March 6


Judges 21 – Ruth – I Samuel 1

We are in the Nation Stream with quite a bit of work to do today. We are coming to the conclusion of the period of the judges. We are reading from the New English Translation this week.

The period of Judges ends just as dramatically as the last 300 years have been.  The Tribe of Benjamin had been taken to the edge of extinction and they need wives for the last 600 surviving men. We just read [pronounced ‘red’] of the conjuring, the vows, the mass murdering, the seizing of 400 young girls, the negotiating, the need for more girls, the dance contest gone amok, more kidnapping (these are young girls – not kids on this one, either!). Think of the beauty of love in societies, the courtship, the families coming together, the engagement, the planning, the wedding and celebration . . .       None of that here, folks.  It is chaos and scary and this is where things go when everyone does whatever THEY want to do.  People get hurt. Some say, “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want.” No it isn’t your life to do whatever you think YOU want. We affect eachother. Our selfish, stupid “me first and only” decisions hurt others and may well be still inflicting pain for a long time and even to those far away. We are supposed to finish reading Judges and assess that doing whatever seems best for “US” personally and only begets madness top to bottom, start to finish, for young and old, for everyone…soon all of society isn’t safe for anyone.  Thankfully these years end.

Ruth’s story takes place late in the period of The Judges – it has been called the the lovely interlude in the Old Testament.  It has been over 3000 years since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. There is 1000-1100 years until the Savior arrives so historically, the earthly years of no Savior are entering “the fourth quarter” if we may borrow a sports term. The long awaited Salvation were millennia of painful journeys and disappointments, heartache and devastation. Yes the road is bloodied. And the characters that comprise the genealogy of Jesus’ lineage is littered with scalliwags. Ruth is a precious figure we find on the 4,000 year long road to salvation.  And she comes from a culture that has a wretched origin; Moab – and the Israelites were ordered to basically avoid these people. Guess what – for her deep and rich character and faithfulness, she becomes grafted into the family of the blessed ones. She is Jesus’ grandmother (applying the word “great” 25 times!).

Ruth married a Jewish man who had migrated from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab to escape a famine. Ruth’s husband died after her father-in-law dies. So in time Ruth and Naomi her mother in law venture back to Bethlehem. She is mindful to take care of her widowed mother in law who has nothing.  She goes to work gleaning in the fields. Remember she is a foreign woman laboring and it is not exactly a safe setting since she has no covering; all related males in her family are deceased. She is “easy-pickin’s” for the men laboring in the harvest fields. Boaz/Naomi’s relative from years ago notices Ruth and looks after her so that she is accepted, protected, fed, rested and amply supplied for. It’s a beautiful scene.

Naomi starts planning ways for Ruth to become married – which gives her security too. Her advice to Ruth is not the most virtuous route to take but Ruth maintains her ethics, Boaz also shows that he has a trifle more manners and such then perhaps could be attributed to Judah or Samson [who gotta have whatever they lay their eyes upon and have her now]. Ruth and Boaz do end up sleeping in the same proximity and the next day the negotiations begin. Boaz maintains all patience and works out that he himself redeems some land for his family and that Ruth is part of the deal and he redeems her too. Boaz takes Ruth as his wife. Naomi has a grandson to care for and the baby is Obed; grandfather, in time, of the greatest King of all time: David.

Wow, God is good.

I Samuel – The years of lunacy (the Judges) are behind us.  All is peace and loveliness from here on out, right???… We’ll a paragon prophet arrives in this next book and he is to be taken seriously.

The literature of the Bible that we see in other places is employed in the arrival of Samuel.  Both saviors in the OT and the NT are imperiled as infants. Moses is ordered to be killed for he’s “one of their boys”. He has a near miss and is then miraculously rescued by the daughter of the one who is out to kill him.  Point is: we almost lost ‘the savior’. Jesus is born and Herod is killing “all of those boys” in Bethlehem. But they escape. Again, we almost lost the Savior. So here is Samuel, at the start of the book named after him, and he almost never even arrived at all.  His mother couldn’t have children for the longest time. She finally has Samuel after much prayer and longing. … And she dedicates him at the Temple for the Lord’s Service.

Good heavens, what pain and passion, longing and triumph at Samuel’s birth and then sweet sorrow to let him then be a tenant at the Temple to Eli the priest.  The way the literature is set up, it’s a clear memo for us to keep your eyes on Samuel!

‘Lord God, may we shun everything that is ungodly in our culture. We do not want to be part of the mayhem that ensues when you are not followed like in Judges. Thank you for raising up Ruth to assist in bringing the Savior to us.  May we learn from her deep sense of virtue. And like Hannah, Samuel’s mother, may we remain persistent in prayer until you answer on our behalf. Amen”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *