Archive for June, 2007

What About Naomi?

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

You are no doubt familiar with the account of Ruth and Naomi in the Book of Ruth.

I have always been puzzled by Naomi’s response to her old neighbors’ question in Ruth 1:20,21 when they meet her as she returns from the land of Moab. They ask, “Is this Naomi?” And she answers:

Call me not Naomi [that is, Pleasant], call me Mara [that is, Bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

This morning’s sermon at the Lynden United Reformed Church by Rev. Chris Gordon was entitled “Bitter Exile, Sweet Exodus”. He pointed out that Naomi, at this point, was revealing herself to be self-centered and bitter towards God, rather than repentant that she and her family had left the church of God looking for a better life. She felt that God had been against her; as she said to her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth: It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. – Ruth 1:13b.

Not only did Naomi believe that God had been against her, she felt that He would continue to be against her daughters-in-law if they went with her to Bethlehem. So much did she believe this that she sought to turn them away from the path of life, and back to idolatry:

And she [Naomi] said, Behold, thy sister in law [Orpah] is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou [Ruth] after thy sister in law. – Ruth 1:15.

Had the Lord’s hand really gone out against Naomi?

The truth of the matter was, Naomi did not return home empty, as she imagined. She came home with a dear, godly daughter-in-law, Ruth. Ruth testified to Naomi, Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. (Ruth 1:16b). In Ruth 4:15 it was testified of Ruth that she loved Naomi so much that she was better to her than seven sons.

Naomi was angry that the Lord had not provided for her in Moab, where she and her husband were living, apart from the Church of God. In love to Naomi, the Lord stripped her of that for which she was lusting. He was teaching her a blessed lesson, that He must be first in the hearts of His people. God emptied Naomi to fill her with that which was of lasting value, and to bring her to true conversion.

This dip is “corny” but delicious

Friday, June 8th, 2007


1 bag frozen white corn or can yellow corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

2 Tablespoons fresh or bottled lime juice

1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon red pepper sauce

¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro

1 teaspoon paprika

4 cloves minced garlic

Mix in bowl and salt to taste. Serve with tortilla scoops or corn chips.

Serves 8 to 10.

Wisdom from the Book of Job

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

After poor Job suffered the loss of dear children, possessions, his reputation, and his health, he then faced unjust rebuke from three “friends” who knew him well. If these friends would have been honest with themselves, they would have acknowledged that Job was far from being a wicked man. They knew his reputation for good works and mercy to the miserable. Job was so eminent in godliness that the book of Job begins with: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job: and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (Job 1:1). However, they had to accuse him of wrong-doing in order to explain his extreme suffering within the confines of their wrong understanding of God.

As the book concludes, in chapter 42, verse 7, we read:

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

I find this verse heart-calming, and an encouragement to commit cases of misunderstanding to the Lord. When we have done all we can to explain ourselves to those who misunderstand us or who are suspicious of us, we must be quiet in our hearts and wait patiently for the Lord to instruct those who oppose us or who judge wrongly of us.

Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. – Psalm 26:1

Another application I take from the Book of Job is that I must be cautious about “reading” God’s providence in my life and in the lives of others. It is a common error to think that those who are suffering have sinned in some way. We simply do not have the whole picture. Here are some thoughts on this subject from the commentator Matthew Henry:

Therefore I uttered that which I understood not,’’ that is, “I have passed a judgment upon the dispensations of Providence, though I was utterly a stranger to the reasons of them.’’ Here,

1. He owns himself ignorant of the divine counsels; and so we are all.
God’s judgments are a great deep, which we cannot fathom, much less find out the springs of. We see what God does, but we neither know why he does it, what he is aiming at, nor what he will bring it to. These are things too wonderful for us, out of our sight to discover, out of our reach to alter, and out of our jurisdiction to judge of.

They are things which we know not; it is quite above our capacity to pass a verdict upon them.

The reason why we quarrel with Providence is because we do not understand it; and we must be content to be in the dark about it, until the mystery of God shall be finished.

(Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible is available online at Blue Letter Bible.)

Debra has a new favorite book

Friday, June 1st, 2007

When I was growing up, I enjoyed reading (several times!) the book Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Now daughter Debra has discovered that childhood classic for herself. In keeping with my recent nostalgia theme, I note that the copy of the book which Debra is reading is the same copy I read as a child, and was a birthday present to my mother on her 11th birthday from Aunt Edith, her mother’s older sister. This edition was published in 1932 by Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. The book is still in quite good shape for being 75 years old, and so handled by little ones!

Here is a copy of the lovely front cover:


Here is the beautiful faceplate illustration, done by Maud and Miska Petersham: