Opening Prayer: Psalm 37.7-9
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
Sing: Psalm 37.7-9
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Rest in the Lord and wait on Jesus; fret not at those who practice sin.
Forsake all wrath till anger ceases; let anxious fears not enter in.
The wicked perish from the Lord, but they are blest who heed His Word!
Read Ruth 3.1
1. What was Naomi seeking for Ruth?
2. Why did she want to do that?
The first two chapters of Ruth cover many years. Even the time from Naomi’s and Ruth’s arriving in Bethlehem to the end of chapter 2 occupies many weeks. From this point forward, however, time is compressed, and the plot hastens to its conclusion.
Naomi’s question to Ruth reveals the attitude of the heart of grace. It was her duty to look out for Ruth’s wellbeing and to take whatever steps she could to make sure her daughter-in-law became nested in the rest and wellbeing of God. The terms “rest” and “be well” (Hebrew: “be good”) recall, in order, Lamech’s prayer of gratitude for the birth of his son, Noah (Gen. 5.28, 29) and God’s assessment of His work of creation (Gen. 1.31). These terms were deliberately chosen. The writer was seeking to establish covenant legitimacy for Ruth, and for what may have been a very good reason.
Naomi returned to Bethlehem a bitter, albeit repentant woman, shamed by her circumstances and the judgment of God on her family, but relieved to be back to the place of God’s favor. In chapter 2 she was dependent on Ruth to care for her. But here, at the beginning of chapter 3, the roles are reversing, as Ruth must depend on Naomi for counsel and direction. This is how grace works within the community of God’s shalom. Sometimes we are channels of grace. At other times we are recipients. At all times we look to the Lord for our rest and good.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Rest and wellbeing. These are good things to seek both in the physical/material and spiritual realms of life. Naomi could seek physical security for Ruth; but only God could fulfill her need for spiritual rest. We can, of course, encourage one another to seek these things; but no person or situation can provide what only God can. The difference is nuanced, but exists, nonetheless. David explains the subtleties well in Psalm 37.3-7:
“Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…”
Personal kindnesses are always nice, and earthly love and comforts dear; but only God can give us the eternal desires of our heart – Jesus.
1. What does it mean to rest in the Lord, to rest in Jesus? What are we resting from? Unto?
2. How do you see the grace of God at work between Ruth and Naomi here, as compared to chapter 2?
3. We can give rest and wellbeing at one level, and we ought always strive to do so. But why can God alone give the deeper rest and wellbeing our soul desires?
Once again, Naomi returned to the subject of security or rest, which she addressed in 1:9. In the first instance, she had asked God to provide her daughters-in-law the “rest” of marriage. Now she was determined to seek this rest for Ruth. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Notes on Ruth 3.1
Closing Prayer: Psalm 37.1-6, 34-40
Commit your day and all your activities and needs to the Lord. Ask God to give you courage and strength to do all His will.
Sing Psalm 37.1-6, 34-40
(Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Let not the wicked make you worry; envy not those who break God’s Word.
Like dying grass will they be sorry, and fade like every dying herb.
Trust in the Lord and do His will; dwell in His grace, be faithful still.
Delight yourself in God’s salvation; He’ll give you all your heart’s desire.
Commit to Him your every station, and His good purpose will transpire.
Your righteousness a blazing light He will bring forth against the night.
Wait on the Lord, His way observing, and He will lift you up on high.
Those prone to wicked ways preserving, your eyes shall see cast down to die.
The blameless man shall stand upright, for God preserves him by His might!
Salvation comes from Christ our Savior; He is our strength in time of need.
On us does He bestow His favor, who all His holy judgments heed.
He is our help in troubled times; our refuge He, in Him we hide.
T. M. and Susie Moore
Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Ruth by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the Ruth series by clicking here.
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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).