Then Naomi's husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons,
I. The widow's SORROW. The observation of all, the experience of some hearers, may fill up the outline. In every social circle, in every religious assembly, are women who have been called upon to part with those upon whom they had leaned for support and guidance, to whom they gave their hearts in youth, to whom they had borne sons and daughters.
II. The widow's LOT. It is often one of hardship and trouble. As in the case before us, it may be aggravated by -
2. Distance from home and friends.
3. The charge and care of children, who, though a blessing, are a burden and responsibility.
III. The widow's CONSOLATION.
1. The promise of God: "Thy Maker is thy husband."
2. Opportunity of Christian service.
How different the widow's condition in Christian communities from that of such among the heathen! The honor and the work of "widows indeed." Lessons: -
1. Submission and patience under bereavement.
2. Sympathy with the afflicted and desolate. - T.
Psalm 34:13). But be not discouraged, for through many afflictions must we enter into the kingdom of heaven, and by affliction we are made like the Son of God.
I. THE CAUSE OF HIS DEPARTURE. "There was a famine in the land." Famine cometh from God. It was threatened in the Mosaic law, as a punishment from Heaven for disobedience and sin (Leviticus 26:18-20). See how many arrows Jehovah hath in His quiver! In how many ways He can wither our comforts — blast our enjoyments. See how dependent we are upon Him. If famine and its calamitous consequences be occasioned by sin, let us be thankful to God that they are not inflicted upon us. We cannot deny that our sins are great and numerous, considering the precious advantages we enjoy. Still God loadeth us daily with His benefits. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Let us learn to be thankful. Let us flee to the Redeemer's Cross for pardon, on account of our past forgetfulness of God. If famine and its accompanying horrors were experienced so frequently in the land of promise, we may gather that we cannot be free from adversities in any station or in any portion of the earth. When we are encompassed by difficulties — when we are ready to wish that we were in the situation of some of our neighbours, did we but know how bitter the ingredients which the hand of Providence not unfrequently puts into their cups, we should murmur less at our own crosses, and endure with a more satisfied mind our own tribulations. Let us learn, then, to be satisfied with the station which Providence has assigned us, and seek for relief under the trials which are inseparable from it, in the holy Word of God. Religion is the only effectual soother of human woe. It does not, indeed, remove miseries from those who are under its hallowing dominion, but it mixes the sweet with the bitter, so as to render the burden supportable. By directing the eye of the troubled Christian to that heavenly Benefactor who was suspended for him on the Cross, and thereby opened for him a way to the realms of unending blessedness, it deprives the trials of this temporary scene of much of their bitterness, and imparts new energy to the sinking soul. Again, if the sore effects of famine were felt in Canaan, while there was abundance in Moab — if Israelites suffered want, when Egyptians, and Philistines, and Moabites suffered it not — the possession of many earthly comforts is no evidence of spiritual safety, no sure sign of Divine favour and love. The only heaven which the despisers of the Saviour shall enjoy lies on this side the tomb; therefore they often receive more of the blessings of Providence than the heirs of glory.
Elimelech, Naomi's husband died.
II. A FULL SUPPLY OF BODILY WANTS CANNOT PREVENT DEATH. The man must die in Moab, where was food enough; the rich glutton must die also, and the rich man with his barn full.
III. WHERE MEN THINK TO PRESERVE LIFE, THERE THEY MAY LOSE IT, as Elimelech doth here, fleeing from the famine in Israel, yet died where plenty was, in Moab; for no place is free from death, and when the time appointed is come, man cannot pass it (Job 14:5).
II. WHITHER ELIMELECH DIRECTED HIS COURSE when he departed from Canaan. By this conduct this man evinced too great a regard for terrestrial bliss, and too little for that which is heavenly. He slighted Divine ordinances and the privileges of the Lord's sanctuary. The grace of God has, indeed, enabled His servants to keep their garments clean in the midst of the greatest pollutions, as Joseph in Egypt and Obadiah in the household of wicked Ahab; still it is oftener the case, under such circumstances, that the Christian suffers more of evil than he imparts of good. "The companion of fools shall be destroyed." "Lead us not into temptation." If intercourse with the ungodly be so replete with danger, let us carefully avoid it.
III. WHAT BECAME OF ELIMELECH IN HIS NEW DWELLING-PLACE? "And Elimelech Naomi's husband died, and she was left, and her two sons." We are not informed how soon he died; but that he finished his life shortly after his settlement there is clear from his death happening before that of his two sons, who lived only ten years after their arrival in Moab. How short the period he escaped from the pressure of famine in the land of his nativity! And if he had greater abundance of earthly comforts in his new habitation, how quickly were they all taken from him! If he had remained in the land of religious advantages, he would not have had to sustain adversities and hardships there long. Rather than resort to unlawful, or even questionable, measures, to get rid of our troubles, we ought to implore aid from heaven, that we may "endure" the "chastening" of the Lord — that we may bear the afflictions which His providence allots to us with patience and humility — being fully persuaded that our heavenly Parent doeth all things well — and likewise with earnest supplications for the accompanying influences of the Divine Spirit, by which they become greatly instrumental in meetening our souls for the habitations of the blessed. Learn:
1. That adversities and troubles should not be allowed to weigh too heavily on our minds.
2. That we should be very moderate in our estimation of, and desire for, earthly blessings.
She was left, and her two sonsI. THAT ALBEIT DEATH IS DUE TO ALL, YET IT SEIZETH NOT UPON ALL AT ONCE; BUT ONE DIETH NOW AND ANOTHER HEREAFTER. But God will have mankind upon earth till the last day; He forbeareth some, and reprieveth them for their amendment; for the lengthening of life is for our further repentance.
II. THAT THE LORD, IN AFFLICTING HIS CHILDREN, SWEETENETH THE SAME WITH SOME COMFORTS. He wholly leaveth not them without some taste of His mercy and goodness, as we may see in His dealing with Naomi. He took away her husband, and left her two sons, and after took them away, but gave her an excellent daughter-in-law. If we look upon the affliction, let us also consider what cause of comfort we have; mark when, for what, how long or short, what it is allayed with, that we be not wholly cast down.
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