Two weeks ago when I posted the Bible identity quiz for Five Minute Friday I said I would reveal the answer to the quiz along with a personal story concerning the liberating truth I discovered from my Bible study encounter with this “she” of the Bible. Here’s the story…well, the beginning of it anyway.
Years ago, when my sons were approaching dating age, my mind was forced to make the shift from entertaining little league friends and dirt-bike riding buddies to the presence of females and the call for corsages and car keys. It was then that it dawned on me. It registered in my brain that I needed to start praying about their choices in the girl department. Suddenly this mamma had a new area of focus for her faith. There’s nothing that provides a better foundation for faith than a verse from God’s Word pertinent to one’s situation, so my spiritual ears were open.
Around the time of my “light bulb moment” I happened to be teaching a women’s Bible study which was designed to take participants through the Old Testament in one year. I have learned that preparing to teach always makes me the first student, and, once again, I was about to learn something. I had begun to study in preparation for the following week’s discussion of the book of Ruth. I had read this short book many times, but this time I discovered a verse I’d never seen before….a verse relevant to my situation.
Most of us are familiar with Ruth, the young Moabite woman, widowed too soon, who chose to follow her grieving mother-in-law, Naomi, back to the land of Israel where their lives forever changed because of the redemption of their kinsman redeemer, Boaz. Their story ends well, but its beginning is filled with heartache and loss as Naomi loses not only her husband, Elimelech, but also her two sons, Chilion and Mahlon. Although it appears that everything in Naomi’s life is gone, she was left with one enormous blessing…a magnificent daughter-in-law. Without a doubt Naomi’s son, Mahlon, had chosen well in taking Ruth as his wife. Her dedication to and love for Naomi make this undeniable.
A son’s choice of a wife can bring great blessing to his mother, as in the case of Naomi. However, I had seen from God’s Word that it could also bring immeasurable grief. Genesis 26:34-35 and 27:46 record the utter despair of Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, whose daughter-in-laws made life nearly intolerable. After untold misery, Rebekah goes to great lengths to ensure that her future daughter-in-law through the marriage of her second son, Jacob, will bring joy not only to her son…but also to her! I was beginning to see that I could not afford to take this matter lightly. This daughter-in-law issue was an important one. I couldn’t choose my sons’ wives, but I could choose my words, undergirding their choices by my following the admonition of Jesus to have faith like God’s that speaks what is desired (Mark 11:21-23).
As I continued to read the story of Ruth and Naomi, I rejoiced at the goodness of God on their behalf. As these two widows struggle to survive, God provides their daily sustenance and future security through Boaz, their wealthy kinsman who purchases his right of redemption, making Naomi’s virtuous daughter-in-law, Ruth, his wife. Life turns from bitter to better for Naomi when Ruth and her new husband give birth to a son, Obed, who will bear her family’s name.
With the birth of Obed, all is well as the book of Ruth comes to an end. As is typical once a baby is born all attention is focused on him. Every time I’d read this book my attention had done the same. I too went immediately to him and to his royal genealogy which lead to the birth of the beloved king David and ultimately to the King of kings, Jesus. But in concluding the book of Ruth, God didn’t see fit to move on so fast that He failed to draw attention to this virtuous daughter-in-law one more time.
As the townswomen gather around Naomi, rejoicing at God’s goodness to her and celebrating the birth of her grandson, they make this joyful declaration…
May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him. Ruth 4:15
It was a verse I had never noticed, but it would become my mantra regarding what I desired concerning God’s choice for my sons’ future wives…my future daughter-in-laws. I began my faith declaration, “I will have daughter-in-laws who love me and are better to me than seven sons“.
But my story doesn’t end here with the lives of Naomi and her daughter-in-law…nor is the answer to the quiz found here. You might be surprised, but Naomi is not the identity of the woman in the quiz. Yes, you might be surprised…like I was surprised to find than it was yet another woman of the Bible and her story that would give me a yet stronger foundation for my faith concerning my future daughter-in-laws. I was going to get a humbling, sweet reminder of my own kinsman Redeemer.