The story of Naomi in the Bible has empowering lessons for us to learn. Hers is a story of loss and grief as well as grace and victory and restoration.
As you might know Naomi’s story unfolds right alongside Ruth’s story. But I talk about Ruth in a separate post along with Boaz. But for now, we’ll just focus on Naomi.
What is the story of Naomi and Ruth about?
The story of ruth and naomi in the bible
The Story is set at some stressful and dark times. There was no king so the judges were active. There was no strong leadership whether political or spiritual. Everyone did what they wanted. And then on top of that, a famine hit.
This is how Naomi and her husband, Elimelech ended up moving from Bethlehem to Moab, which was a pagan country.
They had two sons: Malon and Chillion. The family stayed in Moab for more than 10 years.
Those years were filled with sorrow. First, Elimelech then Malon and Chillion.
Naomi was alone now. And so were the wives of the women her sons were married to.
Where in the Bible is the story of Naomi?
Naomi’s story is recorded in the book of Ruth.
She is one of three major Bible characters in the story.
Naomi is not mentioned in any other the bible verses.
Interesting facts about Naomi in the Bible
Meaning of Naomi in the Bible
The name Naomi could mean bliss, joy, pleasant.
It seems Naomi lived up to the name until multiple deaths wiped it out.
But God brought her back to a place of joyful experiences.
How old was Naomi in the bible
The Bible does not tell us Naomi’s age but she says something to give us a clue about the range of her age.
After her sons died, she told her daughters-in-law that she was too old to get married or have more children.
Chances are that she had stopped menstruating and had entered menopause.
Sarah in the Bible was in this same season of life when God allowed her to become pregnant. Sarah was 90 years old.
Although we cannot say for sure, Naomi was maybe around that age. She was still strong enough to walk 30 miles back to Bethlehem but not young enough to get pregnant again.
Characteristics of Naomi in the Bible
Like so many other female Bible characters of faith, Naomi had some not-so-great stuff happen in her life. But some awesome things happened too. All of them shaped her character.
Naomi was experiencing deep grief
Right at the front of Naomi’s story, there is struggle.
Her family is enduring a famine in their tiny home town of Bethlehem.
It must have been very bad as Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, decided to relocate to Moab, a town 30 miles away.
While the family tried to make life in Moab, Naomi’s husband and two sons died.
She became a desolate widow in a land of pagan strangers.
She was broken and in alot of emotional pain. She had no covering.
Plus, she had two widowed women to take care of.
To experience this without family could not have been easy.
Naomi was a deeply godly woman
Naomi seemed to have a very keen sense of God’s presence and she lived that out each day.
You can tell Naomi had a sweet spirit. She made a life of godliness look good. It was such an attractive life that when Orpah and Ruth were told to separate from her they wailed. The grief was so strong it is as though Naomi was going to die.
Naomi loved them as though they were daughters that she had birthed. It takes a special kind of heart to love like this.
Naomi’s godliness was so attractive that Ruth was convicted and converted by it.
Naomi also recognized the sovereignty of God. Much of what happened to her she said was God’s doing.
Like Job, in the midst of her grief, she saw God’s hand. Not that it made sense to her. She just knew that He was in it somewhere.
Naomi was a wise woman
The advice she gave to Ruth was a very risky situation. It could have ended badly if Boaz mistreated Ruth.
But Naomi had been reading the cues of Boaz’s behavior. She knew that he was a truly godly man, upright and full of integrity, a man who would take responsibility and honor his word.
Plus, she had already surmised that Boaz was interested in Ruth.
And based on those evidences, she knew there was little to no risk. Naomi was a good judge of character.
No doubt that her years of living allowed her to accumulate knowledge about people, life, and marriage.
She used this knowledge to help Ruth.
Which takes me to the next characteristic of Naomi.
Naomi was a mentor
Naomi took Ruth as a daughter that she never had.
She took on the responsibility of guiding her and helping her to make good decisions. This extended to Ruth’s plan for her future and her romantic life.
When Ruth returned home from the Boaz’s field with goodies and explained to Naomi what had happened, Naomi had some idea of what it might mean.
Naomi began to guide Ruth. She gave Ruth information on what Boaz’s behavior could be indicating. Then she gave her advice on exactly how to approach him, what to say and what to do.
Naomi told her to bathe, get dressed in her best outfit, splash on some perfume and wait till Boaz had a full stomach.
All these are veteran tips from a woman who knows how men think and behave.
Not just that.
Ruth had no idea about Hebrew customs. Remember, she was a Moabite. Naomi didn’t allow her to flounder and error because of lack of knowledge.
Naomi shared the tips freely to help a young sister out. This one way Naomi served God – by being a godly mentor to Ruth.
Lessons from Naomi in the Bible
The story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible is a very heartwarming story of the power of love between two women who went from being complete strangers to sharing an inseparable bond of friendship.
Although their stories are told together in Scripture this post will only focus on lessons from the story of Naomi in the Bible.
What can we learn from Naomi?
You will need to participate in your own rescue
Naomi found herself in a very very very bad situation.
To be a widow was bad business. To be a widow without adult sons to take care of you was worse.
To be a widow without sons in a strange land was just really terrible.
Naomi was not from Moab. Her whole family was back in Bethlehem. She was experiencing all this death and pain without family.
This kind of grief is crippling!
She could have chosen to not get out of bed, to close herself away and die alone in her misery.
Naomi had a fighting spirit. She refused to die.
She could have chosen to stay in Moab and continue to survive off the sympathy of people who didn’t truly embrace her. But she didn’t.
Naomi decided to get up and go back home.
But what really drove her to make up her mind to go home?
