Dave Burnette's Commentary

Ruth Chapter 1

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (1375-1050 BC)
Overview: To Show Israel to Have Character in Hard Times  (c 1-4)
Theme: Ruth Remains Loyal to Naomi (c 1)
Message: Naomi's Husband and Sons Die (v 1-22)

Ruth 1 Commentary

(1:1) A Troubled Time - The story of Ruth takes place sometime during the period of the rule of the judges. These were dark days for Israel, when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6; 21:25). But during those dark and evil times, some still followed God. Naomi and Ruth are extraordinary examples of loyalty, friendship, and commitment-to God and to each other.

(1:2) A Severe Famine - Moab, the land east of the Dead Sea, was one of the nations that oppressed the Israelites during the period of the judges (Judges 3:12-30), so the two nations were hostile to each other. The famine must have been quite severe in Israel for Elimelech to move his family there. Even if Israel had already defeated Moab, relations still would have been tense between them. Elimelech and his family were called Ephrathites because Ephrath was an earlier name for Bethlehem.

(1:4-5) God Uses Ruth - Friendly relations with the Moabites were discouraged (Deuteronomy 23:3-6) but probably not forbidden, since the Moabites lived outside the Promised Land. Marrying a Canaanite (or the other peoples living within the borders of the Promised Land), however, was against God's law (Deuteronomy. 7;1-4). Moabites were not allowed to worship at the tabernacle because they had not let the Israelites pass through their land during the exodus from Egypt. As God's chosen people, the Israelites should have set an example to the other nations of living holy lives. Ironically, however, God used Ruth, a Moabite woman, as an example of genuine spiritual character. This shows just how bleak life had become in Israel during those days.

(1:8-9) In the ancient world, almost nothing was worse than being a widow. These women were taken advantage of or ignored, and they were almost always poverty stricken. God's law, therefore, provided that the nearest relative of a woman's dead husband should care for his widow. But Naomi had no relatives in Moab, and she did not know if any of her relatives were alive in Israel.

Even in her desperate situation, Naomi had a selfless attitude. Although she had decided to return to Israel, she encouraged Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab and start their lives over, even though this would mean extra hardship for her. Like Naomi, we must consider the needs of others and not just our own. As Naomi discovered, when we act selflessly, others are encouraged to follow our example.

(1:11-14) Naomi's comment here ("Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?") refers to levirate marriage, the obligation of a dead man's brother to care for his widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). This law kept widows from poverty and provided a way for the family name of a dead husband to continue. Because Naomi had no other sons for Ruth or Orpah to marry, she encouraged them to remain in their homeland and remarry other men. Orpah agreed, which was her right. But Ruth was willing to give up the possibility of security and children in order to care for Naomi

(1:16-17) God Accepts Ruth's Worship - Ruth was a Moabite woman, but that didn't stop her from worshiping the true God, nor did it stop God from accepting her worship and blessing her greatly. The Israelites were not the only people God loved. God had chosen the Israelites to be the people through whom the rest of the world would come to know him. This was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born as a Jew. Through him, the entire world can come to know God. Acts 10:35 says that "in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." God accepts all who worship him; he works through people regardless of their race, sex, or status. The book of Ruth is a perfect example of God's impartiality. Although Ruth belonged to a people often despised by Israel, she was blessed because of her faithfulness. She became a great-grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus. No one should feel disqualified to serve God. And God can use every circumstance to build his kingdom.

(1:20-21) Recognise What God Has Provided for You - Naomi had experienced severe hardships. She had left Israel married, the mother of two sons, and secure. She returned widowed, childless, and poor. Naomi changed her name to express the bitterness and pain she felt. Naomi was not rejecting God by openly expressing her pain. However, she seems to have lost sight of the tremendous resources she had in her relationships with Ruth and with God. When you face bitter times, God welcomes your honest prayers, but be careful not to overlook the love, strength, and resources that he provides in your present relationships. And don't allow bitterness and disappointment to blind you to your opportunities.

(1:22) God Keeps His Promises - Bethlehem was about five miles southwest of Jerusalem. The town was surrounded by lush fields and olive groves. Its harvests were abundant. Ruth is an ancestor of both David and Jesus. Ruth and Naomi's return to Bethlehem was certainly part of God's plan--in this town David would be born (Samuel 16:1), and as predicted by the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2), so would Jesus Christ. This move, then, was more than merely convenient for Ruth and Naomi. It led to the fulfillment of God's promises.

(1:22) A Return to Bethlehem - Because Israel's climate is quite moderate, each year has two harvests, in the spring and in the fall. The barley harvest took place in the spring, and it was during this time of hope and plenty that Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a farming community, and because it was the time of the harvest, plenty of leftover grain was in the fields. This grain could be collected (gleaned) and then made into food. (See the first note on 2:2-3 for more information on gleaning.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Lilly of the Valley


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. There are many applications we can make from each day's text. Today we start the book of Ruth with Chapter 1. We start this new book of 3 key people: Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, in a dark time in Israel's history when people lived to please themselves and not God. Despite this, these three key people stayed strong in the Lord. Today in our text, we see Naomi's husband and sons die, and Ruth decides to go with Naomi to Bethlehem. In making an application, we see tragic things happen to those who serve the Lord. Matthew 5:45, says it rains on the just and the unjust, but the Lord goes with the just through the valley. The Lord will never leave you nor forsakes you. It reminds me of a friend we had at a Church who lost her child at an early age, and this was a tragic situation for a family who served the Lord. The mother later testified how the Lord gave her the grace to walk through this situation. She proclaimed how the Lord was a true lily of her valley. How about you? Have you been through the valley lately? If you are now in the valley, or if you go through the valley in the future - remember - the Lord goes with you, giving you grace, and will be the lily of your valley.


Ruth 1

Ruth 1

 1Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

 2And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

 3And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

 4And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

 5And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

 6Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

 7Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

 8And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

 9The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

 10And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

 11And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

 12Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

 13Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

 14And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

 15And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

 16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

 17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

 18When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

 19So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

 20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

 21I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

 22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.