Bitterness – Blaming God for Our Trials (1:19-22)

  1. Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
  2. But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
  3. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
  4. So, Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter- in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley har-


Naomi and Ruth are now on their journey from Moab back to Bethlehem. This would make a journey of about 75 mi., and not a straight or level path. It meant they would have to descend from the Moabite highlands to the Jordan Valley, a descent of 4,500 feet, followed by an ascent to Bethlehem of 3,750 feet, walking through desert territory, through the Wilderness of Judah.

One wonders what they talked about. Did Naomi tell her daughter-in-law about the Law of Moses and what to expect when they arrived “home.?” What questions would Ruth have had? We wonder what kind of answers Naomi would have given since she as a bitter woman with a faltering faith in the God of Israel.

Naomi was a different woman than the one who had left there ten years ago; the women in Bethlehem saw that on her arrival. She was bitter towards the Lord. Naomi knew the Name of the Lord but did not exercise the faith. It is like “talking the talk but not walking the walk.”

John MacArthur in the MacArthur Study Bible writes this about verses 20 and 21.

“Naomi’s outlook on life, although grounded in God’s sovereignty, was not hopeful; thus, she asked to be renamed ‘Mara,’ which means ‘bitter.’ Her experiences were not unlike Job (Job 1,2), but her perspective resembled that of Job’s wife (Job 2;10). In reality, Naomi had (1) a full harvest prospect, (2) Ruth plus Boaz and (3) the hope of God’s future blessings.”

Just think of the resources that should have encouraged her. For one thing, she had life, and this is a precious gift from God. She also had opportunity. She was surrounded by those who wanted the best for her. One of her greatest resources as her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “In fact, it is Ruth whom God used and blessed throughout the rest of the book, for Ruth was a woman who trusted God and was totally commit- ted to Him. Naomi soon learned that God’s blessings were on this young woman and that He would accomplish great things through her obedience.”

But most of all, Naomi still had Jehovah, the God of Israel.” On his deathbed, John Wesley said, “Best of all, God is with us!” Rom. 8:31 says, “if God be for us, who can be against us.”

The two widows arrived in Bethlehem in the time of the barley harvest. Missler writes: “…barley harvest” Barley ripened before wheat, and began to be reaped some- times as early as March, but generally in April, or Abib. The barley harvest is the first hint of something joyful.”

It was a time when the community expressed joy and praise to God for His goodness. It was spring, a time for new life and new beginnings.   Ruth and Naomi are   about to make a new beginning.  As one person said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  What will you do with the life you have in Christ?


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