KJV: So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
GWT: So both of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, the whole town was excited about them. "This can't be Naomi, can it?" the women asked.
Young's Literal: And they go both of them till their coming in to Beth-Lehem; and it cometh to pass at their coming in to Beth-Lehem, that all the city is moved at them, and they say, 'Is this Naomi?'
English of Septuagint: And they went both of them until they came to Bethleem: and it came to pass, when they arrived at Bethleem, that all the city rang with them, and they (feminine pronoun) said, Is this Noemin
SO THEY BOTH WENT UNTIL THEY CAME TO BETHLEHEM:
A Famine - Ruth 1
A Disturbed Family - Ruth 1:1-5
A Decided Future - Ruth 1:6-14
A Declared Faith - Ruth 1:15-22
"They both" not "Naomi by herself" - Naomi had gone out with a husband and sons who were now dead but she did not return alone, God providing Ruth to accompany, comfort and succor her. Ruth a younger woman doubtless could have gone faster, once again emphasizing the "others first" character of the Moabitess.
Normally the trip from Moab (about 50 miles) would take 7-10 days, the road descending about 4,500 feet from the high plains of Moab into the Jordan River Valley and then ascending 3,750 feet through the foothills of Judea. Needless to say, these two travelers would have looked weary and worn from the journey. Remember also that these were "the days of the judges" when the roads were anything but safe for men much less women. Once again one senses the protecting hand of Jehovah watching over their journey to assure their safe arrival home. And you too weary pilgrim, can take heart that the One Who is the same "yesterday, today and forever" (Heb13:8) is watching over your sojourn and will bring you safely to your eternal home (Jn 14:3)
AND IT CAME ABOUT WHEN THEY HAD COME TO BETHLEHEM THAT ALL THE CITY WAS STIRRED BECAUSE OF THEM:
The Hebrew for "stirred" paints a vivid portrait of the scene of a city in commotion. Today we might say they were all "shook up". The townsfolk were in a surprised state, even in dismay over Naomi's condition and situation which they could not fully comprehend.
The Greek verb (LXX) echeo translates "stirred" and means to resound like the sounding of a brass gong or the roar of ocean waves crashing down, giving us quite a vivid picture of this homecoming scene. This twosome caused quite an "uproar" in Bethlehem, so that they were the "talk of the town". Their arrival and the circumstances could hardly be missed by anyone in Bethlehem, including a gentleman named Boaz! One wonders that if Ruth and Naomi had quietly slipped into town unnoticed, whether Boaz would have even known of their presence. But God leaves nothing to "chance".
AND [THE WOMEN] SAID "IS THIS NAOMI": (Mt 21:10; Isa 23:7; Lam 2:15)
Literally "they said" is feminine gender and so the NAS, NIV, NLT, etc translate it as "women".
Although "all the city" was in a commotion, it was chiefly the ladies who were the most excited at Naomi's return. Naomi must have been well known because they greet her by name although it had been over 10 years since they seen her.
Spurgeon writes of Naomi that…
Matthew Henry aptly observes that by their reaction and all the commotion over her arrival
Hubbard notes that…
GWT: She answered them, "Don't call me Naomi [Sweet]. Call me Mara [Bitter] because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. (GWT)
KJV: And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Young's Literal: And she saith unto them, 'Call me not Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly to me,
English of Septuagint: And she said to them, Nay, do not call me Noemin; call me Bitter,' for the Mighty One has dealt very bitterly with me
AND SHE SAID TO THEM "DO NOT CALL ME NAOMI. CALL ME MARA":
Naomi means “pleasant” (my joy, my delight, my bliss, my pleasantness, the loveable, agreeable, ISBE has "Sweetie or the like"!) but her life in Moab was unpleasant rather than joyful. And so on her return to Bethlehem, she sharply corrects her old-time acquaintances for calling her "Pleasant", renaming herself Mara (“Bitter”), claiming that Shaddai had treated her bitterly. It is interesting that the Israelites just having been freed from slavery in Egypt, chose Mara as the name of their first camp after crossing the Red Sea. (Ex 15:23) They interpreted the testing allowed by the LORD Who had just set them free as "Bitter". They forgot the crucial truth that God often uses bitter experiences to make us better. You may be experiencing a difficult trial like Naomi, but keep in mind that God uses strong trials to build strong faith, or as Malloch puts in in poem…
Good timber does not grow in ease;
The stronger wind, the tougher trees;
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
Call me Mara - Call me "Bitter"! But she had not yet read Ruth 4, where she would learn that the lesson that the difficulties of her life were intended to make her better, not bitter. It all depends on how one responds, for indeed lessons in life make some people better and others bitter.
Spurgeon comments that…
Scottish author George MacDonald told this story of a woman who had experienced a great tragedy in her life:
MacDonald wisely concluded,
It has been said that God may have to break us in order to make us. Naomi could not sing in this chapter but by the end of the book, I think she would agree with the words of the poem below…
For all the heartaches and the tears,
For gloomy days and fruitless years
I do give thanks, for now I know
These were the things that helped me grow.
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Naomi was "Spiritually Barren"- Barrenness, whether physical or spiritual, can lead to bitterness in some of God's people. It can develop in the heart of a disappointed couple who cannot have a child. It can also occur when people serve God and see no results.
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Are You Full? a devotional from Our Daily Bread… As a boy, I laughed and cried as I read The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I gave little thought to the author of these books, though, until I saw a dramatized version of Mark Twain's life. Twain had his share of tragedy. He blamed himself for his younger brother's death in a steamboat accident at age 20, and for the death of his only son, who died from diphtheria at 19 months. He grieved bitterly over the deaths of two of his daughters—one from meningitis at age 23 and one from a heart attack at age 29. But instead of turning to God, Twain became bitter and pessimistic. When he died at 74, he was desperately lonely, unhappy, and hopeless.
The sun that hardens clay to brick
Life's trials should make us better—not bitter
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A Bitter Attitude - Great emphasis is being placed on living longer and better. Advances in medical science are making it possible for more and more people. Yet in spite of this, none of us can avoid growing old. One day aging will overtake all of us, and our bodies will shut down.
