Decisions. I love a good story. My husband loves to watch sports on TV and most of the time I could take it or leave it, but when a biography sketch comes on about a player’s life, I am captivated. I love to hear how they took what they were given and worked hard to overcome the circumstances in their lives to become a great athlete. Those stories always give hope to people who are wallowing in their circumstances hoping to make something successful out of the pieces of their lives.
Decisions. Ruth is just that kind of story. The events of Ruth took place during the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) as a famine was taking place. Difficult times call for action in our lives. If we are injured or gravely ill, we seek medical assistance. If a person breaks their arm they do not sit around and wait for their arm to heal, rather they go to the emergency room or the doctor’s office and seek medical assistance. One summer we were driving home from a week-end away, and the tire on the boat trailer popped. After we safely pulled over, my husband changed the tire and we continued on our way. We did not sit by the side of the road and hope that someone would come along and change the tire for us, nor did we sit in our car and wait for the police to come to solve this problem. No, we got out of the car and changed the tire.
Decisions. The story of Ruth actually begins with Elimalech taking his family: Naomi, his wife; and Mahlon and Chilon, his two sons, to Moab to find food due to the famine in Israel. Now we can look at these circumstances from two different perspectives. In essence, we see that Elimalech had two different choices before him. He could have stayed in Bethlehem and trusted that God would provide for their needs, or he could have left Bethlehem and gone to another country that did not have a shortage of food from the famine. Recall from Israel’s history how Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, and only later did they move to Egypt due to the position of Joseph, Jacob’s son. Abraham went to Egypt with Sarah in search of food during a time of famine. Searching for food during a time of famine was not uncommon to the Israelite people as their ancestors had also done this. When we make big decisions, it is important to seek God and ask for His direction in our lives.
Decisions. There is no written record of Elimelech seeking God for direction in this major decision. However, we may find a clue that he did seek God’s direction by looking at the meaning of Elimelech’s name, my God is king. As we submit to the Lordship of God in our lives, we must also see that recognizing God as King means seeking God for direction in major decisions.
Decisions. Elimelech set out with his family to Moab which is located on the east side of the Dead Sea. Moab was not suffering from the famine so this was a place Elimelech could take his family and provide for their needs and also not travel too far from home. The story quickly goes from bad to worse as Elimelech dies followed by the death of his sons. Now Naomi is left in a foreign country with two foreign daughters-in-law. So the story unfolds now with the stage set. Calamity upon calamity for Naomi and she takes this to heart and wants her name changed to “Mara” which means “bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)
- Read Ruth 1 and record the events that are significant to the story.
- Read Genesis 19:30-38 and record where Moab came from.
- According to Ruth 1:6 what news did Naomi hear and what decision did she make?
- What did Naomi tell her daughters-in law to do in Ruth 1:8?
- Initially it seems the daughters-in-law were going to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, but then Naomi seemed to insist that they return home to their mother’s home. What seems to be Naomi’s hope according to Ruth 1:9 for her daughters-in-law?
- We can see the ancient custom of marrying the husband’s sibling if the husband passes away, especially if there are no offspring to carry on the name of the deceased husband. Why was Naomi so insistent that her daughters-in-law return home? See Ruth 1:11-14.
- In Ruth 1:14, we see that Ruth and Orpah made different decisions. The word “clung” in Hebrew means “loyalty or devotion.” Orpah left and went back to her parents’ home, but Ruth remained loyal to Naomi, her mother-in-law. As you read the next part of the story, Ruth 1:15-18, describe this kind of loyalty and devotion in your own words.
- What is the difference between what Naomi said about Orpah in Ruth 1:15, and what Ruth said in Ruth 1:16?