Biblical Lessons from Ruth for Daughters-in-law Part 3

mother-in-law daughter-in-law 1

36. God renewed Naomi through the kinsman redeemer. “The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!” These women were praising God. They knew some of what Naomi had gone through. They could not wait to give God the credit for what was happening in Naomi’s life. We praise or bless God for the good in Him or how He bestows that good to us. The women were praising God for giving Naomi a kinsman-redeemer in this new baby. The women were not using go el or kinsman-redeemer in the legal sense but as a solution for Naomi’s insecurity.  As Naomi had tried to take care of her husband, two sons and two daughters-in-law now God had given her a grandson who could grow up and take care of her. Naomi could see God’s protection for her in this child.

Obed would keep Naomi young at heart and then take care of her later in life. I love doing things with my grandchildren that my children no longer enjoy.  Obed would continue the family line and protect the inheritance. His name means serving or worshipping. He would live up to his name and serve Naomi. Obed would grow up watching his mother Ruth serve his grandmother and love her. Obed would learn at an early age the love of a daughter-in-law for a mother-in-law and he would pass it on to his children. He would not grow up hearing the disdain for mothers-in-law but the love for them. Obed would be the restorer of life for Naomi. This would put a spring in her step; a new hope for life. Naomi was no longer Mara “bitter” but Naomi “pleasant”. God had brought her full circle. God had given her mercies and God had used Ruth to show those mercies. God had not given back to her the life she had had with Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion but a new life with blessings like she had never had before. It was not the old life but a new life with the riches of God’s grace.

37. Ruth loved Naomi. “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (Ruth 4:15) Naomi who had been so concerned for the well-being of her daughters-in-law was now seeing God’s outpouring of kindness to her. Ruth who was a foreigner had shown the Israelites how to love with “hesed” love to a mother-in-law. God had instructed the Israelites to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Ruth had treated Naomi better than herself. Ruth had worked in the fields and brought food to Naomi. Ruth had been better to Naomi than seven sons and the people had seen it. Seven was considered perfect or complete.  In the OT, a perfect family would have been many sons to make sure the family line and care of the parents in later years took place. The women were saying God had given Naomi a perfect family with Ruth. God in his perfect wisdom had changed Naomi’s family. It no longer was a husband and two sons but a daughter, son-in-law and a grandson. Naomi had learned so much about God and herself during the changes. Naomi’s family loved her more than if she had had seven sons.

Our families are not always perfect by today standards. This family had struggled together just like we do. They had moved, buried loved ones, moved again and had financial trouble. They had dealt with loss of family and friends, grief, more grief, bitterness, embarrassment and hurt. Through it all, God had renewed their life and sustained both women. Through their struggles they had kept their love for each other. This daughter-in-law had loved her mother-in-law and this love shown throughout the town. This love was worth talking about.

38. Ruth was better to Naomi than seven sons. ” . . . For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (Ruth 4:15) Naomi who had been so concerned for the well-being of her daughters-in-law was now seeing God’s outpouring of kindness to her. Ruth who was a foreigner had shown the Israelites how to love with “hesed” love to a mother-in-law. God had instructed the Israelites to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Ruth had treated Naomi better than herself. Ruth had worked in the fields and brought food to Naomi. Ruth had been better to Naomi than seven sons and the people had seen it. Seven was considered perfect or complete. Male babies were considered superior to female babies. In the OT, a perfect family would have been many sons to make sure the family line and care of the parents in later years took place. The women were saying God had given Naomi a perfect family with Ruth. God in his perfect wisdom had changed Naomi’s family. It no longer was a husband and two sons but a daughter, son-in-law and a grandson. Naomi had learned so much about God and herself during the changes. Naomi’s family loved her more than if she had had seven sons.

Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law need an example on how to treat each other. We have that in Naomi and Ruth. Too many times we look to relationships that have been modeled for us or listen to the advice that is given by our friends and family. Models are sometimes passed down and down. This daughter-in-law didn’t have a relationship with her mother-in-law because her mother didn’t have a relationship with her mother-in-law and so on. Have you ever thought of where advice comes from? Advice sometimes comes from how people have handled a situation. Whether they did it right or wrong, they offer advice to other people on how they did it.  People sometimes give advice based on what they heard on television shows or read in a magazine.  We tend to take advice only if there is something in us that agrees with it. That may be the bigger statement.

Naomi was blessed. Ruth wanted to stick with her like she was her mother. Ruth wanted to care for her like sons should care for their mother later in life. Ruth wanted to supply Naomi’s needs like God supplies our needs each day. A relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can be one of the most tense relationship. Naomi and Ruth shows us how to survive hardship and end up joined together with God’s love.

39. Ruth and Naomi  cared for Obed. “Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.” (Ruth 4:16)

Ruth allowed Naomi to be the grandmother she had always wanted to be. The joy of being a grandmother is getting to take care of those grandchildren. Naomi got to take care of Obed all by herself. God had taken away her two sons but He had given her a grandson. She considered this grandson to be the son of her son Mahlon with full knowledge, that he was Boaz’s son paternally.

Ruth allowed Naomi to be a part of caring for this child. I have grandchildren that live close to me. This wasn’t always the case. For many years we had to drive to see the grandchildren like many of you. If we had extra time with them, we went and picked them up and then took them home after a week of fun. My grandchildren live close now.  When they say, “Granna can I come over”, the answer is always “sure”. I realize at any point my son and daughter-in-law come stop contact or curtail visits. I am a Grandma. I am not the parent. I can’t tell you how often I am thankful for the time I have with my grandchildren.

