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did sigh : all joy was darkened, the mirth of the land was gone." A heavy cloud seemed to be resting over the once happy land of Israel. God seemed to be visiting His people. Famine was one of those punishments which He had long before threatened that He would bring upon the Israelites, if they sinned against Him; “I will make your heaven iron, and your earth as brass :

and your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

How awful to be thus dealt with! And may not God, at any moment, deal so with us ? Could He not, if He pleased, this very year, withdraw His blessing ? and then what would be the consequence? Why, the ground would be sown; but no corn would spring up. We are indebted to God for every morsel of bread that we eat. It comes from His hand. He is the great Provider.

Oh, how seldom we think of this ! We take our daily bread, and eat it with unthankful hearts, forgetting to acknowledge Him who is the gracious Giver of it.

Well, Elimelech suffered with the rest. He daily saw his store growing less and less. First the wheat became scarce. Then they were glad enough to make their barley into bread. Then this too began to dwindle. He thought of his family, and of the prospect that stared them in the face. Provisions got dearer and dearer, and sadness was to be seen in every countenance.

Yes, it was a sad and trying time for

them. And we shall see in the next chapter how they acted. I am afraid, their faith failed them a little; and instead of running to God for help, they ran away from Him, and betook themselves to a worldly remedy.





Ruth 1. 3. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.

WHAT was to become of Elimelech and his family, now that their country was in so pitiable a state ? Were they to remain in the land, which God had chosen for them—that land which He had so specially marked out for their portion? Were they to submit patiently to this heavy trial, believing that God would soon hear their cry.

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and once more lift up the light of His countenance upon them? Were they to rely upon God's promise, which said, “ The Lord knoweth the days of the godly: they shall not be confounded in the perilous times, and in the days of dearth they shall have enough ?" Or were they to seek a home in some more favoured spot ? The thought came across Elimelech, that, as there was bread enough and to spare elsewhere, the wisest thing he could do was to leave this faminestricken land. The neighbouring country of Moab was spoken of. There there was an abundance; and there he determines to go and take up his abode.

With a heavy heart they bid farewell to the little town of Bethlehem,

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