Summary: What are the characteristics of a pleasant mother? Let us consider Naomi, not just because her name means “pleasant” but also because she demonstrated it in her life.
“I wish I was dead. I wish I could kill my mother, too.” Says a note I found inserted in one the books at secondhand books Book Store. I think that one who wrote that note has an unpleasant mother.
What are the characteristics of a pleasant mother? Let us consider Naomi, not just because her name means “pleasant” but also because she demonstrated it in her life.
Naomi is a pleasant mother because she is…
I. SUBMISSIVE WIFE, 1-3 (Eph. 5:22)
Considering the Jewish society and God’s ordained headship in the family. Naomi…
A. Acknowledges male leadership, 1-2
Even though most of their neighbors are staying in Bethlehem, Judah she agreed with Elimelech, her husband, to live at Moab.
B. Partners with her husband for life, 3
There outside Judah she continued to perform her duties as wife until her husband’s death and as a mother to their two sons and even to their wives. Their quest is to have a better life for their family. It is always a truth that every husband needs a partner to be successful in bringing-up a family. In fact, there is a saying that says, “In every man’s success there is a woman behind.” Though Elimelech did not succeed in his quest for a better life and they had a bitter life instead, Naomi was a partner to him until his death.
II. SUPPORTIVE AND SELFLESS (CONSIDERATE) MOTHER, 1:4-15
A. Mahlon and Kilion, 4 (Supportive)
As I understood the book of Ruth, Naomi is the second most important character in the whole story. Even in the early verses of Chapter 1, her name is prominently mentioned than her husband. In fact, in 4:14 many women through a praise attributed to God honored her. One of the reasons we can think of is that Naomi is always conscious of God and His teachings. In verse 1:6 (“When she heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people…”), it is impressed to us that Naomi, even though living in another country is always in the know of God is doing to his people. We can be certain that during her sons’ younger years they were always taught or reminded by Naomi of God’s principles, especially about marriage. But she accepted their choice and supported of their marriages. She treated their Moabite wives as her own children, too.
In our time, there are mothers that when their sons or daughters marry someone they dislike they will continue to dislike their in-laws even until death separate them. I know some, and I bet most of us know someone who is like that: someone who is an opposite of a pleasant Naomi.
B. Orpah and Ruth, 8,9 (3:1)
Naomi is a very considerate person. She considered her husband’s headship. She considered her son’s choice, emotion and intellect. She is also considerate of her daughters-in-law own personhood. She did not blame as the cause of her sons’ early death. It was not their fault that they married Hebrew men. She was considerate of their spiritual lost ness. In fact, as I understood the way she related to them, she witnessed for them. She lived as a good follower of the Lord our God. She let them see, how good the God of Israel is. She won them for Yahweh, or at least one of them (Ruth). I think she knew the laws in Deuteronomy very well (later in this message we will a proof that she really knows Deuteronomy). She is even considerate of their future as widows like her. (Read 1:8-9, 11-13 and 3:1 here).
To the unpleasant mother-in-law, they would say, “Go away and die! It will be good for you. I will pray for you to suffer for the rest of your life!”
III. SUBMISSIVE TO GOD’S WILL AND PURPOSE, 1:16-2:20
A. Accepts God’ dealings in her life, 1:20-21
She was widowed. Her sons orphaned her. Separated from one of her daughter-in-law. She is bankrupt. And yet she was not bitter though she thinks that God made her life bitter. She accepted that it was their fault that she suffered. She said in this verse that before they left Judah she was full. This signifies that though there is famine in Judah then, they did not suffer hunger. They were afraid that they might suffer hunger and they did not put their full trust in the Lord then. She went back empty to the land that God never forsaken.
B. Accepts God’s purpose in her life, 2:20; 4:14, 16-22
Naomi recognized that the Lord never stop blessing her. In the latter part of the book we see that Naomi will be part of God’s grand plan of salvation of all men. She will be the great, great grand mother of King David—wherein in the records of the gospel of Matthew would become the lineage where the Lord Jesus Christ will be born.