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Ruth 1:7-22 1
7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah. 8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!” 14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” 20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” 22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Gleaning_by_Arthur_HughesBackground 2

This short history of the domestic affairs of one particular family following the book of Judges (the events related here happening in the days of the judges), and goes before the books of Samuel, because in the closing of Ruth, we are introduced to David; yet the Jews, in their Bibles, separate it from both, and make it one of the five Megilloth, or Volumes, which they put together towards the latter end, in this order: Solomon’s Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther.

It is probable that Samuel was the penman of it. It relates not miracles nor laws, wars nor victories, nor the revolutions of states, but the affliction first and afterwards the comfort of Naomi, the conversion first and afterwards the moving up in society and importance of Ruth. Many such events have happened, which perhaps we may think as well worthy to be recorded; but these God saw fit to transmit the knowledge of to us; and even common historians think they have liberty to choose their subject. The design of this book is:

  • To lead to providence, to show us how conversant it is about our private concerns, and to teach us in them all to have an eye to it, acknowledging God in all our ways and in all events that concern us. To lead to Christ, who descended from Ruth, and part of whose genealogy concludes the book, where it is placed into Matt. 1:5
  • In the conversion of Ruth the Moabitess, and the bringing of her into the pedigree of the Messiah, we have a type of the calling of the Gentiles in due time into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Biblical Truth

In chapter one we have Naomi’s afflictions.

  • As a distressed housekeeper, forced by famine to relocate into the land of Moab
  • As a mournful widow and mother, mourning the death of her husband and her two sons
  • As a caring mother-in-law, wanting to show kindness to her two daughters, but at a loss as to how to do that after she returns to her own country
  • Orpah, her daughter-in-law sadly says good bye
  • Ruth decides to take Orpah with her but fearful in that decision
  • Ruth returns as a poor woman to the place of her first settlement, to be supported by the kindness of her friends

All these things were filled with sadness and seemed against her, and yet all were working for her good.

Items for Discussion

  • Society was tough on women in Old Testament times. Where have we advanced? Where have we remained archaic?
  • What were the characteristics of Ruth that made her a wonderful example of a faithful person?
  • Friends and family were critical to survival in Ruth’s day. What grade or score would you give today’s societies for honoring a commitment to support those close to them when they are in need?
  • Are there things that a community or family based support system can provide that a governmental system of support cannot?
  • What can governmental systems provide that community or family based support systems cannot?
  • To what degree is faith a component of surviving hardship and fostering generosity?

 

Luke 1:39-56
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Background 3

Luke is generally thought to have been a physician, and a companion of the apostle Paul. The style of his writings, and his acquaintance with the Jewish rites and usages, sufficiently show that he was a Jew, while his knowledge of the Greek language and his name speak of his Gentile origin. He is first mentioned in Acts 16:10-11, as someone with Paul at Troas, where he accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, and was with him in his voyage, and in his imprisonment at Rome. This Gospel appears to be designed to supersede many defective and unauthentic narratives in circulation, and to give a genuine and inspired account of the life, miracles, and doctrines of our Lord, learned from those who heard and witnessed his discourses and miracles.

Biblical Truth

It is very good for those who have the work of grace beginning in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth was conscious of the Mary’s role to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and under His influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honored from the Most High, God. Mary, animated by Elizabeth’s comments, and being also under the influence of the Holy Spirit, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Savior, and that she could rejoice in God because God was interested in the salvation through the promised Messiah of her and her own baby. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of living a righteousness and full life in Christ, will be filled with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings Christ gives. Christ will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent away empty.

Items for Discussion

  • What similarities to you see between Ruth and Mary?
  • How did Mary handle what was a hardship in her life, single and pregnant?
  • In what ways did Elizabeth help Mary in her hardships?
  • How was Mary’s faith emboldened and supported by Elizabeth?

Discussion Challenge

  • What lesson on affliction can we pass on to those around us that is taught here by Ruth and Mary?
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