4 June 2019
When I was a student, the first portion of Hebrew text which we read was the book of Ruth. It is a masterpiece and was widely recognised as such by all those who participated in our Community Bible Experience.
Every parent would benefit from reflecting on Naomi’s relationships with her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. For in wanting to secure their happiness, she desires to set them free from any obligations towards her in her old age.
Orpah famously accepts her generous gift but Ruth cleaves to her mother-in-law in that wonderful moment in which she declares her loyalty. At the end of her moving demonstration of love, the author simply says, ‘Naomi said no more.’
Her attitude is tempered by a recognition that the wiser course is to accept Ruth’s love and not to impose her own will upon her. Silent acceptance isn’t always our most obvious response to family differences involving our children.
The story unfolds under the hand of God and the kindness demonstrated by its participants until Ruth has a son, Obed. And he has a son, Jesse and he has a son, David, Israel’s greatest king with foreign blood running through his veins inherited from his great-grandmother.
And, of course, there’s more. We sing about it every Christmas. ‘To you in David’s town, this day/ Is born of David’s line/ A Saviour who is Christ the Lord/ And this shall be the sign.’ Out of Naomi’s silence, God’s work is done …. a thousand years later!