Posts tagged Naomi

Ruth 4v18-22

Epilogue (Part One)

(Click here to listen to the seventh teaching of Ruth)

Verse of the Week




More Word from the Father

1 Corinthians 10v1-14

1 Peter 3v3-6

1 Peter 5v6,7

1 Peter 4v8

1 Corinthians 13

Psalm 23



From my Heart

Who Am I?


“I do not want you to be unaware, brethren…with most of them God was not well-pleased…” (1 Corinthians 10v1, 5)


What a terrible and terrifying indictment! In referring back to “our fathers,” God gives this less-than-satisfactory summary of their lives. Then He gives a list: they craved evil things, they were idolaters, they acted immorally, they grumbled…


Uh-oh, sounds like me. I fit right into that list.


“Now these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction…” (1 Corinthians 10v11)


Okay, I see. Instead of condemning them as hopeless, God writes their stories to show me what I ought to be like and what I should avoid at all costs. Instead of just issuing commands, He gives me examples, both good and bad. And that’s why we study the lives of the men and women recorded in Scripture.

The Old Testament is rich with stories. Between the tragic tales in the book of Judges and the trying escapades recorded in the books of Samuel lies this almost hidden gem of Ruth. Each character is easily identifiable. I can relate to Ruth, grieve with Naomi, give up on Orpah, shun those women around the well, and fall head over heels in love with Boaz. Yet these stories are meant for more than a history lesson. They are intended to instruct us in the ways of Yahweh and in the tendencies of His followers. We would do well to read carefully, to put ourselves in the places the Patriarchs walked, to listen, and to learn.

Let’s take a look at the characters in the story of Ruth to see how we measure up.



She let Satan’s lie sink straight to her bones. It’s a lie he’s been using since the beginning of mankind - the idea that God is holding back His goodness; that He just might not have our best interests in mind. That He’s not nice. And as long as she nourished that little tidbit of falsehood, Naomi failed to thrive. She grew bitter and joyless. Hesed was happening all around her and she just couldn’t taste it.

Is that me? Am I feeling sorry for myself? Am I inwardly dissatisfied with God’s provision for me? Is all my worry and fussing an indication that I don’t really, honestly believe that He is able and willing to take care of me and mine?



She went after God with the most appealing combination of humility and determination. Nothing would stop her; not the disapproval of people, nor the scolding of Naomi. Not even the looming specter of starvation could deter her. That girl poured every inch of her heart into pursuing God. And in the process, she won over her skeptics. By dying to her dreams, Ruth stepped right under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty, allowing Him to write her happily-ever-after ending.

What about me? Have I grown somewhat lackadaisical in my personal pursuit of God? Kinda lazy? Expecting Him to throw me a bit of wisdom just when I need it instead of storing up His treasures every opportunity I can grab? Am I gleaning - hot and sweaty out in the fields, searching for food?



She gave up. Too hot, too hard, she turned back to the easier way. The old way. Orpah turned to the idols she was comfortable with rather than risk following Yahweh. Those idols of her heart gave her a sense of quick satisfaction.

What idols do I turn to? How about you?

A glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream to ease the stress of the day? An ungodly boyfriend? How about a shopping spree to pick me up? Or a mindless movie? What do I turn to? When I am all poured out, how do I fill back up?


The servant in charge

I like this guy. When Boaz inquired about the new worker in the field, the supervisor gave a glowing report about her progress. He made sure that her reputation was unblemished and utterly honest. Not one mention of any unrest among the other workers at her presence. No words of gossip or innuendo. He praised her hard work and let Boaz know that she was a welcome addition to his fields.

Do I do that? Or am I quick to point out the faults and flaws of others? Am I poking my nose in business I really don’t need to know? Can I be depended upon to let other’s share their own stories, knowing when it’s their story to tell and not mine? Am I willing to keep my mouth shut on stuff that doesn’t really matter? Do I believe the best about people?