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Naomi - The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative.” —Ruth 4:14
A wise person once told me, “Never be quick to judge whether something is a blessing or a curse.” The story of Naomi reminds me of this.
Loving Father, help me not to judge Your love for me
on the basis of whether today brings good news
or bad. Help me remember that You desire to use
my circumstances to make me more like Jesus. Amen.
God’s purpose for today’s events may not be seen till tomorrow.
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A Tree of Healing - While waiting in the church parking lot, I switched on the car radio and heard the distinctive voice of Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee. “When the experiences of life are bitter,” he asked, “what can make them sweet?” Just then I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a boy walking with his mother toward the church. He held her arm as they moved slowly, every step an effort because of his cerebral palsy. They had come to worship God.
Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
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Purge Out The Poison - My friend and I were standing in the parking lot of a restaurant where we had just finished lunch. While we were discussing the damage a bitter spirit can cause, he took out his New Testament and solemnly read Hebrews 12:15 to me: “Looking carefully … lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
In the six long decades since our conversation, the sad truth of that warning has been repeatedly verified by my experiences in pastoral ministry. Bitterness is a poison, and if not purged out by prayer, confession, and forgiveness, it does great emotional damage and destroys relationships. A little grudge that festers can become a devastating malignancy of soul. That’s why the advice in Hebrews must be diligently heeded.
Have you been holding fast to the memory of some insult, some event, some criticism? As Paul put it in Ephesians 4:26, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Take the proper steps to resolve the problem right away.
Holding a grudge poisons our spiritual lives. With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s uproot any bitterness right now. It’s amazing how joyful our lives will be when we allow God to purge out the poison of bitterness. — by Vernon C. Grounds
Thinking It Through
What are we to do when someone sins
against us? (Lk. 17:3-4). According to Jesus,
how many times are we to forgive? (Mt. 18:21-22).
To get rid of weeds of anger,
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What's Your "Attitude"? - One definition of the word attitude is "the angle of approach" that an aircraft takes when landing. Author Chris Spicer writes: "Attitudes are to life as the angle of approach is to flying." He adds, "Attitude is the way we choose to think about things; attitudes will cause us to react and behave in a certain way." He also says that attitudes are not inborn or accidental. They are learned and absorbed reactions; therefore they can be changed.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
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Life on Level One (by Joe Stowell) - Life on Level One - "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer” Ruth 4:14
In an ancient form of Chinese drama, plays were often performed on a two-level stage. On the first level, the drama would unfold in the natural sequence of the script, while on the second level the last act of the play would be acted out simultaneously. This gave the audience a distinct advantage—they knew how the story would end. In fact, it was not uncommon for the audience to yell to the actors on level one, warning them that their attitudes or actions were threatening the good outcomes of the final act of the play.
What challenges am I facing on level one right now? How does it help to know that God already knows what level two will bring?
If my life were divided into acts like a play, what act would I be in right now? What act has been played out with an outcome that proved to be good for me? (Strength for the Journey - Life on Level One)
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For - Always pause and ponder this term of explanation - you will sometimes glean wonderful spiritual insights.
In Ruth 1:20-21 Shaddai is translated (in both verses) in the Septuagint (LXX) by the Greek phrase "ho hikanos", hikanos (word study) meaning sizeable, considerable, competent, ample, adequate, enough, large enough or sufficient.
Now take some of those meanings and "plug them into" this Name of God.
Naomi is saying in essence my God is
"the Sufficient (One)"
"the (One Who is large) Enough"
"the Adequate One"
It is as if by using Shaddai - Almighty (seldom used outside of Genesis and Job), Naomi is expressing trust in Him even in the midst of her pain. God's various names always speak of His amazing attributes and in this context speaks of the One is fully capable to complete the good work He had begun (in both Naomi and Ruth). Would it be that we could all see God as ample, adequate, competent, large enough, sufficient, etc when we are experiencing adversity.
Elsewhere the Septuagint usually translates Shaddai with the Greek pantokrator (word study) (pas = all + kratos = strength, dominion) meaning Ruler over all, Omnipotent or Almighty. One explanation of the derivation of Shaddai is that the term means "one of the mountain" a picture that might convey the picture of safety and sufficiency. Rabbinic analysis (Babylonian Talmud) holds that Shaddai is composed of the she ="Who" + day ="enough" and so literally "she-day" means the "One Who is Sufficient", which would be consistent with how the Septuagint translates "Shaddai" in the Ruth 1:20,21.
Shaddai - 48 OT uses - Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25; Exod. 6:3; Num. 24:4, 16; Ruth 1:20, 21; Job 5:17; 6:4, 14; 8:3, 5; 11:7; 13:3; 15:25; 21:15, 20; 22:3, 17, 23, 25, 26; 23:16; 24:1; 27:2, 10f, 13; 29:5; 31:2, 35; 32:8; 33:4; 34:10, 12; 35:13; 37:23; 40:2; Ps. 68:14; 91:1; Isa. 13:6; Ezek. 1:24; 10:5; Joel 1:15
It is not surprising that the majority of OT uses of Shaddai are in Job (31/48 uses - see above)! One observation from Job and Ruth 1:20,21 is that Suffering and Shaddai are seen together. Perhaps when we are in the darkness our hearts are prepared to better see clearly His Sufficiency and His Adequacy, for all our other earthly resources have come to naught. It is certainly true that when we come to the "end of our rope in Moab" and find that Jesus is all we have, we find that Jesus is all we have ever needed and that He is Enough.
In Job 5, Eliphaz, not exactly the best of comforters, speaks the following truth to Job…
The storms of our life prove the strength of our anchor.
The Lord may calm the storm around you,
God has not promised to keep us from life's storms,
but to keep us through them.
Are you between a rock and a hard place?
Naomi's use of Shaddai (only in Ruth 1:20, 21) is not by accident, for to know a specific Name of God is to know His character and His attributes inherent in that Name. And so surely Naomi knows Shaddai as the God with Whom we have to do, Who allows suffering, but in that suffering is the ever Faithful One Who is always "enough" (cp 1Co 10:13-note). He is "enough" in Himself. He is Self-sufficient. He has everything and He needs nothing. He is "enough" for each us if we are in covenant with Him for then we have all in Him, and we have enough in Him, enough to satisfy our deepest desires, enough to supply the defect of everything else in our life and enough to secure to us happiness for our immortal souls. This is the God with Whom Naomi although experiencing bitter circumstances was still intimate.
