God-Soaked World Bible Guide – Day 7
March 12, 2017
Sunday, March 12 – Ruth 1:1-18
1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. 2 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. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
Points of Interest:
- After the original stories involving Israel’s founding fathers (and mothers), there are a serious of historical books that trace the rise and fall of Israel’s political and spiritual life in the twelfth through fourth centuries B.C. Tucked into these books is the short account of Ruth, celebrated as the eventual great-grandmother of Israel’s greatest king, David.
- Ruth begins with a series of epic tragedies. Insecure economic conditions force a family of four to migrate to a foreign land, where both sons grow up to marry foreign women. Afterwards, the father dies, then both sons, leaving three widows alone, with no children. In the culture and economy of the Ancient Near East, childless widows were by definition destitute. The elder widow, Naomi, hears the economy back home has rebounded and plans to return, hoping to find help and mercy from her hometown relatives.
- Naomi reacts to tragedy with bitterness. She takes it as a sign that God has abandoned her. Orpah takes Naomi’s advice to start life over, abandoning both Ruth and Ruth’s god for a happier future elsewhere. Ruth, though, has hope in her circumstances despite all odds.
- Despite Naomi’s current bitterness, Ruth has seen something in Naomi and in Naomi’s God that draws out of her both love and loyalty. Ruth makes what the Ancient Near East would recognize as a covenant. It’s a solemn promise, at the level of seriousness and sacredness that we see in marriage vows. Something in Naomi’s or her late husband’s lives or in the stories they told about God has given Ruth optimism and hope that life will go well for her if she stays loyal to this God.
Spiritual Exercise: Faith can be nourished by experiencing God in another person. Think of someone you deeply love, respect, or otherwise admire. What do they seem to know about God that you would like to experience? Ask God to experience this yourself. What about God does this person reflect to you? Express directly to God that you love that God is the source of this goodness.
Prayer: Pray for your six, that they will see a winsome faith and a reflection of a beautiful and loving God in your words, actions, and stories.