The women

Twice in the story we hear of them. Once, right at the beginning when Naomi dumps her load of bitterness all over them in an unsolicited display of drama. And then again, right towards the end when they turn around and bless her. These women jump into the story with their own unsolicited commentary, making sure that Naomi knows and notices the good hand of God in her life. They bless God and they bless Naomi in a sort of sing-song vision for her future happiness.

Is that my tendency? Do I listen unjudgmentally when my sisters need to unload on me? Or do I lift my shotgun of Bible verses at them and blast away? These precious friends let Naomi vent without censorship. They listened. They watched. And then they applauded her story, giving God a standing ovation of praise. How must the angels have grinned! Maybe they joined in.

What about my kids? Do I let them question and complain from time to time, or do I shut them down and shame them for their rawness? One thing about the book of Ruth, the Author didn’t leave anything out. Nor did God defend Himself. He just let the story play out to its conclusion, letting lessons be learned little by little, all in good time.


And then of course, there’s Elimelech

He ran. He lost sight of what was most important (his relationship with God) and lost himself in the pursuit of pleasure and plenty. And he died doing it. What about his sons? There’s no telling how old they were when they left the Promised Land to follow their dad to Moab, but they were certainly old enough to decide for themselves to marry those Moabite women. They died too.

Oh, there are lessons to be learned alright. Life lessons to soak in and savor. The book of Ruth is rich with wisdom and insight into the Kingdom of God compared to the comforts of life.


While you read it, lean a little closer and listen carefully.

From my heart,






Four Women

The genealogy at the end of Ruth is copied almost verbatim in the genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of Matthew. One significant addition, however, differentiates the lists. In Jesus’ genealogy, the names of four women are highlighted - Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Why did the author include these four women? The inclusion of any women would have been considered inappropriate at the time of the writing. The place of women in society was downplayed; they were considered insignificant to the story. But these women were something of a black spot on the family tree. Why mention them at all? There must be a reason.

As we delve deeper into their stories, take some time to examine what these tales tell us about the women - and about the God they adopted as their own.



Ten Generations












Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Two)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)



Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

1 Peter 1v1-15

1 Peter 4v7-19

1 Peter 5v4-10

2 Peter 1v2-8

2 Peter 3v17-18



From my Heart

Testing for the Task

Naomi said to Ruth,

“Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Ruth 1v15

God often tests our resolve before He trusts us with an important task. Just look at Abraham: preparing to kill his own son. Or Rebekah: setting aside her own agenda to serve a servant. And David: dutifully trudging back to tend sheep after he’d been proclaimed the next King of Israel.

God was testing Ruth. Would she, when given a chance, go home? Was her commitment to Naomi mere lip service-a preference perhaps-but certainly not enough to carry her into foreign territory?


Is God testing you? Giving you an out? Checking to see if you really mean it?


Will you breathe a sigh of relief like Orpah and turn back - careful to cover your tracks and keep to your comfort zone?

I don’t always like the choice set in front of me. But if I’m honest, I do know it is a choice. And, I dare say, so do you.

And that, my dear friends, is just the way it is…


From my heart,



To which Ruth replied,

“Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her." Ruth 1v17, 18





The Task

(I found this nugget of gold roughly typed on a bit of wrinkled paper in a pocket of my old bathrobe many years ago. I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I know that this is just the way He is!)


Lord, You give me a task

So utterly impossible

So totally beyond comprehension-

The very thought of it

Startles me.

I want to run, hide, escape,


Anything, Lord.

Then You electrify me.

You invade and permeate me.

You penetrate every fiber of me

Until the task is accomplished

By Your own magnificent power.


Then You praise the performance

Your creativity achieved

And You reward me beyond expectation-

As though I had done it

All by myself.



The Headlines

Rachel and Leah

Back at least six centuries before our story takes place, another love story played itself out with all the drama and intrigue of a paperback novel.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, went looking for a wife. He wound up working for his Uncle Laban who happened to have two daughters. Jacob fell head over heals in love with the second daughter, Rachel, but her father denied Jacob’s request to marry her without an exorbitant bride price.

Laban demanded that Jacob work without wages for seven long years before he was granted permission to marry Rebekah. Then, on the eve of the wedding, Laban deceitfully switched brides. After spending the night with his new bride, enjoying all the anticipated delights of physical intimacy, Jacob woke up with the morning light to find not his beloved Rachel, but her sister, Leah!

Having been consummated, the marriage was entirely legal and no amount of protest could alter the fact that Jacob was now married to Leah. However, his situation was not entirely hopeless. The culture in which Laban lived made allowances for polygamy. So Jacob went back to Laban, seething with anger over his deceit, and made another deal with his father-in-law. Jacob would be allowed to take Rachel as his second wife in exchange for another seven years of wage-less labor.

The animosity between Jacob’s two wives was legendary. They competed for everything from conjugal rights to mandrake leaves. Between them, however, they bore and raised a whopping twelve sons who lived to adulthood. Rachel and Leah were considered the matriarchs of the nation of Israel.





Mandrakes are a root of the potato family which grew in the stony ground of the Mediterranean area. They bear yellow fruit about the size of a small tomato. The mandrake fruit was believed to be an aphrodisiac, increasing the eater’s ability to conceive. It may have also had some narcotic qualities.


Ruth 1v6-22

The Journey (Part Four)

(Click here to listen to the second Ruth teaching) 



Verse of the Week:




More Words from the Father:

Philippians 1-2:18



From my Heart:

Empty…or Full?

“I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” - Naomi (Ruth 1:21)

What’s this? Naomi complains to her friends that she left Bethlehem a decade or so ago with full coffers? She fled a famine full?

And now, with the House of Bread overflowing with food and a beautiful, loyal, committed daughter by her side she’s come back with nothing? Empty?

Naomi sounds like a lot of us.

“College is a tough time. So much work, so much pressure, a poor college student. If I could just finish…

then I’ll be happy.”

“No one is asking me out. Poor me, nobody loves me. If I could just find a husband…

then I’d be happy.”

“My husband just doesn’t understand me. If only I could get a different husband…

then I’d be happy.”

“Saving for a house is so hard. We both work fulltime, we’re exhausted and have nothing left over. If we could just buy a house of our own…

then I’d be happy.”

“This house is too small. We need more room, a bigger yard, a nicer neighborhood. If only we could buy a bigger house…

then I’d be happy.”

“All my friends are pregnant; a life growing inside of them. I want a baby. Then we’d be like a real family and…

then I’d be happy.”

“I hate being pregnant! My feet are swollen, my back aches, and I can’t sleep. If only I’d have this baby now…

then I’d be happy.”

“I’m up all night, I’m exhausted all the time and all I do is change diapers. If only my kids were in school…

then I’d be happy.”

“My kids drive me crazy! All I do is drive them from school to practice to lessons to games. I’m just a taxi driver with no time to myself. If only the kids could drive…

then I’d be happy.”

“My teenager is crazy! He drives too fast, leaves wrappers in the car and a mess in his room, and besides that, his music is too loud. If only he’d grow up…

then I’d be happy.”

“I live in an empty nest. It’s too quiet around here. I’m lonely and bored…

If only I could be happy.”

Does that sound like a litany you’ve heard before?

Always wishing we were in a better place…

a different season…

constantly complaining…

never happy with now.

The fact is, if you and I are completely and unreservedly surrendered to God, then

this now,

right here,

is our sweet spot.

Stinky diapers, crazy teenagers, less-than-ideal husband and all. And that, my dear friend, is just the way it is…

From my heart,


P.S. Check out the secret in Philippians 3:12, 13!





No one word in the English language is capable of capturing the exact meaning of this Hebrew word, hesed. All renderings only approximate the original. Instead, translators ended up using a smorgasborg of words such as…





Loyal, steadfast, unfailing, love.

