‘But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. ‘
This is the next pivotal point in the story of Ruth. We hear often about how hard it was for Ruth to abandon her homeland, and pick up and leave, but what about Naomi?
He has plans for Naomi, He has not forgotten her. We see Naomi bitter and lost in this foreign land that has brought her nothing but heartache and grief. We see in this passage that Naomi is simply devastated. In fact, she is so devastated that she has lost her faith. I know she is planning to return to Judah, but why is she returning?
Everyone quickly talks about Ruth here, how she follows Naomi, how much courage she must have had. Yes, I agree, Ruth has so much courage and grace for Naomi, this bitter mother-in-law that she clings to her above all else and follows her to a foreign land.
But let’s talk about Naomi for a minute. She knows her daughters-in-law believe in false gods. She knows that this land of Moab is not a good place for them. And still, knowing all this she is not witnessing to them and bringing them with her to Judah, the land of the Lord. Naomi heard that the Lord had visited and given his people food, we see this in verse 6. Naomi does not encourage them to come and to come to know the Lord.
How bitter Naomi must have been, how hopeless. She lost her faith and now she is too fallen to even bring the two women she loves, arguably the only family she has left with her. If Naomi was really trusting God and excited to return to Judah for him she would have brought them with her. Both women are initially ready to go with Naomi, both women would have gone. Naomi is too bitter to encourage them though. When we fall away from God that far, it takes his divine intervention to bring us back.
Ruth becomes that divine intervention for Naomi, she declares she will follow her and she will follow God. That is truly a divine intervention that only our Lord could complete. I am thankful that God does not abandon us in our time of sorrow and bitterness. The story of Naomi reminds me that even when we feel hopeless, God will make a way for us to come back to Him. God never abandons us even if we have abandoned Him.