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Return to Blessing

Naomi and Ruth teach us about following Jesus. Ruth 1.15-22

To Moab and Back: Ruth 1 (6)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 142.1, 2
I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.

Sing Psalm 142.1, 2, 5, 6
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
With my voice, O Lord, I cry – hear my plea for mercy, Lord!
My complaint mounts up on high, bringing You my troubled word:
Refrain vv. 5, 6
Lord, You are my Refuge strong!
O receive my plaintive song!

Read Ruth 1.15-22

Preparation
1. Why did Ruth refuse to leave Naomi?

2. How did Naomi regard her place with the Lord?

Meditation
Orpah has done the “sensible” thing. She has returned to her pagan home and ways. Just how deep Ruth’s commitment to Naomi was is made clear in these verses.

Together, Naomi and Ruth make a perfect example of the nature of repentance, the first step to redemption and renewal. Naomi feels the bitterness of her family’s foolish decisions (vv. 20, 21), and she longs to be restored in full to the good and faithful God of Israel. Ruth was willing to leave everything about her life as a pagan – home, family, prospects, gods – in order to make the journey of faith into a new people and land (vv. 16, 17). From this point forward, Ruth will have a new identity, a new context, a new orientation, and a new hope. This is the essence of the redeemed life.

Naomi’s repentance is complete as she admits her folly to her former neighbors. There is no slighting of God in her words; she takes full responsibility for her sin, and seems to admit that her punishment was just. Her use of the words, “Almighty” and “Lord”, in referring to God indicate her faith in God’s covenant, as these terms recall God’s manifestation of Himself to Abraham (Gen 17.1, 2) and Moses (Ex. 3.13-15). Thus, even in her bitterness and repentance, Naomi holds out the hope of restoration by invoking the Name of the covenant God.

The mention of the barley harvest (v. 22), together with the thrice-repeated mention of Bethlehem (“house of bread”, vv. 19, 22), points forward to the promise of blessing and what we shall see as the return of the Lord’s favor upon Naomi. God’s blessing for His people can only be known within the framework of His promises, here symbolized by the town of Bethlehem. Repentance is a necessary first step toward redemption and renewal. It is to be performed within the circle of the transgression, thus restoring relationships not only with God but also with one’s neighbors.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Naomi said to Ruth, “Return.” (vs. 15) But Ruth said to Naomi, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (vv. 16, 17).

Ruth was determined to follow Naomi.

Jesus doesn’t say to us, go back; but boldly says, “Follow Me” (Matt. 9.9). And we determinedly say to Him, “Please, never tell me to leave You or to turn back from following You. For wherever You go, I will go. And wherever You lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people. And Your God will be my God. You have died for me. I will be crucified with You, so that it is no longer I who live, but You live in me. And this life which I now live, I live by faith in You, Jesus, because You loved me and gave Yourself for me. And nothing will ever separate me from this love that I have for You, and the love that God has for me because of You” (Gal. 2.20; Rom. 8.39).

We must be as determined to love and follow Jesus as Ruth was to follow Naomi.

Reflection
1. How is Ruth a good example for us as disciples of Jesus Christ?

2. Why did Naomi need to confess her bitterness to the people of Bethlehem?

3. What can we learn from Naomi about sustaining a rich and growing relationship with the Lord?

The cup of affliction is a "bitter" cup, but she owns that the affliction came from God. It well becomes us to have our hearts humbled under humbling providence. It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly born, that does us good. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ruth 1.19-22

Closing Prayer: Psalm 142.3-7
Let the Lord search your soul in silence. Confess any sins He brings to mind. Call on Him to restore the joy of your salvation. Commit your day to the Lord, to walk with Him and serve Him in all you do.

Sing Psalm 142.3-7
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
When my spirit faints away, You my falt’ring pathway know.
Where I take my journey they traps have hidden to my woe.
Refrain vv. 5, 6
Lord, You are my Refuge strong!
O receive my plaintive song!

Lord, look to my right and see: None takes notice of my plight.
Is there refuge left for me? Is my soul out of Your sight?
Refrain

Hear my cry, Lord, I am low! They are strong who seek my soul.
Jesus frees from every foe; He will keep and make me whole!
Refrain

Out of prison lead me, Lord! Thanks and praise to You shall be.
Righteous men armed with Your Word will Your grace bestow on me.
Refrain

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).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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