“And Ruth said, Urge me not to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will become my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 Amplified
Today we see two women of the Bible, Naomi and Ruth. We’ll start with Naomi who has lost her husband and two sons. She has decided to return to her people in Judah, leaving Moab and telling her two daughters-in-law that they should return to their people. One does but Ruth, the other, decides to stay with Naomi, as our verse today states.
Many questions come to my mind regarding Ruth’s decision. Why wouldn’t you want to go back to your own family? What had Naomi done to warrant such love and devotion from Ruth? What was Ruth’s relationship with Naomi’s son? We can only guess at the answers. Maybe Ruth’s family was gone, maybe Naomi had set a beautiful example of a godly woman, maybe Naomi’s son loved Ruth dearly and that endeared her to her mother-in-law. I can only relate my own experience with my mother-in-law and will say that I would follow her if I became a widow. For whatever reason Ruth chose to stay with Naomi and they returned to Bethlehem to live.
When Naomi gets back to her people, the Bible says they were all stirred up by her returning. She very matter of factly told them, don’t call me Naomi any more, the Lord has dealt bitterly with me, call me Mara, which means bitter. She goes on to say that the Lord has brought her home empty. Naomi sees all the tragedy that has transpired, with the loss of the three men in her life, but does not see the comfort of having Ruth with her, who has suffered loss herself. As we typically do, we only see how the situation affects us.
The pair return to town at the time of harvest and Ruth hears that they have a wealthy relative there, Boaz. Ruth suggests to Naomi that she go to the fields of Boaz to glean some wheat to sustain them. In typical pessimistic fashion Naomi told her to go, probably not believing anything good would happen since later that day when Ruth returns home Naomi asks her where she’d been. When Ruth told her all that Boaz had done for her Naomi seemed to perk up a bit and told Ruth to stay close to the other women working for Boaz. Now Naomi has a new outlook, to get Ruth married to a rich relative, and it works. Boaz married Ruth and Naomi becomes a grandmother. The women of the village now tell her, “Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a close kinsmen and may his name be famous in Israel. And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher and supporter in your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” The son Ruth has is Obed, David’s grandfather and in the lineage of Jesus.
Though Naomi started out bitter and pessimistic, through Ruth’s care and humility she became blessed and happy. Sometimes we may be Naomi, but we should strive to be Ruth.