And yet this hesed is a crucial aspect of who God is and a part of His character which Satan most often lies about in order to dissuade us from the love of God. Psalm 136 is the “classic text for understanding the significance of this word.” In this passage it is used 26 times to proclaim God’s kindness.

Naomi had completely forgotten God’s hesed in the first part of our story. Instead, she felt that God was against her: afflicting her with harsh and punitive discipline (Ruth 1:13, 20, 21). Yet by chapter 3 of the book of Ruth we will see Naomi begin to thaw in her attitude towards God. She recognizes that it is the hesed of God that moves Boaz to gentle acts of generosity.

Watch for this theme of lovingkindness throughout the book of Ruth: on the part of Boaz, in Ruth toward Naomi, Naomi toward both Ruth and Orpah, and in Ruth toward Boaz.

Most of all, it is imperative that we recognize the daily hesed of God in our own lives…and that we be pouring the hesed leftovers into the lives of the people God puts in our path.




“For the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.” - Ruth 1:13 

Naomi uses a familiar Hebrew colloquialism to explain her circumstances. Later in the story she will realize that her assessment is entirely wrong, but for now she’s convinced that God is very much against her.

This term is known as an anthropomorphism: a figure of speech which attributes human physical characteristics to God. In Scripture, God is described as having arms, hands, eyes, and ears. This can also include actions and feelings, i.e. “sleeping” (Psalm 121:4).


Ruth 1v6-22

The Journey (Part Two)

Verse of the Week:



More words from the Father:

Colossians 3:8-14

Psalm 139

Luke 10:41,42


From my Heart:

What About Me? 

On pondering Ruth’s boldness, her verve, her enthusiastic embracing of hardship, I find myself asking, “What about me?”

Have I arrived at this place, in this role, because God led me here? Or did I take a few too many wrong turns along the way and then settle in just to survive? Am I here…doing what I’m doing…being who I am…because I’ve so entrusted my life to the Father that I have followed every hint, every word He has spoken and landed finally in my sweet spot? Am I in that place intended for me to serve Him?

Or not?

Did I, instead, take the reins in my own hands to drive me and everyone else around me down the road I chose…the path I preferred? What if, deep down inside, I don’t want to be this person I’ve become along the way? What if I don’t want to do the things that define me?

What if…

I don’t want to play the role of policewoman/Nazi-commander in my home anymore? Will the world collapse around me if I turn nice? Will clothes mold in wadded up piles? Will the health department have to step in and close down the kitchen if I’m not there to catch every crumb? Will my husband bankrupt us? Will he go off and buy a Maserati the minute I let up?

What would happen if I let go of control?

Should I warn them first?

“By the way, I’ve decided to play the nice guy from now on. No more scolding, sulking, silently disapproving. I’ve decided to be like Ruth and Sarah. Oh…and Mary. Definitely like her.”

“From now on I’ll ask nicely, or not at all. Because I love you, with all your faults and flaws, you don’t have to fit yourself to me any more because I find you fascinating and fun, intriguing, and delightful.”

What would happen after I scraped them off the floor?

And what if…

I don’t want to be bound by my birthdays anymore? Are the freshman 15 and baby-fat and middle-age spread inevitable? Or could I push my slothful self out the door, slip into my running shoes and change all that? And if my body is indeed the temple of the Spirit of God, aren’t I somewhat obligated to try?

What if…

I quit complaining? Would I be okay if nobody knew I had a headache? I once tried not to complain for a whole week. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even make it through one whole day! My conversation is laced with common complaints.

“My, its hot…







boring today.”

What if I stopped all that?

What if I never said a bad thing about anybody ever again? Would I have anything to talk about?

The real question is, “Can I change?” Can I overcome my past patterns to become who I want to be…who I believe God made me to be? Can I overthrow my history, much like Ruth did, to reinvent myself? Can I really change by choosing?

