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RUTH 1. 4—9. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab; for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.
Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.
And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt wit the dead, and with me.
The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
In the last chapter, we spoke of Elimelech and Naomi leaving the city of Bethlehem, and emigrating to the heathen land of Moab. And we left Naomi mourning over her husband's loss.
She had still however the happiness of having her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to cheer her in her widowhood. And they are now desirous to marry. Alas, their choice was made from among the heathen women of Moab, women who knew nothing of the God of Israel. This was one of
the evil consequences of their having come away from their native country. But nothing can be said in the way of excuse: they were decidedly wrong. Had they never been told how far their forefather Abraham had sent for a wife for his son Isaac ? Had they never heard of the solemn charge, which that same Isaac gave to the son whom he so dearly loved, “Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan ?” True, these men would have had to travel a long distance for a wife of their own nation; but was it farther from Moab to Bethlehem, than from Bethlehem to Moab, a distance which they had both already travelled ? No, it was a wrong step which they took; and they afterwards seem to have suffered for it.
We know nothing of what passed during the next ten years. are told that, at the end of that time, Naomi's wounds were again torn open. She is called to part with her two sons. Probably they were both carried off together by some disease which prevailed in the country.
And now none are left, but these three widows, lonely and unprotected, in the land of Moab. And did not Naomi, think you, now feel more than ever the sweetness of God's promises, and of God's presence ?
She was troubled on every side, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. God's shield was over her, and underneath her were His everlasting arms.
Orpah and Ruth, you know, were heathens by birth. But they had
learnt much, I dare say, in the last ten years, concerning the one true God. And the pious example of their motherin-law no doubt had had a softening influence upon them. Their hearts were drawn towards her; and they seem at all events to have felt no opposition to the God whom she loved and served.
A quiet consistent example, often goes a great way. It usually wins more hearts than the most powerful arguments. Think of this, my dear Reader; and if you have a husband, or a wife, or a brother, or a child, whose heart you
have often tried in vain to turn, and whose state you have often wept over with the bitterest sorrow, and for whom you have offered up many an earnest prayer, then try another me