To Moab and Back: Ruth 1 (5)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 13.1, 2
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Sing Psalm 13.1, 2
(Melita: Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
How long, O Lord, O Lord, how long will You forget me and my song?
How long will You conceal Your face and keep from me Your precious grace?
How long must I my soul consult? When shall my weary heart exult?
Read Ruth 1.10-14
1. How would you describe Naomi’s attitude toward her daughters-in-law?
2. Why did she want them to go back home?
Naomi was urgent that her daughters-in-law should take steps to care for their own needs. Clearly, she understood that she and her family had come under the displeasure of God (v. 13). This had created a bitterness in her soul, but not toward God.
Naomi demonstrated true faith by turning from her bitterness and pain to seek the Lord according to His Word, in the land of His promises. This is ever the way of redemption and renewal. Her bitterness, though it was from the hand of the Lord, was partly of her own making.
We also note a “smallness” in Naomi’s faith here. The only blessing she could imagine for her daughters-in-law was that which accorded with her experience and reason. That God might have something completely different in mind did not occur to her. So, reasonably enough, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye and returned to her home. Ruth, however, showing a deeper love than even Naomi’s, clung to her mother-in-law.
Do not miss the hint of God’s sovereignty, and how He works to accomplish His redemptive purposes for His people. Although Naomi and her family had brought their own misery upon themselves, the hand of the Lord was in it. God does not cause us to sin; nor does He bring evil upon people. However, He will allow us to follow our own paths, and to receive the consequences of our own sinful choices. Even this process is not outside the scope of His sovereignty, although we cannot hold Him responsible for our misery. Nor can we fathom the mysteries of the working of His grace.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Turn back… Turn back” (vv. 11, 12). The three have walked toward Israel for a while, but then Naomi stops the progress and urges her daughters-in-law, once again, to return home. Her spirits must have been lagging, and the full weight of the future bore heavily on her heart. For several years now she has known the truth of what has happened: “And He gave them their request [food, shelter, life], but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps. 106.15).
And now she feels responsible for everyone and everything. Oh my. Poor Naomi.
And yet, the very fact that she is plodding on toward hope speaks volumes! Ruth must have sensed the hope and the possibilities too, for she “clung to her” (vs. 14). And they both set out clinging to the LORD: “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Ps. 27.14) “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, and bear them up forever” (Ps. 28.8, 9). Do you suppose David wrote those words while thinking of these two courageous and hopeful women in his lineage? I do.
Love that clings to God is memorable.
1. How can we see Naomi’s faith at work in these verses? How did her faith lag?
2. Faith “plods” and “clings.” Explain.
3. What does it mean to “wait” on the Lord? Why is important we do so?
Ruth follows after her holy mother-in-law, whereas Orpah abandons her; one daughter-in-law demonstrates faithlessness, the other fidelity. The one puts God before country, the other puts country before life. Does not such disharmony continue through the universe, one part following God and the other falling headlong through the world? Paulinus of Nola (355-431), Poems 27.511
Lord, help me cling to You, even in the face of adversity, even when I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 13.3-6
Cast all your burdens on the Lord, knowing that He cares for you. Thank Him for His many blessings. Meditate on His saving mercy. Rejoice in His salvation.
Sing Psalm 13.3-6
(Melita: Eternal Father, Strong to Save)
Exalt not, Lord, my enemy; Lord, hear my prayer and answer me!
Give light unto my weary eyes; let not death claim me for its prize.
Let not my foe rejoice to say that I have fallen in the way.
Yet I have trusted, Lord, in You; Your lovingkindness sees me through.
My heart breaks forth in happy voice; in Your salvation I rejoice!
Thus I will sing triumphantly: “My God has dealt full well with me!”
T. M. and Susie Moore
Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the Deuteronomy series by clicking here. And check out our current ReVision series on encouragement.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel: Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV, John R. Franke, ed, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).