Understanding the Old Testament

Ruth and Naomi

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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 I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”(Ruth 1:16-17)

Although these beautiful words of loyalty and devotion have been used in many wedding ceremonies, including my own, they were originally spoken by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law.

Ruth, the daughter-in-law, was a Moabite, a distant descendant of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

Naomi was from Israel. She had married a man from Bethlehem, Elimelech, and they had two sons: Mahlon and Chilion. During a terrible famine in Israel, Elimelech moved Naomi and their two sons to Moab, and there he met an untimely death, leaving Naomi a widow.

Each of the two sons took a Moabite wife—Chilion married Orpah, and Mahlon married Ruth. (See Ruth 4:10.) But after Naomi had been in Moab for about ten years both of the sons died. With her husband and sons dead, Naomi decided to return to Israel. Orpah stayed in Moab in the hope of landing another husband from her people, but Ruth refused to be separated from Naomi. Those wonderful words in Ruth 1:16-17 convinced her to let Ruth accompany her.

So the two of them journeyed to Bethlehem, where Naomi gave herself a new name. Naomi means “pleasant.” But she renamed herself Mara, meaning “bitter,” because “the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

Questions to ponder or discuss: Naomi believed that God was responsible for her misfortune. Do you believe God inflicts calamities and adversity on people? Why or why not? How does Luke 13:1-5 impact your answer?

Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.