Naomi: The Exemplar Mother-in-Law

Written by on May 24, 2023

Naomi is perhaps the Bible’s most famous mother-in-law — and her stunning qualities of kindness, care for others and sacrifice shouldn’t be lost.

Motherhood is one of humanity’s oldest, most respected — and essential — human institutions, as Moms infuse and shape their children’s emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Fortunately, there are numerous mother’s in the Bible whose incredible reactions, decisions and overall life trajectories provide important and timeless lessons for humanity.

Over the course of a decade, this Old Testament figure lost her husband and two sons. Then, when she heard that her homeland, Judah, once again had food and resources (she and her family had left to live in Moab during difficult times), she encouraged her widowed daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland of Moab rather than return to Judah with her. This was a blatantly selfless act, seeing as she was now alone without her sons and husbands.

Ruth 1:8-9 (NIV) reveals Naomi’s words to her daughters-in-law:

“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.’”

But one of those daughters-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave Naomi’s side, and the two fortified a relationship that took on the form of a mother-daughter dynamic. Over the course of time, Naomi was an excellent example of faithfulness and was a source of strength and advice for Ruth amid a new life in Bethlehem.

Naomi also made it her mission to find Ruth a new husband, prioritizing Ruth’s well-being even as she suffered in the wake of her own loss and loneliness. Naomi offers wonderful lessons when it comes to self-sacrifice and compassion for others, giving us a lens into the importance of looking beyond ourselves to secure goodness and comfort for loved ones.

See Naomi in “The Book of Ruth” and “Daughters of Eve” on Pure Flix.

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