Do you know God intimately as Shaddai?
Have you come to the point in your personal relationship with God that He is enough? Is He sufficient to meet all your needs? (This is a "secret" that we must all learn in the God's "classroom" of affliction and abundance - Do you have a tender, teachable heart? see Php 4:11, 12-note, Php 4:13-note)
Can Shaddai be trusted to fulfill the promises of His Word?
What in your life looks impossible?
Have you surrendered it fully to the Lord?
Are you willing to wait upon Him to fulfill His promises?
As we grow older, we can dwell on the failures and hardships of our past, or we can remember God's faithfulness, accept His discipline, and keep looking to the future in faith. It's the only way to avoid a bitter attitude.
Though wrinkles and weakness come with age
And life with its stress takes its toll,
Yet beauty and vigor can still be seen
When Jesus gives peace to our soul. —D. De Haan
We cannot avoid growing old;
but we can avoid growing cold.
Dealt… bitterly (04843) (marar) means to be bitter and conveys a sense of harshness, embitterment, offensiveness, affliction. Marar has the predominant sense of experiencing and causing bitterness in the sense of anguish and great distress.
In Ru 1:20 the marar is in the perfect mood signifying "completeness". Indeed given what had transpired in Ruth 1, Naomi's circumstances realistically were harsh (cp marar in Ex 1:14). I am not sure one can say that Naomi herself was a "bitter" person. So when she says the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me, she is stating a fact. However there is no doubt that the fact of her harsh circumstances had impacted her and thus her desire to "change her name" from "pleasant" to "bitter".
Swanson writes that marar can mean to "suffer anguish, formally, be bitter, i.e., have a feeling or attitude of great suffering and anguish as an extension of the recoiling of tasting bitter food or drink, in some contexts there is an implication of a despising or even hating one’s circumstance or opponent (Ru 1:13; 1Sa 30:6; 2Ki 4:27; Jer 4:18; La 1:4+); (piel) be quite bitter (Ex 1:14; Isa 22:4+); (hif) grieve bitterly (Ru 1:20; Job 27:2; Zec 12:10+) (Swanson, J.. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew Old Testament).
TWOT adds that "It is interesting to note that the Hebrews expressed tragic, unpleasant experiences in terms of the sense of taste, the bitter. Actually, we employ the same figure of speech in our English language; It was a galling experience; his actions were not in very good taste, I thought; your wife is always so tastefully dressed. (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)
Dealt… bitterly is the same word translated "grieveth" in Ruth 1:13KJV when earlier Naomi said to Orpah and Ruth in KJV "It grieveth (marar) me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me." So it seems that bitterness had already begun to set in when Naomi was still in Moab. In returning to Bethlehem, Naomi went to the place where bitterness could be removed and as McGee writes "there was a blessing awaiting her… in Bethlehem that would… [make] the name Mara as unsuitable for her as she now supposed Naomi to be".
J. Gerald Janzen in an article entitled Job’s Oath in Review and Expositor (vol 99) writes that…
Very (me'od) speaks of might, force, abundance and in context means exceedingly.
Blessings are often poured out in bitter cups.
As Naomi's life will show.
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Devotional from F B Meyer on Ruth 1:20 - Call me not Naomi, all me Mara. -- So she spoke, as many have spoken since, not knowing that God’s ways are ways of pleasantness and all his paths peace, when they are not isolated from the plan of our life, but considered as parts of the whole. We cannot pronounce on any part of God’s dealing with us until the entire plan has been allowed to work itself out. How grieved God’s Spirit must be, who is lovingly doing his best, when He hears these words of murmuring and complaint! Let us lift the veil, and notice the pleasant things in Naomi’s life.
True, her husband and sons were dead; but their deaths in a foreign land had left her free to come back to her people and her God; to nestle again under the wings of Jehovah; and to share the advantages of the Tabernacle.
True, Orpah had gone back. Mahlon and Chilion were both buried in Moab; but she had Ruth, who was better to her than seven sons.
True, she had no male child to perpetuate her name; but the little Obed would, within a few months, be nestling in her aged arms, and laughing into her withered face.
True, she was very poor; but it was through her poverty that Ruth was brought first into contact with that good man, Boaz; and, besides, there was yet a little patrimony which pertained to her.
Yes, Naomi, like thousands more, thou must take back thy words. Thou didst deal bitterly with thine own happiness in leaving the Land of Promise for Moab; but God dealt pleasantly with thee in thy return and latter end. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” (Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily)
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Samuel Ridout (Gleanings from the Book of Ruth) has some interesting thoughts (with which you may or may not agree - Be Bereans! Acts 17:11-note)…
There are several features to note in connection with the return. When they reach Bethlehem, the whole place is moved, “Is this Naomi?” What havoc her departure had wrought, and she is forced to confess the sad truth herself. How her few words tell the story, her heart not yet fully restored. “Call me not Naomi (pleasant), call me Mara (bitter): for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” She calls Him by that dread name which emphasizes His power rather than His love and care. As she thinks of her once happy home, forgetting her own responsibility for the change, she seems to charge the Almighty with it all. But the next words confess the truth, “I went out full.” It was voluntary; she had not been compelled to go, and she was full when she went. “The Lord (Jehovah) hath brought me home again empty.” Self-will took her away: grace brought her home (ah, it was home still). Is this not the confession of every restored soul? We may have made many excuses for our departure from God; circumstances were against us, friends became cold, we were misunderstood—ah multiply them as we will, the one reason for departure from God is expressed in that one brief sentence, “I went out full.”
But in that confession the soul reaches God, for true confession can only be in His presence. So the next word is the covenant name, “Jehovah hath brought me home again.” We would never come back ourselves. It is only the power of unchanging grace that restores the wanderer; but for that we would still remain in the land of Moab. Nor could we be brought back in any other condition than empty. There must be the brokenness suggested by that, to make the soul willing to yield to God’s love.