There are so many tensions that arise with grandchildren. When we were raising our children, there were issues with grandparents. We all wanted for our children to have a good grandparent experience. There were issues that we worked through with family counseling. Some issues we just let it be and moved on from it. We tried hard to let each set of grandparents have equal time with our children even when we were a distance away. We wanted our children to know their grandparents.

In the world we live in there are relationship battles all around us of parents & grandparents. Even before children come into the picture tension sometimes is running high with children, parents and in-laws. When grandchildren come into the relationship then the struggle over time with both grandparents become the #2  problem area according to an article on Grandparents.com. Many problems can ensue with visits, discipline and many other issues about grandchildren. Children can be in the middle of control issues being played out over their head. Let’s just says Naomi and Ruth had their issues from time to time but one or both were willing to stand by each other and work it out. When Obed was born, they had made it through the roughest of times together. They were together going to care for this gift from God.

The Hebrew word in verse 4:16 for lay can also mean bosom. Naomi hugged Obed up close to her and just loved him. The Hebrew word used in 4:16 for cared can also be used for nanny. Naomi took care of him. She watched and cared for him while Ruth was gone or busy and loved every minute of it. In this verse, it is easy to see the trust Ruth had in Naomi to take care of her child. In Scripture, we see Ruth and Hannah’s unselfishness (I Samuel 1:10-11) with their sons. Let’s remember Ruth had been barren for at least ten years. She may have not wanted to let that child out of her sight. She trusted her mother-in-law. It must have given Ruth joy to see how happy Naomi was with her grandson. Naomi probably did things differently than Ruth on caring for a child.  After all, they were from two different countries. Ruth loved her mother-in-law and knew she would care for Obed like she had cared for her two sons long ago.

In Ruth, we see a willingness to work through and move pass problems. I have been on both sides now. I was the daughter and daughter-in-law. I am now the mother-in-law and the grandparent. In this day and time, we so need the love, trust and willingness that Naomi and Ruth show us in our families. Many children grow into adulthood and miss the opportunities of getting to know their grandparents. May we take this example and run with it to help our families have the closeness that God intended all along.

40. God had allowed through Naomi and Ruth’s relationship a son and grandson be in the genealogy of Christ. “The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son.’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron the father of Ram. Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab the father of Nahshon. Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon the father of Boaz. Boaz the father of Obed. Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.” (Ruth 4:17-22)

Through Obed, the name lives on. Through redemption, Naomi’s family line does not end. At the end of Ruth, we have the genealogies of the royal line to David. Through Obed’s name, we would have the life and ministry of King David and Jesus Christ. Obed would have a son named Jesse. Jesse was of Bethlehem and that is where the book of Ruth began. Naomi was born generations before Jesse. If Ruth had not been determined to follow her mother-in-law, there would not have been a Boaz or Obed or Jesse. It’s all about the mother-in-law. Jesse would have eight sons and the youngest would become King. Ruth and David were both unlikely choices to carry on a royal line of Judah but God saw their heart. When Naomi held Obed, she had no idea of the future God had planned for that little boy. She just knew this was the son of her son. Minter says “The central ingredient to a divine legacy is godliness: to know God, to walk in His ways, and to teach future generations about who He is.”

God had redeemed her and her family and she didn’t have to pay any price. Moabites were not to enter the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation(Deut. 23:3). Do not underestimate God’s love and the power of the grace of God. God overruled what was written down in law for His purpose. This story would have ended at any point if Ruth had given up on her mother-in-law. Ruth packed up her belongings to follow a woman who was only related by marriage and who didn’t want her to go. Ruth risked her life in the fields and threshing floor to follow Naomi. Ruth followed a risky plan, married a man, bore a son and then placed him in her deeply loved mother-in-law’s arms. Ruth’s love for God and her mother-in-law overcame every obstacle that was put in front of them. Ruth and Naomi nestled in the shelter of the wings of Jehovah. God’s plan was fulfilled. Oh, what a testimony for me and you as mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law!

My mother-in-law Mattie died in 2010. I thank the Lord for my mother-in-law. We were two very different women. She grew up in the 30’s and 40’s. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. She grew up working on the farm. I grew up in town. She grew up taking care of siblings. I grew up with no siblings. Through very different lives, we grew to love each other and respect each other more than I could have ever made happen. God stepped in and took control of our relationship. 2 Corinthians 4:5 says, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”  When God’s grace flowed into me, then I was able to overflow with grace to Mattie. When God’s grace flowed into Mattie, then she was able to overflow grace to me. When we benefit from the outpouring of God’s grace, God blesses us when we give it away. We worked together having a disposition of kindness, grace, thanks, and respect.

Naomi and Ruth’s relationship affected generations after them. We may not think how we react to each other will affect children, grandchildren etc. but it does. When a daughter-in-law makes little or no attempt for a relationship with parents or in-laws, children learn that it is just not that important. It can be hard to instill in our children and grandchildren the right things but it takes no times at all for them to pick up on the wrong things in our lives. Naomi  and Ruth had many wrong things in their life but they certainly took time to work on the right things.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Paul says, “we do not lose heart”. We are not to lose heart when relationships have bumps along the way. Was our relationship perfect? Absolutely not! God took two ladies who were very different and gave us His unmerited favor and used us in each other’s lives. He gave us grace from the God of grace and caused grace to overflow in our lives to each other and cause thanksgiving to overflow to God’s glory. God’s plan was accomplished in the lives of this mother-in-law and daughter-in-law through the outpouring of His grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out 1-35 in Part 1 and Part 2 of Biblical Lessons from Ruth for Daughters-in-law.

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