“I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion.” ~ Hosea 2:19
The first part of this verse is God’s vows for the future (Hosea and his peers’ future, that is). They were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. The second part of the verse describes aspects of God’s character that are always true for all time: love and compassion. Those are two words that go well in wedding vows; as always, though, these words are far more meaningful when they come from God…
The word translated “love” in this verse is that peculiar word “checed,” which is often rendered “lovingkindness” or “faithful love” (Ex. 15:13, 20:6, 34:6; Deut. 5:10). This is a deep and abiding love, rolled together with an infinite amount of mercy and grace. It is used to describe how God relates to His people (Deut. 7:9, 7:12).
A wedding vow should express this exactly. You should vow to have an undying, faithful, loyal, covenant-love with the one you marry. It should be combined with infinite mercy and forgiveness – for goodness knows you will need forgiveness just as much as your spouse will need it.
Andrew shows me this type of love constantly, and it humbles me to the core. To think that this is the love that the God of the universe offers to me….Goodness, it brings tears to my eyes.
The word translated “compassion” is “racham.” In English, the definition of compassion is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” It is certainly comforting to know that God sees our suffering and takes pity. However, I’m convinced that this is not exactly the idea we’re supposed to take away from this word.
Strong’s definition explains that “racham” is “by extension, the womb (as cherishing the fetus).” And that completely changes my view God’s “compassion.”
Although not a mother yet, my impending marriage has made me think of motherhood differently than I ever have before. I cannot wait to carry and give birth to Andrew’s children. I treasure them already, and fret over how to raise them in this evil world. There is an intense and enduring compassion in my heart for my future children – a zeal to love and protect them at all costs. I know how hard it is in this world, and yet I still desire to give them life and love.
And if I, a sinful human, feel this way, how much more does God desire that for us?
Think on it: you have the undying-covenant love of a Holy God, and His fierce and ardent desire to protect you at all costs. I am convinced that I have never and will never love as intensely and passionately as Yahweh…and that causes me to fall to my knees in worship.