But her condition is a witness of what an evil and bitter thing it is to depart from the Lord—a warning to all against the folly of turning away from the house of plenty.
Dear brethren, look at that poor desolate widow, crushed with apparently hopeless sorrow, her brightness all behind her—and see a picture of the soul that wanders from God. Ah! how many blighted lives, filled with bitter, unavailing regrets are there among the saints of God.
“It might have been,” says the aged man, looking back upon a lifetime of wasted energy and time. Who can measure the loss suffered by those who spend the life in gathering the “wood, hay, and stubble” of this world? Nor is such departure necessarily a moral declension. The world can be very upright, but it makes widows of God’s people who yield to its seductions.
It is always the time of harvest when the wanderer returns. Ah, let the proud, stubborn will be broken, let there be the words of confession, and how soon will the poor wanderer find the ripened harvest with all its abundance and its joy.
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(John MacDuff, "The Leper-warrior" 1873)
God's dealings with His people are often incomprehensible. His name to them is that which He gave to Manoah, "Wonderful," "Secret," "Mysterious."
That wearing sickness,
that wasting heritage of pain,
these long tossings on a fevered, sleepless pillow,
—where is God's love or mercy here?
But the silence and loneliness of the sickbed is the figurative "wilderness," where He "allures" that He may "speak comfortably unto them, and give them their vineyards from thence" (Hosea 2:14, 15), rousing them from the contemptible dream of earthly happiness, from the sordid and the secular, from busy care and debasing solicitude—to the divine and the heavenly!
Or, that unexpected affliction of poverty—the crash of earthly fortune—the forfeiture of earthly gain—the stripping of cherished treasure, and sending those 'nursed in the lap of luxury' penniless on the world —where is God's mercy or love here?
But it is through this beneficial, though rough discipline, that God weans from the enervating influence of prosperity, leading them to exchange 'the mess of earthly pottage' for 'the bread of life'—perishable substance for the fine gold of heavenly wealth and durable riches!
Or, that cruel blighting of young hope and pure affection—the withering of some cherished gourd—the opening of 'early graves' for the loving and beloved; holiest ties formed, but the 'memory' of which is all that remains. Where is God's kindness and mercy in creating bonds only to sever them? raising up friends only to bury them?
The plaintive experience and utterance of the bereaved mother in Israel, is that of many, "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me!" (Ruth 1:20)
But the 'shallow rills' are dried by Him, in order to lead to the 'great Fountainhead'. The links of earthly affection are broken, in order that stronger and more enduring ones may be formed above. The rents have been made in the house of clay, only to render more inviting the eternal home in heaven—stimulating us to live more for that world where all is perfection—where we shall stand without a fault before the throne!
Yes, suffering Christian! believe it—your trials are designed by Him who sent them, to bring you nearer Himself! They are His own appointed gateways, opening up and admitting to great spiritual blessings!
The mother eagle is said purposely to put a 'thorn' into her nest to compel her young brood to fly. If God gave us no thorn—if He never disturbed the "downy nest of our worldly ease"—we might be tempted to remain grovelers forever! He knows us better! He loves us better!
The day will come when we shall joyfully testify, "Had it not been for these wilderness experiences—that protracted sickness—that loss of worldly position—the death of that cherished friend—I would still have been clinging to 'earth' as my portion, content with the polluted rill and the broken
cistern, instead of drawing water out of the wells of salvation!"
GWT: I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi when the LORD has tormented me and the Almighty has done evil to me?" (GWT)
ICB: When I left, I had all I wanted. But now, the Lord has brought me home with nothing. So why should you call me Naomi when the Lord has spoken against me? God All-Powerful has given me much trouble. (ICB: Nelson)
KJV: I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
NET: I left here full, but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the Lord has opposed me and the Sovereign One has made me suffer (NET Bible)
TEV: When I left here, I had plenty, but the Lord has brought me back without a thing. Why call me Naomi when the Lord Almighty has condemned me and sent me trouble
Young's Literal: I went out full, and empty hath Jehovah brought me back, why do ye call me Naomi, and Jehovah hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath done evil to me?'
English of Septuagint: I went out full (abounding, complete), and the Lord has brought me back empty (empty handed): and why do you call me Noemin, whereas the Lord has humbled (made me low, assigned me to a lower place) me and the Mighty One has afflicted (mistreated, ill treated) me
I WENT OUT FULL BUT THE LORD HAS BROUGHT ME BACK EMPTY: (1Sa 2:7;2:8 Job 1:21)
Spurgeon writes that…
Expositors Bible Commentary adds that
Job despite experiencing the pain and anguish of losing his children was able to exclaim
In (Ru 3:17- see note) the same Hebrew word for "empty" is used Boaz instructing Ruth not to "'go to your mother-in-law empty-handed."
In his sermon on this passage Alan Carr writes…
Note that four times in Ruth 1:20-21 Naomi uses God's names:
Because God is Almighty and the All Sufficient I Am, despite the circumstances that might suggest otherwise, Naomi clearly acknowledged that He was in control, a truth which carries with it an implied hope and a hint of a better future. What Naomi cannot see is that the hand of the Lord will go out for her shortly! There is never reason for us to despair if we believe the hand of the Lord has gone out against me. If we will return to Him, His hand will go out for us again! Naomi had no idea - not the slightest - of how greatly God was going to bless her in a short time. Naomi, like Bethlehem (Ru 1:1, 6-see notes Ruth 1:1, 1:6), would become "full" again when God visited her family (see notes Ruth 3:17, 4:13).
J Vernon McGee adds…
The LORD has brought me back - Spurgeon writes…
WHY DO YOU CALL ME NAOMI SINCE THE LORD HAS WITNESSED AGAINST ME AND THE ALMIGHTY HAS AFFLICTED ME (Job 10:17; 13:26; 16:8; Mal 3:5)
I think the Living Bible goes a bit too far paraphrasing the Hebrew as
The New American Bible seems to come close to the original Hebrew translating it
The NET translation conveys the picture of a courtroom scene recording that
The Septuagint (LXX) as discussed more below translates this section as
Naomi, in a sense portraying herself as a defendant in a legal action, interprets the Lord's hand against her as a sign of His displeasure, for the phrase has witnessed against me pictures one being prosecuted by an adversary in a court of law.
Spurgeon writes that…
The Almighty has afflicted me - The Hebrew word afflicted (ra'a) conveys the sense of breaking by breaking in pieces and is variously translated as break, evil, afflict, harm, etc. The Septuagint (LXX) ("the Lord has humbled me") translates the Hebrew verb with the Greek verb tapeinoo (to make lower, then to humble - see illustrative uses in examples from Psalm 119 below) which pictures Yahweh humbling Naomi through the adversity He had either sent or allowed (see Spurgeon's comment directly below regarding affliction from God). What Naomi seems to have forgotten is that in all the bitter experiences of His children, God is orchestrating and plotting for their good and His glory. If we believe this principle and recall it to mind when adversity knocks, we will not be blinded to His purposes like Naomi seemed to be, to the point that she was unable to recognize that God had already begun to reveal His grace in the provision of Ruth the Moabitess.
Whether Shaddai sent the affliction or allowed it (as He allowed Satan to afflict Job), we must always remember that the affliction is never without a purpose.
Spurgeon rightly observes that…
God breaks things or allows them to be broken (or humbled) in order to make them useful for Him. If God has broken you or is humbling you in some area of your life, be encouraged that God can use this experience to make you more useful for Him.
The psalmist had a proper perspective on affliction declaring that
Solomon adds that
The psalmist records
Affliction keeps us from going astray for as the psalmist says
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God
And finally Peter instructs us that
Henry adds that
Naomi may have had felt something like the psalmist who wrote that
Since Naomi did not perish but in fact made the positive choice to return to the "promised land", the house of bread, she must have had the habit of delighting herself in the Law of the LORD. Naomi knew that the tragedy that came into her life was not because of fate, chance, or blind fortune. She felt the tragedies were an example of God’s affliction but she could not see the end of His plan. She knew there was a sovereign God of heaven, and didn’t think she had just run into a string of "bad luck"!
Not everyone reacts to trials the way Naomi did.
It would have been easy for Naomi to focus on what she had lost. She had lost a husband, two sons, and one daughter-in-law. She had lost all kinds of material possessions. All she had left was one daughter-in-law, Ruth. But through that one thing she had left, God was going to bring unbelievable blessing into her life. But at the moment, all seemed lost! Hang on all those reading who feel like Naomi - trust in what God can do! All the good that happens in the future chapters begins her (God of course being the source): With Naomi’s godly repentance (click discussion of repentance) and honesty. It will make a difference not only in her life, but in the life of her daughter-in-law Ruth - and in the destiny of the nation Israel - and in your eternal salvation! Who knows what God will accomplish, both for now and eternity, if we make the choice to return to Him, not only in feelings, but in actions!
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Have You Turned?
Do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. --1 Samuel 12:20
In May of 1998, the failure of a control processor on board the Galaxy IV communications satellite caused it to rotate out of position and turn away from the earth. In an instant, 40 million pagers became useless pieces of plastic. Hundreds of retail stores and scores of radio and TV stations were also affected--all because one satellite turned the wrong way. How many people would be affected if you or I turned away from God? Few of us realize the extent of our influence, but our obedience to God is vital because of our role in the church (1Co 12:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17) and the world (1Pe 2:9, 10, 11, 12 -see notes 1Pe 2:9; 10; 11; 12).
God charged His Old Testament people to be faithful to His covenant "so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, … and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood" (Dt 29:18). A New Testament writer recalled this when he said we should be careful "lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled" (He 12:15-note). Are you out of position today? Turn back to God. Stay in contact with Him. You never know how many lives will be influenced by your decision. --D C McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
THINKING IT OVER
What might cause me to turn away from God?
Is there any "root of bitterness" in my life?
Is there anything I need to confess to God right now?
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LIFE ON LEVEL ONE - In an ancient form of Chinese drama, plays were often performed on a two-level stage. On the first level, the drama would unfold in the natural sequence of the script, while on the second level the last act of the play would be acted out simultaneously. This gave the audience a distinct advantage—they knew how the story would end. In fact, it was not uncommon for the audience to yell to the actors on level one, warning them that their attitudes or actions were threatening the good outcomes of the final act of the play.
Life is a lot like living on “level one.” When life on level one is in the dumper, it’s easy to forget that the unseen hand of God is already at work to bring the last act to His glory and our good.
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The following excerpt from William Taylor succinctly summarizes several lessons from this first chapter of Ruth…
When they arrived at Bethlehem the people of the city made a great stir, and said, "Is this Naomi?" They recognized her as their old neighbor; and yet they saw that she was greatly changed--so greatly that they could hardly believe that it was she after all. Then on Naomi's side, also, there must have been some misgivings about those who thronged around her. They saw the alterations in her, but they were all unconscious of those in themselves. Ten years make deep marks in those over whom they pass, especially if they have reached the midtime of their lives; and they who say, "How changed you are," to those who revisit home after a long absence, might well enough use the first personal pronoun and include themselves in the ejaculation. But the external alterations are of small account. The more important changes are those which are not seen all at once; and perhaps when we compare ourselves with what we were, in character and experience long ago, we might each see reason to exclaim, "Is this really myself!" You may remember that very striking poem of Miss Procter's in which she represents one in mature life looking at a portrait of herself that had been taken long years before, and moralizing over the contrast between then and now in a strain that concludes with these two lines:
"And I marvel to see the stranger
Who is living in me today."
And so I think each of us may do. So at least Naomi did. As her old neighbors called her by the old name in the old street, and said, "Is this Naomi?" She might have said, "Yes, I am changed, I know it; but the deepest change is one you do not see, for my heart is heavy. Call me no more Naomi (' sweet '), for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?"
