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Identity Traps

Naomi: Seeking Satisfaction Through Power

Rev. Philip Miller | March 19, 2023

Selected highlights from this sermon

When we peruse the book of Ruth, most of us are probably focused on the love story between Ruth and Boaz, while Naomi is on the sidelines—a supporting cast member. But Pastor Miller shows us something deeper about Ruth’s mother-in-law. By looking at Naomi’s identity trap (seeking satisfaction through power) we see God, in His own time and way, and through His lovingkindness, brings redemption to Naomi. And she, an orphan-hearted widow, learns to live as a beloved child of God.

Download the Identity Traps Schema: Nine Ways We Lose Ourselves And How Jesus Makes Us Whole.

Well, welcome back to Identity Traps. We’re looking at nine ways we lose ourselves, and the one way that Jesus makes us whole.

We all want to know who we are, don’t we? We wake up in this world and we wonder “Who on Earth am I? Who am I really?” We have these deep identity aches for:

  • significance, to be valued and to matter,
  • for security – we want to be safe and okay in the universe.
  • We want satisfaction; we want to be happy and fulfilled,

and all these deep longings in our hearts...They’re like homing beacons that are pointing us back to the beginning, because in the beginning, God made us in His own image, in His likeness. And we were made to know God as our good Father, and to know ourselves as His beloved children. But because of sin, we wake up estranged in this universe, separated from God, and so we find ourselves orphans in the universe. And those deep identity needs that were meant for God don’t go away. They stay around, and so we look for them to be met in all the wrong places. We look primarily to people, power, and possessions in order to meet those deep soul needs.

So we have these three deep identity needs for significance, security, andsatisfaction. And then we go to try to get those needs met in three different ways: people, power, or possessions, which gives us a total of nine different identity traps, nine ways we can lose ourselves. And the answer to all of them is to center into the identity, the true identity that we have in Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Christ, that we are children of God.

Now today we’re going to look at Naomi’s identity trap. Naomi was looking for satisfaction through power, satisfaction through power. We meet Naomi in the Old Testament book of Ruth. Ruth is actually Naomi’s daughter-in-law, and usually when we look at this book and this story, we focus in on this wonderful, beautiful love story that takes place between Ruth and Boaz, and Naomi sort of gets a little bit forgotten, I think. She’s sort of like a marginal character off on the sidelines, sort of a supporting actress. But actually, you could argue it’s actually the other way around, that Naomi is, in fact, the main character of the story, and that Ruth and Boaz are the supporting act because, after all, the story begins with Naomi, and it ends with Naomi, and the marriage between Ruth and Boaz is really a subplot in the greater story of God’s loving-kindness in Naomi’s life. And so this really is the story of how an orphan-hearted widow learns to live as a beloved child of God. That’s what this story really is.

So come back with me. Let’s go back 3.000 years to Iron Age I. This is 1100 B.C., give or take. We are after Moses, after Joshua, but before the days of the kings. This is the time of the judges. You’ll remember Gideon was in this era as well, a little earlier, and Judges 21:25 famously says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And so this is that time period.

So grab your Bibles. We’re going to be in the book of Ruth this morning. We’re going to look at the entirety of the book. This is pages 222 down to 224 (222 to 224). Joshua, Judges, then Ruth in your Old Testament. Okay?

We’re going to pay particular attention to Naomi’s character development, the story arc of her character this morning, and so we’re going to see: Naomi bitter, Naomi bent, and Naomi blessed.

Okay? Bitter, bent, and blessed! That’s our plan for this morning. Would you bow your heads? Let’s seek the Lord’s face as we begin.

Father, this world is full of hard things: tragedies and pain, and sorrow and heartache, things we wish we could go back and undo. And when the bad things happen in life we need to know that you are king over even these things, that in all the tears and all the hardship you are working up a beautiful redemptive story, that we can trust you in our pain, that you know how we feel, that you care enough to bring redemption and satisfaction to our story. So Father, we bring our aching hearts to you, and ask that you would be our Father today. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. Amen.

All right!

Naomi: Bitter

Naomi bitter! Ruth 1:1, “In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judea went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. And they went into the country of Moab and remained there.”

