During the era of the Judges, a famine occurred in the land of Israel. Elimelech took his wife, Naomi, and his two sons to Moab. His sons took wives from among the Moabites (descendants of Lot). While they lived there, Elimelech died. Naomi’s sons, Mahlon and Chilion, married Orpah and Ruth. And Naomi’s sons died as well. Not having any way for provision in Moab, Ruth rose to return to Israel, for the famine had ended. She encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house. She reminded them that she had no more sons to promise them in marriage. They wept together, and Orpah kissed Naomi and went home. Ruth, though, clung to Naomi, and when Naomi furthered discouraged her from going with her back to Israel, Ruth said,
Ruth 1:16–17 (NKJV)
16 But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
When Naomi saw that Ruth would not be deterred, they went to Bethlehem. The city was excited, and they asked, “Is this Naomi?”
Ruth 1:20–21 (NKJV)
20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
Their return was at the beginning of barley harvest.
An old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” While simplistic, it is a lesson we can at least attempt to live out. Naomi got hit with a bag of lemons. She tried to isolate herself, and did not want any responsibility for anyone any longer after she lost her husband and her sons. But God knew that this persistent little daughter-in-law would be the balm for her wounds, the answer to her prayers eventually, and put a loyal streak in her heart that refused to be thwarted. Ruth went with Naomi, and they both eventually were blessed. Don’t refuse the love or loyalty of another. They may be the vehicle whereby God choose to bless you!