Naomi - Discouragement and Rescue
Naomi was a good woman of Israel. Her life began as she had planned--marriage and children. She married Elimelech and bore two sons, Mahlon and Kilion.
Naomi lived in Bethlehem, Judah, surrounded by friends she had known for years. They shared memories and they shared a faith in the God of Israel.
Naomi’s first trial came in the form of a famine in Judah. She must have been heart-broken when Elimelech told her that they must move to Moab so he could provide for them. She would have to leave her family, friends, and home--the place she had planned to raise her boys and live out her life.
While in Moab, Elimelech died. Naomi was a widow with sons to raise. Mahlon and Kilion married Moabite women. Though not forbidden, this wouldn’t have been the match Naomi had in mind. Moabites had been enemies of Abraham’s line, but Mahlon and Kilion had the duty of carrying on the family name. Moabites, Ruth and Orpah became Naomi’s daughters-in-law. She may not have been happy these pagan women were in her family, but she modeled true godliness for them. Both of her daughters-in-law loved her and at least one, learned to love Naomi’s God.
Eventually both Mahlon and Kilion died.
Naomi was now without husband or son to take care of her. She and her daughter-in-laws were destined to poverty and would be easy targets for crime. Naomi lost all hope for herself. What happiness could she have in a foreign land, without husband, sons, and without grandchildren? What kind of future was there to look forward to?
Naomi decided to return, alone, to her home in Judah, where at least she knew people and where they shared her belief in God. She planned for Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab, return to their own families and possibly remarry.
Orpah tearfully consented to stay in Moab, but Ruth clung to her mother-in-law. She vowed to travel with Naomi and to worship Naomi’s God. Together they took the long journey to Judah.
Upon arrival in Judah, Naomi was tired and discouraged. Her life, so far, had left her with nothing—no husband, no sons, no material possessions. Her name, Naomi, meant pleasant. She told her old friends to call her Mara, meaning bitter. When she had left them, years earlier, she had been full, but she came back empty. Naomi couldn’t see anything but her great loss. She failed to see a blessing God had provided, the loving daughter-in-law who refused to abandon her.
Ruth married Boaz of Judah and gave birth to a son, providing Naomi security and a grandchild.
Naomi experienced great loss. She lived with heartache and discouragement. However, even when she had given up on hope, she recognized the Lord who was in control. The old woman was discouraged, but God rescued her.
We experience trouble. We get discouraged. In that discouragement, may we recognize the blessings and remember the Almighty God who is always in control and is always working on our behalf.
Read about Naomi in the Bible in the book of Ruth.
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