Thursday, September 5
A Look at Relationships
Read Ruth 1:8-10
“And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” Ruth 1:8-10
Relationships are tough, especially when we are do not share bloodlines. And perhaps this is what makes the book of Ruth so compelling. It’s all about relationships. Today we see the deep the relationship that has been formed between Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
We know from yesterday’s passage that Naomi had received the message that the famine in her homeland was over. She heard the news and she reacted. I bet she couldn’t saddle up her camel and pack her saddlebag fast enough. After all, there’s no place like home. Ruth was leaving without the family that she had traveled with to Moab, but she wasn’t going alone, Ruth and Orpah were going with her.
I wonder what their mindset was. Perhaps they were excited about a new adventure or maybe they were filled with anxiety and/or feeling afraid/sad to be leaving the only home they had ever known. One thing is for sure though, these two daughters had formed a deep relationship with their mother-in-law in order to embark on a journey and leave the land that they loved to begin a new life in Israel as outcasts, foreigners.
Can you imagine, what this trip must have been like? I just know that mile after mile Naomi, whose name means “cheerful” must have been sharing stories about all of the family members the ladies would soon meet. And all of a sudden, in a moment, something changed. Naomi stopped. Naomi decided to implement that God-given right of every women…the right to change her mind. It was her prerogative after all.
Naomi told the girls to return home to their “mother’s house”. This phrase is one that had great meaning because they were living in a male dominated culture. One might think that Naomi would be directing them back home for the security that their father could provide. But NO! She instructed them to go back to their mother’s house, where they had been taught how to be a proper wife and run a household. This was Naomi’s way of sharing hope for them to get a new husband.
Next, we see our matriarch offer two blessings in the name of the Lord to her late sons’ wives. The first blessing she spoke over the girls was for God to bless them with kindness because this was the way they had dealt with her throughout the dark days of death. The Hebrew word here for kindness is “hesed”, which means “loving–kindness”. It is appropriate that Naomi would use this word as it adequately portrayed the overflowing love and appreciation that she felt for them and was a reciprocal response based on how they had treated her. It is also important because this was the way God referred to himself when he allowed Moses to see His glory. This carefully worded blessing was proclaiming her faith that her God, the God of Israel, was big enough to bless them with love and kindness even in the country of Moab.
The second of the blessings was for God to give each of them rest in the house of a husband. Many historians feel that this second blessing actual hinted at Naomi’s lack of faith that God was big enough to provide for them. It insinuated that the women needed a husband for provision. Many also feel that this blessing revealed Naomi’s bitterness toward her circumstances and that perhaps she was sending Ruth and Orpah back because she they remind her of the sons she had lost and she simply couldn’t bear it.
As I am writing I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Naomi. I’m sure that she felt so many emotions. She had loved and lost! She was a widowed woman in a foreign land on a journey toward home. She was excited to be heading back home with her girls yet she thought her companions would be better off if they returned to their homeland. She loved them but the sight of them broke her heart teasing her with the what might have been! Naomi is confident that her God can handle all things and then in the next breath she doubts that He is enough Let’s take pause here to ponder all that Naomi was feeling. I think we’ve all been right there on that pendulum of life with highs and lows, faith and doubt, beginnings and ends.
Our passage today ends with expressions of the one word that bonds all strong relationships…love! We see love as Naomi seals these blessings with kisses before sending the girls back home. And we see love returned from the girls as they cry out that they won’t go; they want to go to her land.
Sister, who do you know that needs an expression of love today? What relationship needs be strengthened with an act of unconditional love? I encourage you to reach out and let someone know today that they matter to you, your relationship with them matters, and that you love them just the way they are.
For Further Reading: Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 27:9; Proverbs 27:17
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to send Your only son to die in our place so that we may live life eternal with You. Thank you for the example of Christ’s love and help us to display that love to every person in our life. Lord, it’s so easy to take loving relationships for granted. Show us today, Lord, who needs a reminder of how much we love them. In all that we do, and all that we say, may we be a walking billboard that displays to everyone what life looks like when we walk in relationship with You. In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen