Embracing Hope in Bitterness because of the Sweet Alternative

Dr. Steve Viars August 4, 2019 Ruth 2-3

Bitter (OT – Marah, NT – pikros) – “sour, brackish taste, the opposite of sweet. The poisonous, putrid bile from the gall bladder. An inner emotional feeling of deep sorrow, or an outwardly directed anger that cries out to the power that seems to be causing the problem.” Theological Wordbook of the OT – p. 528-529

“Bitterness is slow burning anger that fuels vengeful desires, thoughts, and actions. It demands satisfaction of one’s personal sense of justice.” Jeff Forrey, “Beating Bitterness with the Beatitudes,” BCC Website

Genesis 25-36 – the story of Esau

Exodus 15:23-24 - When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Deuteronomy 29:18 – warning about people who are like a “root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood”

Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Ephesians 4:31-32 - Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

James 3:13-18 - But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…

Hebrews 12:1-17 - See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Ruth 1:15 - Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

Ruth 1:16-17 - But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. “Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth 1:20-21 - She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

Ruth 1:22 - So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

3 characteristics of faith that overcomes bitterness

I. Sweet Faith Takes God at His Word

A. In the way she trusted the principle of gleaning

Ruth 2:2 - And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.”

Deuteronomy 24:19 - When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

1. Even as a foreigner

Ruth 2:2 - Ruth the Moabitess…

Ruth 2:6 - …the young Moabite woman…

Ruth 2:10 - …seeing that I am a foreigner…

Ruth 2:11a - …you left your father and mother and the land of your birth…

Ruth 2:11b - …came to a people you did not previously know…

2. Because of the principles and promises of God’s Word

Ruth 2:12 - May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.

“abandonment to God for mercy, salvation, deliverance, hope, and life. cf. Psa. 2:12, 5:12, 7:1, 16:1, 17:7, 18:3, 31, 25:20, 34:22, 37:40, Nah. 1:7, Zeph. 3:12.” Brandt and Kress, God in Everyday Life, p. 59

B. In the way she honored her mother-in-law

Exodus 20:12 - Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Ruth 1:14 - …but Ruth clung to her…

Ruth 2:11 - Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me…

Ruth 2:18 - …She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

C. In the way she conducted herself with humility and grace

Ruth 2:2 - And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.”

Ruth 2:7 - And she said, “Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves...”

Ruth 2:10 - Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

Ruth 2:13 - Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

Romans 10:9-10 - …that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Romans 10:13 - …for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

II. Sweet Faith is Met with God’s Bountiful Providence

A. She just so happened…

Ruth 2:3 - So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

Ruth 2:3 (KJV) - …her hap was to light on a part of a field belonging to Boaz…

The Hebrew phrase literally reads “her hap happened,” or “her chance chanced,” or “she happened to happen upon.” Huey, Jr. F.B., Rith in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1992, pp. 527

B. Of people who love God and rejoice in His lovingkindness

1. The way Boaz spoke about God

Ruth 2:4 - Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

2. The way Boaz spoke to her

Ruth 2:14 - At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”

C. These ladies were “swimming in barley”

Ruth 2:14 - …So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.

Ruth 2:18 - …and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.

Ruth 2:17 - So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.

D. Provision of protection

Ruth 2:16 - Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.

E. Pointing directly to even greater provision

John 6:35 - Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst…”

III. Sweet Faith Acts with Courage and Trust

Ruth 2:20 - Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.”

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video