“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Mara, for they were bitter.” Exodus 15:23.
“But she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.’ ” Ruth 1:20.
Naomi had become bitter over the fact that she had lost her husband and two sons and, as an old women, faced bleak prospects in a land of famine. She felt the hand of God had gone out against her (Ruth 1:13). Some suggest that Naomi and her husband had gone to the land of Moab from their homeland of Judah against the will of God and that could have been why she had such a hard time there. The verb “returned” in the original can mean a spiritual return or repentance, like a returning from other gods.
In any event, Naomi was very discouraged and with little hope for the future. However, God in His sovereignty had other plans. He gave her a faithful daughter-in-law who refused to abandon her and provided for her until eventually remarrying a wealthy man who could provide for them both. Ruth had a son named Obed who was to become the grandfather of David. Namoi nursed and cared for the child (Ruth 4:16) and no doubt had an impact on someone whose linage would eventually include Jesus. Her life, once bitter and perhaps due to her own disobedience, became full and fruitful again due to God’s redemptive plan for her life.
I heard a sermon recently where the pastor made a couple of good points related to Naomi in that first, we need to take a long view of history and trust to God’s sovereignty and second, we should be cautious in interpreting experiences and circumstances but rather rely on God’s Word. Even though Naomi would not live to see the full fruits of her caring for Obed and the linage that would include David and Jesus she could trust God that He would never forsake her and would use her fruitfully in His sovereign plan, if she would stay faithful to Him. This was true even though she may have had times of disobedience in her past. She had come back to the promised land and God was going to use her to train the grandfather of David and play a part in his divine, wonderful plan.