Where there is alignment with God, there is abundance
In the first place, Naomi’s husband moved his family to Moab because of famine in Bethlehem, their hometown.
The famine broke out because of Israel’s disobedience. God told them he would always provide for them if they were obedient but clearly they were not.
The spiritual decisions of others can really affect your life.
Anyway, Naomi heard that the famine had come to an end.
Naomi returned home because she heard that God had provided bread in Bethlehem.
It seems like the people had turned in their hearts and started to obey God again.
And God responded by providing for them.
Naomi heard about this and took action. In Moab, the land of unbelievers, Naomi was out of alignment with God.
In Bethlehem was where she always belonged as a Hebrew and a member of a chosen people.
The closer her life aligned with God’s will for her, the more closer she came into God’s abundance.
Naomi was putting herself into position to receive the blessings God was preparing for her after the multiple tragedies she had experienced.
When you can’t understand what God is doing, trust him anyway
The loss of Naomi’s family probably made no sense to her.
Why would God allow her whole family to be taken from her in a land where she had no other blood relatives?
She didn’t seem to question God about it but she did acknowledge that God was very involved in the situation.
When Naomi returned home, she felt hopeless. She had no idea what God had in store for her.
Because we cannot see the mind of God, it can sometimes feel like God has abandoned us or is punishing us.
But nobody knows how to turn a situation like God!
God can turn a bad situation into a blessing. When Naomi lost her family, that pushed her to go back home.
God had such grand plans for her. In her grief, she couldn’t see it.
When God isn’t making sense, trust. His ways and thoughts are not ours. And he promises to secure our future.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)
Naomi was honest about her mental health
When Naomi returned home, her people were overjoyed to see her. She was no doubt relieved to be home but she didn’t share the joy everyone was expressing.
Naomi told them to call her Mara which means bitter.
Naomi was honest with her people. She did not pretend that going to a foreign land worked out.
She went out full but returned home empty. It was not all roses being away in a land of plenty. She told them that she was not OK.
Naomi was vulnerable to them. And this gave them the opportunity to be able to surround her with love and support.
It’s OK to not be ok. Give yourself permission to not be strong for yourself or anyone else for that matter.
Your identity is not in the bad things that happened to you
Based on everything that had happened to Naomi, she changed her name.
Naomi was using her sorrow to define her. Her identity became wrapped up in her grief.
In Hebrew culture, names were and still are everything. Names not only define a person. Names also prophecy over someone’s life.
If you are familiar with the Leah and Jacob story, you will recall that Leah died while giving birth to her second son.
As she was dying she named him Ben-Oni but Jacob instantly renamed him Benjamin.
Because Jacob didn’t want his son going through life with a name that would write his story before he lived it.
When Naomi changed her name it was an indication of what she expected to happen in her life from then.
She could only imagine more sorrow and grief and pain and tears.
But Naomi was shortsighted. She could not see that this tragedy was not going to last. Because God had a plan. And the plan did not include her borrowing sorrows from the future for today. In fact, the plan did not include any sorrow at all.
What are your expectations from God for your future?
Accessing your blessings requires your cooperation
Here is another characteristic of Naomi: she was a strategist.
Naomi knew that when the reaping season was done, Ruth and Boaz had no legitimate reason to see each other.
Here was a blessing right in front of them, within arm’s reach. But the blessing wasn’t going to jump into their laps.
They would need to take initiative to get the ball rolling. It was time to become strategic and deliberate.
Earlier in the story when Naomi was leaving Moab she encouraged Ruth and Orpah to find new husbands they could be happy with.
Now Naomi saw an opportunity to make that happen for Ruth. And she grabbed the opportunity with both arms.
This is how Naomi begins to mentor Ruth on how to approach Boaz in a way that would absolutely secure his heart.
God is the God of restoration
As Naomi makes plans to take hold of the blessings set up for her, her sorrow turns to untold joy.
God restored what she lost. Her son’s died without making her a grandmother. There was no son to carry on the family name.
But through Ruth and Boaz, God restored her.
Yes, she was still a widow. But now she belonged to a family. Before, she depended on the kindness of strangers and extended family to have her basic needs met. Each day was a struggle to find food. But now, her daily needs were sure to be met.
And more than having a home to rest in, she got to see her grand baby, the continuation of her generation.
What happened to Naomi in the Bible?
Naomi’s story had a classic fairytale ending. Beginning with tragedy but ending with happiness.
Nothing is said of her death. But Naomi’s grandson was named Obed. He became the father of Jesse who became the father of David.
David became the most righteous and powerful king in Israel. And Jesus was born from the line of David.
Naomi’s legacy of faith lived on to the coming of the Messiah.
What does Naomi symbolize?
The spiritual meaning of Naomi in the Scriptures expands to us living today.
You see, Naomi can represent those who leave the assurance of God’s presence to seek a so-called more comfortable life elsewhere.
When Naomi and her husband leaves Bethlehem, it seems they forgot God’s promise to them.
That He would provide for them even in difficult times.
God does not promise an easy life with Him but He promises that we wouldn’t do life alone. If we are obedient to His words, there is a lot less to lose.
Naomi is significant in the Bible because she reminds us that God is faithful to his promise and that He is a restorer to those who trust Him.
Final words on the story of Naomi in the Bible
It was difficult to separate the story of Ruth and Naomi. But we did it.
Naomi stands out as one of the women of faith in the Scriptures. She had her moments of both strength and weakness.
Naomi left us a legacy of faith, especially how to live that out by loving those who don’t yet know Jesus.
I encourage you to find a good Naomi bible study and slow down long enough to soak up the lessons from Naomi’s life.