don’t want to talk about religion right now. I just want us to enjoy the moment together,” Gomer said irritably, feeling instant remorse when she saw pain flood Hosea’s eyes. “I’m sorry Hosea,” she said quickly. “I love you, and I am really thankful for our son. It’s just all so overwhelming, and I’m tired and cranky. Can you forgive me?” she asked, reaching up to caress Hosea’s beard, pulling him down to lay beside her and their newborn son.

“Of course I forgive you. I love you Gomer,” Hosea responded huskily. “Don’t you remember? I love you with a love that will never let you go.”

Joyfully, the three of them drifted off to sleep until the baby’s cries a few hours later woke them up. They were so young and excited, so very much in love, and as Gomer nursed Jezreel, they talked about their hopes and dreams for their life together. They made their plans like most young people do, with rose colored glasses, never dreaming of the obstacles and disappointments that would come their way. They had no way of knowing how the everyday humdrum of life would wear on their love, distancing them, building walls between them. How could they know as they lay there laughing and holding one another and their son, so filled with love for one another and joy, that in the next few months their lives would run a course of anger, pain and destruction?

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

A Love That Won’t Let Me Go – Part 2

Gomer lifted her twisted fingers to her sunken cheeks, wiping the tears that freely flowed, then looking at her tear soaked fingers, she silently mused, “I thought my tears had all dried up.” The wind continued to howl, and the small fire was slowly dying, as the brisk sound of footsteps brought Gomer from her silent reverie, causing a chill of fear to run up her spine. “O Lord, he’s back,” Gomer desperately prayed. “Lord, I know I’ve given You no reason to forgive me or to hear me, but please, please have mercy on me! Don’t let him rape me and beat me again tonight – please! Save me Lord!”

At the sound of his raucous laughter, Gomer scurried away from the fire, into the darkest corner of the room, hoping he wouldn’t notice her, as she shrunk down in terror. “Gomer!” the drunken beast called as he entered the room, “Come here,” he said as he fell down beside the fire. Fearfully, Gomer crept to him, being careful not to speak and send him into a drunken rage.  She knelt at his feet and waited for him to speak to her. “She won’t bring much with all those bruises and that bony body,” he mumbled to himself. “Stand up and let me look at you, Woman!” he bellowed, and though she tried, her bony legs didn’t have the strength to hold her up, and she crumpled to the floor, cringing as she waited for the first blow to fall.

“Please Yaweh!” Gomer desperately prayed silently, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my shameful deeds — they haunt me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But You desire honesty from the heart, so You can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then I will teach Your ways to sinners, and they will return to You. Help me Lord!” It became apparent that he wasn’t going to hit her after all, and slowly, shrinkingly, Gomer lifted her tear stained face up to look at the man – her tormentor, as he gruffly handed her a piece of bread.

“Eat this,” he said gruffly. “You need to build up your strength.”

Fearfully, gratefully, Gomer took the bread, and though she was starved, she lifted it up towards heaven and thanked Yaweh, truly thankful for the first time she silently spoke these words to Him, Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all my iniquities, Who heals all my diseases, Who redeems my life from destruction, Who crowns me with lovingkindness and tender mercies,  Who satisfies my mouth with good things, So that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Then quickly, she gobbled the bread down before he changed his mind and took it from her, and when he offered her some water, she gratefully gulped that down too.

It had been many days since Gomer had eaten, and though she still loathed him and was fearful of him, she was also grateful for the food he gave her. “Got to build up her strength for a few days,” he mumbled to himself, as he drifted off to sleep in a drunken stupor. Gomer wasn’t sure what he had in store for her, but she knew that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be good. Still, for the first time in who knows how long, she had some food in her belly. He would probably sleep for hours, so Gomer quietly slinked back to the dark corner where she had hidden before.

“Could it be that Hosea was right?” she whispered to herself. “Could it be that Elohim cares for me – even now, after all I’ve done?” Her heart traveled back to another time, shortly after she and Hosea were married, as they walked back to their home following a visit to Jerusalem. “Did you hear what they said about me?” she wept, as Hosea held her close.

“I heard,” Hosea replied softly. “Listen Gomer, it’s easier for people to condemn someone else than it is for them to look at themselves -”

“But they hate me!” she sobbed.

“Yes, they hate you, and they hate me because I speak the Word of the Lord. You mustn’t worry about what man thinks of you. Instead, see what our heavenly Father thinks about you. That’s far more important, and Gomer, He loves you with a love that won’t let you go. No matter where life takes us, no matter what we do, He will always love His children. He may have to chastise you and punish you for bad behavior, but He still loves you with an everlasting love, and so do I.” He stopped and lifted her chin, gently kissing her. “All Adonai wants, and all that I want in return is to have your love.”

