Ruth 1:7-13

"Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother's home! May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me! May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!" Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept loudly. But they said to her, "No! We will return with you to your people." But Naomi replied, "Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husband! Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again. Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! No, my daughters, you must not return with me. For my intense suffering is too much for you to bear. For the Lord is afflicting me!" Ruth 1:7-13

I read this passage and my hearts breaks for Naomi. You can hear her grief and her feelings of helplessness in her words.

According to the levirate law of the times a childless widow is impregnated by the brother of the husband that died. Both of Naomi's sons have died leaving widows and neither have children. She has no more sons. I can just sense her frustrations brought on by the situation as she tells them that even if she could get married again and have a son that Ruth and Orpah couldn't wait around for them to grow up!

Ruth and Orpah have offered to return to Judah with Naomi. But, from where she sits at the moment this just doesn't make sense either. She feels broken and has nothing to offer either woman. Why would they want to live with and take care of an old, grieving woman?

However, even as she discourages them both from staying with her, she sees their devotion to her and wishes the same for them in their own lives.

In Hebrew, the word for "devotion" is hesed (pronounced with a hard "h" and rhymes with the two-syllable form of "blessed"). This word seems to be the one chosen over all others to describe what God is like - "full of loyal, committed, merciful, enduring, faithful, covenant-keeping love". In Exodus 34:6, God used this word to describe himself.

"Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;"

We also see this type of devotion as a theme that runs throughout the book of Ruth.

"Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother's home! May the Lord show you the same kin of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me!'"

"Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'May [Boaz] be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!' Then Naomi said to her, 'This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.'"

"[Boaz] said to [Ruth], 'May you be rewarded by the Lord, my dear! This act of devotion is greater than what you did before. For you have not sought mto marry one of the young men, whether rich or poor.'"

We live in a world full of empty promises. Many times promises are made that are never kept. We seem to have forgotten what it means to show hesed to our neighbors. In this time I am so very thankful for the story of Ruth. She reminds us of how we should live... showing love and devotion to others. She reminds us of the great love and devotion God shows to each of us. Our God that will "never leave us or forsake us."

10 Thoughts Shared:

Tammy said...

I too love the story of Ruth. Many years ago it brought conviction into my life on how to treat my MIL. I saw Ruth and her devotion to Naomi and knew I needed to allow the Lord to give me the same devotion for my MIL (and others too). It is not easy but with the Holy Spirit's help it is possible.

Katie said...

Oh the story of Ruth! Such encouragement for us women.

Named Alicia said...

Amen! I am so thankful for his promise to never leave us or forsake us. Thanks for the reminder!

I love the new blog look!
Take care my friend!

Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

Ruth is such an icon for women today. I love the story. And thanks for the reminder!!!!

Tracy said...

Amen! What a great message. I love the story of Naomi and Ruth. You're right, that is true devotion indeed. Praise God for the love and devotion he provides to each of us. What a gift! Timely reminder today. Thanks!


Laurie Ann said...

Naomi's sadness is one that stirred my soul. Her loss reminded me of Job's. I loved the devotion part of your post. I love learning from you! Great post!

Tricia said...

Thanks for the reminder of "hesed"... I recently studied about it with some ladies from church as we are going through a book together, "The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood", ... it is such a beautiful thing, and perfectly illustrated in the book of Ruth.

Thanks for sharing what you are learning. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sab said...

Ruth is one of my favorite stories. Oh that I could be like her in her loyalty to her mother in law!

Beth E. said...

I love the story of Naomi and Ruth! This post has truly blessed me. :o)

Nancie said...

Thank you for sharing this encouraging post. The book of Ruth contains many encouragements.

Thanks for your visit and encouraging comment. I have not been able to do much blogging and visiting and really missed you and many other friends. So glad to stop by today and read this encouraging post. Thanks for sharing with us. Take care and God bless you!