Pastor Debra Isenbletter
Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
Ruth 4:16 – “And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.”
In this verse we see three things that Naomi did, she did each with great joy and this is her wonderful reward after all her suffering and sorrow.
She took the child: “And Naomi took the child.” Naomi “took hold of” this child, I think she took hold of this child with joy and gladness, through him she had been given a new purpose in life. The word “took” means to “receive,” she was given this child by Ruth and Boaz as a gift and she received that gift with great joy. It means “to accept” and here we see how she reached out and accepted what has been offered to her. It means “to take possession of” or “take unto (oneself),” one translation reads “Then Naomi took the child (as her own)” – NAS. This baby boy would take the place of his father, the son she had lost. In this phrase I can picture Naomi reaching out and the child being placed in her arms.
She loved the child: “and laid it in her bosom.” Naomi then lays this child in her bosom, this is a maternal action, a tender action. The word “laid” can mean “to appoint,” this was God’s provision and purpose for her. The same word is first used in Gen 3:15 as “put,” when God says, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman…” In that word we see God’s purpose, something that cannot be changed or taken away. There is power and permanence in His word. Naomi has accepted and taken hold of a new responsibility and no one can take away what she has taken hold of.
She taught the child: “and became a nurse unto it.” After this we see a description of how Naomi fulfills her responsibility. She becomes the child’s “nurse” and this word comes from “to support or to build.” It means “to bring up and establish” and can be translated “foster as a parent.” The child became her responsibility to raise and teach, it is from her that he would learn and be instructed as well as nourished and loved. Many commentators believe that when Naomi became the nurse for Obed that this may have been a formal act of adoption. Remember that Boaz’s responsibility as kinsman was to “raise up the name of the dead” (4:5,10) so that the child would carry on the line of her son.
In these three actions on Naomi’s part, where she took the child, and loved the child and taught the child, you see three steps or stages in raising a child. Now she has been given someone to fill that emptiness after the loss of her husband and sons, and both her arms and her heart embrace this child.
I can see in Naomi a type of the nation of Israel as they fulfill their responsibility as teachers. God had promised Abraham that the “nations” would be blessed through him (Gen 12:3). That blessing to Abraham was three-fold. It was personal: Abraham believed first and Isaac was born, it was a personal promise to him. It was National: Israel (his descendants) must believe and then preach and teach their children. It was Universal: Nations will be blessed by Israel’s testimony and teaching. I think that Naomi is a picture of the remnant that know the Lord and will be teachers of the Word. They will know by suffering and by experience (like Naomi) the wonderful provision of their God and teach others. They will have the knowledge to be teachers for the Lord will say, “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest.” (Jer 31:34). They will take this knowledge and use it to teach others about the Lord. They will finally fulfill the calling of their lives: “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem” (Zech 14:8). The nations will know this and come to them and say “let us go up to … the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways…” (Isa 2:2). When they do this it will finally be said that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord” (Hab 2:14). That glory is seen in Christ as He reigns but it is also seen in His people as they testify and teach others about their God and their Messiah. The great commission of Jesus to His disciples was to go out “and teach all nations” (Mat 28:19) and to be “witnesses” (Luke 24:47-48). This is what they have yet to do and what Naomi will now do as she becomes the nurse of Obed!