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I’ve been contemplating my reading of The Book of Ruth for a few days now.
(Of course, the true reason I haven’t written is that despite the best intentions, these posts weren’t written in advance as I had hoped; yesterday was Libbie’s 4th birthday and I threw her an entirely-too-big Beauty and the Beast party!)
Here is what I noticed this time around reading Ruth: despite the fact that she had been married for 10 years to her husband (Naomi’s son), Ruth had not had children with him. I think that must be significant; because in other parts of the Bible, a woman’s barren womb is a big deal – think Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth.
I read a few articles/sermons about the topic. One argued Ruth was not barren per say. Her first husband’s name (Mahlon) means sickly, so it’s possible he (and perhaps his brother, Orphah’s husband) were sterile from childhood sickness. Another sermon by John Piper argues that because the Bible says “the LORD gave [Ruth] conception” (4:13), Ruth was barren but God opened her womb.
I don’t think it especially matters, but the fact is that Ruth was without children in her first marriage. Yet she clung to her mother-in-law in Naomi’s time of trouble and trusted her enough to go to Israel with her. As a Moabitess, I doubt Ruth expected to be regarded with much favor in Israel. But she leaves everything she knows in Moab to go with her mother-in-law in search of a new life.
I think Ruth had a tender heart, and she wondered what would happen to Naomi, deep in her grief, if she was left alone. Perhaps Ruth related to Naomi more as women and less as mother-in-law.
It’s through Naomi that Ruth finds her new life, her new husband, and a new hope. As does Naomi.
In everything I’ve ever heard about Ruth, I got that it was fairly miraculous that Ruth, a Moabite, bore Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David – and thus won herself a place in the line of David! What great honor to be in the lineage of Christ.
But Ruth also had a child, which perhaps to her seemed a miracle, too, after years of infertility.
I want to offer up a prayer for those of you who might be dealing with infertility or another seemingly insurmountable issue.
God, We know that You care about every big and small issue in our lives. You know our hearts. For those women who might feel displaced, forgotten, or lonely, like Ruth and Naomi, I ask Your blessing. Open wombs, bring peace, and make the miracle in their lives even bigger than they could ever imagine. In Your Son’s name, amen.
This is day 28 of my 31 Days of The Book series.