Ruth 1:21Ruth 1:21. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty. It seemed, indeed, a via dolorosa, this path homeward. How expressive the words.
I. LOVE MAKES LIFE FULL. Why, I thought they went out poor? Yes. Seeking bread? Yes. Yet Naomi's description is true and beautiful. We are "full" when we have that which makes home, home indeed, and we are poor if, having all wealth of means, we have not love. Well, indeed, has it been said that "the golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone." We never know how empty life is till the loved are lost to us.
II. THE LORD IS THE DISPOSER OF ALL EVENTS. "The Lord hath brought me home." We talk of Providence when all goes well with us, when the harvests are ripened, and the fruits hang on the wall. But we must not limit Providence to the pleasant. The Lord "takes away" as well as gives. It is said that, in the order of reading at the family altar, when the late John Angell James was about to conduct worship after a severe bereavement, the Psalm to be read was the hundred and third. The good man stopped, tears rolled down his face; and then, gathering up his strength, he said, "Why not? It is the Father!" and he read on, "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
III. THE FULLEST HOME MAY SOON BE EMPTIED. Yes! We too should feel it so. A husband and two sons gone! What converse there had been! what interest in each other's pursuits I what affectionate concern for each other's weal and happiness! and what a wealth of love for Naomi, the center of all I We feel at such seasons that death would be blessed relief for us. The thought comes across us, "I have got to live;" to live on from day to day, attending to the minutiae of duty, and coming here and there so often on the little relics of the dead. Home again! That has music inb it for the school-children, who come back to the bright home; but to the widow, oh, how different! Home again, but how empty! Yet we may learn, even from Naomi, that rest and refreshment come to hearts that trust in God their Savior; and we may learn too what mistakes we make. Naomi said, "Why call ye me Naomi, seeing that the Lord hath testified against me?" Natural enough; but life was still to have a pleasant side for her. - W.M.S.
Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.I. INCIDENTS IN HER LIFE. This world is to all, in some measure, "a vale of tears." The pilgrimage of the true Christian is not through verdant plains and flowery fields, but through a "waste howling wilderness," where much toil is exercised, many troubles undergone, many perils encountered, and many severe privations endured. God is a Sovereign in the distribution of sufferings and tribulations. His own people have frequently the greatest share of troubles in this life — that their souls, which are too full of earthly attachments, may be weaned from the world. We should learn hence not to murmur nor charge God foolishly under our trials, for if we compare them with those of many of God's people who were more gracious in their dispositions and tempers than we are they will appear "light" indeed. We find this bereaved and distressed individual returning towards her native land. She acted wisely, for she was more likely to fare well in her own country — among her relatives and acquaintance, and where the knowledge and fear of God prevailed, than among strangers and idolaters in a foreign land. It would be well if we imitated Naomi in a spiritual point of view. At length we find Naomi in Canaan. When she returned her former acquaintance were greatly astonished at her appearance. Her affluence was gone, her earthly glory had faded away, and her circumstances were mean and narrow. God, however, in mercy, calmed the evening of her day. The troubles of the Christian are not only to end, but to end blessedly — even in bliss and honour!
II. MORAL EXCELLENCES WHICH STOOD PROMINENTLY FORTH IN THE CONDUCT OF NAOMI UNDER THE WEIGHT OF HER TRIBULATIONS.
1. Her benevolence. Behold it delightfully displayed towards both her daughters-in-law. See how ardently she wished their prosperity, how fervently she prayed for it. Herein she, and all who are under the governance of the same superhuman principle, resemble their Divine Master. He also felt intensely for others — even when He was Himself involved in dangers.
2. Her acknowledgment of God in her troubles. See how piously she develops this feeling (Ruth 1:13, 20, 21). Nothing enables a man to behave as he should in the day of adversity, nothing enables him to keep down an envious and impatient spirit, but the viewing his troubles as the allotments of Heaven, the all-wise appointments of his Father and of his God.
3. Her gratitude both to God and man.(1) Her gratitude to God. If a few handfuls of corn excited Naomi to offer to her heavenly Father a sacrifice of such fervent praise, how fervent should our praise be for abundance of spiritual food, for Christ Himself to be the strength and joy of our souls? If a little earthly food is a mercy to be acknowledged in songs of adoring praise, how much warmer should our affection be for endless and unmingled felicity for the whole man in the land of everlasting life?(2) Her gratitude to man. Inasmuch as Ruth had shown kindness to her in Moab, she showed her all possible kindness in Judah.
The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me
(A. Thomson, D.D.)
(A. Thomson, D.D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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