1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Naomi and Ruth Return
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Ruth 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It was during one of the darkest times of Israel. The book of Judges records countless stories of people who failed miserably in their devotion to God. It was a period of disobedience. Idolatry and violence everywhere. God would, in turn, raise up a Judge to rule the nation. They would return to their ways once the Judge had passed. “The people did what was right in their own eyes” as the book states in different places. But there is a shining story. It’s a testament to the life of a woman who through severe hardship would follow God no matter what.
Naomi was a woman met with severe tragedy who would turn to God for guidance. Her daughter-in-law Ruth would be drawn to her and eventually worship God. As a Moabite, Ruth’s tribe was one of the nations who brought affliction to Israel again and again. There was much hostility between the two nations. Beautifully though God had this far reaching plan for Ruth. As a widow facing tremendous hardships, she would be led to a man named Boaz, an Israelite who was a relative of Naomi. In time he would take Ruth to be his wife and she became the great grandmother of King David and is an ancestor of Jesus Christ!
The beauty of this story has many layers. He used Naomi who was experiencing sheer grief to turn her trust to Him making a spiritual impact that carried on for centuries. He used a woman named Ruth who was out of Israel’s favor and in dire situations to write a beautiful story line. He took Boaz, a descendant of Rahab the prostitute who helped Israel when Jericho was taken and bring about His ultimate will even though his ancestral heritage was nothing short of flaws.
It’s a reminder our choices today have lasting impacts on lives to come. It’s a testimony of God’s strength shown through character. It’s a beautiful encouragement of people standing firm in faith even when society is collapsing around them. He uses all people who will simply put their trust in Him.
Your life matters. Your choices mean something. What story line does He want to write through you that makes lasting impacts?
Ruth 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Within the dismal narrative of Israel’s judges, the story of Ruth shines. The reason it is so beloved is probably because it tells a feel good story with down-to-earth people who we can certainly identify with. However, I’m going to take a different angle on this chapter. Does anyone else wonder why in the world Elimelech and his family left Bethlehem to go to Moab?
Yes, there was a famine, but they were God’s people. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was a terrible decision. Not only did all the men die, but now Naomi was left grieving in a foreign land and still not finding nourishment. Then we read that she decides to go back because she has heard that the Lord has sent bread to His people. This is the ah-ha moment of this chapter.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?han clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky, that they do not sow or reap or gather produce into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are?Matthew 6:25-26 ESV
Years later, Jesus would say these words. I can’t help but focus on the decision that was made by Elimelech which affected his entire family. It was a big choice with consequences. However, in God’s grace, He allowed for Naomi and Ruth to form a beautiful bond. His glory would come through despite the bad choice that Elimelech made.
Have you ever been put in a terrible situation by a decision that was out of your control? How did you respond to it? We must remember that even when it seems others have sealed our fate, God’s mercy shines through. He can turn around any situation and use it for His glory.