Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
If you have ever read the Book of Judges, you have been on one of the most depressing literary journeys possible. The violence, nonsense, and cruelty are almost unimaginable (with some relief--Deborah, Gideon, and Jephthah). But what a joy to read next a story of golden purity and love, about Ruth the Moabitess.
There seems no hint that she was a scholar or even knew how to read. She has won her place in world history simply because she unselfishly loved her bereaved mother-in-law. Well, maybe more than that--she came like a helpless little bird to seek shelter under the wings of the Lord God of Israel (2:12).
Naomi displays an unusual sense of contrition in calling herself "Bitter," in that while she "went out full, ... the Lord has brought me home again empty" (1:21). "The Almighty has afflicted me." Could she be repenting in a corporate sense for what may have been some perceived unbelief on the part of her deceased husband Elimelech? He had forsaken the Lord's "House of Bread" in Israel's inheritance (Bethlehem) for what he thought were the more prosperous fields of pagan Moab. And there in economic heaven he and his two sons died. Naomi would naturally wonder if God were not punishing the family for that unbelief; her painful memories were distressing.
But in that story is the nicest touch of sanctified drama. No outlandish miracle occurs, as we might expect in a story, only the outworking of human decency and kindness on the part of everybody around, including Boaz. Here are mixed together fidelity to upright principle, honorable self-denial, and then blossoming love. And suddenly the author leaves us breathless with the simple but astonishing disclosure: "Boaz begot Obed [by Ruth], Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David." Period!
Don't ever forget where Jesus, the world's Savior, came from.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 5, 2003.
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