As we close out chapter one, this final verse holds an important nugget…
“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
The chapter started out with a severe famine and a man leading his family into an ungodly land. But when the remnants of that man’s family return to the Promised Land, they arrive at the beginning of barley harvest. Now we may read this and think, What’s the big deal about a harvest? Don’t they happen all the time? However, in this one little detail God reveals much about His character and sovereignty.
We’re finally going to start looking at the life of Ruth! Now that we have sufficiently set the stage and looked at the background of the story through the eyes of Naomi and Elimelech’s lack of faith, it is time to bring Ruth into our study.
“These[Mahlon and Chilion] took Moabite wives;
the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth.”
We’ve looked at the character of Naomi, both her exemplary traits and those not so desirable. Now, before we get into the person of Ruth, let’s go back to the very beginning of this narrative.
“In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.”
Naomi’s story is one of tragedy, sorrow, and bitterness. Last time we looked at Naomi’s positive traits and character qualities, but now it’s time to learn from her mistakes.
“I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
Naomi was right. The Lord did bring her back to Judah empty, but was it His fault? Was her life really completely empty and without blessing? What about the loyalty of her daughter-in-law Ruth? Was God really the one bringing sorrow and calamity into Naomi’s life, or were they the consequences of her own poor decisions?
When we think about the book of Ruth, we usually focus on the main character, Ruth, and her powerful statement of faith:
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’”
However, without the life and testimony of another woman, Ruth would never have gotten to know the Lord and become a part of David’s lineage. That other woman is a background character and one who wanted to be overlooked and forgotten about because her life had become bitter. Can you guess who she is?