“Gomer, I knew about your past when I asked you to marry me, and I loved you then. Now, you’re my wife, and you’re carrying my child in your womb, and I still love you with all of my heart. You are more beautiful to me now than ever, and I want to shower you with all of my love, so that you will never want for anything! Let people talk if they want, as long as we love the Lord, and as long as we have each other, let them think and say what they will,” Hosea said laughing and kissing her again, as they continued toward their home.

“O Lord, is it true?” Gomer whispered in the dark dreary little room. “Do You really love me with a love that won’t let me go? An everlasting love? How can this be? And is it really true that all You want from me is my love? Yaweh, I know I’ve been unfaithful to You, but I see now that You are all I have. And I don’t have anything else to offer You but my love. Lord, will You accept the love of a harlot?” Gomer whispered as she drifted off to sleep…

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers

A Love That Won’t Let Me Go – Part 1

The cold wind howled, blowing rain into the dark musty room where she lay, naked, cold, alone and penniless. He would be back soon, and the thought of his return brought a sick feeling to the pit of her stomach. She loathed him, yet she needed him. She nervously tried to run her gnarled fingers through her matted hair, but it was no use. Bruises and lesions covered her body and she was filthy and emaciated. Her once flashing dark eyes were now dull and lifeless. She, who once boldly and passionately sought to live a life of luxury and good times, was now reduced to a cowering, fearful wretch.

“O God,” she wimpered, as she shivered, searching for something to cover herself with. “Forgive me. I’ve made such a mess of things and I’ve hurt so many people. How could I have been so foolish? I once had a husband who loved me and children, and now I have nothing.

“I’m hedged in by thorns on every side of me. I chased after other lovers without a thought of anyone but myself. I prostituted myself for money and wine, but now I don’t even have that, because no one wants a used up whore, no one cares if I live or if I die.

“O Lord, I remember my first love. I remember the day he came to my father’s house to ask for my hand in marriage. He was so young and handsome…”

Gomer grimaced with pain as she crawled to the fire, which wouldn’t last much longer, and threw the last of the sticks in it. She was too weak to stand, and the effort of crawling and sitting up had drained all of her strength. Then, sitting as close to it as possible, she pulled a thin rag over her back and remembered better times, when she was young and beautiful and happy…

The sun shone brightly as Gomer quickly ran up the path to her house, quickly stopping at the door to run her fingers through her curly black hair, nervously trying to smooth it, while silently hoping her father wouldn’t notice that she was late for dinner once again. “O God, don’t let him be home yet,” she silently prayed, smoothing her rumpled clothing, hoping he wouldn’t see anything amiss. Finally, gathering her courage, Gomer took a deep breath and opened the door.

Her heart dropped as she saw her father’s back, and she briskly walked toward the fire to stir up the coals and prepare for dinner.  “Hello Father – I’m sorry I’m late, the market was just so busy! Don’t worry though, I’ll have our dinner ready in a flash,” Gomer said anxiously, hoping her father was in a good mood, as she mustered up the courage to turn and look at him.

That was when she saw him – Hosea – the young prophet! What was he doing there? Oh, he was handsome, and his amber eyes seemed to look right into her soul, as though he was reading her thoughts. Nervously, she looked away from his intense gaze to that of her father’s.

“Gomer,” Diblaim cleared his throat. “Please prepare enough for Hosea to join us for dinner. He has come to talk to me about you.”

“About me?” Gomer replied faintly. “Why would a prophet want to speak about me?” she thought. “O Lord,” she prayed, “I hope he doesn’t see my every thought and tell my father! Surely he has more important things to prophesy about than me!” Gomer quickly turned from Hosea’s piercing scrutiny and cautiously scurried about preparing a meal for Hosea, Diblaim and herself, worriedly wondering all the while what Hosea had to say about her. Whatever it was, she was sure it couldn’t be good.

“Hosea,” Diblaim said as he cleared his throat. “Will you do us the honor of asking the Lord’s blessing on this meal?”

“Yes sir, I would be honored to do so,” Hosea replied. Then, stepping up to the table in front of an empty bowl, Hosea lifted a container of water and poured it over his right hand three times, then over his left hand three times, before drying his hands and passing the bowl and the container of water to Diblaim, who followed the same ritual, and then Gomer finsihed. Next, Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us through His commandments and commanded us concerning the elevation of the hands.”

