“Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 (Full context: Ruth 1-4)
This verse from the book of Ruth is sometimes used in weddings, and the book of Ruth is surely a love story. However, this love story is more than the love Ruth finds in Boaz. It is the love of Naomi for her daughter-in-law, and Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law. We also see the love of God that draws Ruth to Him and His love for both these widowed women. Drawn to faith by Almighty God, Ruth leaves all behind to be a part of God’s family.
Ruth’s story begins in Moab, which is her homeland. Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons had gone to Moab because of a famine in Judah. While there, Elimelech died and Naomi’s sons married Moabite women. Ten years later her sons died. She was left with only her two daughters-in-law. Naomi made the decision to return to her homeland in Judah. Ruth insisted that she was going with Naomi. Ruth loved Naomi and had come to know her God, the Lord God of Israel. She was willing to leave her country and all that was familiar behind. The one true God was now Ruth’s God. The verse above was spoken by Ruth to Naomi and God. She did not know what her future would hold but she trusted God. God had blessings in store for Ruth beyond what she could imagine.
Keeping her eyes on God, Ruth left Moab with Naomi for Judah. When the two women arrived in Bethlehem they had each other and faith in Almighty God and His provision. Ruth was able to secure food for them by gleaning wheat from the leftovers in the fields. The field that Ruth gleaned in was not just any field, but the field of Boaz, a wealthy landowner who was a relative of Naomi’s late husband. He was a man of character and generosity. He welcomed Ruth to his field and provided protection as she worked and all the food she and Naomi needed. He heard of Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Upon hearing that Ruth had been in the fields of Boaz, Naomi knew God had led Ruth to a relative who could redeem the land of her late husband and provide a future for them. Ruth trusted her mother-in-law’s advice and approached Boaz about being their “kinsman redeemer”. Boaz knew there was a closer relative in line before him, but when the relative refused to redeem the land because it required marrying Ruth, Boaz was happy to redeem the land and marry Ruth. He had grown to love and admire her.
Ruth and Boaz were married and God blessed their marriage with a son. His name was Obed. Naomi was now a grandmother and blessed by God with a new family. Obed was the father of Jesse and Jesse was the father of David, who became King of Israel. Ruth’s name is listed in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1:5. They had trusted God and He had provided for them in a miraculous way.
When the journey in life is difficult and uncertain, we can trust God because God loves and cares for His people.