Without Naomi there isn’t a Ruth
The story of Ruth has deep significance to us, it’s a beautiful image of seeking the Lord, and submitting to His will. There is much to see here regarding the Ruth and Boaz, yet there is another story within the story, and that is of Naomi, for if it were not for her the story of Ruth would not exist. Naomi’s story is filled with pain, suffering, hope, promise, deliverance, and reward.
Naomi due to circumstances beyond here control moved from her homeland to a foreign land due to a famine. She left with a husband and two sons, later her sons marry, and she gains two daughters. As the story progress she first looses her husband, and then later her sons. What was intended to alleviate her suffering, ended up costing her deeply. Thus she decides to return to her homeland, and her two daughters start the journey with her. Naomi speaks to them with compassion.
“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.
So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
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.” ~ Ruth 1:6~9
The focus of Naomi to her daughters was for them to remarry to find a husband from their homeland.
“And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.”
But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
“Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons,
would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” ~ Ruth 1:10~13
There is deep meaning to the words of Naomi, she was a woman acquainted with grief and sorrow, she understood the Lords hand was upon her, and was urging her daughters to separate from her, and sought a blessing for them if they were to return to their homeland. Naomi is a woman with insight, experience, and a level of understanding of the Lord.
Ruth sets her heart to follow Naomi, not knowing the land they were to travel to, or the outcome. For Ruth to do so, to cleave to Naomi as she did was due to what she saw in Naomi, and this was a relationship with the Lord. This is why she was willing to walk away from all she knew for the journey to know the Lord. This is expressed in her statement “where you go, I go”.
“And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.” ~ Ruth 1:14~18
Much has been said about Ruth’s conviction and rightly so, yet there is much to glean from this story as we look into the significance of Naomi. Naomi represents a person of faith, trust, obedience and love, all bound to the Lord. This is the key to this story, and its outcome.
The two return to Naomi’s homeland, and she is recognized by the women of the village.
“So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
“I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.” ~ Ruth 1:19~22
The women saw her as Naomi, yet she regarded herself as Mara, there is great depth to this.
Naomi indicates pleasant, lovely, delightful, Mara indicates bitter weeping, troubled. “”I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.” Naomi was in the Lords hands, and what was being removed from her is what is removed from us, our self will, treasures, and relationships through our fallen nature. This seems brutal to our soul, yet in the Lords hands there is hope, we must trust in His will.
“Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” ~ Ruth 2:1
The story is well told of Ruth and her work in the fields, yet we must keep in mind that this was the wisdom of following Naomi’s advice, and the fruit borne from this action.
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?
“Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.
“Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
“It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”
She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. ~ Ruth 3:1~6
The advice of Naomi is acted upon, and from this the relationship between Ruth and Boaz is established. Here we see the mystical language of the bride of Christ coming before her Bridegroom, and the resulting Love and devotion displayed by Ruth’s actions. From this Boaz redeems Ruth, and becomes her husband. The fruit of this union produces a son.
“Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.”
All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.
“Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. ~ Ruth 4:10~13
From this there is something deeply beautiful for us to see, the wisdom and dedication of Naomi yields tremendous fruit.
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.
“May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.
The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. ~ Ruth 4:14~17
From this action the linage of our Lord is established, and there is much to gain from the story of Naomi.The beauty of obedience can never be overstated, Ruth pictures this, and although Naomi lost much, she was rewarded greatly for her perseverance, trust, and Love of the Lord. This verse is profound: “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”.
Ecc_7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning; Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.