Pause for a second. This story begins with a famine, which is more than just an agricultural remark of what’s going on. It’s a theological statement. What do I mean? Well, in the covenant that God had given His people Israel (in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 for example) it was very clear that if Israel was faithful to God, if they were obedient to Him, and worshiped Him alone, they would have rain and their crops would flourish, and the harvest would be plentiful. But if they disobeyed, if they were disloyal to God, they would find there was a drought, or pestilence, or an invasion, or a famine would take place. In other words, this famine is supposed to act like a warning light on the dashboard of Israel’s (you know) vehicle, like it’s supposed to flash up and they’re supposed to go, “Oh no, there’s a famine. We must have been disobeying God. We must return to Him, repent, come home, that we might be forgiven, and the days of refreshing would come.”

So, this is the arrangement, but is that what Elimelech and Naomi and the two boys do? Do they repent and turn home to God? No, no, no! What did they do? They hightail it off to Moab. Now, Moab is the land of Chemosh, the horned destroyer god that was worshiped by the Moabites, who were at this time the on-again, off-again oppressors of Israel. And Elimelech’s name means “My God is King.” But tragically he has no confidence in the forgiveness, mercy, and lovingkindness of God. And he decides it’s better off for him and his family to go fend for themselves in another land.

Now they may have intended to only have a brief journey in Moab, but sojourning, you see, becomes remaining, and remaining became dwelling, and dwelling became residing, and in the end, they were there for over a decade. And it is there that tragedy strikes this family.

Verse 3: “But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.”

Now, in this agrarian, patriarchal, Ancient Near Eastern world, this is utterly devastating. Naomi has no life insurance. There’s no social security. There’s no legal recourse for her. Because she has no male heir there is no inheritance rights to the family anymore. There’s no social safety net, and without a husband, without a son, without any male heir, her world is utterly falling apart. She’s about to fall through the cracks of the Ancient World.

Verse 6, “Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.”

So, figuring that this experiment in Moab has utterly failed, Naomi hears that the Lord is providing for other people back home, and she figures maybe she can get some scraps from the table to survive.

But as she heads out she starts to think better of bringing her Moabite daughters-in-law with her back to Israel because they are young enough to remarry, and they could have their own families, and hope, and maybe they can sort of rescue themselves if they stay in Moab. So, Naomi figures she’s only a liability to them and their future happiness.

Look at verse 13. “No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”

The name “Naomi” in Hebrew means “pleasant.” But there’s nothing pleasant in these words. It’s all bitter despair, you see. “The hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” I’ve been hopelessly cursed by God. That’s what she’s saying. “Orpah and Ruth, you deserve happiness in life, and if you want to be happy get as far away from me as you can. I’m only going to bring bitterness and ruin to you.”

You see, Naomi is just collapsing into the depths of despair here. She’s isolating. Do you see that? She’s pushing people away. She’s shutting down emotionally. She’s closing off relationships, and she’s giving up spiritually. “Orpah, Ruth, if I can’t trust God with my own life, how can I ask you to trust Him with yours?” So Orpah heads back home, but Ruth clings to Naomi.

Verse 15: “And Naomi said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said (and this is one of one of the most beautiful statements in all the Bible), ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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 will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’ And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.”

Do you realize what Ruth is doing here? She’s refusing to let Naomi isolate, isn’t she? She's saying, “Look, your life may be full of bitterness and sorrow, but I’m not giving up on you. I’m going with you. I’ll be with you till the very end. And Ruth is also throwing herself on the mercies of God, isn’t she? Somehow, in spite of all of this family’s disobedience, Ruth has come to trust in the LORD God of Israel. And Ruth hopes in the Lord when Naomi can’t. Do you see that?

Verse 19: “So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara’ (Mara means bitter in Hebrew.), ‘call me bitter, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’” Her bitterness bursts like a boil. “Don’t you dare call me Naomi. Call me Mara! I went away full and came back empty.”

Do you see the language of dissatisfaction there? Do you see it? This bitter old woman is done trusting other people. “I loved my husband, and he left me all alone. I cherished my sons and now they’re gone. I thought I could count on God, but He betrayed me. He showed up like a witness for the opposing side and brought calamity in the court case of my life. From now on, I’m trusting nobody but myself.”

Naomi is desperate for satisfaction, you see, as her broken heart now gives up on people, including God, and turns instead to power. She’s bitter and burnt. Everyone she’s ever trusted has let her down, and from now on, she’s determined. “I’m going to trust nobody but myself. I’ll take care of making sure I’m happy from now on. My own happiness will be in my own hands, and this way I’ll never get hurt again.” She’s just collapsing.

