Bitterness Ruth 1-4 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the Book of Ruth we find an excellent study on the subject of bitterness. Naomi went with her husband and two sons to Moab to escape a famine in Bethlehemjudah. While she was there, her sons married Moabite women. Then her husband died followed by the death of her two sons. Eventually, the famine in Israel broke and Naomi decided to return to her home. When she arrived, the people in her city said, “Is this Naomi?” She replied, “Call me not, Naomi [pleasant], call me, Mara [bitter].” And indeed she was bitter after the loss of her family.
But notice these truths about bitterness.
Bitterness goes with you wherever you go – Ruth 1:7 – you can change spouses, houses, jobs, locations, or whatever else you can think to change and you are still going to be bitter. That’s because bitterness is a root down inside of you [Heb 12:15]. No matter where you are, that root goes with you.
Bitterness puts a wedge between you and your loved ones – Ruth 1:15-18 – Naomi tried several times to convince her daughters in law to return to their mothers. Orpah returned but Ruth persisted. Finally, Ruth convinced her mother in law that she would even be buried wherever Naomi was buried and Naomi gave in. However, after Ruth’s great testimony in v.16-17, Naomi didn’t rejoice to have such a wonderful daughter in law, she just quit speaking to her. Often loved ones are there to console you when you are hurt and bitter and you drive them away with your bitterness.
Bitterness puts a wedge between you and God – Ruth 1:20-21 – four times Naomi accused the Lord of causing her pain and dilemma. She was just like Adam who blamed his sin on the woman “whom thou gavest to be with me.” Listen, when you get bitter, believe it or not, you are mad at God. Until you admit this, the “root” of the problem will never be discovered.
Bitterness blinds you to the blessings you do have – Ruth 1:21 – Naomi complained that she went out full and returned “empty.” Empty? Seriously? She returned with Ruth who was better to her than “seven sons,” Ruth 4:15, and who was a “virtuous woman,” Ruth 3:11, Ecc 7:28. When you keep looking at what happened instead of what you have, you miss the blessings. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Well, Naomi means pleasant and, thankfully, Naomi did not stay bitter. Here’s how she got out of her bitterness:
She didn’t hold it against God – Ruth 2:20 – after taking it out on God in chapter 1, she let it go and didn’t hold it against the Lord. Naomi was thankful not only for Boaz but also for the blessing of the Lord. You need to develop this same attitude of gratitude.
She went on with her life – Ruth 3:1-5 – Instead of wallowing in the misery of her widowhood and childlessness, Naomi devised a plan for Ruth to marry Boaz in order that they might have a son to be her deceased husband’s heir. Listen, life is out in front of you, not back behind you.
She trusted in the Lord’s providence – Ruth 3:18 – though Boaz rejoiced to marry Ruth, he also had to yield the desires of a nearer kinsman. Naomi told Ruth, while this was unfolding, “sit still.” Women sometimes have a tendency toward anxiety in times like this. But Naomi exhibited the composure of a woman that believed the Lord would intervene and take care of any impediment. Though you may have been mad at God, he is still trustworthy and he is there to help you.
She received something better than she lost – Ruth 4:15 – the Lord restored Naomi’s life through the birth of Obed, and thus Naomi became the great-great-grandmother of King David. That would have never been possible without the events that took place to bring Ruth and Boaz together. What’s behind you may be horrible; but what’s in front of you is not.
Conclusion: Like Naomi you can learn to not stay bitter. Hard valleys lead to beautiful mountains. The cross of Jesus led to his glory and our opportunity to enjoy his glory together with him.