It was very sad. But the saddest thing was that the Bethlehemites made no response to her sorrow. Had she come back with pomp and glory and riches they would have made much of her; for the world always fawns upon prosperity, and those who need least of its attentions get the most. But Naomi's account of her circumstances seems to have damped the ardor of the welcome given her by her old neighbors. None of them invited her home, or offered her hospitality. She was too poor now to be acknowledged in that way; and after the first expressions of surprise at her appearance, they let her severely alone. Nobody proffered her assistance. Some might even criticize and say, "She did not know when she was well. If she had only stayed among her own kindred, she might have been as full as ever. But she would go. She made her own bed and she must lie on it now, hard as it is. And whatever possessed her to bring that young Moabitish woman with her, only to add to her burden, and make her perplexity the greater?" Ah, we known all about it. The rich have many friends; but they who come home empty from afar, come home full often to coldness and averted looks.
Still Naomi with all her sadness had a brave, believing heart, and as she looked down upon the ripened barley falling before the reaper in the fields beneath, she would be reminded of Him who has put for His people the rainbow of His covenant into every cloud of trial.
Now, returning over this deeply pathetic narrative, we may learn to recognize God's hand in everything. It is noteworthy how constantly Naomi did that. Look over the verses that have to-night been before us, and you will be greatly struck with the frequency with which this feature of her piety presents itself. She had heard "that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread." She said that "the hand of the Lord had gone out against her," and again, that "the Lord had testified against her, and the Almighty had afflicted her." It is not likely that she either undervalued or overlooked secondary causes, but she believed that God was in and over all these causes, working out His own purposes through their operation. And she recognized in all that came upon her the will of God concerning her. No doubt she was wrong in supposing that Jehovah was acting bitterly towards her, but in that she erred with Jacob when he cried, "All these things are against me."
On the other hand, she was not wrong in believing that the Providence of God (Ed: Providence from Latin pro = beforehand, forward + videre = see > foresee, attend to!) is in and over all events, and it were well for us if we realized that truth. How this universal providence can be maintained without interfering either with the uniformity of the workings of what men call the laws of nature, or with the free agency of man, it may be impossible for us to explain; but that it is maintained I take to be established both by the testimony of history in general, and of individual experience in particular. And if we believe the words of Jesus, when He says that the hairs of our heads are numbered, and that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without our Father (Mt 10:29, 30), we cannot hesitate to accept the doctrine, whatever mystery there may be about the mode of the divine operation.
Now, accepting that doctrine, we have in it an antidote both
For if prosperity comes, it comes from God; and if adversity befalls us, it has been sent from God; and since He is love, and has shown that love by the sacrifice of His Son upon the Cross, we may be sure that if we are His people in Christ, He cannot mean anything but love to us, whatever He may permit to come upon us.
Naomi, therefore, was not wrong in tracing all her changes in condition to God, but she erred in ascribing any bitterness to God in His treatment of her. The Father loves the child as really when He administers the disagreeable medicine which is to recover him from disease as when He is dandling him upon His knees. The only difference is in the manner in which the love is shown, and that is accounted for by the differences in the circumstances of the child. In like manner adversity, how bitter soever it may be, is a manifestation of God's love to us, designed for our ultimate and highest welfare (cf He 12:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-see notes He 12:5; 12:6; 12:7; 12:8; 12:9; 10; 11).
Now this may well reconcile us to trial. I say reconcile us to it. It will not make the trial less, but it will help us to bear it, just as the wounded man is braced for the amputation of a limb, when he is told that it is indispensable if his life is to be preserved. There is a "needs be" for every affliction, otherwise it would not come upon us under the providence of a God of love; and He sends it not in bitterness to us, but as the necessary means of "making perfect that which concerneth us."
Then if He send prosperity, we owe that to His favor rather than to our own ability; or if in any sense we owe it to our own ability, then that ability is itself His gift. So our faith in that view of the case will keep us from self-conceit. Thus the true believer in God's universal providence, if his faith in that doctrine be intelligent, is preserved alike from pride and haughtiness of heart in fulness, and from despair in emptiness. That doctrine is to the Christian's heart what a compensation balance is to a chronometer, and gives him equanimity in all conditions, so that he can sing:
Father, I know that all my life is portioned out by Thee,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see
and all his desire is so to possess his soul, that he may fall in with God's plan, and do always the things which please Him.
Naomi did not all at once attain to that spirit, but she came to it at length, and we may accept the conclusion at which she ultimately arrived, as the premises from which we ought to reason. Why should we repeat either Jacob's unbelief or hers, when we see how kindly that was rebuked and condemned in both cases, by the result of that process the course of which so deeply distressed them? "Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him." (Psalm 37:7, Spurgeon's note) Let Him finish His work in you before you presume to say that He is dealing bitterly with you or testifying against you, for this is one instance in which the otherwise most questionable doctrine is true, that "the end justifies the means," and when you get to the end, you will exclaim, "He hath done all things well."
A Second Lesson
But as a second lesson from this simple story we may learn the duty of absolute frankness in our dealings with each other. Naomi could not think of taking her daughters-in-law with her without telling them what was before them. If she had not done this, and they had gone with her, then on their first experience of hardship they might have upbraided her for her selfishness and cruelty; so she put everything, delicately, indeed, yet fairly, before them. She told them the worst, so that if they went with her and had to endure that, they might never say that she had painted things all too rosily. If they were to be disappointed at all, she preferred that it should be in finding things better and not worse than she had indicated. Now, this is a matter of great importance, which is not, I fear, sufficiently considered by most people. When two parties are in negotiation, usually one of them is bent simply and only on success. He wishes, like an advocate, to gain his cause, and exaggerates all that tells for his side, keeping out of view altogether or depreciating everything against it; and the result, if he carries his point, is sure to be disappointment and estrangement. Some time ago certain parties in the old country were induced, through flattering, and, indeed, lying descriptions, to purchase some lands in Florida, and when they came out to take possession they found there nothing but bare and barren sand. Can you wonder that they exclaimed against the deceitfulness of Americans in general, and Florida land-agents in particular? But while we condemn such rascality as that, are we so sure that our own hands are clean? There is an old Roman maxim, Caveat emitar--"Let the buyer look after himself "--which has always seemed to me to have the rankest dishonesty beneath it, and which, I fear, is too often acted upon even among ourselves. Now, if we are going to sell anything, let us sell it for what it is, and not for what we know that it is not. If the buyer is mistaken, let us show him his mistake, even if we should at present lose money thereby; for if we do not, we shall not only do a dishonest act, but we shall lose him for a customer. It looks very "smart" to take advantage of the ignorance of him with whom you are dealing, but if you do, he will be "smart" enough never to give you the chance again, and if you go on in that way your business will very soon be at an end. The open, frank truthful policy, even as a policy, is always best; but it is more than a policy, it is a duty, and that cannot be evaded without sin.
