1 When Israel was a child, I loved him…3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. 9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man—the Holy One among you.
It’s an interesting sidebar to discover that Hosea’s name means “salvation” or “deliverance.” So much of Hosea is a record of the threat of God’s punishment for the faithlessness of the nation of Israel and yet underlying the whole message is that meaning and the tender revelations of God’s memories of his love and desire for them on a personal level.
What could be more personal than the image of a father teaching a child to take his first steps? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime period in a parent’s relationship with his child. It’s a time filled with pride, encouragement and reassurance as they learn to take those first steps on their own. God’s “cords of human kindness with ties of love” is a risky kind of leadership. It’s putting a level of trust and faith that independence, rather than fear of punishment, will make salvation and deliverance a personal choice.