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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Ruth 1

Verses 1-22

  1. Book Intro:
    1. Setting: The time period of the Judges. (1100 bc)
      1. Read the last verse of Judges.
      2. It spans the period of 12 years.
      3. It seems incredible that this Love Story could occur during the dark days of the Judges…But such is the Grace of God!
        1. Ruth’s story stands out like an oasis of integrity & righteousness, in a period of rebellion & immorality.
        2. It would be like sitting in a dark dingy bar, when lightly in the background you hear a Love Ballad of Ruth softly playing.
    2. Trivia: What 3 books in the bible are named after women?
      1. Ruth, Esther, & 2nd John.
    3. Main Themes:
      1. We’ll see the Providence of God in action, in the lives of Naomi, Ruth, & Boaz.
        1. They are like a shaft of sunlight through a steel-gray sky. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.70)
      2. It’s a story of Love, Devotion, & Redemption.
      3. You’ll witness Tears, Toil, Trust, & Triumph.
      4. You’ll see the hand of God guiding the faithful in the details of everyday life!
        1. Common people in common settings, yet being guided by the mysterious hand of God!
        2. Thus, no event in the life of God’s people is insignificant, because he is constantly involved.
    4. The Books Uniqueness:
      1. The literary structure is crafted with care.
      2. Its narrative is symmetrical, wonderfully laid out.
      3. The book begins with a Funeral & ends with a Wedding!
      4. The name of God is used 23 x’s in the 85 vs.
      5. Naomi moves from Bitterness to Blessedness!
      6. Ruth moves from Loneliness to Love.
    5. It’s a human story but much more! It is a story of God’s unfailing love for His covenant people & how he brought a foreigner into that covenant! – A Moabite named Ruth.
    1. ELIMELECH! (1-3)
    2. (1) The land of Milk & Honey has become parched & empty.
      1. How can this be? – Because their agricultural & societal abundance depended on their spiritual obedience.
        1. Since they had ignored God’s law & degenerated into spiritual famine, a physical famine followed – just as God predicted.
      2. There response should have been to run to Him, not run from him!
      3. The house of bread, was now the house w/o bread!
    3. There is a high cost to backsliding.
      1. It seems that Elimelech sinned in bringing his family down to enemy country.
        1. When in severe despair, flight seems the only way out.
      2. “Its better to be hungry in the will of God, than to have a full stomach & be out of His will!” (WWW)
      3. Read Deut.23:3-6.
        1. Since the Law legislated against Moab, we will see that this whole story illustrates Gods sovereign grace upon this alien, outcast, lost Gentile...named Ruth!
      4. God’s promises always seemed to be “in the land”. Step outside of that & you were either backslidden or at the least heading for trouble.
        1. Moab in particular was a divine no no
        2. Whose kid was Moab? Oh yah, “Lots & his daughters!”
        3. They worshiped Chemosh the destroyer, subduer, or fish-god.
      5. Land lay out: Bethlehem is at the top West side of the Dead Sea. Moab is in the middle, East side of it. [35 S/E]
    4. (3) You can run from famine, but you cannot escape death!
      1. Again, “Its better to be hungry in the will of God, than to have a full stomach & be out of His will!”
        1. God provides for those who trust Him in hard times.
      2. Elimelech had the right name “my God is King”, but for all practical purposes he seems to have denied His Kingship over his life. And he soon paid for it:
        1. 1st the Move to Moab, then the Marriages in Moab, then the Misery in Moab…how sad!
    5. Let’s be reminded though there is still a big difference between a backslider & an apostate.
      1. A backslider rationalizes his wrong moves & find excuses for them (i.e. basing his move on the famine)
      2. An apostate repudiates the faith he once professed to hold.
      3. Peter was a backslider; Judas was an apostate. (Vance Havner; 100 Sermon Outlines; #40.)
    6. Husbands/Fathers note this – the ultimate responsibility for the disastrous family move to Moab comes to rest upon the shoulders of Elimelech, the father & head of the home.
    7. Remember, there will always be the temptation to walk “another way!”
    8. MAHLON & CHILION! (4,5)
    9. Mahlon = Sick, sickly; Chilion = Pining or wasting away.
    10. ORPAH! (6-14) [Orpah = fawn]
    11. (6) Wow, go figure…the “house of bread” has bread!