Nor is it only in business that we need to imitate Naomi's frankness with her daughters-in-law. We ought to act on the same principle, also, in the church. If a congregation eagerly desires a certain man for a pastor, the members should set everything fairly before him, and he should be equally open and above-board with them. He ought not to impose on them with a few showy sermons, which he has elaborated for the captivating of the multitude, and they ought not to cover up everything that is difficult or disagreeable among them. Thus neither will be disappointed in the other. And, in general, if we see a friend bent upon a course of any sort under an entire misapprehension of what the consequence shall be, we ought, in justice to ourselves and in faithfulness to him, to put before him with all delicateness, yet with absolute truthfulness, that which he will have to face. Then if he will he will, but we, at least, have endeavored to secure that he should know what he is doing.
In this connection who can forget the absolute honesty of the Lord Jesus Christ in His invitations to men to become His disciples? He promised them rest, indeed, but it was rest to their souls, and He never kept out of view the difficulties which they would have to encounter if they sought to act on His principles. Here are the terms of discipleship as laid down by Himself: "If any man be willing to come after Me, let him renounce self and take up his cross daily and follow Me ;" and, as you remember, he exhorted some who were more sentimental than serious to sit down and count the cost, lest, having put their hands to the plough, they should look back and so prove unworthy of Him. Now, that procedure of our Lord is valuable not only as teaching inquirers what they must expect if they become His disciples, but also as an example to us all to deal with absolute honesty and frankness with all with whom we have any negotiations, and sure I am that if we all did so there would be fewer criminations and recriminations between those who ought to dwell in harmony and love. It cost Naomi a good deal to say what she did to her daughters-in-law, but it would have cost her more if she had allowed Orpah to go forward blindfold to Bethlehem, for when the eye-opening came there would have been a painful rupture, followed, perhaps, by constant embitterment.
A Third Lesson
But a third lesson from this narrative is the value of decision. Look at these words: "When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, she left off speaking unto her." Ruth's firmness put a stop to Naomi's entreaties. And it is the same always. When Paul would go up to Jerusalem, despite the tears of his friends, they ceased their importunity and said, "The will of the Lord be done." And if a man is seen to be decided in his stand for Christ, antagonists will give over assailing him. There is nothing in the use of which men are more discriminating than entreaty, argument, or influence. So long as the object of their solicitude is wavering they will bring all their batteries to bear upon him, for there is still the hope that he will yield. But when he comes openly and determinedly out for Christ they will waste no more ammunition on him. They leave him thenceforth alone, and attack some one else. Thus decision, while it may require an effort to make it, is, after it is made, a safeguard against assault. The attack is reserved for those who are yet undecided, but the decision silences all further importunity. So long as a vessel has no flag at her mast-head, the sea-robber may think it safe to attack her; but let her hoist the flag of this nation, and that will make the assailant pause. In like manner, the hoisting over us of the banner of the Cross, being a symbol of decision, is also an assurance of protection. Up with it then, my hearer, and keep it up; for while it shows that you have decided to be His, it places you also under His divine protection, and there you are secure. Take your stand--manfully, prayerfully, and determinedly; and when others see that you have done so they will let you alone.
A Fourth Lesson
Finally. This story shows us the difference between mere amiability and devotion. Orpah was a good, kindly-disposition woman, thoroughly amiable, very friendly to Naomi, but not willing to make the greatest sacrifice for her. When it came to the point where she had to choose between the utter sacrifice of herself for Naomi and the return to her mother's house, then, amiable as she was, she went back to Moab. But Ruth's devotion was self-for-getting, and, at whatever sacrifice, she would go with Naomi to Bethlehem. Now, without pronouncing any condemnation on Orpah, I may take these two widowed sisters as types of two classes in their relation to Christ. On the one hand there are some who allege that they are not opposed to the gospel. On the whole they rather think well of it. They attend its ordinances. Up to a certain point they are its friends. But after a time they come to a fork in the road, where they must either part with Christ and His salvation or give up some heart-idolatry which they have long cherished; and there they halt. They are not willing to give that up even for Him. They have amiability, but not devotion-their center is self, not Christ. But there are others who will follow the Lord no matter at what cost or sacrifice; for it is the Lord they are thinking of and devoted to, not self. Now to which of these two classes do you belong? Are you unwilling to renounce self for Christ? Then let the words of Ruth determine you. Cleave fast to Christ. He is going to a glorious land--the home of joy and love. His lodging is a chamber whose window openeth towards the sun rising, the name of which is Peace. His people are a happy people; His God is a faithful God; His death is a victorious death; His burial is a hopeful burial, to be followed by a glorious resurrection. There is not another of whom these things can be said with truth--therefore cleave to Him through good report and through evil report, and He will give you an abundant entrance into His Father's house on high. (William M. Taylor. Ruth The Gleaner)
GWT: When Naomi came back from the country of Moab, Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law, came along with her. They happened to enter Bethlehem just when the barley harvest began. (GWT)
KJV: So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
NLT: So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Young's Lit: And Naomi turneth back, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who hath turned back from the fields of Moab, and they have come in to Beth-Lehem at the commencement of barley-harvest.
|Septuagint (LXX): kai epestrepsen (3SAAI) Noemin kai Routh e Moabitis e numphe autes epistrephousa (PAPFSN) ex agrou Moab autai de paregenethesan (3PAPI) eis Baithleem en arche therismou krithon
English of Septuagint: So Noemin and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, returned from the country of Moab; and they came (showed up publicly at) to Bethleem in the beginning of barley harvest
SO NAOMI RETURNED AND WITH HER RUTH THE MOABITESS HER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW WHO RETURNED FROM THE LAND OF MOAB:
The Targum (translation of Hebrew OT into Aramaic, sometimes literal but other times as loose paraphrase like the one here) for this verse reads
Naomi - Note that although she referred to herself by the name Mara or Bitter, the Holy Spirit describes her as "Naomi". She may have been (or felt) "bitter" in heart, but the Lord still referred to her as Naomi or pleasant for He Who knows the beginning from the end had some "pleasant" blessings ahead for this downcast OT saint.