I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis when he writes in The Four Loves, these words: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable...”

This is Naomi: Bitter.

Now let’s look at Naomi: Bent.

They say it’s darkest just before the dawn. And in chapter two, the sun peeks over the horizon.

Chapter 2, verse 1: “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ So, she set out and went and gleaned in the field among the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, ‘The LORD be with you!,’ and they answered, ‘The LORD bless you.’”

Have you noticed how the narrator is winking at us all through this passage?

  • One day, Ruth just happened to go out and glean,
  • And she just happened to be in one of Boaz’s fields,
  • Who just happened to be a close relative of Naomi’s,
  • And he just happens to be a “Hayil Gibbor” (In the Hebrew, a worthy man of valor, a real catch.)
  • And he just happens to be single. (chuckles)
  • And it just so happens that Boaz shows up in that particular field at that particular time,
  • And just happens to notice Ruth.

Verse 8: “Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.’ Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’ But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!’ Then she said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.’”

I mean, what a lucky break for Ruth, huh? I mean her stars just magically aligned didn’t they? What an amazing series of coincidences!

And of course, the narrator winks. Right? This is no mere coincidence. Something more than happenstance is at work in all of these things. Somebody’s hand is moving in the shadows. Somebody is working redemption, working all these things together for the good of Ruth and Naomi and Boaz. Someone is at work! And when Naomi sees Ruth return that evening with over 30 pounds of barley, she starts to take notice.

Verse 19: “And her mother-in-law said to her, ‘Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed is the man who took notice of you.’ So, she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, ‘The man with whom I worked today is Boaz.’ And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘May he be blessed of the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’ Naomi also said to her, ‘This man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.’”

Naomi can’t contain herself. “Boaz? Are you kidding me? Boaz, our close relative, one of our redeemers?”

Now at this point, we need to pause for some historical background because the word for redeemer here in Hebrew is “Goel.” Can you say that? Goel! The Goel was the key player in the ancient Israelite practice of what was called Levirate marriage.

Levirate marriage is really weird to us, but it was a social security net to protect widows like Naomi and Ruth. If a woman’s husband died without providing a male heir, the deceased man’s unmarried brother was required to marry his brother’s wife, the dead brother’s wife, and father an heir to carry on the deceased brother’s name and to inherit the family property.

It's really weird to us, but it was a kind of grace, a kind of protection in the ancient world, a social security net. And the brother who did this noble act was called the redeemer, the Goel. And if there was no brother available to do this, other relatives could volunteer, but they weren’t required.

Now at the mention of Boaz’s name, and in seeing the bountiful generosity of his kindness toward Ruth, Naomi begins to wonder: Maybe Boaz could be the answer to all of our troubles. If Boaz were to fall in love with Ruth, and they were to have a male baby, if he was to act as the Goel, our whole family line would be saved. We’d have a hope and a future. It would change everything. Naomi catches a line of sight to the redemption of God. Do you see that?

Now Ruth has another thought on her mind in verse 21: “And Ruth the Moabite says back to Naomi, ‘Besides, he said to me, “You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.”’”

Now you say, “Okay, go back to verse 8. Is that what Boaz told her, ‘Keep close to my young men?’” That’s not what he said. In verse 8 he said, “Keep close to my young women.” But Ruth sees the boys. Okay? And Ruth is like, “Maybe one of these strapping young farmers will fall in love with me, and I could get married again.” She sees redemption of a different kind. But Naomi’s not interested in that because if Ruth just marries some old guy, the redemption doesn’t happen. It has to be a Goel. It has to be a close relative who can father an heir in Elimelech’s name. He’s the only eligible one as far as Naomi is concerned.

So in verse 22 Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”

“Stick with the young ladies, Ruth. I have something in mind.”

Such a mother-in-law! Right?

So, day-after-day, week-after week, month-after-month, all of this, Ruth goes back to Boaz’s fields. Approximately two months go by, and Boaz, who has been generous and kind, hasn’t made a move yet. And Naomi starts to get nervous.

She has a line of sight to the redemption of God, and yet everything seems to have stalled out. And yet God has been lining up all these coincidences, but Naomi figures nothing has happened; maybe God has fallen down on the job. Maybe He needs a little nudge. So Naomi decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s got to hurry things along, you know.

