Ruth was a Moabite woman who lived thousands of years ago. She married into a Hebrew (or Jewish) family and later became the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth had an outstanding character trait: she was loyal and received special favor from loyalty.
One day her Jewish husband’s father died, later her husband and his brother, also, died. All that was left of this family living in the ancient, famine-ravaged, Middle East area was a elderly mother-in-law and two daughter-in-laws. There was no social security or pensions or life insurance to help these women.
Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to go back to her own country, Israel, and back to her kinfolks in Bethlehem to get help and live-out the rest of her grieving life there. She instructed her daughter-in-laws to return to their families in Moab and remarry and have full lives for themselves. She must have been a good mother-in-law because neither daughter-in-law wanted to leave.
One of Naomi’s daughter-in-laws, named Orpah, however, realized that Naomi was right and with a heavy heart, left her mother-in-law’s side and went back to her own family. We cannot blame Orpah who was living in a time where there was a hard famine in the land and no moral possible way to earn a living. She used what she thought was common sense and left.
Ruth was loyal to a fault. She loved her mother-in-law and decided that her mother-in-law’s fate would be her fate. We pick up the story in the book of Ruth chapter 1 and verse 16, it reads as follows:
(16)’But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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.”
(17)”Where you die, I will die, their I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”(NASB)
This was the decision that impressed the whole town of Bethlehem as Naomi and Ruth arrived from Moab. This unselfish decision resulted in Ruth receiving great favor from loyalty. Ruth went on to marry a wealthy landowner named Boaz (Naomi’s kinsman) and lived out her life as a great wife, mother, daughter-in-law and even greater believer in the God of Israel.
She basically had converted to serving the God of Naomi and wanted her lot to be with Him and His people. She was admired because of this loyalty.
Its one thing to be loyal to a person or a group, but its another thing, altogether to be loyal to God.
Ruth was not just being loyal to her mother-in-law she was being loyal to the God that she now embraced. This is the stuff that real faith is made of. It is unshakable trust in the provision of God regardless of the circumstances.
Ruth had heard about the daring feats of the people of God as they were delivered out of slavery in Egypt. She was, no doubt, taught about the supernatural provision of the Lord God of Israel. She, then, could not easily pick-up and return to a life of pagan idolatry when she was introduced to the True and Living God! This is the basis of her unusal loyalty.
God honored her loyalty and showcased her faith. The very fact that we are reading and discussing this humble Moabite woman who lived many thousands of years ago testifies of her influence.
What can we learn from Ruth’s faith?
We can learn lessons that will help us in our faith-walk. We learn:
- True faith has a certain stick-to-it-ness that causes us not to easily quit.
- True faith developes due to true love for your neighbor as you would want to receive for yourself (Mark 12:31)
- True faith says you will not turn your back on your responsibilities.
- And true faith develops unshakable reliance on God’s ability to supply all of our needs.