From Widower to Beloved
Naomi was originally from Bethlehem (which actually means house of bread) in the Promised land of the Israelites where her and her family tried to serve the Lord. It was a difficult era with trying times- there was no King for the Israelites and the people were very much sinful- only judges were risen up to help direct the people back to God, judges like Gideon, Samson, and Deborah.
Because of famine some of the Israelites left the land of Bethlehem and went to the Pagan land of Moab. To return back to Moab- was to cross back out from the way God had led Israel in the past, out of the Promised land. It wasn't God's intention for His people to leave the land He had drawn them into. In Deuteronomy 11:13-17 we see God promising the Israelites that if they were obedient to Him, they would have rains at the right time to harvest their grains and plenty of animals and grapes to eat. Yet surely in this time, the people had departed from God and were being disobedient so they were experiencing hardship.
Elimelech was husband to Naomi, and both of them were included in the group that chose to leave the land God had led them too and venture back to Moab. Elimelech and Naomi had two sons Mahlon and Chilion before Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died leaving her a widow with only two sons. Her two sons got married; one to Orpah and one to Ruth. Together the remaining family lived in Moab for about ten years until Mahlon and Chilion, Naomi's sons also died.
Now Naomi had been put in a very difficult and desperate situation because both her husband and her sons had died. And in this society to be a childless widow was among the lowest and most disadvantaged class, because no one was there to support you or look after you. Naomi had not only become quickly accustomed to grief and heartache, but she now had no financial security, or promise of having food on her table. Naomi was not experiencing favor from God. Instead I could imagine her crying out to God, shaking in tears, asking why have you left me? Or where are you now God? Why is your face against me?
I can see Naomi's face stricken with anguish, crying out to God for forgiveness for maybe she has forsaken Him and asking for God to restore to her a loving relationship with Him again. I can see Naomi screaming to the heavens, while the storm of rains and thunder, pours down around her "God I need you to save me." "God please help me."
And this is where the story begins to change, because as Naomi is feeling lost, and deserted, and alone, we see God's heart of rescuing and God's love and compassion for the widows and the sufferers, even more. We see God running towards Naomi arms open waiting to lead her to a better place again, waiting to heal her heart. We read about God's heart for the broken-hearted, the hurting, the poor, and the widowers here:
"Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" Isaiah 58:6,7
Psalm 68:5 "A Father to the Fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling."
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world."
Naomi is not left alone, but instead God is beginning to lead her back to the Promised land. As God is preparing to begin a process of healing and re-write a new love story in her life, He even prepares Ruth's heart with the desire to stay by Naomi as a comforter, companion, and friend in her journey and travels. God has goodness and restoration and blessings in store for the both of them back in Bethlehem....
Story to be continued with part 2*** Some of the background and information taken from the Enduring Word Bible commentary by Pastor David Gusik