Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Ruth
Book: Ruth
Chapter: 1

Elimelech and his sons die in the land of Moab. (1-5) Naomi
returns home. (6-14) Orpah stays behind, but Ruth goes with
Naomi. (15-18) They come to Bethlehem. (19-22)

1-5 Elimelech's care to provide for his family, was not to be
blamed; but his removal into the country of Moab could not be
justified. And the removal ended in the wasting of his family.
It is folly to think of escaping that Cross, which, being laid
in our way, we ought to take up. Changing our place seldom is
mending it. Those who bring young people into bad acquaintance,
and take them out of the way of public ordinances, thought they
may think them Well-principled, and armed against Temptation,
know not what will be the End. It does not appear that the women
the sons of Elimelech married, were proselyted to the Jewish
religion. Earthly trials or enjoyments are of short continuance.
Death continually removes those of every Age and situation, and
mars all our outward comforts: we cannot too strongly prefer
those advantages which shall last for ever.

6-14 Naomi began to think of returning, after the Death of her
two sons. When Death comes into a family, it ought to reform
what is amiss there. Earth is made Bitter to us, that Heaven may
be made dear. Naomi seems to have been a person of Faith and
Piety. She dismissed her daughters-in-Law with Prayer. It is
very proper for friends, when they part, to part with Prayer. She
dismissed them with afection. If relations must part,let them thus
part in Love. Did Naomi do Well, to discourage her daughters
from going with her, when she might save them from the Idolatry
of Moab, and bring them to the Faith and Worship of the God of
Israel? Naomi, No doubt, desired to do that; but if they went
with her, she would not have them to go upon her account. Those
that take upon them a profession of religion only to oblige
their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of
small value. If they did come with her, she would have them make
it their deliberate choice, and sit down first and count the
cost, as it concerns those to do who make a profession of
religion. And more desire "Rest in the House of a Husband," or
some worldly settlement or earthly satisfaction, than the Rest to
which Christ invites our souls; therefore when tried they will
depart from Christ, though perhaps with some sorrow.

15-18 See Ruth's resolution, and her good Affection to Naomi.
Orpah was loath to part from her; yet she did not Love her Well
enough to leave Moab for her sake. Thus, many have a value and
Affection for Christ, yet come short of Salvation By him,
because they will not forsake other things for him. They Love
him, yet leave him, because they do not Love him enough, but
Love other things better. Ruth is an Example of the Grace of
God, inclining the soul to choose the better part. Naomi could
desire No more than the solemn declaration Ruth made. See the
power of resolution; it silences Temptation. Those that go in
religious ways without a stedfast mind, stand like a door half
open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the
door, resists the Devil and Forces him to flee.

19-22 Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem. Afflictions will make
great and surprising changes in a little time. May God, By his
Grace, fit us for all such changes, especially the great
change!, Naomi signifies "pleasant," or "amiable;" Mara,
"Bitter," or "bitterness." She was now a Woman of a sorrowful
Spirit. She had come home empty, Poor, a widow and childless.
But there is a Fulness for believers of which they never can be
emptied; a good part which shall not be taken from those who
have it. The Cup of affliction is a "Bitter" Cup, but she owns
that the affliction came from God. It Well becomes us to have
our hearts humbled under humbling Providence. It is not
affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne, that does us