Last week I shared my thoughts that Naomi’s grief left her feeling empty because:
- She had no husband.
- She had no sons.
- She had no life.
So many of us get entangled, and mired in life to the extent that we lose sight of God’s purpose for us. I fail to understand that every situation or event that occurs in my life does not come as a shock and surprise to Almighty God; He uses these occurrences to establish and define purpose in me. If I become too focused on the situations and events that occur in my life, I cannot discern His divine purpose for me.
I asked myself,
How was it that these two women (Orpah and Ruth) bonded so closely with Naomi?
What was it about Naomi that these two women looked to her for support rather than from their own kinsmen?
I wondered if Naomi had unknowingly become a mentor to Orpah and Ruth; teaching them about the God of Israel. It’s nothing but speculation on my part, but perhaps Naomi never forgot about the land of promise and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps she taught these young wives of the unsurpassing love of God for Israel. Perhaps during the course of each day, they watched and listened as Naomi prayed, sang and lived the life of a devout Jew. Perhaps for them, no one had ever treated them with such dignity, love, and respect.
“Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.”1
Verse 7 here, clearly emphasizes that Orpah and Ruth were not biological relatives of Naomi; they were Naomi’s daughters-in-law. There was no blood tie between these women, yet there was a bond; both Orpah and Ruth loved Naomi. They had come to love her as if she were their biological mother. Naomi had gone beyond being pleasant (as her name indicates) to these two young widows, they looked to Naomi for direction, encouragement, and understanding.
Initially, Naomi welcomed both Orpah and Ruth to accompany her to Bethlehem, but something changed along the journey. Perhaps she began to ponder the hardship she would face of not only being a poor widow, but an Israelite who brought foreigners into the land of promise. She then advised them to return to Moab, to their own people, and their own gods.
"But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.’ Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept."2
Why would Naomi advise these women who looked to her as their mother to go back to Moab?
Some theologians and scholars believe that God used Naomi to test these two women. These three women walked together along the road between Moab and Judah; a journey that could not be easy for women travelling alone. I thought about where Orpah and Ruth came from and it took my mind back to hundreds of years before them when Lot and Abraham waked in unison until they came to Bethel, a place Abraham called, The House of God. Quarreling between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot erupted and Abraham (a man of peace), said to Lot:
"Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me…"2
And now, hundreds of years later, two women who descended from the incestuous relationship of Lot and his oldest daughter are walking along with a descendant of Abraham and Sarah; they do not quarrel, there is genuine love and affection. As an African American, I have no history to reflect upon; there is both sadness and shame when I reflect on that thought. I think there would also be a sense of sadness and shame for anyone who knew they descended from a father and daughter. Yet God chose to use the sadness and shame of Lot’s sin in His plan of salvation. This tells me that no sin, no matter how shameful is too great that God won’t forgive. Perhaps God wants to test their resolve and commitment to become true followers.
Will you keep the commandments?
Jesus was asked by a man what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus revealed obedience to the Law of God was the first step, the man answered that he obeyed the commandments from his youth. Jesus then told the man,
"'One thing you lack,' he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"3
Discovering God’s purpose for my life and living out that purpose are the result of choice and commitment.
I will talk more on this topic next week.
Almighty God and Father,
I bless Your holy name. Your mercy endures forever Lord. I am learning that following You requires my comittment, faith and determination. Even though it makes no sense, it is so easy to turn away from Your grace and love; deluding myself to think that life without You would somehow be better. I've been there and done that Lord; I now see the futility of my efforts. I'm at the place of dependence now and I'm so thankful that I can depend on You. As I follow You, I pray that my life reflect Your Son, Jesus Christ, so that others may have the opportunity to know and experience Your love, grace, and salvation. I give You glory and praise, You are worthy of so much more. Look on the needs of those who cry out and those who in the silence of their lives, You still hear their voice. Whatever the situation calls for my Lord, direction, encouragement, blessing, healing, or opening a closed door, we ask that Your will be done in our lives; this day in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
|Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).|
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
- King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
- The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
- Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6