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The Contentment of Ruth

(Ruth 1)

Lesson 12 -- first quarter 1996
February 18, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1995, Christian Light Publications

Two daughters-in-law, two levels of commitment, two separate destinies. Two daughters-in-law, one destined for greatness, the other for virtual oblivion. Two daughters-in-law, one satisfied with nothing less than God, the other satisfied with no more than God's blessing. I am challenged again to fight against the good when it threatens the best!

How would have you responded to verse eight? Notice the young women's responses in verse 14. It seems to me that both Orpah and Ruth loved their mother-in-law. However, Orpah responded only with affection; Ruth responded with commitment. "Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her."

Why did Ruth plead with Naomi, "Intreat me not to leave thee"? Was it only that she had grown so attached and committed to her mother-in-law? Or was it that she had been ostracized by her native people? Or was it that she had been orphaned and had no more family but Naomi? No! Verse 15 reveals that Ruth and Orpah didn't just respond on the basis of their relationship to their mother-in-law. They responded on basis of their relationship to her God! "Thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods." Ruth did not want Naomi to urge her to go back to her old gods. Ruth understood that leaving Naomi would be much more significant and consequential than leaving Naomi.

I have heard a paraphrase of verse 16 sung at a few weddings. (I don't recall ever hearing it sung by the bride to her mother-in-law, though!) I think it's pretty, meaningful and fitting. The context, however, would seem to recommend it more as the song of a disciple to the discipler. We don't have many relationships of such nature. Why not? Have we carried the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer a little too far? Oh for a restoration of personal accountability and mutual dependence in all its purity! May God grant to His church strong men and women of faith and integrity who will model the teacher-learner relationship between Naomi and Ruth!

I understand that this relationship wasn't a "regular" relationship; after all, these women were related by marriage. Nevertheless, I am challenged by the friendship, dependence and loyalty here. Do you have someone older than you in your congregation with whom you relate as Ruth to Naomi? If you are average I suspect the answer is no. I didn't either until my late teens and early twenties. Dwight Strubhar enriched, stabilized and strengthened my life to a degree only God can measure. God bless you, Bro. Dwight!

Now I'm at the age Dwight was back then. Now I am on my own. Now I fend for myself. Now I am the mentor and confidant to some in the younger set. So I don't need to be a disciple anymore? That is how I have lived too much of the last ten years. Ruth has challenged me with my ongoing need for a discipler. I hope I remember to begin my search for someone older than I who will take me under their "wing."

"Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:32).

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

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