Melissa’s encouraging study of Naomi for today’s Word Nerd Wednesday post provides us all a glimpse of God’s faithfulness throughout the ages, proving we can trust Him in our current crisis.
Naomi: Pleasant, “my delight”
In the book of Ruth, which occurred during the time of the Judges, Naomi was the wife of Elimelech, of the clan of Ephrath from Bethlehem in Judah. During this time there was a famine in the land of Judah and Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, to live in the region of Moab as foreigners.
Sometime after they arrived, Elimelech died. Naomi’s two sons took Moabite wives, and for ten years neither had any offspring, then her sons died as well. The unfortunate meanings of Mahlon and Kilion’s names are “sickly and weakly.” Though is not said how they died, their names give us clues to their infertility and untimely deaths.
Naomi’s Return to Bethlehem
It was at this point that Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. Ruth 1:6 states, “She had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.” Knowing that the Lord had shown concern for his people and blessed them with abundant crops, she had no other option but to return to her homeland. This move may show that Naomi had some hope that the Lord would reverse her loss and provide for her yet again. Even if she did not, it is a foreshadowing of her future none the less.
Now she was accompanied by her Daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. She set out with them, but somewhere along the way decided to tell them to return. She pleaded that her situation was hopeless for them. Knowing that she was too old to have offspring, she told them to return to their mothers. Even if by some miracle she did marry again and conceive, why would they wait so long for the child to be of age to marry. Maybe she just realized she could not care for them and as Moabites they would not be welcome in Bethlehem. She said to them in 1:13, “it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Perhpas she realized that her intense suffering was too much for them to bear as well.
She perceived that the Lord was afflicting her.
Orpah eventually turned back “to her people and her gods”, but Ruth remained faithful to Naomi, saying that Naomi’s people would be her people and Naomi’s God would be her God. Naomi gave in and let Ruth accompany her.
When Naomi was seen arriving in the town of Bethlehem with Ruth the Moabite by her side, the village was full of excitement. The ladies ran up saying, “Is this Naomi?” Her reply says it all. “Do not call me Naomi.” She did not feel “pleasant” in this moment. She was mourning, hopeless and afflicted. She tells them, “call me Mara,” which means bitter, “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” (1:20-21)
By divine providence, they returned right at the beginning of the Barley harvest. This was the beginning of the harvest of God’s grace on His people after the famine. They were all experiencing the goodness of the Lord through this harvest. Even though their situation was still dire, Naomi and Ruth were blessed as well. Ruth cared for Naomi by going out in the fields to collect leftovers from the crops to feed them. Ruth ends up meeting Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, and the story really begins to get interesting. (More on that in the next two weeks as I write about Boaz and Ruth)
God Brings Naomi’s Story Full Circle
In the fourth chapter of Ruth, we see Naomi’s story coming full circle. Boaz and Ruth have wed and born a son, Obed. The women of the village gather around and proclaim blessing on Naomi. Consider their words here in verses 14-15.
“Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
The following verses list the genealogy of Perez to David, Obed being David’s grandfather. Though Naomi felt her calamity was coming from the Lord, when we take a bird’s eye view of her life, we see God’s gracious provision and blessing on her and the generations after her. Through the love and dedication of her daughter in law, Ruth, comes the line of David, from which God makes the covenant with David for the coming Messiah.
Every heartbreaking calamity that happened to Naomi was leading her to this point where God in his grace and goodness blesses her with a redeemer, and in doing so for her, he was working out his great plan for all to have a redeemer in Jesus Christ.
Naomi, pleasant and delightful, had suffered loss and affliction and her heart had grown bitter.
But the Lord did not leave her there.
He already had set in motion the help of a kinsman redeemer.
When we suffer loss and endure opposition in our lives, let us remember Naomi and God’s faithfulness to her. Even when her situation looked as if it could get no worse, He was providing for her and caring for her. And he does the same for you, my friends. In these times, when the lives of all people in the world have been thrown into an unknown and unfamiliar pattern, do not let your hearts grow bitter, but lean into the Lord and trust in His ways.When your circumstances tempt you to turn bitter, remember God's faithfulness to Naomi. #naomi #godisfaithful #wordnerdwednesday @missyjoking @heartsabiding Click To Tweet
Studying people’s names gives us insight into their character and glimpses of how God reveals His glory through their ordinary humanness. Studying the many names of Jesus is no different. Get your copy of More Than a Name today.