Book of Ruth: Three Widows, Three Choices
The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is a short love story of only four chapters. Even so, it tells the story of three women who became widows and had to make three choices that changed their lives in different ways.
The story begins when Elimelech, with his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, left Bethlehem, which means "house of bread" during the time of a famine and lived in Moab, a pagan nation. Elimelech died, and the two sons married Moabites. Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Then both sons died. That meant the three women were now three widows: Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
When Naomi heard that the famine in Bethlehem was over, she decided to go back home to her country, her people and her God. It wasn't Naomi's choice to leave in the first place. It was her husband's. After his death and the death of both her sons, it was an easy choice for her to return home.
Naomi asked her daughters-in-law to go back home with her. The choice wasn't as easy for them. However, Ruth decided to go with her mother-in-law. The decision changed her life forever.
Ruth found happiness in Bethlehem. It was a new country where people served a different god, ate different food and lived a different way. However, Ruth was a risk taker who found favor in Bethlehem.
If Ruth had stayed in Moab, her life would have been very different. Ruth married Boaz, and they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David who became the second king of Israel. In other words, Ruth became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. She is one of only two women who have a book named after them in the Bible. The other book is Esther.
Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)
Orpah had the same choice as Ruth, but Orpah played it safe. She did not take the risk to go to a place she didn't know or to serve a god she didn't know. She decided to stay where she was.
Orpah did have a hard time making her decision because she loved Naomi and Ruth. They had become her family, but she did not want to leave her own country which meant giving up her own culture and things she had grown up with including her pagan gods.
She was not a risk taker and did not want to risk leaving behind what she knew to go to a faraway. So, instead of going to Bethlehem with Naomi and Ruth, Orpah stayed in Moab.
We never heard about Orpah again. We don't know if she ever learned what happened to Naomi and Ruth. However, we know that those two women found peace and happiness in Bethlehem.
Life Application For You
Every choice that we make is similar to one of the three woman. Either we will be inspired and do what Naomi did, or what Ruth did, or what Orpah did. Which choice would you make?
- Naomi made the choice to return to that which she had left.
- Ruth made the choice to take a chance on that which was different and unfamiliar.
- Orpah made the choice to take the path of least resistance. She chose to stay with what she knew.