One glance through Scripture convinces me I can. The change in Peter between who he was at the end of the gospel of Luke and who he emerged to be in the beginning of the story of Acts is nothing short of astounding! He went from whining wimp to warrior preacher in how many days?

What about Paul? Talk about an about-face!

And John? Jesus nicknamed him and his brother, James, the “sons of thunder,” clearly referring to their raging tempers. A look at his trilogy of letters in first, second, and third John reveals an entirely different temperament. There he’s known as the “Apostle of Love.”

If they can change, can’t I?

I can almost hear Jesus break in to interrupt my raging thoughts… “Martha, Martha…hush now…settle down…you are worried and bothered about so many things.” “Mary,” He gently reminds me, “has chosen the good part.

Choosing the good part…again,

From my heart,



Wisdom from the Scriptures


Naomi’s life started out well. Pleasant, as the meaning of her name suggests. She grew up in the town of Bethlehem, situated in the bread basket of Israel. Her childhood would have evolved around agriculture: plowing, planting, gathering, preparing, and the celebrations which accompanied ample harvests.

She married well. Elimelech was of the elite tribe of Ephrathites, thought to be the founding fathers of Judah. Their family originated with Caleb, Joshua’s consort in their spying days.1

But then her life took a downturn. Due to an apparent famine, Naomi’s husband chose to defy the dictates of the Mosaic Covenant2 and migrate to the land of Moab. There, she lost her entire family to premature death; first Elimelech, and soon thereafter, her two adult sons, Mahlon and Chilion. She found herself abandoned and alone in a foreign land, estranged from the God of her childhood, far away from all that was familiar and safe.

Called a “female Job” by many commentators,3 Naomi becomes a spokesperson for every woman who suffers. In the narrative you get a clear look at Naomi’s hurting heart. She is exposed, bearing her pain for all to see. Naomi feels that God is against her (Ruth 1:13, 21), that He has afflicted her (1:21), and brought misfortune upon her (1:21). She feels empty (1:21) and bitter (1:20).

And yet, little does she know, God is lovingly dictating even the most excruciating of circumstances. By the middle of the story, Naomi is dishing out wise advice to her daughter-in-law. She exhibits a keen understanding of her culture and even an underlying sense of God’s purpose for His people. And she gets her happily-ever-after ending. Holding her grandson, Obed, in her arms, Naomi’s life once again takes on meaning and purpose. Her friends bless her and help her to recognize that God is restoring her life and giving her hope for her future.

In this raw and wrenching depiction of pain, the God of Scripture gives us permission to go ahead and ask those questions that defy easy answers, to rail against the circumstances that upend everything we hoped for.

Naomi’s story is a story of a God who listens…and cares.


The Journey

Ruth 1:6-22

 (Click here to listen to the second teaching in the Ruth study.)

Scene II of our drama brings the spotlight onto the three widows: Naomi, determined to travel back to her land of Israel alone; Ruth, equally determined to find and follow Naomi’s God; and Orpah, uncertain which path to take.

An argument ensues. Naomi, painting the bleakest possible picture of the life that lies ahead, manages to convince Orpah to turn back to the relative safety and security of her old life. Ruth, on the other hand, resolves to forsake all and follow the way of her mother-in-law.

In a beautiful soliloquy which we often hear reiterated at weddings, Ruth declares her intention to go with Naomi, adopting Naomi’s people, land, and God as her own.

Orpah kisses. Ruth clings. 

Orpah turns back. Ruth forges forward.

The path Ruth takes with Naomi is dangerous and filled with hardship. Much like our own determination to follow Jesus, these women must set their eyes on the hope ahead of them in order to endure. They must face each obstacle head on, courageously depending on God to show them the way and give them the strength to move forward.

Our own journey takes a similar road. The prophet Isaiah called it the Highway of Holiness. It is a road where the Redeemed walk safe, though surrounded by “wilderness and desert,” a road leading to a place where, at long last, “sorrow and sighing flee away.”

