Bible Study Commentary: Book of Ruth Chapter 1
Ruth Chapter 1: Counting the Cost
by I Gordon
'Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you're not willing to bear Christ's cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them. Only let me whisper this in your ear, 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'
- The perils of worldliness and sin
- The importance of preaching a 'real' gospel
- The steps of the prodigal in returning to the Lord
- The cost involved in following the Lord
What do you do in a time of famine?
The little sojourn that wasn't!
Would you turn to God and count the cost?
True and false 'conversions'
Ruth 1:14-18 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then she said, 'Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.' When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.'
When Miss Pleasant becomes Miss Bitter - Though hope remains!
Ruth 1:19-22 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, 'Is this Naomi?' And she said to them, 'Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.'I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?' So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
 ↩ The last verse of the book of Judges sums up what this time was like. Judges 21:25 states 'In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.' Elimelech and Naomi certainly did!
 ↩ Famines in Old Testament times were generally judgements of God. The whole covenant of the law that they lived under basically came down to blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. This was the first kind of famine but God did use another. Amos 8:11 'Behold the days are coming' declares the Lord God, 'When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the Lord.' - Now that's the worst famine!
 ↩ Not a huge point but I was just thinking of Deuteronomy 23:3-6 that says that the Israelites should not seek Moabs' peace or prosperity all their days because of what they did when Israel was coming out of Egypt. So leaving Israel to live in Moab would have been a shocker. Big no-no. Same with going back to the world.
 ↩ Always be careful of the little 'sojourns' into worldliness and sin. Isaac went on a little sojourn down to Gerar once during a famine. Even prospered while he was there. But it didn't stop the Philistines from filling up his wells with earth till they were dry! A good picture of the effect worldliness has on your wells of salvation.
 ↩ Hebrews 3:13 'But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.' It says here that sin is deceitful because it promises much, but delivers nothing. In fact even more than that, it can actually harden your heart to God's call. I don't know of any Christian that suddenly makes a decision to be worldly. It happens slowly through the deceitfulness of sin. I once heard a taped sermon by Hal Lindsey entitled 'The peril of unconscious decay.' It was on the life of David and it has stuck with me for the ten years or so since I heard it. He talked about David's sin with Bathsheba and how it didn't just suddenly happen. David had been slowly, and maybe even unconsciously, slipping away from his regular duties and his walk with God. He stopped going out to battle with Israel, and even when he spotted Bathsheba it was when he had just got up out of bed in the evening! Sin was deceptive. A little dabble here, a little dabble there and before long he was a murderer!
 ↩ I read a quote recently that stuck with me from Pavel Polez. That's right, the great Mr Polez. Na, I have no idea who he is either! But I do know this, that he is Russian and having been exiled from Russia to America he said 'In Russia, Christians are tested by hardship. But in America you are tested by freedom. And testing by freedom is much harder. Nobody pressures you about your religion so you don't concentrate on Jesus, his teaching, or how He wants you to live.' Quite thought provoking!
 ↩ A quick comparison of Naomis' life with the prodigal son story in Luke 15:11-32 reveals the following. Both left home and took all they had. Both journeyed to a foreign country, living among pagans and ended up losing everything. Both recognised their failure and their need to return home; both came home with nothing and very sorrowful. Neither considered themselves worthy of being called the same person that had left. Both would be greatly surprised with how their Father would bless them after returning.
 ↩ This is an important point. I recently read something written by J. Vernon McGee about what he called, the 'prodigal pig'. Speaking of false believers going back to the world Peter wrote 'A sow after washing returns to wallowing in the mud.' McGee picked up on this and said that within the church you have prodigal sons, and you have prodigal pigs. Hard to tell them apart initially, but time always tells the difference. He said that a true born again believer may be a prodigal son for a season, wandering off to the world, but being a true son he will never be happy there and will return home. On the other hand you have prodigal pigs! They have not truly been saved, but come to church and for a season will wash themselves and clean up their act. But having the nature of a pig, they will never be happy in Church and given time will return to wallowing in the mud!
 ↩ I always get amazed by some of Jesus' reactions when people were willing to follow Him. We would think 'sweet, someone wants to follow the Lord' but Jesus would rather they count the cost first. In Luke 14:25 it says that great multitudes were going along with Him. So He turns and says 'if anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him...' (Luke 14:26-29) We shouldn't give people a wishy-washy gospel unless we are trying to produce wishy-washy Christians. Jesus didn't but asked them to weigh up their motive and commitment in following Him.
 ↩ Good to see a picture of someone returning to the Lord and bringing someone else back with them. You hear of people falling away - maybe a father in a family or a leader in a church and how much damage it does to others around them. But the opposite is also true as we see here. Someone who genuinely turns back to the Lord can, through their humility and brokenness, actually help others find the Lord.
 ↩ Major Ian Thomas speaks of the quality of our commitment to Jesus in his book 'The Mystery of Godliness'. He uses John 2:23-25 that even though some believed and wanted to commit themselves to Jesus, Jesus wasn't about to commit himself back to them! Why? Because the basis of their commitment was based on the signs which he did, not who He was.
 ↩ In Israel, the first fruits of a crop were a reason for thanksgiving, which was to be directed to God (Ex. 23:18). In the New Testament, this has its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor 15:20 'But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.' So in a figurative sense, Naomi was soon to experience life out of death. She had come back bitter and despondent but she would soon be raised from that smelly grave!