Returned (7725) (shuv/shuwb/shub) is used no less than ten times in this chapter and "return (-ed)" is therefore clearly a "key word" (See importance of key words in inductive Bible study). The word is even used of Ruth, which is an unusual word for the narrator to use since there is no indication that Ruth had ever been to Israel.
Shuv/shub - 13x in Ruth - Ruth 1:6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 21, 22; 2:6; 4:3, 15
The Septuagint (LXX) uses an interesting Greek verb, epistrepho (word study) (1994) (from epí = motion toward + strépho = turn) to translate shub. The LXX uses epistrepho some 416 times to convey the ideas of restore, return or repent, any or all of these ideas being compatible with Naomi's "return". Epistrepho literally means a change of direction and figuratively also refers to such a change which conveys the idea of repentance or the change of one's mind. For example epistrepho is used by Paul to describe the formerly pagan worshipping Thessalonians who…
Ruth the Moabitess - Constable has this helpful note…
Henri Rossi has an interesting take on Ruth 1…
AND THEY CAME TO BETHLEHEM AT THE BEGINNING OF BARLEY HARVEST: (see note Ruth 2:23; Ex 9:31;32 2Sa 21:9)
God's Word Translation (GWT) says
The GWT suggests (by using the word "happened") that their arrival was happenstance and just happened to be when the first grain harvest was commencing. Having seen God's hand as very active "behind the scenes" throughout this chapter, it comes as little surprise that Shaddai (the Sufficient One - note) is able to bring Ruth and Naomi into the city at just the right time --not in the middle or the end of the barley harvest at the end but at the beginning. The events in our life and the timing of those events are in Jehovah's hand. In the gospel of John, Jesus reminds us that believers are not only in His "hand" but in His "Father's hand" (Jn 10:28 10:29) and so it follows that everything that enters into our life has to be filtered through the powerful hand of our loving Father. Do you really believe this?
It was God who took away the famine and opened a way home. God's timing is never off. We may get in a hurry or lag behind, but God is the Master of time. His plans always take place in the "fullness of the time" (Gal. 4:4). Never a moment too soon or a second too late, but at the appropriate time He brings about His perfect will. Trust your time to God. He is a billion times better than an atomic clock. At the right time, He will open the way for you. God is never in a hurry because He is in control of time.
God moves in a mysterious way
Beginning of the barley harvest is a wonderful time phrase, indicating that Naomi and Ruth arrived in the Springtime, because barley was the first grain to be harvested in either March or April, while wheat was the last to be harvested. Springtime was a perfect time for two downtrodden widows to arrive -- flowers blooming on the Bethlehem hillsides -- new life becoming manifest after a long barren winter when everything dies -- and the time of celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Firstfruits. (Lev 23:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) (see First-fruits)
Leviticus records the institution of these two festivals -
During March or April some barley would be ready for harvest; and it would be plucked, bound together (this constitutes a "sheaf") and waved before the LORD on the day after the Sabbath. The very word "Firstfruits " means in essence that "There is more to come." The sheaf of firstfruits waved before the Lord thus signified two things.
First as shown below it was an acknowledgment that God Alone brought the grain out of the earth. Life comes from Him. And second, it was also a pledge of a greater harvest to come.
Paul writes that
According to the traditional view of the crucifixion of Christ on Friday (14th of Nisan), He rose on the 16th day of Nisan, the first day of the week, a Sunday—the day referred to as the Feast of First Fruits. Just as the first ripe barley was a promise of the remainder of the harvest, so also Christ’s resurrection assures every believer of his or her bodily resurrection at His return. And so the divinely controlled time of Naomi and Ruth's arrival in Bethlehem resonates with Messianic overtones. How fitting that Ruth who would one day be in the line of the Messiah, should arrive at such a time as this. How fitting for Naomi who had come back "empty" would return during a season pre-figuring Messiah's resurrection which guarantees that all who put their faith in Him will also gain immortality through resurrection.
Woodrow Kroll has a devotional aptly titled "Just in Time" writing that…
It is interesting that the book of Ruth is read by the Jews on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) occurring 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, corresponding to the time of the wheat harvest and serving as picture of the coming of the promised Holy Spirit and the birth of the church (Acts 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7f)
Sweet providence as well as bitter providence comes to Naomi in chapter one. God lifts the famine and opens a way home for Naomi. He gives her an amazingly devoted and loving daughter-in-law to accompany her. And preserves a kinsman of Naomi's husband who will some day marry Ruth and preserve Naomi's line. But Naomi sees none of this… at least not yet. By the grace of God, Naomi’s emptiness will become fullness, and her sorrow will turn to joy. As this story progresses you will see Naomi return to her roots and to full faith in her faithful Shaddai. Remembering God’s past faithfulness provides powerful reassurance in present crises. If God has been our help in ages past, He’ll be our hope for years to come. If He has begun a good work in us, He’ll carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. He hasn’t led us this far just to let us drown in bottomless seas of sorrow. The Lord will make a way, for He has a history of doing just that.
Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress;
Praise Him, still the same as ever,
Slow to chide and swift to bless.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Glorious is His faithfulness.
F B Meyer writes…
Dave Guzik writes that…
Wiersbe comments that
Pastor Dan Fortner asks…
NAOMI AND RUTH'S FROWNING PROVIDENCE
William Cowper (See John Piper's bio on Cowper - Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint) penned the following lines so apropos to the unfolding saga of Naomi and Ruth…
"God moves in a mysterious way
Beloved do your present circumstances picture a "frowning providence"? Take heart from Naomi and Ruth's "cloudy" circumstances for they will soon understand that "behind the frowning providence He hides a smiling face". Amen.