And she said to them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
I. INCIDENTS IN HER LIFE. This world is to all, in some measure, "a vale of tears." The pilgrimage of the true Christian is not through verdant plains and flowery fields, but through a "waste howling wilderness," where much toil is exercised, many troubles undergone, many perils encountered, and many severe privations endured. God is a Sovereign in the distribution of sufferings and tribulations. His own people have frequently the greatest share of troubles in this life — that their souls, which are too full of earthly attachments, may be weaned from the world. We should learn hence not to murmur nor charge God foolishly under our trials, for if we compare them with those of many of God's people who were more gracious in their dispositions and tempers than we are they will appear "light" indeed. We find this bereaved and distressed individual returning towards her native land. She acted wisely, for she was more likely to fare well in her own country — among her relatives and acquaintance, and where the knowledge and fear of God prevailed, than among strangers and idolaters in a foreign land. It would be well if we imitated Naomi in a spiritual point of view. At length we find Naomi in Canaan. When she returned her former acquaintance were greatly astonished at her appearance. Her affluence was gone, her earthly glory had faded away, and her circumstances were mean and narrow. God, however, in mercy, calmed the evening of her day. The troubles of the Christian are not only to end, but to end blessedly — even in bliss and honour!
II. MORAL EXCELLENCES WHICH STOOD PROMINENTLY FORTH IN THE CONDUCT OF NAOMI UNDER THE WEIGHT OF HER TRIBULATIONS.
1. Her benevolence. Behold it delightfully displayed towards both her daughters-in-law. See how ardently she wished their prosperity, how fervently she prayed for it. Herein she, and all who are under the governance of the same superhuman principle, resemble their Divine Master. He also felt intensely for others — even when He was Himself involved in dangers.
2. Her acknowledgment of God in her troubles. See how piously she develops this feeling (Ruth 1:13, 20, 21). Nothing enables a man to behave as he should in the day of adversity, nothing enables him to keep down an envious and impatient spirit, but the viewing his troubles as the allotments of Heaven, the all-wise appointments of his Father and of his God.
3. Her gratitude both to God and man.
(1) Her gratitude to God. If a few handfuls of corn excited Naomi to offer to her heavenly Father a sacrifice of such fervent praise, how fervent should our praise be for abundance of spiritual food, for Christ Himself to be the strength and joy of our souls? If a little earthly food is a mercy to be acknowledged in songs of adoring praise, how much warmer should our affection be for endless and unmingled felicity for the whole man in the land of everlasting life?
(2) Her gratitude to man. Inasmuch as Ruth had shown kindness to her in Moab, she showed her all possible kindness in Judah.
Parallel VersesKJV: And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.