Sojourning in Moab

Peggy Byland

READ : Ruth 1:1-5

A man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. (v. 1)

When Elimelech left Judah with his wife Naomi and sons Mahlon and Chilion, he planned to “sojourn” in Moab. He intended to stay for a while until the famine was over, peace was restored, and the rains watered the earth again. But the sojourn turned into ten years, during which time Naomi's husband and two sons died, leaving her with two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Not flesh of her flesh, but daughters by marriage. Not offspring of Abraham or children of God's covenant people, but Moabites from the lineage of Lot, people who worshiped other gods. Without husbands or sons, who would care for Naomi and her daughters-in-law? Naomi must go home.

We have all heard stories about those who planned to sojourn and ended up staying. A year passes, then another, until time has stretched far beyond original intentions. As time passes, one becomes invested in the community and culture of the temporary place. One becomes settled, finds work, and forms relationships. This often leads to permanency. Thoughts of home become more and more fleeting as “home” becomes here and now.

But sometimes circumstances compel us to go back home again. Perhaps we go with joy and expectancy, or maybe we return with fear and hesitation. For Naomi it took great courage to return to the Bethlehem she had left long ago.


God of our past and our future, give us peace in our lives today. Amen.