During the days of the judges a famine hit Bethlehem. A certain man named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion tried to escape the famine by moving to Moab.
They stayed in Moab for awhile before Elimelech died, leaving Naomi to depend on her two sons. Then they took wives of the Moabite women. One married Orpah and the other Ruth. Then the two sons died.
When Naomi heard the famine was over, she made plans to return to Bethlehem, and her daughters-in-laws went with her. But after they’d traveled a bit, Naomi realized it wasn’t fair for the young women to accompany her to Judah. She thanked them for their devotion to her then encouraged them to return home to their mothers.
Ruth 1:9-10 tells us that the women wept and said that surely they would return with her to her people.
Naomi insisted, pointing out that she couldn’t provide new husbands for them. She said it grieved her for their sakes that the Lord had turned against her.
The women continued crying together until eventually Orpah made the difficult decision to return home. Ruth, on the other hand committed her devotion to her mother-in-law for the rest of her life.
Though the name Naomi means joy, at this point in her life, she was a broken woman who felt forsaken and rejected by God. Even so, we see in her a mother-in-law who is dearly loved by her daughters-in-law.
These women lived during the lawless days when everyone was doing right in their own eyes, yet these women watched out for each other. Oh, that we might love one another with that kind of devotion.
Read about the Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth in Scripture: Ruth 1:1-17
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