Come along with these two women who are so much like us. Delve into their story, identify with their fears and failures. Rise up with their hopes and triumphs. These women are here to show us the way to the One who captures our hearts and holds us safe in His love forever.




Colossians 1:9-12

Colossians 2:1-7

Psalm 143 


The Beauty of Kindness

How must Ruth have felt that day as she trudged towards Naomi’s land? She was a despised Moabitess, attempting to slip unobtrusively into the tiny town of Bethlehem. She couldn’t remain unnoticed for long. Everything about her was different: the way she dressed, the way she wore her hair, even the halting way she spoke as she struggled to wrap her tongue around those strange Hebrew vowels. But it was her history that was her undoing.

Ruth the Moabitess.

Her title defined her.

Worlds of prejudice were wrapped up in that word.

All that was evil and immoral,

Dangerous and undignified,

She was a bad woman.

Sometimes I feel summarized in much the same way.

Stuck in a role that everyone expects of me.

A role that chafes and irritates.

A role that confines and defines me.

A role that doesn’t fit very well,

like a too-short t-shirt - so uncomfortable!

And yet, passively, I plod on, doing what I’ve always done, being who I’ve always been, caught in a catch-22 of my own making. What else is a woman to do?

What did Ruth do?

This woman defied the discouraging expectations of others. She didn’t set out to prove them wrong. No speeches about giving her a chance. No long soliloquies explaining herself to her skeptics. She simply served. Quietly, Ruth rebuilt her reputation by serving the one woman who really needed her: Naomi. She broke the bonds of people’s expectations by gathering grain, showing kindness, sharing a meal, and taking initiative.

Doing what she could.

Doing what she should.

She didn’t sit around hoping someone would do the right thing. There was nothing passive about Ruth. That girl just got out there and went to work. I love it!

I love how the Bible, upon a closer look, blows our picture of piety. Ruth is applauded for aggressively going after the lowest job of all - gleaning. Instead of letting this desperate act ruin her life forever, she builds her future on the beauty of her kindness. She entices the man of her dreams not by sexual seduction, but by the sweet allure of servanthood. Rather than allow her history to limit her, she uses it to propel her to greatness.

Now that’s a picture of bold, biblical womanhood!

From my heart,



The Moabites

The Moabites were the archenemies of Israel. Not opponents to be feared or revered, nor foes to challenge the mightiest of their warriors. The Israelites despised these enemies on their border for their weak and deceitful ways. Their lineage didn’t help, descended from the incestuous relationship between Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his oldest daughter. The Moabites were named after the son of that drunken seduction (see that story in Genesis 19:30-38). And their women were the worst.

Their story goes back a ways…

More than 150 years earlier, during the long and arduous trek through the wilderness, Moses had sent a diplomatic envoy to request permission to cross through the land of Edom on what was known as “The King’s Highway.” Even with assurances that the Israelites would not trample their farmland or use up their water, the king refused, sending an imposing force to intimidate the travelers (Numbers 20:14-21). Apparently, Moab was a part of this alliance against the Israelites (Judges 11:17) beginning a blood feud which would last for at least ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3-6).

The biblical portrayal of the character of the Moabites was less than admirable. Proud and arrogant (Isaiah 16:6), idolatrous (1 Kings 11:7), superstitious (Jeremiah 27:3, 9), rich and confident (Jeremiah 48:7), men of war (Jeremiah 48:14), hostile to Israel (Psalm 83:6)-not exactly the kind of people you want living next door.

Tensions between the nations worsened when Balak, king of Moab, called for the prophet Balaam to come and curse Israel. And while Balaam certainly tried, he was unable to effectively cast a curse on this nation who was under the protection and guidance of the Almighty. Yet what havoc the errant prophet was powerless to create through divination, the women of Moab succeeded in wrecking through seduction. The story, found in Numbers 25, began with just “some” men accepting the invitations of the Moabite women to join them in the sexually erotic worship of their gods, but the destruction spread to involve the deaths of 24,000 people in Israel. While Balaam attempted unsuccessfully to turn the Lord against His people, he was sadly successful at turning God’s people away from their Lord. The tragedy struck a stunning blow to the fledgling nation. How a small group of Moabite and Midianite women could seduce thousands of Israelite men away from their declared intention to be faithful followers of Yahweh became the ultimate horror and humiliation for every family in Israel.

