Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“Entreat 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: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.”
Ruth 1: 16, 17
The account of Ruth, narrated in the book of Ruth, is a beautiful and heartfelt story. It took place
around Gideon’s time, when there was famine in the land – the Lord’s judgment due to a
measure of unfaithfulness to Him and His Covenant with them. Naomi and her husband
Elimelech, pressed by the hard times, decided to leave Israel and God’s people to try their
fortunes in the land of Moab. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, but
were not recognized by the Lord as the children of Abraham, nor as fellow-heirs of the promises
made to him.
Their course brought them trouble. Elimelech died, leaving Naomi to rear her two sons alone.
The two sons eventually married heathen wives. Her two sons also died, and Naomi, deprived of
all but her two daughters-in-law, felt chastened by the Lord. Even though Naomi and her
husband had erred in judgment and had been faint-hearted, they were still loyal to God. Naomi’s
life, example and faithfulness to the Lord had evidently made a favorable impression upon her
daughters-in-law. When Naomi had learned the needed lesson and determined to submit herself
to the Lord’s leading, God’s favor began to return to her. She found great comfort in the devotion
of Ruth, her daughter-in-law, and in her conversion to the Jewish faith.
Ruth’s Devotion to Naomi
When Naomi decided to return to Israel, both of her daughters-in-law resolved to return with her.
But on the journey, she reflected that these two young women would be sacrificing much by
leaving their homes, families, acquaintances, customs, future prospects, etc., to go to a land
where they would be considered as foreigners and probably discriminated against. She urged
them to return to their own people, fearing that their resolution to accompany her would
eventually prove to be a disappointment. Naomi’s argument appealed to one of her daughters-in
law, who returned home. But Ruth loved her mother-in-law so deeply and respected her religion
so thoroughly, that she was resolved that such a home amongst those who reverenced the true
God and were heirs of His promises was more to be esteemed than anything she was leaving.
Her impassioned words to her mother-in-law, as found in our text, are noted throughout the
world as being amongst the most beautiful expressions of sympathy, kindness and devotion.
Naomi and Ruth received a kind reception when they arrived to her home city, Bethlehem.
Another blessing was Ruth’s marriage to Boaz, a man of character, wealth and influence, who
provided a happy home to the two women. And finally, Ruth was honored by God in becoming
the great-grandmother of King David and in the line of our Lord’s ancestry.
Lessons for God’s People
One lesson that we can learn from this narrative is the value of positive decision. Ruth made the
positive decision to follow Naomi to Israel. It was not a proposal to merely try it for a while. It
was a decision unto death. The Christian, for instance, did not really become a Christian until he
made just such a definite, positive consecration of himself to leave the world, its affairs, its
loves, its hopes and ambitions, to spend and be spent even unto death in the service of the Lord.
Their next step should be to say, “Thy people shall be my people.” God’s people are all brethren
of one family, whether they be found in one denomination or another, or whether they be found
outside of all denominations. Let us not only seek for God’s people, but acknowledge and
fellowship them, whether they be black or white, rich or poor, learned or unlearned; for “ye are
all one in Christ Jesus,” and “one is your Master, even Christ.”
And finally, let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles, their teachings and practices.
“They shall be all taught of God” is a promise which belongs to the entire household of faith;
and the Word of God is “meat in due season,” and is the strength provided for their
strengthening, uplifting and preparation for a share in the Kingdom.
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