Then, Diblaim and Gomer sat as Hosea lifted the bread, breaking it in half and passing one half to Diblaim, who broke some off before passing the rest to Gomer, who also broke some off. After everyone had a piece of bread, Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” Then each of them solemnly placed their portion of bread in their mouths and ate it.

Next, Hosea lifted the carafe of wine in his hands, pouring some first into his cup, then into Diblaim’s cup, and finally into Gomer’s cup. When he finished pouring the wine, everyone silently lifted their cups toward heaven, as Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Then everyone drank from their cups, and Hosea sat, as the meal commenced.

Everyone ate in silence, as Gomer and Hosea sneaked glances at one another. Hosea seemed as nervous as Gomer, blushing and looking away from her whenever she caught his gaze, and it quickly dawned on Gomer that Hosea liked her. Armed with this knowledge, she smiled flirtatiously at him for the first time. It was evident that he was attracted to her, and Gomer knew how to deal with men and boys who were drawn to her beauty. Now, it was Hosea’s turn at nervousness, and his face turned a deep shade of red as he quickly looked away from her.

Finally the awkward meal ended, and Hosea gave the after meal blessing. “Give thanks to ADONAI, for He is good, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His grace continues forever; to Him who alone has done great wonders, for His grace continues forever; to Him who skillfully made the heavens, for His grace continues forever; to Him who spread out the earth on the water, for His grace continues forever; to Him who made the great lights, for His grace continues forever; the sun to rule the day, for His grace continues forever; the moon and stars to rule the night, for His grace continues forever; to Him who struck down Egypt’s firstborn, for His grace continues forever; and brought Isra’el out from among them, for His grace continues forever; with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, for His grace continues forever; to Him who split apart the Sea of Suf, for His grace continues forever; and made Isra’el cross right through it, for His grace continues forever; but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Suf, for His grace continues forever; to Him who led His people through the desert, for His grace continues forever; to Him who struck down great kings, for His grace continues forever; yes, He slaughtered powerful kings, for His grace continues forever; Sichon king of the Emori, for His grace continues forever; and ‘Og king of Bashan, for His grace continues forever; then He gave their land as a heritage, for His grace continues forever; to be possessed by Isra’el His servant, for His grace continues forever; who remembers us whenever we are brought low, for His grace continues forever; and rescues us from our enemies, for His grace continues forever; who provides food for every living creature, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His grace continues forever.”

After Hosea blessed the meal, Diblaim invited him to step outside to speak, while Gomer cleaned up, wondering all the while, what they were saying about her. Finally, the house was clean, and Gomer was sitting at the table, nervously twisting her hair, and wondering what was going on. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened, and Diblaim stepped inside beaming, as Hosea stood outside the door.

“Father,” Gomer began as Diblaim closed the door, “whatever he said to you, I can explain.”

“Quiet child!” Diblaim said sternly. “Hosea is outside, and he wants to talk to you, but before you go to him, listen carefully to me! You have a decision to make, and if you make the wrong one, you will not be allowed to remain in my home. I know that you’ve been up to no good, and you have done nothing but bring shame on me since your mother died, and I am tired of it, do you hear?”

“But what  did he say, Father?” Gomer asked. “Truly, I can explain!” she pleaded.

“I promised that I would let him tell you why he’s here,” Diblaim stated, “But understand this. You are a shame and a reproach to me, so you better choose wisely, because this is no longer your home. Now get out there and listen to him,” Diblaim said, opening the door and pushing Gomer outside.

In fear and trembling, Gomer looked at Hosea, whose heart broke for her as he saw her pain. Softly, gently, he spoke her name, “Gomer, fear not. I mean you no harm. I’ve spoken to your father, and he’s given me his blessing to ask you to marry me. I know you don’t know me well, and though I’m certainly not a wealthy man, the Lord has provided generously for me, and I promise that I will love you and care for you for the rest of your life.” Walking up to her, Hosea gently lifted her chin and looked into her startled eyes. “Gomer, daughter of Diblaim, will you marry me, Hosea, son of Beeri?”

“You, a prophet of the Most High, want to marry me?” Gomer asked in disbelief. “Haven’t you heard what people say about me? Don’t you know?” she asked turning scarlet and averting her eyes from his passionate gaze, as he continued to cup her chin gently in his hand.

“I have heard, and I love you. Will you marry me, Gomer?” Hosea softly whispered. Gomer forced herself to look intently into Hosea’s eyes, and there it was, love, boldly shining in the depths of his amber eyes. “I promise to love you forever, Gomer, with a love that will never let you go, if you will agree to marry me. Will you have me as your husband?”

Tears began to flow down her cheeks, as Gomer looked back at Hosea and whispered softly, “I will have you…”

© 2012

Cheryl A. Showers