Ruth 1-4 She clung to her

From Ruth 1-4

08 ruth

The book of Ruth tells of a young Moabite widow who, out of love for her widowed Israelite mother-in-law, abandoned her own culture, declaring, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (1:16). Though she was destitute and needing to rely on the kindness of others, Ruth’s disposition and character captured the attention of Boaz, a close relative of her deceased husband. Boaz fulfilled the role of kinsman-redeemer and took Ruth as his wife. Ruth serves as a wonderful example of God’s providential care of his people, and of his willingness to accept Gentiles who seek him. Ruth was an ancestor of Christ. The author is unknown, but the genealogy at the end suggests that it was written during or after the time of David. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ru). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

Passage and Comments

I would recommend reading the whole of Ruth. Its a great short story. The passage I have quoted today I love because Ruth gives such an impassioned speech. Her words and actions caused many around her to take notice.

Prior to this point Naomi has left Israel to go to the land of Moab because of a famine. People need to eat and many in Israel had been experiencing hard times. She has two sons to her husband who both marry Moabite women. Remember intermarriage with foreign women is generally frowned upon.

After some time, tragically Naomi’s husband and her sons die. Leaving herself and her sons widowed wives. They have been married 10 years yet neither have had children. Remember having children to continue family lines was really important. Naomi hears the LORD has lifted the famine and again provided food for his people, so she decides to return (Ruth 1.1-5). The passage Ive chosen today picks up from here with Naomi about to return and the discussion she has with her Moabite daughters in law.

6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. (Ruth 1:6–9)

It is interesting to note that she gives the LORD the credit for uplifting the famine and giving his people food. How often to we naturally give thanks to the LORD for things like this. Naomi instructs her daughters in law to return each to their mother’s house. I suggest the reference that they ‘find rest’ alludes to their mothers husband (their father) finding another husband for each of them that they may then have children.

10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:10–13)

They resist Naomi’s instruction. Clearly they have affection for each other. Their common distress has tied them together.

14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” (Ruth 1:14–15)

Ruth will not depart. She clings to her. I have an image of Ruth on her knees clinging to Naomi’s leg, crying. Ruth opens her heart.

16 But Ruth said,
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you.

For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. 

May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. (Ruth 1:16–18)

And so the story of Ruth begins. Its a bit like a romance actually, because she meets a relative of her husband who can redeem her. She eventually becomes the wife of a godly man named Boaz and they have a baby boy (Ruth 2-4). The end of the story speaks about the significance of their relationship and how we can possibly see God moving in Ruth’s heart when she made the above plea.

Story of Israel

00 OT Story Israel Jesus
Click to enlarge.

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:13–17)

‘David’, that would be King David. From Israel’s point of view, if Ruth had not returned with Naomi, King David would not have been born.

Story of Jesus

Skip forward much further;

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Mt 1:1-6,12–16)

From the Christians point of view, if Ruth had not returned with Naomi, King Jesus would not have been born.

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. 

For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.

May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1.16-17)

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