Famine in the Land

Peggy Byland

READ : Judges 21:25
Ruth 1:1

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. (v. 1)

Sandwiched between the larger books of Judges and 1 Samuel, the small book of Ruth serves as a bridge between chaos and order. Turn back one page to the last verse of Judges to understand the situation of God's people during this time. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There was no law, no order, no sense of the common good. There was no king in Israel, no spiritual leader to keep people following the one true God. Everyone did his or her own thing. Now look at the first verse of Ruth. “There was famine in the land.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines famine as “an extreme scarcity of food,” or, in an archaic sense, as hunger. Most likely the famine Elimelech faced was a scarcity of food due to lack of rain. But there was also a hunger in the land for the presence of God who withheld his hand from his people. Famine interrupts life. Famine strips away the luxuries and niceties of life until people are reduced to survival mode.

We face famine today as well. We may not experience literal empty stomachs, but we do feel a deep hunger for the presence of God. In the chaos and busyness of our daily routines, we long for the peace, comfort, and order of living life with our Lord.


Dear God, in our times of spiritual famine, let us feel your presence. Amen.