Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 21 2011 - E100.30a – Ruth 1, Naomi and Ruth

The Book of Ruth is set in the time of the Judges, a time when Israel's frequent disobedience resulted in the withdrawal of God's blessing. Maybe it was at such a time, when Bethlehem (the 'house of bread') was facing famine, that Elimelek ('My God is king'), decided to take his wife, Naomi, and his two sons to live in Moab. There his sons married Moabite women and there he and his sons died. All of this is told without any moral judgments.

Meanwhile, the Lord had begun to bless his people in Bethlehem – had there been a turning back to the Lord? When Naomi heard the news, she decided to go back to her home town. Her two daughters-in-law decided to go with her.

On the road, Naomi seeks to persuade her daughters-in-law to return to their own land and find new husbands for themselves. Naomi feels that the Lord has brought trouble and misfortune upon her. Later she refuses to be called Naomi ('pleasant') but wants to be called Mara ('bitter' – see Ruth 1:20). Why should her daughters-in-law continue to share her misfortune?

Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and turns back for Moab but Ruth replies, "Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God" (1:16).

Ruth's words are a wonderful expression of love and loyalty. Whatever Naomi may face in the days ahead, Ruth will face it with her. But perhaps there is more going on here. Naomi may feel that the Lord has brought misfortune upon her, but in all of her troubles she has not ceased to have faith in God; the God of Israel is still her God. Her plan to return to Bethlehem is testimony to her continued faith in the Lord and in his promises. Ruth has witnessed Naomi's unshakable trust in her God and wants this God to be her God also.

Does our testimony in time of trouble draw others to trust in our God?

Father God, things do not always turn out the way I would like. Help me, like Naomi, to trust you in the difficult times as well as in the good times. Help me, like Ruth, never to turn back.

Peter Misselbrook