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First Reading: Judges Chapter 21 and Ruth Chapter 1
21:1 Wives Provided for the Benjamites
Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, "None of us
shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife." 2 Then the people came
to the house of God, and remained there before God till evening. They lifted
up their voices and wept bitterly, 3 and said, "O LORD God of Israel, why
has this come to pass in Israel, that today there should be one tribe missing
4 So it was, on the next morning, that the people rose early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5 The children of Israel said, "Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up with the assembly to the LORD?" For they had made a great oath concerning anyone who had not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, "He shall surely be put to death." 6 And the children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, "One tribe is cut off from Israel today. 7 What shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them our daughters as wives?"
8 And they said, "What one is there from the tribes of Israel who did not come up to Mizpah to the LORD?" And, in fact, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly. 9 For when the people were counted, indeed, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent out there twelve thousand of their most valiant men, and commanded them, saying,"Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, including the women and children. 11 And this is the thing that you shall do: You shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has known a man intimately." 12 So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man intimately; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the children of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and announced peace to them. 14 So Benjamin came back at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead; and yet they had not found enough for them.
15 And the people grieved for Benjamin, because the LORD had made a void in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, "What shall we do for wives for those who remain, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?" 17 And they said, "There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe may not be destroyed from Israel. 18 However, we cannot give them wives from our daughters, for the children of Israel have sworn an oath, saying, 'Cursed be the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.'" 19 Then they said, "In fact, there is a yearly feast of the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah."
20 Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, "Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin. 22 Then it shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, that we will say to them, 'Be kind to them for our sakes, because we did not take a wife for any of them in the war; for it is not as though you have given the women to them at this time, making yourselves guilty of your oath.'"
23 And the children of Benjamin did so; they took enough wives for their number from those who danced, whom they caught. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and they rebuilt the cities and dwelt in them. 24 So the children of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family; they went out from there, every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
1:1 Elimelech's Family Goes to Moab
Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine
in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country
of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech,
the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and
Chilion Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country
of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she
was left, and her two sons. 4 Now they took wives of the women of Moab: the
name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there
about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived
her two sons and her husband.
6 Naomi Returns with Ruth
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country
of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited
His people by giving them bread. 7 Therefore she went out from the place where
she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to
return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law,"Go,
return each to her mother's house. The LORD deal kindly with you, as you have
dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each
in the house of her husband."
So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, "Surely we will return with you to your people."
11 But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, 13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me!"
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law."
16 But Ruth said:
"Entreat me not to leave you,Or to turn back from following after you;For wherever you go, I will go;And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;Your people shall be my people,And your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die,And there will I be buried.The LORD do so to me, and more also,If anything but death parts you and me."
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
19 Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said,"Is this Naomi?"
20 But she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 51 and 52
51:1 A Prayer of Repentance
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him,
after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy upon me, O God,According to Your lovingkindness;According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,And done this evil in Your sight That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness,That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins,And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,The God of my salvation,And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips,And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,A broken and a contrite heart These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;Build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
52:1 The End of the Wicked and the Peace of the Godly
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went
and told Saul, and said to him, "David has gone to the house of Ahimelech."
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?The goodness of God endures continually. 2 Your tongue devises destruction,Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. 3 You love evil more than good,Lying rather than speaking righteousness.Selah 4 You love all devouring words,You deceitful tongue.
5 God shall likewise destroy you forever;He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place,And uproot you from the land of the living.Selah 6 The righteous also shall see and fear,And shall laugh at him, saying, 7 "Here is the man who did not make God his strength,But trusted in the abundance of his riches,And strengthened himself in his wickedness."
8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. 9 I will praise You forever,Because You have done it;And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
The book of Ruth is dated during the period of the Judges. It shows that in a time of national decline and immorality, God preserved a remnant who could serve as the core for a future revival. This would be accomplished in Ruth's descendant, David, from whom the Messiah would come. No indication of the author is given. It is thought that the book was written after the period of the Judges and describes customs of that time period.
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