Much like pornography today, these people “devoted themselves to shame and they became as detestable as that which they loved” (Hosea 9:10 NLT). Their idolatrous sexual sins are held up once again in the letter to the church in Pergamum, as dangerous deviations from God’s plan to bless their lives (Revelation 2:14-16).

No wonder the Israelites in Naomi’s day looked somewhat suspiciously at her daughter-in-law Ruth. The thought of a young Moabite widow in their small town must have sent tremors through their tight-knit community. Was she a seductress like her ancestors? A blatant heathen who would bring her erotic gods to entice their men? These women would have been understandably reluctant to welcome Ruth into their midst. She would have to prove herself first, and to be very careful to watch her back while she did so.


RUTH: week 1

Once Upon a Time: Ruth 1:1-5

Like a riveting drama, the book of Ruth opens upon a scene of conflict and confusion. A family journeys away from their home and identity in search of an illusion of security. Troubled times in the land of their birth, prompt them to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Away from their extended family and far from their God, they sojourn, then they enter, and they remain with a people who worship the violent, irrational god called Chemosh.

Chaos ensues.

First, the father dies, leaving Naomi with her two sons to fend for herself. The sons marry and sink their roots deeper into the culture of Moab, a country whose practices are anathema to everything they were raised to believe. After a decade of adapting to their adopted land, both sons suddenly die, leaving three widows in their wake.

The scene is set in just a few short sentences. No grand display of emotion, no weeping and wailing, not even a haunting dirge playing in the background. Just the facts. But those facts are staggering, their implications posing impossible odds for Naomi. She scrambles to undo the irreversible harm done ten years previously, when, against all wisdom, her husband led their family away from their land, Israel, and away from their God, Yahweh.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll be delving deeper into the drama of our own lives. How do you handle adversity? What do you do when your heart aches for satisfaction? When emotional or relational famine leaves you high and dry?

The answer, of course, is to plant your heart firmly beside what Psalm 1 describes as “streams of water” the Word of God. There, we thrive and flourish no matter what the circumstances of our story dictate.





Ruth 1:1-5

Matthew 4:23-5:6

1 Peter 1:25-2:3

Hebrews 5:14-6:12

Isaiah 55


Are You Hungry?

Have you ever been on a diet? How about those liquid-only ones? The instructions sound so convincing: “Just drink these lovely drinks which will fill you up, imparting loads of energy without the dreaded calories of real food. You’ll be svelte and slim in no time.”

Give me a break!

Not that I haven’t tried it, mind you. It’s just that I haven’t succeeded. I do okay for a day. In fact, I feel rather proud of myself, energized and motivated to finally “do it this time.” But by day two I start fixating on food. The slightest whiff of toast in the morning makes me crave a luscious, crispy, jam-laden hunk of life-giving bread. You get the picture.

No, starvation diets don’t work because the hungrier you are, the more you start to earnestly long for food to fill your empty belly.

Hunger is real. And if left unattended, it can weaken you. Elimelech looked on in anguish as his family suffered the agonizing effects of genuine hunger. Naomi lost weight, not because she wanted to fit into tight jeans, but because she hadn’t enough to eat. His boys failed to thrive, whining for more when their bowls were empty. As he watched their cupboards empty and faced the prospect of weeks and months of subsistence living, Elimelech came to the conclusion that he must act now to satisfy his desperate need for food. He must solve the hunger problem.

Elimelech is not the only one. You and I try to solve our own hunger problem whether we know it or not. In fact, some of us get to the very end of our lives before we realize that the messes we have caused along the way were actually the consequences of an undernourished life.

Let me explain.