Chapter 3, verse 1: “Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were with? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.’ And she replied, ‘All that you say I will do.’”

So, Naomi is playing matchmaker here. Do you see this? She’s done waiting. She’s taking control of the situation. She’s taking matters into her own hands. She’s putting her thumb on the scale. She’s trying to manipulate the outcomes. And Naomi, friends, is grasping for satisfaction through power. Do you see that?

She’s trying to get her happiness on her own, through her own power, her own control. Instead of waiting on God or Boaz or Ruth for that matter...Instead of waiting on God’s redemption, Naomi is trying to power her way to the happy ending she desperately wants. She’s manipulating to get her own needs met. Her orphan heart is bent on caring for itself. This has become her default settings, and even though she’s seen a bit of the mercy of God coming her way, she can’t help but fall back on her default settings. She’s been bent. She’s bitter, bent, and now let’s look at her blessed.

Naomi Blessed. Ruth does what Naomi says. She adorns herself like a bride on her wedding night and surprises Boaz at the threshing floor in the middle of the night.

And in verse 9 “Boaz says, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer (Goel — You are a Goel.)’ And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.’”

As soon aa Boaz notices Ruth is there, Ruth says, “Marry me! (laughs) Spread your wings over me. Redeem me and redeem Naomi; you’re a Goel.” And Boaz knows exactly what she’s asking for. She’s asking not just for marriage, but to father an heir in the line of Elimelech to serve as the Goel who will redeem Naomi’s future. And Boaz says, “Do not fear. I’ll do everything you ask, for you are a ‘hayil isha,’ worthy woman of valor.” He’s a “hayil gibbor.” She’s a “hayil isha.” It’s a match made on the threshing floor. Right?

And yet, he says, “There is a redeemer nearer than I,” another relative with the first right of refusal.

Can you imagine? Ruth has no idea who this guy is. Can you imagine how much her heart must have sunk? I mean, here she is. She put herself out there. She asks for her dearest wish for her and Naomi, and just when all the dreams are about to come true, there’s some other guy in the way whose got like next-of-kin priority? What is she? A piece of property? So, in the morning Ruth has to head back home bewildered, her whole future up in the air.

Verse 16: “And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, ‘How did you fare, my daughter?’ (Mother-in-law wants a report.) And she told her all that the man had done for her.” And in verse 18 Naomi says, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man won’t rest but will settle the matter today.”

So, here’s the point. Both Ruth and Naomi are forced to wait, aren’t they? This is out of their control. They have to wait on the outcome. They have to wait on Boaz. They have to wait on the Lord. And Naomi, who has been playing matchmaker and trying to take control of the situation, put matters in her own hands, trying to manipulate the outcomes...All of a sudden Naomi can’t power her way to the happy ending she wants. She has to learn to “be still and know that I am God.” She has to be still and discover that God will fight for her. She has to be still and realize that the LORD is on her side. In this moment Naomi has to learn to wait—wait on God, to be open-handed, to surrender, to yield, to rest, to trust. And Naomi is learning that when everything is beyond her control, everything actually safely rests in God’s loving hands, that He is faithful and true, that His steadfast love never fails, and that He intends more good for her than she could ever ask or imagine. Naomi is learning to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God, to let go of outcomes and hold fast to Him.

Chapter 4, verse 1: “Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down. And there, behold, the redeemer of whom Boaz had spoken, came by.” (Wink, wink! Right? God’s got this.) “So, Boaz said, ‘Turn aside, friend. Sit down here.’ And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, ‘Sit down here.’ So, they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, ‘Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So, I thought I would tell you of it and say, “Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people.” And if you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.’ And he said, ‘I will redeem it.’”

Now this is very clever on Boaz’s part. He’s fallen in love with Ruth, and he doesn’t want to let her go, and so he’s playing his cards strategically. He presents this as a land transaction only. He holds back the little bit about Ruth being married and raising up an heir in Elimelech’s line. He’s holding that out. The difference this makes, whether Ruth is part of the equation or not, is huge. It turns what looks like at first a lucrative land acquisition into what is a deeply selfless and costly act because if Ruth is in the picture, and has a male heir, then all this land never becomes a part of these guys’ estate. It is part of Elimelech’s family inheritance forever, which is why this guy makes a quick about-turn so rapidly. In verse 4 he says, “I will redeem it.” And then in verse 5 Boaz says, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.”