      1. Invite others to come to Jesus. Because the Bread of life…has bread!
      2. Invite others to come to His Word. Because the Daily Bread…is bread!
      3. Invite others to come to Church. Because the House of Bread…has bread!
      4. Now Naomi’s soul was as empty as her stomach had been when her family 1st arrived in Moab.
    12. (8) Go return – Is this good advice for them to return to their pagan gods? (see 15)
      1. Was she embarrassed to bring them back with her & reveal the family’s disobedience to God?
    13. (7,10) A Kiss is cheap!
      1. Both set out with her (7).
      2. Both had an affection for Naomi (8).
      3. Both declared “surely we will return with you to your people” (10).
    14. But the hour of test came: Naomi set before them the trials & costs!
      1. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, & quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements & difficulties.
      2. (Spurg) “The kiss of outward profession is very cheap & easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth & holiness, is not so small a matter.”
      3. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Lk.9:23
        1. And read Lk.14:26,27,33.
    15. Q: How is your heart with God?
      1. Is it fixed on Jesus? Is it bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost? Are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Masters sake?
    16. Orpah is not heard of again! She seeps back into her pagan culture, her people, her gods. Slipping off the pages of Scripture, history, eternity!
      1. But Ruth lives on in history, in Scripture, in heaven. For grace has placed her in the noble line in which sprang up Israel’s greatest King, David, & ultimately the King of Kings.
    17. RUTH! (15-18)
    18. Ruth had come to trust in the God of Israel & so she refused to go back. - What a model of faith & trust in God.
      1. Ruth made the hard choice…but the right choice!
    19. Kiss or cling the choice is yours!
      1. Q: Are you dating God or are you married to him(i.e. committed)?
      2. Q: Are you a kisser or clinger to Christ?
    20. Burning your Moabite bridge!
      1. Winston Churchill said, “A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind & won’t change the subject!” – Ruth was determined!
      2. Q: Have you burnt your Moabite bridge?
    21. NAOMI! (19-22)
    22. She seems to blame God for her plight. (13,20,21)
      1. But it was her decision to go to Moab, why blame God?
      2. Although God does not prevent the painful consequences of our sins, he does overrule so that His purposes are fulfilled.
      3. By the Grace of God, Naomi’s emptiness will become fullness, & her sorrow will turn to joy.
    23. Men have affliction, but none like Job. Women have tribulations but not like Naomi:
      1. She was a woman; an old woman; an old widowed woman; an old widowed poor woman; an old widowed poor woman which lost both her sons; an old widowed poor woman who lost both her sons whose plight was pitiful.
      2. But all of that was about to change!
        1. God welcomes her honest prayer, but that hand that seems to be against her was already working for her! [A few more months & her sorrow would be turned to joy!]
    24. (20) Her going away name(pre-backsliding) “Pleasant”. Her coming home name “Bitter”.
      1. Her years in Moab were nothing but unhappy.
      2. There she lost her husband, seen both her sons marry pagans, & lost both her sons as well.
      3. She also started giving bad counsel!
        1. “I think you better stay down there. You’ll have a much better chance of getting married.”
        2. In Orpah’s case the advice was all too successful! L
        3. I wonder in later years if Naomi was haunted by her counsel to her? (not only back to her people but back to her gods!!!)
      4. Yet, God blessed her & gave her back much more when she made up her mind to get back into fellowship w/His people.
        1. See, He leaves the Apostates (“God gave them up” Rom.1).
        2. But he pursues the backslidden & never gives up on them!
      5. When Naomi heard the news that God had visited his people, a great longing sprang up in her heart to get back to the place of blessing.
      6. Personal App: It’s the same with you this morning! Turn from your backsliding & get back into fellowship with God & his people!
    25. (22) From Bitterness to Blessedness!
    26. Back to Bethlehem!
      1. The chapter started with hunger & ends in “the house of bread”.
      2. The writer gives us a hint that God will honor Ruth’s choice.
    27. Like Ruth we were foreigners.
    28. Like Naomi we’ve been empty spiritually.
      1. The Babe of Bethlehem wants to fill you with the Bread of Life & satisfy your soul from life’s hunger pains!
    29. Prayer: May the H.S. work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ruth 1". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.