Remaining Loyal

Key Verse: “Ruth said, 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.”
—Ruth 1:16

Selected Scripture:
Ruth 1:1-8, 16, 17

THE SETTING FOR THE Book of Ruth is during the period of the Judges. A severe drought caused a famine in the land and prompted an Ephratite named Elimelech, living in Bethlehem in Judea, to take his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to the land of Moab to escape the hardship. Moab was not a friendly country, but Elimelech and his family were absorbed into its society. Shortly after their arrival, Elimelech died. His two sons married women of Moab—Orpah and Ruth. After ten years of living in Moab both sons also died leaving three widows.

Naomi heard that the famine was over in Judah, and decided to return to her previous home. Her two daughters-in-law decided to accompany her, which speaks well for Naomi. She must have been a good mother-in-law to her daughters, and they both loved her. Naomi knew, however, that Israel’s society would not easily absorb them and so she advised that they both should return to their former homes in Moab. But both refused to take her advice, and insisted on going with her. Naomi reasoned again with them, stressing that she was too old to be married and have more sons. Even if she was able, would they be willing to wait until they reached maturity? Orpah finally yielded to Naomi’s reasoning and went back to her family. When Naomi called this to the attention of Ruth, she replied in the beautiful words of our Key Verse, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or 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.”—Ruth 1:16

Our focus on these words so often is on the tender love Ruth had for Naomi. We note the last words which can be overlooked, ‘Thy God [will be] my God.’ When Elimelech went to Moab he took the worship of Jehovah with him, and his wife and sons were devout worshippers also. Ruth was impressed with the worship of Jehovah and became a believer in the God of Israel. Later Boaz said to Ruth, “The Lord [Jehovah] recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”—Ruth 2:12

Ruth’s loyalty was not only to Naomi, whom she loved, but also to the God of Israel whom she now worshipped. When Naomi saw “that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.” (Ruth 1:18) They departed together for Bethlehem, and when they reached the city they were greeted by the town residents who were glad to see Naomi again. They said, “Is this Naomi?” (vs. 19) Naomi, whose name means ‘pleasant’, said, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty.” (Ruth 1:20,21) Naomi was thinking of having left with her husband and two sons who had died in Moab. She was wrong, however, in saying that the Lord had brought her back empty, because she had returned with a daughter-in-law that became a most precious jewel in Israel.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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