Ruth 1:1, 2
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land…
The former scene one bright and joyous. An honest Hebrew, of the tribe of Judah, living upon the land of his inheritance, with the wife of his heart and the children of his youth. Thus were formed the bonds which prosperity could not dissolve and adversity could not snap. Here were learned the hereditary and traditional lessons of faith, patience, forbearance, piety, and hope. A contrast follows.
I. FAMINE. Probably from some incursion of the hostile forces of Midian into the vale of Bethlehem; or, if not so, from a succession of bad harvests, or a failure of pasture, scarcity and famine invaded the abodes of plenty and of peace.
II. IMPOVERISHMENT. Upon Elimelech the pressure of the times was peculiarly severe, compelling him to break up his home, quit the modest but cherished inheritance of his fathers, and seek subsistence elsewhere. Lessons: -
1. Change of circumstances is a common incident in human life. Every person has either experienced some such change, or has witnessed such reverse in the condition of kindred or acquaintance. A fall from comfort, or even affluence, to poverty frequently happens among occupiers, and even owners, of land, and still more frequently in manufacturing and commercial communities.
2. Religion teaches sympathy with those in reduced circumstances. When a neighbor is deprived not only of the usual conveniences of life, but of the means of educating his children and of providing for his old age, we should net offer reproach, or even cold, hard advice, but, if possible, substantial help, and always considerate sympathy.
3. Religion has consolation for those in adversity. A message from heaven bids them "be of good cheer!" Let diligence and frugality contend with circumstances! Be patient and uncomplaining, and avoid that sign of a petty and broken spirit, the dwelling fondly upon bygone prosperity! The sun of prosperity may yet break through the clouds. Even if it be not so appointed, there may still remain those blessings which are dearer than fortune's gifts - wife, child, a good conscience, health, fortitude, hope I If calamity has come upon you through your own fault, repent, and learn "the sweet uses of adversity." If through the fault of others, refrain your heart from malice and revenge, and your lips from cursing. Think rather of what Heaven has left than of what Heaven has taken. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Remember that, if Christians, "all things are yours!" - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.