Naomi, Ruth and Orpah – What do they have to say to me?

Tuesday night was the State of the Union address by President Obama. I’ve heard a couple of things he addressed but have not researched the speech at all on my own.  Instead of watching and analyzing the speech, I was at my small group Bible study taking a look at the first 5 verses of the book of Ruth.  And it really does amaze me just how timely this book is to my life today even though it was written between 3,000 and 3,500 years ago.

Like I said above, we only got through the first 5 verses of the first chapter of Ruth.  Ruth is a book of the Bible that is usually a quick and easy read.  I’ve read it numerous times but have never analyzed like I am this time.  Our small group is studying Ruth with the assistance of a book written by Liz Curtis Higgs entitled “The Girl’s Still Got It!”

The first 5 verses tell us very little about Ruth.  Really, they lay the ground work for Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi.  Naomi and her husband, Elimelek, and their sons, Mahlon and Kilion, have left their homeland of Bethlehem and moved to Moab.  Moab was definitely considered the wrong side of the tracks for this wealthy and spiritual family.  But as we continued studying we discovered a change in Naomi and we see the change in her based off of the naming of her sons. In Naomi’s day, children’s’ names meant something.  Her sons’ names meant sickly & weak.  Does that sound like the names an optimistic woman would give to her sons?  I don’t think so.  We learned that the family packed up and headed to Moab due to an extreme drought brought on by judgement from God.  Our debate came over the question of when they left for Moab.  Did they leave for comfort or because they were sure the boys wouldn’t survive a famine?  Was Naomi’s bitterness from the fact that she had to pack up and move away from her friends and family or was it because of something that happened with her children?  Did Momma Bear come out to protect her little boys from the Bethlehem Bullies?  Did she get tired of the criticisms of other mothers and fathers in regards to how she and Elimelek were raising them?  When did they decide their future was so bleak in Bethlehem that it would be better to raise their family in Moab?

So, the question that remains for us today is quite simple.  What is it that we allow to steal our joy?  What changes our perspective?  What influences our opinions?

We also learned that our main character, Ruth, and her sister-in-law, Orpah, were Moabites.  Not the girls that momma Naomi would have chosen for her precious sons if given the chance, but they would suffice.  Only problem is that we discover Elimelek and the boys all die within this first 5 verses.  So now, Naomi has 2 daughters-in-law from a foreign country.  We also learned that Orpah means stiff-necked and willful.  Ruth seems to have all positive thoughts associated with her name.  Two daughters-in-law with only one thing in common with each other and their mother-in-law……they’re all son-less widows.

And just as a closing note, I find it quite ironic that God has asked me to lead not only a women’s Bible study but one based on a major female player in the Bible.  I barely speak the language of women and look where He has me right now!  Once again, proof of God’s sense of humor.  Gotta love it!  This coming week, we’ll take a look at a little more interaction between the girls and their mother-in-law.  If you’d like to read along, feel free.  It won’t take you long to catch up to us and feel free to leave a comment or two here for some discussion.

Melinda

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