Shards of early morning light danced against the shadows as Ruth reached into the bowl of grain. As the kernels sifted through her fingers, memories began to flood her mind; memories of a place far removed from Bethlehem.
Jesse, playing quietly on the floor, smiled up at his grandmother. He’d just begun to walk. His resemblance to Mahlon was uncanny. He tugged on her skirt, grinning from ear to ear, begging for attention. Pushing the bowl aside, she reached down and scooped him up in her arms, planting a kiss on his forehead.
So much time had passed; Moab was a distant world, almost forgotten. Her grief for her first husband Mahlon had dissipated into a cherished bittersweet memory that remained buried away in her past until Jesse was born.
He had the same eyes and chin, and Mahlon’s thick curly hair. Perhaps that Jesse looked so much like his distant cousin was Yahweh’s way of bringing her peace after all these years. She held Jesse tightly in her arms, savoring the moment of finding Mahlon’s smile again in the sweet face of the baby rambunctious boy.
Ruth reflected on the unrestrained glee Naomi had expressed when Yahweh had blessed Boaz with a son. ‘Obed’ they called him, “Naomi has a ‘new’ son”.
She remembered the joy that swelled inside her just a few years ago as Obed announced his decision to marry over the afternoon meal. His heart had been captured at last, and Ruth was excited with his choice. She was a lovely girl, with a quiet and cheerful demeanor. How wonderful it was to have a daughter in the house. But joy had been tainted with sorrow when Boaz passed just a few months before the wedding.
Obed still grieved the loss of his father at times, they were so close. He was his father’s delight, always happy to be at his side, even as a grown man. They were men of peace and honor, and well respected.
A gentle hand on her shoulder startled her back to reality.
“Mother, why so deep in thought? Let me have this boy before you smother him.”
Lost in her memories, she had not even heard Obed enter the room. As he reached to untangle Jesse from her arms, he noticed the tears streaming down her cheeks.
“What burdens you, Mother? Why these tears?”
“These are not the tears of burdens spilled over, Obed. They are tears of gratitude.” She reached over, patting Jesse affectionately on the head.
“My days in Moab were so difficult, and when Mahlon chose me to be his wife, I dared to hope that my life would be better. His people were so different from mine. They had a joy that seemed to come from nowhere. After we married, I learned that their joy came from Yahweh. Naomi taught me so much about her God; I drank her words like water.”
“Mother, you’ve never spoken of these things.” Obed knew that his mother had been redeemed by his father, but he’d never thought of what his mother’s life might have been like before him.
“It was so long ago, Obed. When Mahlon and Chilion died, I thought that their God had surely judged us. Naomi wouldn’t stay. She kept saying that Yahweh would take care of her, but we could see bitterness and grief consuming more of her everyday.” Ruth sat by the fire, crushing the grain as she relived those days of uncertainty. “She begged Orpah and I to return home. I couldn’t; I needed hope to survive my own grief. For me, there was no hope to be found in Moab. She couldn’t force me to stay. Finally, silence fell between the two of us, and I just… followed behind her.”
Jesse wiggled free from his father’s arms giggling and chattering, tottering back to Ruth’s side.
“Only just now in Jesse’s face, I saw all that He’s done for me. It wasn’t just your father who redeemed me, Obed; it was Yahweh.”
“From Moab--to this…” she whispered. “…I was not deserving of anything. He delivered me from the darkness of Moab, and brought me here to be cared for as though I were really one of His children. My heart is just…full.” Grasping Jesse’s tiny face in her hands, the tears welled in her eyes, “Great is our God, little one, and greater things yet shall come through you.”
And Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered David. Ruth 4: 22 CSB
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