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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Naomi and Ruth. Part 1—Ruth 1.

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NAOMI AND RUTH.

"Entreat me not to leave thee."-Ruth 1

The book of Ruth, a perfectly true history in itself, is also a wonderful parable of the Church of Christ, and sometimes in the course of the thoughts we pen, we may need to take it in its parabolic sense.

It was in the days when the Judges ruled in Israel. "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 21:25.); and it is most significant that just then "there was a famine in the land." A famine never came upon the land of promise by accident; God had ensured a blessing to their basket and their store when His people hearkened to His voice. (Deu 28:5, 28:11.) The cause of this famine is not mentioned, but the history of a family under this trial is given to us in detail, as though to show us there was ample ground for this severe discipline.

"A certain man of Bethlehem‐judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech." Hebrew names are significant, and the name Elimelech means "My God is King." But this man belied his name, and acted as though self‐rule was the order of his life; without first seeking direction from his God, he went into the country of Moab, and he carried his family with him. The name Moab signifies "Of the father," and Moab is a type of the old Adam, of living to the flesh.

Once settled in the land of Moab, the family "continued there," and found, themselves at home in the land of God's enemies. It is a dangerous thing for children of God to come down to the level of the flesh, to consider and yield to the old Adam too often they continue there. We cannot be in the atmosphere of the ungodly and unbelieving without being tainted by it, unless we are sent on a special mission from our God.

Very naturally, the sons of Elimelech and Naomi "took them wives of the women of Moab." But this again was in direct disobedience to the Word of God. He had commanded that no covenant should be made with the people of the land. "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give to his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." (Deu 7:3-4. See also Jos 23:12.) It is not to be wondered at that

DEATH ENTERED

this family. "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die." (Rom 8:13.) Elimelech died; then Mahlon and Chilion; and Naomi were left alone.

God has ways of seeking His wanderers; He cannot forget them. It is in moments of trial that God gains the ear of His children. In her widowhood and childlessness, Naomi paid attention to every bit of news which came from her old country; and "she heard in the country of Moab bow the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread." Nothing happens by accident, and God knew, when He ordered it that the report of plentiful food in her own land should reach Naomi's ears, how her heart would be touched by it, and that, probably, she might be aroused to return to the land of promise. She may have thought, "If I had only remained in God's hands and trusted Him, my husband and sons might have lived still-I could not be worse off than now." It is a dangerous thing when a child of God leaves the ground of God's promises and gets on to other grounds: expediency, earthly resources, or the opinion of the world. There is no meeting with God on such grounds. Naomi was eating the fruit of trusting herself rather than her God. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa 8:20.)

No sooner did Naomi arise to return to the land of promise than her two daughters‐in‐law determined to accompany her. Let a backslider set his or her face resolutely towards God again, it will have its effect in the family circle; sons, daughters, friends, will soon find it out, and that one soul will not return to God alone. Orpah and Ruth accompanied her some distance, and then Naomi explained to them the difficulties which lay in the way.

CONVERSION AND DISCIPLESHIP.

There is a great difference between the two. Some souls are converted after a certain order, who seem never to have understood that there is something on the part of the child of God to give up. But our Lord is very explicit when He says: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." And again: "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." (Luk 14:27-28; 14:33.)

The test was too great for Orpah; she was not prepared to leave father, mother, sisters, and brothers, home and friends and land for the sake of the God of Israel; she "kissed her mother‐in‐law, but Ruth clave unto her."

Then Naomi spoke one final word to Ruth: "Behold, thy sister‐in‐law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods; return thou after thy sister‐in‐law." Naomi did not say: "Thy sister‐in‐law is gone back unto her people, and her home, her occupations, and her pleasures," but "unto her gods;" this was the test‐point. It must be a moment of decision for Ruth. Now she must declare whose god she worshipped.

Something new had entered into the life of Ruth. She had heard, and her whole soul was penetrated with what she had heard, of the God of Israel. It was the tidings of His faithfulness to His people which had influenced Naomi to return to her land. If He was the true and only God, then He had a right to the trust and the obedience of all the creatures which He had made. The question with Ruth was, not what she should gain personally by the change, but what was due to this one and only true God. Just as long as an important decision hangs upon the gain or loss it is to us personally-just as long as self‐love must be the umpire-the decision is evaded, recalled, never thoroughly final. "I want to serve God, but I don't want to be peculiar;" "I must have some relaxations;" "I want the joy of serving Him, but I don't want to be despised, to be misunderstood, or to be looked down upon;" "I want to preserve my reputation;" "I must have credit for all that I do for Him: if I get this, I can forego the world." Such are human considerations.

Miserable self‐pleasing! This is not to serve God. If the service of God is not worth the loss of all, it is worth nothing. If we do not count the honour of being despised for His sake who was despised for ours worth more than our miserable and most undeserved reputation, then we prove ourselves unworthy of Him. Ruth took in that the God of Israel was God indeed, and worthy of all, and more than all, that she could give. And so she answered Naomi by an act of consecration which has been a model for all time:

"Entreat me not to leave thee, nor to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me and more also if aught but death part thee and me."

Young sister, are you now deliberating about an alliance with a pleasing but ungodly young man, whose position in the world, and whose admiration of you, pleases and gratifies your pride? Are you weighing what you would gain in accepting him, and what you would gain in rejecting him? O, put self out of the question. You belong to Another. What would your God gain or lose? What would please Him? What would make for the honour of His Kingdom? What would carry out His will? He is your Father-what should a child do in such a crisis to please such a Father? O choose with Ruth!

Ruth was a true disciple, ready, not only to take all, but to give all. O how many a believer in the present day would be saved from back‐sliding if he could take such a stand as she took. Instead of the miserable questions, "Is there harm in this? Is there harm in smoking a pipe? Is there harm in reading a novel? Is there harm in such and such an amusement, in church gambling, in the fashionable bazaars?" the faithful disciple's heart would say: "Intreat me not to leave Thee." How quick would be the decision: "I cannot leave Thee-to smoke; I cannot leave Thee-to dance; I cannot leave Thee-to read what would not interest Thee." If this were the heart's language, there would be more of true discipleship.

RUTH WOULD NOT CHOOSE

her way: "Whither thou goest, I will go." Ruth would not choose her dwelling‐place: "Where thou lodgest, I will lodge." She would not choose her companions: "Thy people shall be my people." It is this absence of choice which distinguishes a true disciple of Jesus. Abraham "went out, not knowing whither he went." (Hbr 11:8.) Saul of Tarsus said to his new‐found Saviour, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" (Act 9:6.) This is the spirit of the true disciple.

When Naomi saw that Ruth "was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her." So the two widows, the old and the young, journeyed together "until they came to Bethlehem." The first spot in the land of promise which Ruth visited was named "the house of bread." God does not leave his newborn children empty, but He satisfies them with favour. (Deu 23:23.)

Manoah’s Wife—Judges 13. ← Prior Section
Naomi and Ruth. Part 2—Ruth 1. Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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