under every spreading tree.

But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers-would you now return to me? declares the LORD.

Throughout the Old Testament, Israel, God's chosen people, have a cycle they seem to go through. They are unfaithful to their savior and provider, they forget what He did for them in Egypt (despite repeated commands NOT to do that), and they turn to other gods. They usually return and repent, and then it happens, again. God likens her to a prostitute with Himself as her husband, her True Lover.

Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.

Despite the LORD's constant provision and protection of his bride, Israel turns her love away, giving it to many other gods. She breaks her covenant with her True Love and goes up every high hill and under every spreading tree to give herself to others, breaking her LORD and husband's heart.

I believe God uses the marriage covenant as an example to show us the pain that went through His heart when faithless Israel continually prostituted herself. Most of us know someone or have seen a relationship that has experienced unfaithfulness in marriage. One circumstance of adultery is enough to tear apart hearts, take years to restore and forgive, and sometimes, forever separate two people who promised to never say goodbye. Israel had way more than one circumstance, and yet, her husband never left. He was hurt, saddened, tore apart, and angry, but never retracted His love or His faithfulness. His devotion and love was not dependent on His lover's.

As a human, I cannot fathom a faithfulness so unconditional. No human marriage covenant would withstand so many situations of adultery, repeated heartbreak over and over. No man could take so much pain from his wife. But God did. He took the pain upon himself because He loved Israel so much.
They were His people, His love, it didn't matter what they did, they were His.
And He would not leave her.

Return faithless Israel, for I am your husband, and I will choose you....
Return, faithless people, I will cure you of backsliding.

I am no better than faithless Israel, every day I prostitute myself from my True Love. I give my mind to selfish thoughts, sinful desires, and take a little part of my heart away from the only One who deserves it all. Despite my longing to serve only Him, I stray. I go up every high hill and under every spreading tree, and give myself away. And when I finally open my ears up enough to hear Him calling me back, to come back to Him, I repent and ask Him to once again make me His spotless Bride, and He does.
Why, I will never know.
Why His love is so deep and thick with passion for me, I do not know.
Why he stays despite my daily unfaithfulness and failures, I do not know.
But that devotion and love is home, rest, safety, and salvation.
It is the only constant place. The only place I know will never change.
How can I ever be thankful enough? How can I ever love Him enough?

I know that I will climb up another hill and find myself under another spreading tree, and I pray that every day will be a day I spend closer to my True Love, and yet, I sadly know I will stray from Him. And I hate it, so did Paul, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19) I hate my sinful nature, yet it isn't going anywhere. I pray that as the days go by, as my heart changes, it grows so close to it's True Love, the One who has loved it more than any other, that the sin gets pushed farther and farther out. I want Jesus to come and so invade my heart, that there is no room for any trips to the high hills and spreading trees.

And every day is another adventure of invasion by the True Lover of my soul. He wants all of me. He wants to romance the heart He created to be filled by only His affection. The heart that was created to be solely devoted to Him.

Would you now return to me?

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