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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 401-450 (The Death - Three)

F.E. Marsh :: 449. Three Representative Women

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THE three women are Dubious Orpah, Decided Ruth, and Disappointed Naomi (Ruth 1:14-22).

  1. Dubious Orpah. Orpah started with her sister and mother-in-law from Moab, but she was easily persuaded to go back to the old country, the old sins, and idolatry. Her mind was never made up to go to the land of Israel, and she at once takes the bait when Naomi suggests that she and her sister should return, for it is but the expression of the desire that is in her own heart (Ruth 1:14-15).
    Many, like Pliable in Pilgrim’s Progress, start well, but they soon go back.
    1. The stony ground hearer received the word into his heart, and received it with joy, but he did not keep it there (Matt. 13:20).
    2. It is not profession, but possession that is the essential thing, as is illustrated in what Peter said to Simon Magus; the latter professed faith in Christ in baptism, but, as Peter looked through the window of his soul, he saw he had no possession of Christ (Acts 8:20).
    3. The house of the soul may be swept with the broom of morality, and be garnished with the flowers of self-effort, but unless there is cleansing by the blood of Christ, and possession by Christ Himself dwelling in the heart, all else is vain (Luke 11:25; Eph. 3:17).
    4. To be associated with Christians as Demas was (Col. 4:14), is not sufficient; we must be associated with Christ, or we shall soon be llke Demas, and go back to the beggarly elements of the world, which we had professed to leave (2 Tim. 4:10; 2 Peter 2:21). Beware of being like Orpah! She started well, but, alas, she soon went back. Continuance is the mark of discipleship (John 8:31), and the evidence of faith in Christ.
  2. Decided Ruth. Ruth stands in unmistakable contrast with her sister-in-law. The latter is like a piece of wreckage tossed about by the waves, while the former is like the limpet which clings to the rock. It is a very suggestive word that is used of Ruth in Ruth 1:14, where it says she “clave unto her.” The word “clave” is used of the clods of earth which “cleave fast together” (Job 38:38); of the scales of leviathian, which are “joined one to another” so closely that no air can come between them (Job 41:15-17); to the bone which “cleaveth” to the skin (Job 19:20); in connection with one of David’s mighty men, to whose hand the sword “clave” when he had been fighting, so intense had been his grip in grasping his sword (2 Sam. 23:10); of Naaman’s leprosy “cleaving” to Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27); of a girdle “cleaving” to the loins (Jer. 13:11); and of the Psalmist of whom it is said he “followeth hard” after the Lord (Psalm 63:8). From the use of the word “clave” we gather, how intensely in earnest Ruth was. There was no hesitation or vacillation about her. There was real grit and grip in her determination to go with Naomi, and to serve Naomi’s God. There must be the like spirit with all who serve Christ. When Barnabas went down to Antioch and saw the work the Lord had been doing, in the salvation of those who had believed in Christ, he exhorted them to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart (Acts 11:23).
  3. Disappointed Naomi (Ruth 1:19-22). Naomi is typical of a backslider. She left her native land full, like many a believer who gets away from Christ when full of gladness and power, but she came back, or was brought back, “empty.” It is the same with the child of God when he gets out of communion. Naomi does not wish to be called “Naomi,” that is, “pleasant;” but, she says, call me “Mara,” that is, “bitter.” Bitterness of spirit is born of backsliding, and is always the outcome of departure from God. David found it so, when he cried for the restoration of the joy he had lost through his sin (Psalm 51:12). Peter had the same experience, when he went out of the Lord’s presence to weep, because of his denial of his Lord (Luke 22:62). Naomi had to learn that the cause of her emptiness, bitterness, and affliction was found in her leaving the Lord. She had thought to obtain all she desired in Moab, but she got a worse famine there than in Bethlehem, for she lost husband and sons by her self-will. If we lie on the bed of roses which the world offers, we are sure to be pricked by the thorns on the roses. We cannot have the devil’s bait without the devil’s hook. The world offers gifts for its advantage, and not ours, however much they may seem to promise benefits.

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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