Who is Mahlon? What is your Mahlon?
You might be wondering who or what I am talking about. I am talking about Ruth’s husband Mahlon. Which Ruth…? The Bible Ruth whose love’s story is so popular today and has generated the popular cliche”God send me my Boaz” Wait, you didn’t know she was first married to Mahlon before she married Boaz? Okay let me fill you in then!
Mahlon was one of the two sons born to Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem. Mahlon met and married Ruth in Moab when his family left Bethlehem due to a famine to sojourn in Moab. The name Mahlon according to Abarim publications; is derived from the verb חלה (hala), meaning to be weak, sick or wounded. Imagine dating and being married to a guy called weak, sick or wounded! Why did Ruth marry someone with that name? Perhaps she had no idea the Hebraic meaning of Mahlon’s name. After all, she wasn’t a Hebrew.
Since names carry power and is connected to identity; Mahlon died leaving Ruth a widow.This was quite expected, don’t you agree? I mean if you marry someone whose name is weak, sick and wounded, aren’t you only a step away from marrying a dead person? However, before you jump in agreement with me. Let’s do a self check. How many “sick, weak and wounded guys” have you and I dated or married? Marriage here is not in reference to a ceremony but to the act of sexual union.
See.. Ruth has sisters! You and I! Many times, we have dated and “married” sickly, wounded and weakly guys. Not in the natural or physical but spiritually and emotionally. Guys we knew had “nothing to offer” us as daughters of the Most High God. Yet we wanted them so bad, we cried over them, fasted and prayed over them even though we knew they would eventually “infect” us with their weakly, sickly emotions and spirituality.They were the ones our hearts beat for, they smelled and spelled danger yet we believed and hoped we could help them change, they weren’t that bad and would make a great spouse if only they would give up this or that and come to church more often.
Then, the day comes when our “Mahlon”(weakly, sickly wounded) love of our lives dies! I don’t mean a physical death but an emotional or spiritual estrangement. When he has had enough of you and can no longer deal with you and who you are called to be as a daughter of the King and walks out that door. You could have sworn he was “the one”! Maybe this the work of the enemy..maybe you need to fast and pray more. You love him; weakly, sickly and all!
Ruth really loved Mahlon even though it is not recorded in the scriptures. We can assume this because who would leave their family, friends and everything they love and know to follow their mother-in- law after a husband’s death? I am not sure if I would do that.Yet, this is what Ruth did. She left everything behind out of love for Mahlon and followed her mother-in-law; Naomi into an unknown future.
In Bethlehem, according to Ruth 2; Ruth meets Boaz and one of the most beautiful love stories in scripture unfolds. Again from Abarim publications, the second part of Boaz’s name is thought to come from the Hebrew verb עזז (‘azaz), to be strong or powerful. How do you like that? A weakly and sickly man dies and is replaced by a man called strong and powerful! Whoa! I believe that’s what the bible meant by giving you double for your trouble in Zechariah 9:12. The rest of this love story ultimately results in the lineage through which Jesus came to earth as a human being.
When Mahlon dies, it is excruciating and painful. But when we allow the “dead to stay dead” and trust God through the disappointment and heartbreak; he makes beauty out of messes. He replaces the garment of shame and sorrow with the garment of joy and praise. That is the God we serve. He is a good good father.
When Mahlon “dies”(leaves), let go and let God bring in his stead; the strong and powerful Your very own Boaz.