And she said, Behold, your sister in law is gone back to her people, and to her gods: return you after your sister in law.
I. ORPAH WAS A MOABITISH WOMAN — had been married to one of the sons of Elimelech — and was now a widow. She had been brought up amid the absurdities and impurities and superstitions of idolatry. But her connection with an Israelitish family was a great advantage to her, and ought to have been improved by her, to the benefit of her soul, and deemed a peculiar privilege and blessing. Oh, then, let us associate with those who live for another world ( whose spirit and words and conduct diffuse the savour of heaven, and are calculated to keep God and eternity in our minds.
II. ORPAH POSSESSED MANY NATURAL EXCELLENCES, which made her lovely and amiable, though still lacking that new heart and that devotedness to God without which no man can be saved.
1. Orpah acted well in the character of a wife.
2. Orpah conducted herself with kindness and tenderness and affection towards her mother-in-law, Naomi, also.
3. Another valuable feature, which we cannot view but with great interest, in the character of Orpah, was her intention to accompany Naomi to the land of Judah. It is well to see hopeful beginnings — to see the careless aroused, the indifferent in some degree alarmed about their sins, and paying more attention than before to the welfare of their souls. It is well to see the profane putting on the decencies of morality, and renouncing their vile habits and pursuits. It is well, we say, to see these hopeful signs. But, alas! they often disappoint our fondest hopes.
III. ORPAH'S FATAL DEFICIENCY, She only began her march to Canaan — her resolution failed — she persevered not, but returned to her own land! Naomi wished not to prevent either Ruth or Orpah from accompanying her to Canaan, but from doing so for her sake. She had no earthly inducement to hold out to them. If they came, she wished them to come from religious considerations alone. If we take up the cause of God from any but spiritual motives — if we attach ourselves to the cause and people of God from earthly views, our religion is hateful in heaven. The "loaves and fishes" are to have nothing to do with our pursuit of Christ, but the attractions of His grace — the privilege of serving Him, and a supreme desire to be His — His alone — His for ever.
1. Orpah forsook the cause of God — she returned to her people. Their maxims and their habits, after all, were more congenial with her mind. Woe awaits those who are kept from "following the Lord fully" from regard to earthly connections and associates.
2. Orpah forsook the cause of God with great reluctance. Agrippa-like, she was almost persuaded to go with her to the land of Judah, yet, though with many misgivings, she retraced her steps to her own country, and saw her no more. Now, with the view of inducing these wavering characters, who are thus daily withstanding the convictions of their own minds — who return to Moab, but with many tears — to hasten out of their present condition, we beg to say a few words concerning their danger. It is a great mercy to have our minds in the smallest degree impressed with Divine things, and awakened to the importance of the things which accompany salvation. It is a mercy to be made to feel some measure of anxiety about our never-dying souls and their everlasting welfare. It is the Holy Ghost striving with us, and bidding us to consider our peril while yet it may be avoided. With the view of urging these characters to a speedy determination to be altogether on the Lord's side, we beg to add a few remarks likewise concerning their present folly. When man neglects to follow the admonitions of his conscience, he deprives himself of all comfort. He cannot enjoy inward tranquillity in this state. There is something within him constantly telling him that his end cannot be desirable if a radical spiritual change does not take place in him. He cannot have real joy in this condition. If your religion resembles that of Orpah, give God no rest till the weight of your transgression drives you to the Saviour, and a believing view of His matchless love constrains you to devote your persons and your talents to His service and glory.
Parallel VersesKJV: And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.