Monday, June 23, 2008

Ruth: limping home

Last week we discussed Naomi’s decision to go to Bethlehem alone, leaving her daughters-in-law behind.

In sending her daughters-in-law back to their homes, Naomi declared that she was too old to provide sons for them to marry one day. She was utterly alone. Her full life was gone. Destitution had settled on Naomi like a limp robe and she believed that God, for some reason she didn’t understand, had turned his back on her, violating his promises.

Only a few verses later, she added to the protest. She believed she left Bethlehem full but the Lord was bringing her back empty. She even blamed the return to Bethlehem on God’s hand. She accused God of dealing harshly with her, of bringing calamity on her. Her agony turned to blame. The great covenant-making God, who had brought her people out of slavery in Egypt, had apparently welched on his promise. In Naomi’s eyes, God had shown himself to be unpredictable and moody, dealing bitterly with her for no reason she could understand.

She told the women at Bethlehem that she left full but now returned empty. God let her down. She was in Bethlehem with her family. But God could not provide the food needed and so the family was forced to go to Moab.

In Moab, things were good for a time but then they went sour. The famine had now appeared in Naomi’s heart. Although she blamed God for the famine in Bethlehem and now the famine in her soul, when she heard that God has blessed Bethlehem again, she headed for home.

She recognized God’s sovereignty but believed he has turned against her. He could provide security but not in her case.

Naomi thought she was simply returning to Bethlehem. But next time, we’ll see that she’s about to walk into abundance.

1 comment:

Maxine said...

How rich this story is. When we had this story in a certain ladies study, one of the sisters mentioned that Ruth could have been offended at Naomi's statement that she was returning home empty. The sister said that Ruth probably was thinking: "What am I, chopped liver?" I was amused by that.