“So, the redeemer said (verse 6), ‘I cannot redeem it for myself lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.’”

So instead of a land acquisition, this becomes a costly act of service for Naomi and her family, and this guy finds the price of redemption far too high. But not Boaz!

Verse 9: “Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. So also, Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.’”

And in this statement Boaz pledges himself to be the Goel, the redeemer of Naomi’s family line.

Verse 13: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went into her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.” And there he is, the male heir raised up in Elimelech’s and Mahlon’s stead, to carry on the name of the family in Israel.

Now, Verse 14, “Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer.’”

Now just pause for a moment. “Blessed be the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer.” Who is the redeemer? All the way along who has been the redeemer? Boaz! Right? Nope, not anymore. It shifts. Who is the Goel? “May his name be renowned in Israel. He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

The Goel is the little boy, the son, the heir, the redeemer of the line of Elimelech.

Then, verse 16, “Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood, gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’” (This is Naomi’s story.) “They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

And so, at the end of the book all we have here...This is a beautiful picture, isn’t it? So here we have Naomi. Just imagine her, all sort of weathered and wrinkled and sort of beaten down by the griefs of life, all of her sorrows etched into her face, with years of grief, and she’s holding this brand-new baby boy with soft tender skin, who is sleeping in her lap. And Naomi smiles, this sweet, broad smile as her heart beats with love and hope and warmth.

In chapter 1 she said, “Don’t call me Naomi. Don’t call me pleasant. Call me Mara, bitter. I’ve come back empty-handed.” But she’s empty-handed no more. In her arms lies her redeemer, her Goel, the restorer of her life. And Naomi is home.

She’s back. A son has been born to Naomi.

And friends, this grace Naomi was powerless to grasp for. Do you see that? This gift was beyond her control. This glory came as she waited upon the Lord. And Naomi received satisfaction as she learns to trust the loving kindness of her God.

Naomi receives satisfaction as she learns to trust the loving-kindness of her God. In God’s time, in God’s way He brought redemption to Naomi as she learned to trust Him as her Father in childlike faith.

And not only did God redeem Naomi’s story, bringing surprising joy and fulfillment to her life, God redeemed Israel. He brought out of Obed’s line King David. Remember this is the time of the judges. There is no king in Israel. Well, now there’s a king in Israel because of the redeeming work of God. And not only one that, from David’s line, from Obed’s line and David’s line, all the way down eleven hundred years later, God would redeem the world, in bringing His own incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, into the world eleven hundred years later.

The Redeemer who would lay down His own life at great cost to Himself to raise up an inheritance that would never be lost, that we had forfeited. He would make us alive again so that our name might never be forgotten among the people of God.

Friends, by His grace, God was working in all of these things to bring a happy ending, not just to Ruth and Boaz and Naomi, but also to Israel and the entire world. And it happened as Naomi learned to let go of her orphan-hearted control impulses, and trust in the grace of her heavenly Father, who was always for her and never against her. Because, friends, real satisfaction comes by the grace of our Father. Amen?

Real satisfaction comes by the grace of our Father.

Friends, the happiness our soul longs for can never be ours through power and control. It just slips through our fingers whenever we hold on tight. But friends, our Father loves to give good gifts to His children. As Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

“Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you.”

“For he who did not spare his own Son but graciously gave Him up for us all, how will he not also, along with Jesus, graciously give us all things.”

Friends, real satisfaction comes from the grace of our Father. There is glory for God’s children on the horizon. God is faithful and will keep His promises always. Even through the cross there is resurrection. This is the Redeemer, our Goel, our great God, and we can trust Him.


“So be still and know that I am God.”

Would you pray with me?

Father, we all want to be happy, and this broken world rips the heart out of us. Help us to trust that you are redeeming, even all the hard things, that there is not a tear, not a sorrow, not a cross that you cannot redeem, that will not in the end be shrouded in glory, and goodness, and redemption. Because you are sovereign over our stories, over our lives.

So, Father, help us to let go of all that we hold onto, of our orphan-hearted, rigid control, and trust You in childlike faith because You are our good Father. You are our Redeemer, our Goel, and our soon and coming King. You will wipe away every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for all things will be made new. And the dwelling of God will one day be once again with your people.

We look forward to that day. We long for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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