MAHLON'S WIDOW

© 2004 by Jerry L. Croasmun

READ -- Ruth 1:16-22; and Ruth 2:1-13

"The foreman replied, "She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi."
-- Ruth 2:6 (NIV)

In Exodus 15:22-23 we read, "Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah)."

Mahlon's widow, Ruth, and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were now living in Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Naomi was a grieving and bitter woman. "When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, 'Can this be Naomi?' 'Don't call me Naomi,' she told them. 'Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.'"--Ruth 1:19-20.

In Ruth 1:16 we read the vow Ruth made to Naomi. "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." God's love and hand of protection brought Naomi and Ruth safely to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. In Ruth 2:2 we learn more of Ruth's love and commitment to her mother-in-law. "And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.' Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter.'"

Israelites were commanded to leave a portion of their fields for widows such as Ruth. In Deuteronomy 24:19 we read, "When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." See also Leviticus 19:9.

Ruth's character and her actions speak volumes. In the second chapter of Ruth verse 7 we learn that Ruth had manners, was polite, and asked permission to glean in the field. She wasn't lazy, but was a hard worker who only took short breaks. In verse 8 we learn that Ruth was one who followed orders. She did as Boaz instructed her to do. She did not argue. In verse 10 we see where Ruth honored and respected her employer. She was grateful and thankful for the opportunity to glean and provide for her family; i.e. her mother-in-law. She did not project a welfare or poverty attitude. Ruth was loyal and had integrity.

God's hand of protection and provision was evident as Ruth found her way into the field of Boaz. She had gleaned nearly all morning when the field's owner noticed her. Verse 11 reveals the true inner beauty and heart of Ruth. "Boaz replied, 'I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law [Naomi] since the death of your husband [Mahlon]--how you left your father and mother and your homeland [Moab] and came to live with a people you did not know before.'" He later referred to Ruth as, "A woman of noble character." See Ruth 3:11.

In Ruth 2:12 Boaz recited a blessing over Ruth. "May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

Like Ruth, others are watching us. Will we be found faithful? Do we, like Ruth, seek refuge under the wings of the God of Israel? The Psalmist, King David, did as recorded in Psalm 36:5-7.

"Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings."

TAKE REFUGE UNDER THE
WINGS OF THE ALMIGHTY



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