RUTH: WEEK 3
#1 “I REACH OUT FOR YOU. I THIRST FOR YOU AS PARCHED LAND THIRSTS FOR RAIN.” PSALM 143:6 NLT
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Are You Thirsty?
The day of the race dawned warm and clear, promising the perfect weather in which to run. I’d anticipated this day for over a year, part of my tongue-in-cheek mid-life crisis for the summer I turned 50. Middle aged and notoriously unathletic, a half marathon seemed the perfect antidote to the inevitability of aging. As I packed my bag with extra socks, sunglasses, and packets of jelly beans, I kept debating the dilemma of the hour. Should I do as all the books say (and yes, the ultimate book worm learns to run by reading!) and drink plenty of fluids before the race? Or should I heed my own inner-worry: that I’d end up in line for the porta-potty while I watched the race run by? In the end, I compromised, downing a little water at the start and a lot of water at each of the stations. I passed the porta-potties right by! You need water. Lots of it. Thirst is different than hunger in that you absolutely must have water in order to survive. While someone can go weeks and weeks without food, you cannot live without water for more than about 72 to 120 hours (three to five days). One week without water and we’re dead.
Water in Scripture symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Our souls thirst for the Spirit of God to enable us to be nourished by the Word of God. You cannot survive, let alone thrive, without both the water of the Spirit and the Word of God to satisfy you. Yet how many Bible studies have you and I attended and how many sermons have we listened to without once inviting, begging, pleading with the Holy Spirit to speak to us? To give us water to drink?
The one redeeming contribution the Old Testament priest, Eli, made in spite of his myriad mistakes, was to teach young Samuel this concept:
“…if He calls you, you shall say,
‘Speak, for Thy servant is listening’.”
I Samuel 3:9
God wants to refresh you and satisfy you through His Word. He names Himself Logos, the Word (John 1:1), to let you and I know that He is speaking. But it takes the Spirit of God within you to enable you to drink those words in and quench your desperate thirst. Bible studies and sermons will bounce right off if you are not walking in and with the Spirit, waiting expectantly for Him to speak to you. Even the discipline of daily devotions will leave you parched and dry unless done in the power of His Spirit.
And it doesn’t take a twelve-step program to remember how to drink. Little Samuel can tell you that. With Eli’s help, he learned early in his life to invite God to speak to him. Over months and years and decades, Samuel honed this skill, learning to listen with intensity and focus. By the end of his life, Samuel was one of the wisest and most trusted priests ever to represent God in all of Israel.
We all would do well to remember Samuel’s secret, and to sincerely pray Samuel’s one sentence prayer every time we intend to drink in God’s Word:
Your servant is listening.”
From my heart,
Who wrote Ruth?
The writer of the book of Ruth reaches back to tell a story from distant memory. He sets it in a time other than his own: when the Judges ruled. Now, a King reigns over Israel and many of the problems which plagued the fledgling nation have been solved and set right by strong central leadership. Back then, the author writes, when times were turbulent and events often escalated out of control, a little family of four sets off to alleviate their poverty by leaving the land God had given them and going to the dreaded nation of Moab.
The author pens the tale as dispassionately as possible, but still, his sympathy seeps out of the edges of his story. No condemnation clouds his telling; he sticks to the facts. They went, they died, and only Naomi came back. This family of four is reduced to one: one grief-stricken widow.
Who wrote this story with so much tenderness?
Some say it must have been written by a woman.1 Certainly the story has a feminine appeal. The conversations recorded and emotions portrayed are deeply insightful, unveiling an intimate understanding of human relationships and of feminine friendships in particular.
Others attribute this story to Samuel. Rabbinic tradition credits the beloved prophet/priest with the writing of Judges, Ruth, and First and Second Samuel.2 And perhaps he did write it, though he couldn’t have completed the story since he didn’t live long enough to tack the genealogy at the end.
The bottom line is that nobody knows who wrote the book of Ruth. But someone did. Someone who didn’t want to get in the way by signing his (or her) name to the bottom of the page. Someone who loved the story. Someone who’d heard it told over and over again, told and retold with care and precision and passion. For this is a story not just about Ruth, or Naomi, or Boaz, but about a God who reaches through misery and heartache and hopelessness to reveal Himself to hurting people.
This is the story of a rescue.