Tough Hides, Tender Hearts

Hosea 1:2

WHEN HOSEA MARRIED A PROSTITUTE, respect for him dropped to zero. “Small wonder he is listed first among the minor prophets,” some may sneer today. “He must have been a real loser.”

Wrong again, O critic. Hosea was one of the most patient, tender, loving, and obedient of all the ancient prophets. “Then why in the world would such a man fall for a woman such as she?” Because God told him to! That’s right. God chose Hosea to model his message before all Israel, like a neon sign alongside the freeway. Of course, they didn’t know it at first.

Before God, he stood justified and obedient. But before people, he looked undiscerning and weird.

God directed him:

Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution.


That’s exactly what he did. Hosea’s wife gave birth to a daughter and two sons while she was his wife—two of them illegitimate—before she left home and went back into the streets. His wounds scarcely healed, Hosea heard God’s voice thundering from the heavens telling him to go out, find her, and bring her back into his home with the family. He did. He bought her from others’ arms and claimed her as his own. Try to picture the love and dedication it took for Hosea to carry out God’s instructions.

Little did the people realize they were observing a living object lesson—a divine pantomime—a flesh-and-blood mirror designed by God to illustrate the truth of their own lives.

Having a tough time modeling God’s message? Feel unappreciated? Misunderstood? A little foolish? Ridiculed? So it goes, pilgrim. Long naps and pillow fights went out with the flood. These are rugged days without much padding in the seats or protection from the wind. It takes two things to keep from folding in the stretch: a tough hide and a tender heart. Hosea had both.

Has God worked in your life in a significant way through Chuck Swindoll and the ministry of Insight for Living? Whatever your story, we’d love for you to tell it to us! Psalm 9:11 tells us to “declare among the peoples His deeds” so others can be encouraged. Submit your story.

Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord . . . Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved. The full devotional can be purchased at

Posted in Bible Characters, Christian Living, Marriage and tagged .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.