The story of Naomi in the Bible has always been one of my favorites. Ever since I understood that I was named for someone in scripture!
My middle name is Naomi. And I’m not the only one in my family with that middle name. There are five generations of women with that middle name, my oldest daughter being the fifth. My great-grandmother was the first.
By God’s grace I was able to grow up knowing her. She passed away at age 91 when I was 25 and my oldest daughter, Taylor, was just six weeks old. I think I loved my middle name even more because of this special woman’s testimony and influence in my own wonderful mother’s childhood and life.
Naomi in the Bible reminds me a lot of my beloved great grandmother. I love their examples of great faithfulness even after much grief and loss.
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Who is Naomi in the Bible?
Naomi is an Israelite woman whose story is found in the Old Testament book of Ruth. Because of a mighty famine in Israel Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, moves the family to the country of Moab where they live for about ten years. Until tragedy after tragedy takes the lives of Naomi’s husband and two sons.
What Does the Name Naomi Mean?
Naomi in the Bible means “pleasant one,” “beauty,” and “above all.” What a lovely name to bestow on a daughter! Who doesn’t wish for their daughter to be known as a pleasant person to be around? One who is beautiful inside and out, and will be loved and cherished by others.*
Naomi evidently lived up to her name, invoking great love and loyalty in both of her daughters-in-law. My great-grandmother certainly did, too! And my mother, also. I can only pray that I am, as well.
What is the Story of Naomi in the Bible?
Due to great famine in their homeland of Bethlehem, Elimelech moves their family to the land of Moab to make a better life for them. Only that isn’t what happens.
Sometime after moving to Moab, Elimelech dies, leaving Naomi a widow in a foreign land with her two boys, Mahlon and Chilion. As these sons grow up, they take wives of the women of Moab. Mahlon marries Ruth. Chilion marries Orpah.
While this sounds reasonable and only natural to us, to meet and marry someone you live close to, marrying a Moabite had been forbidden of God. (Exodus 34:15-16, Ezra 9:1-2) We don’t know for sure if that had anything to do with Mahlon and Chilion’s deaths, but after ten years in the land of Moab, Naomi finds herself a childless widow.
Alone and destitute in a foreign land, Naomi decides to return to her homeland, Bethlehem. Ruth and Orpah decide to go with her, but Orpah soon turns back to stay in Moab with her family. Ruth remains loyal to Naomi and determines to make Israel her new home and Naomi’s God, the God of Israel, her God, too. (Ruth 1:16)
Naomi went out from Bethlehem full but returns empty. She even tells those who greet her upon her return not to call her Naomi anymore, but Mara, which means “bitter.” (Ruth 1:20)
But that was grief talking. I cannot imagine the weight of grief she must have felt at that time.
I don’t believe, as some do, that Naomi was bitter at God, or she would not have moved toward Him, but rather further away. She would not have returned to Israel. Naomi still had a testimony of love for God as evidenced by Ruth’s desire to have Naomi’s God for herself, as well. (Ruth 1:16)
But Naomi’s story does not end in grief and bitterness of soul. Quite the opposite! (Ruth 4:13-16)
Naomi’s grief made her feel alone. But she was not! God had given her Ruth! God was working to provide for Naomi and Ruth through Ruth’s eventual marriage to Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.
Naomi in the Bible Verses
The story of Naomi in the Bible is incredible, and I am so thankful God included it in His Word. Here are several memorable verses from her story. Let them encourage you to keep hope alive when things feel bleak. For God is working His plan!
Ruth 1:16-17 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: (17) Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Ruth 1:20-21 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. (21) I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
Ruth 4:13-16 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. (14) And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. (15) And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. (16) And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
Who Are the Descendants of Naomi?
Naomi’s story does not end in tragedy but rather great hope and comfort. Naomi’s one loyal and loving daughter-in-law remains with her to care for, and to work to provide for, her. And Naomi seeks a new husband for Ruth that Ruth might have rest and be provided for. What a display of true love and friendship!
Ruth marries Naomi’s next-of-kin, Boaz, and God blesses them with a son, Obed. Who later has a son, Jesse. Who is the father of David!
Although Naomi has only two direct blood descendants, her two sons, who die childless, God uses Naomi to bring Ruth to Israel to become the grandmother of Israel’s second king! And an ancestor of Christ!**
Joy is restored to Naomi as she dotes on Obed, her grandson through her precious daughter-in-law, Ruth. (Ruth 4:13-16)
What Lessons Can We Learn From the Story of Naomi in the Bible?
God chose to give us details about Naomi’s life for a good reason. She has much to teach us about living a life that honors God. She wasn’t perfect, but she obviously had faith in her God that Ruth recognized and wanted for herself.
God is sovereign and working His plans.
It was always God’s plan that Ruth be grafted into the lineage of Christ. God used Naomi in that plan to bring Ruth to Israel where she met and married Boaz.
Just as Naomi could not have imagined the significance of her obedient return, we cannot see the big picture God is working in our circumstances. Our job, then, is to simply obey and trust God to work all things together for our good. No matter what we see happening in our lives. (Romans 8:28)
God is the only One who knows everything and how all the trials and events of our lives will fit into His plans.
God will provide.
No matter how impossible our situation may look in the moment, God will always keep His promises. And He promises to feed His children and bless those who seek after Him.
Psalms 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
Matthew 6:32-33 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Our testimony is super important in winning souls to Christ.
Our Christ-like love and kindness to others will draw people to Christ. Compromise will not. Ruth did not turn to the true God until Naomi took the stand to return to Israel.
Free Printable – Inspiring Women of the Bible
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Running away is not the answer.
Naomi and Elimelech learned a very costly lesson…Running away is not the answer. Faith in God is. The grass was not greener for Elimelech and Naomi in Moab.
When times are difficult, even to the point where we see absolutely no way through, keeping faith in God is still the best course of action. Staying where God wants us to be is always the safest place we can be. And, sooner or later, the place of blessing.
We must take action in order for our circumstances to change.
Many merely wish to have the blessings of God on their lives. Naomi could have allowed her grief and bitterness of soul to keep her down. But instead of sitting still and wishing her life were different, she took the necessary steps to return, an act of repentance. Naomi could have stayed in Moab away from the home God had given to His children, but she didn’t. And God blessed her return!
Joy will come again.
No matter our loss or heartache God won’t leave us alone. He is right there with us in the midst of our pain. And will bring us through in His time and perfect way. As believers we never have reason to despair. We can choose, instead, to trust in God’s love. And when we do, joy and the peace that passes all understanding is ours, even before God sees fit to change our circumstances.
And besides that, God promises us a better day! Joy will come in the morning!
Psalms 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
The story of Naomi in the Bible provides us with important insights into how we should live our lives. God is sovereign and working His plans for us, no matter what we can see happening in our lives, from the big situations to the little things. In the hard times of life, it’s up to us to continue to hold on in obedient faith in our God who keeps His promises.
Drawing nigh to Him,
**You may be wondering, as did I, why God would so bless a Moabitess and her Israelite husband, Boaz, when He had before forbidden Israel to take unto themselves wives from the ungodly peoples that surrounded them. I believe that it is because by the time Boaz married Ruth, she had already converted to the Jewish faith, believing in God as the one true God and the promise of God to one day send the Messiah. Ruth had a testimony of truly following the God of the Bible, of being a virtuous woman of faith. God has always offered salvation and redemption to individuals, no matter their nationality.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
In what ways has the story of Naomi in the Bible inspired you in your own life? Is there something her life story has taught you that I’ve not mentioned? We’d love for you to share in the comments.