Tuesday, July 23, 2013
“And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20 KJV).
Discard this invitation to Naomi’s self-pity party!
The Jewess Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion leave Bethlehemjudah due to famine, and they travel to Moab (on the opposite [or eastern] side of the Dead Sea). There, Elimelech dies, and Mahlon and Chilion intermarry with the Moabites. About ten years later, Mahlon and Chilion pass away, leaving widowed Naomi with two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, also widowed.
When Naomi hears the news that God has provided food for His people in Bethlehemjudah, she decides to leave Moab and return home. Naomi instructs her two daughters-in-law to return to their (pagan) families, for she is returning to Bethlehem. However, Ruth 1:16 says, “And Ruth said, Entreat 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:”
Ruth accompanies Naomi back to Bethlehemjudah, and when the townspeople recognize Naomi, they ask in Ruth 1:19, “Is this Naomi?” Naomi replies, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me” (today’s Scripture). She has lost her husband and both sons, and is thus poverty-stricken, so she feels sorry for herself. Naomi (“pleasant”) prefers to be called “Mara,” Hebrew for “bitter.” Like many today, she is hurt and resentful, angry with God and blaming Him for her troubles. She cannot see with the eyes of faith—JEHOVAH has used her to rescue a former pagan (Ruth) from idolatry! God, for His own purposes, has used “poor” Naomi to reach out to lost Gentile Ruth.
Centuries after Naomi’s passing, we see her pity party was unjustified. Ruth 4:13-22 verifies Ruth became the mother of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David, and King David was… the ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32). Who is Naomi? Someone God used to establish the bloodline of Jesus Christ via Ruth!