Summary: In Ruth 1 1-5 we see the danger of trying to run away from our problems illustrated

It is an undeniable fact that many of the life’s problems we grapple with in the present are the result of what has happened to us in the past, whether as a result of our own deliberate choices or because of circumstances which were quite beyond our control.

The person we are today is a product of all our yesterdays. We can blame our genetic inheritance or environment for our problems. It is often easier for us to shift the blame for our problems on to others, but to put it solely on this is to ignore our own actions or inactions.

More important than the circumstance of the past are the ways in which we have decided to react to them. Such behavior often crystallizes into patterns, which harden into settled convictions, which in turn condition and dictate our present feelings.

In Ruth chapter 1, we see a tragic situation were Naomi is left, widowed and childless, without sons or grandsons to continue the family line, which is a situation of great deprivation and despair. All this has happened in a foreign land, far away from the support of those who speak her language or worship her God.

Today, many people will identify only too readily with Naomi’s experience. Some will have gone through similar traumatic times of bereavement. Others will have made life decisions they now feel very bitter about—the job move that led to being laid off, the marriage that broke up almost from the beginning, the disappointment of children who have overthrown their parents’ faith and are sowing wild oats. “Where did I go wrong?” is very often followed by “why did God let this happen to me?” (Jackman, David ; Ogilvie, Lloyd J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 7 : Judges, Ruth. Nashville, Tennessee : Thomas Nelson Inc, 1991 (The Preacher’s Commentary Series 7), S. 306).

In Ruth 1 1-5 we see the danger of trying to run away from our problems illustrated and it is a lesson that we must avoid as we deal with the problems and trials of life.

1) The time. Ruth 1:1a

Ruth 1:1a [1:1]In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. (ESV)

The author of Ruth is not identified by the text. Though there is no unanimity among ancient or modern scholars in dating the Book of Ruth, the first verse places the historical setting of the book during the period of the judges between the fourteenth and eleventh centuries B.C. (c. 1375–1050 B.C.). The genealogy in 4:18–22 suggests the latter part of that era. The book of Ruth is (most likely written) during the reign of David (1010–970 B.C.) (Believer’s Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Ru 1:1).

It must be remembered therefore, that even though the historical setting of the events described is that of the period of the judges (1:1), but this does not necessarily mean that the work was written at that time. In fact, it is much more probable that Ruth was composed in a later period, for two important reasons. First, the concluding genealogy (4:18–22) brings the narrative up to the time of David, who was obviously familiar to author and readers alike, and thus would require a date of composition in the early kingdom period at the very least. Second, the account contains some explanation of legal practices (4:1–12), required since they were already ancient. Thus it would seem that some time had elapsed between the events described and their appearance in written form. In English Bibles Ruth occurs between Judges and Samuel. This follows the order of the Septuagint and locates it correctly with the historical books. The ancient Jewish authorities attached great importance to the book by requiring it to be read at the Feast of Weeks, when the end of the grain harvest was celebrated. (Elwell, Walter A.: Evangelical Commentary on the Bible . electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1996, c1989, S. Ru 1:6).

Spiritually, during the period of the Judges:

Judges 17:6 [6]In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (ESV) (cf. Jdg. 18:11; 19:1; 21:25).

In those days there was no governor armed with imperative authority, who could help and discipline the whole people. Everyone did what they wanted, and became their own yardstick of morality.

• Part of the tribe of Dan forsook the land in a body, because they were no longer pleased with it, and had no mind to overcome the remaining enemies

God had commanded the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership to purge the land of the Canaanites and their idols (Deut. 7:16; 12:2-3; 20:17). The failure of the Israelites to do so (Josh. 16:10; Jud. 1:27-33) left them open to the temptation to look to the idols rather than to God for agricultural blessing. Perhaps the cultic prostitution and sexual practices used in the worship of Baal also enticed the Hebrew people. Interestingly Gideon’s father had built an altar to Baal, but Gideon had destroyed it (Jud. 6:25-34). The Ruth narrative shows the wisdom of trusting in God and His providence rather than in Canaanite gods (Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:418-419).

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