Back to Naomi. Do you feel the anguish of this woman? The sudden loss of not only familiar friends, family, home and country, but her loving and caring husband; not one, but two sons in their prime. There is no welfare system, no protector or supplier. Where, and to whom can she turn? What choices does she have?
Stay and hope for the best that she’ll survive in this alien land? Maybe the families of her daughters-in-law will proffer some protection? Maybe she can work the land and keep body and soul together until her day of death comes too?
Maybe she will just lie down and die? Take her own life quickly and put a final end to all her suffering. It would be easy; off a cliff; into a river; some poison?
Maybe she can go elsewhere; somewhere new, and try making a new start? But where? And she’d still be alone. She’d still be an outsider; a stranger; a sojourner in a strange land, vulnerable to all manner of perils and evils.
Do you go back from whence you’ve come? Apparently times are better there now. (Have you noticed how, when looking back, circumstances often seem better than when they did originally? Hindsight can give us a very clear rose-coloured perspective of our past.) But, would she be welcome? What had she said to her neighbours as she ran out on them? Would they mistreat her? Would there be anything left of her previous home and possessions for her to claim? And what about the journey? There was not a 4-lane highway with roadhouses. Rough walking for many days; thieves, wild animals and deprivation. Would she actually survive the journey?
And what about her faith? Would God want her? Would He be angry with her? She believed that He was a mighty Sovereign who must be obeyed, yet she had broken His Laws and had run from His presence. Would He punish her even more? (When we’ve run from God, we often feel afraid to confront Him with our error (just look at Adam in the Garden), but it is vitally important to remember “His mercy is new every morning!”).
Which of these choices would you make?
Well, I suppose there’s ‘no place like home’. Better to die amongst people you know than strangers. But what about these other 2 women now wailing at their loss. Is she now responsible for them too? What can she do for, or about them?
Read Ruth Chapter 1 Verses 6-22.
See in verse 6 that God had again provided for His people. Those who had stayed in the promised land. Troubles are always only for a season, but His mercy is forever!
In verses 8 & 9 we see that Naomi blesses her daughters-in-law and prays for them. It is always a good thing to bless each other as we come and go. Bless and not curse. And let’s be honest, we all need someone praying for us, so pray for others too. It is also important to remember that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).
Though many set out on the way to the promised land in this life, some will go back. Their confession is not strong, for strong passions without a settled judgement, commonly produces weak resolutions. Should Naomi have more strongly encouraged Orpah to follow her into God’s Promises and leave her idolatrous life behind? Remember, that a faith based on person-pleasing is no faith at all. We must all weigh the cost of our salvation and accept Jesus for ourselves, not for others. Many may have an affection and a value for Christ, but will come short of the fullness of Grace, because they cannot find it in their hearts to forsake the things of this world. They love Him, yet leave Him because they love other things more.
Of v14 C H Spurgeon wrote: “But Ruth is RESOLUTE! She has decided! This is her future. See the power of resolution, how it puts temptation to silence. Those that are unresolved, and go in religious ways without a steadfast mind, tempt the tempter, and stand like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil, and forces him to flee!”
And the commentator Louis Banks had this to say about Naomi: “And we finish this chapter of Ruth with the 2 women returning to the Promised Land, to the House of Bread, at the time of the harvest. The time of the in-gathering.”
And the point to this little exercise? Do not forsake the blessings from God. But if you do, admit it, and mercifully you will have access again. Be resolute. Set in permanence today, now, your choice for life from the giver of life – JESUS.