Way back in Deuteronomy, when God is laying out His instructions for His people in order that “it might be well with them and their sons forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29), He makes a curious claim about hunger:

“…He humbled you and let you be hungry,

and fed you with manna

which you did not know,

that He might make you understand that

man does not live by bread alone,

but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”

(Deuteronomy 8:3)

Or, as the New Living Translation so poetically puts it:

“…He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life;

real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD.”

God caused their hunger. He didn’t just allow it. It didn’t slip by Him without notice. He let them feel the full force of the pain of their own hunger for a purpose: in order to teach His chosen, beloved people that “real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD”.

So I ask you - “Are you hungry?” Have you experienced real, starvation-induced heart hunger? And, have you yet discovered the satisfaction that comes from truly feasting on His every word?

Just as your body can become gaunt from not enough good food, so your soul will show symptoms when you are languishing. And just as I’ve experienced all sorts of self-induced hunger on an ever-elusive quest for leanness, I know all too well those signs of soul hunger. Do you have any of these symptoms?

In the area of relationships…

  • Are you a control freak? Do you wonder why others are getting in the way of what you want, why they don’t do what you want, or why they don’t understand what you want?
  • Are you growing contentious? Aggravated when “nobody can’t do nothin’ right!”
  • Is conflict making you feel that “everybody-is-against-me-nobody-loves-me-woe-is-me!”
  • Is competitiveness driving you to need to be better than everyone else?

In your hidden heart…

Are you disappointed that life and dreams and relationships haven’t brought the happiness you were so sure they would when you started out?

Are you depressed that there is no hope for improvement, no new dreams to inspire, nothing to get you up in the morning?

Are you sensing despair? (And don’t think for a minute that Christians never experience this!) King David asked himself this very question, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?”

And have you, like Elimelech tried to find solutions for your starvation symptoms? Have you tried to alleviate those hunger pangs by bingeing on what the Bible metaphorically calls the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life?”

Have you found yourself buying a new outfit to make you feel better about yourself, clawing your way up the corporate ladder to prove yourself, striving to create the perfect home in order to paint a perfect picture of yourself? Maybe even flirting with men to bring attention to yourself?

And how far has it led?

How much debt has it caused you? How much alienation and exhaustion? What about shame?

All of these, and more, are simply signs that you are hungry. You are not getting enough food. Or you’re pigging out on the wrong kinds of food. You’ve been dieting too long, buying into the notion that “Devotions in One Minute a Day” will satisfy your soul. And it doesn’t. Just as food-less dieting doesn’t work, Word-less living leaves you and me weak and vulnerable.

So, this week, I prescribe real food. Go and gather that Manna, that Bread of Life which can be “ground and beat and boiled and made into cakes” (look it up in Numbers 11). Get up a little earlier, get your “cooking utensils” out the night before, and be ready for a feast…and an end to hunger.

From my heart,



The Famine

The story of Ruth happened during a time of severe and significant famine. We’re not talking an economic downturn here. It was a national meltdown. Think widespread poverty and complete panic. The Great Depression of BC 1200.

It is widely believed that this story transpired sometime before Gideon became judge over Israel, (though no one knows for certain). In Gideon’s time, a famine occurred which was more a political than an agricultural disaster. Crop conditions were excellent, the fields filled with the rich produce of the region. Everyone anticipated a good year. But just as harvest day dawned, a swarming army of nomadic raiders (the Bedouins from the desert region of Midian) invaded Israel, stealing the crops, the sheep, the oxen, and even their donkeys. A full years’ work devastated in one fell swoop.

These Bedouin nomads did not want to destroy the Israelites, nor did they attempt to take over their land. The camel-riding Midianites simply swooped in like locusts and emptied their cupboards, leaving the land and the people poor and destitute, with just enough supplies to survive to plant next year’s crop. And all of this went on for seven years!

No wonder Gideon, Elimelech, and quite possibly every man, woman, and child in Israel were desperately looking for relief.