Summary: Second in my series on Ruth, looking at the three choices made by the women at the heart of the story.
Ruth 1: 8-18 – “Three Women, Three Choices”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
June 10, 2007
Ru 1:8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. 9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
Ru 1:11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’S hand has gone out against me!”
Ru 1:14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.
Ru 1:15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
Ru 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Vss. 8-10 - First Exchange - (Naomi’s character)
Vss. 11-14 - Second exchange - (Orpah’s character)
Vss. 15-18 - Third exchange - (Ruth’s character)
Our three women from last week are now on the road to Israel.
Naomi - the woman from Israel who has lost her husband and two sons,
is headed back to her homeland in hope of finding family, sustenance and some kind of home in which to live out her remaining days.
Orpah and Ruth – the two younger widows of Naomi’s sons, women who were born and raised in Moab, headed toward an unknown land with nothing to support them but who they are and what they can carry.
These are not just three women on a trail, but three stories in the making. Each of these three women has just recently been faced with tragedy,
and each of the three responds out of her own character.
Today I want to look at the character of each of these three women.
There are three exchanges between the women, and each exchange reveals something about the nature of the woman highlighted by it.
My goal is that we learn something by listening to these women cope with the sorrow that has entered their lives.
Naomi leads the journey, and she’s determined to return to her homeland of Israel.
The time between the death of her sons and her departure from Moab is minimal, probably so that she won’t be a burden on her 2 daughters-in-law.
She’s in a hurry because if she was to stay with them, then they would have to take care of her. Not only that, but she also lived in a society where any man who wanted to marry either Orpah or Ruth would also have to assume the care of their mother-in-law Naomi.
This would greatly reduce the likelihood of them ever getting remarried, for not many men would marry a woman who brings an extra burden along with her, especially a woman who is a foreigner and had such bad fortune follow her.
In our day and age, this scenario seems absurd, but in their time remarriage was the very best these young widows could hope for,
and Naomi did not want to interfere with that in anyway.
The two widows have started to travel with her, but she doesn’t really want their company. She doesn’t confront them until they’ve all walked some distance down the long road to Israel.
I think this is very deliberate. If she had tried to refuse their help at home, they would not have understood what they were walking away from.
You don’t fully appreciate your home until you’ve left it,
and these women might have never ventured outside their village.
But now that they’ve distanced themselves from home, they’ve been separated from everything that sustained them.
Their source of water is gone, fresh food, companions, family,