Do you like your name? Doesn’t it bug you just a little when someone forgets your name – or even misspells it? In some cultures, a child is not named until the parents learn more of his or her character. In America, parents are often less concerned about the meaning of a name and more concerned about who else bears the name.
In our study of the book of Ruth, names are important. Their meaning is key to the story.
So here’s your list of names, with meanings:
Naomi - pleasant
Mara - bitter
Ruth - companion
Boaz - strong
Elimelech - my god is king
Mahlon - weak
Chilion (Kilion, in some translations) - failing
Orpah - obstinate
Obed - servant
David – beloved
Bethlehem – city of bread
Now take a look at the first sentence in the book of Ruth:
“In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a man from Bethlehem in Judah left the country because of a severe famine.”
We know the time frame for the story and the place. This is a story from Israel, taking place when judges ruled the land.
If you’ve read the book of Judges, you know that this was a topsy-turvy time, with all sorts of reversals. There was no king in Israel for 400 years. Supposedly God was leading the nation, but here’s reality: “In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
Our story happens in that time, when people did what they thought was right, and there was no leadership.
In your experience, what happens to people when they have no leadership but follow their own plans?