Let's meet two remarkable women today...Ruth and Naomi
Ruth is a story that is purposefully tucked between the pages of Judges and 1 Samuel. Her story may seem short and sweet, but make no mistake about it; there is much we can learn from her life, giving us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves.
To begin with, Ruth lived in a pretty brutal time (Ruth 1:1). In the day of the judges, Israel had no king, which meant there were no laws, and each family was forced to fend for themselves. Mass corruption and chaos ensued, leaving violence, brutality, and famine in its wake. Many traveled to new lands in search of food and to merely survive. Naomi and her husband and sons were upon one of the many families escaping Judah, fleeing to Moab.
Unfortunately, the travel to Moab costs the life of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech (Ruth 1:2). While in Moab, we meet Ruth, a Moabite woman. It might be important to note that the Moabites were a mortal enemy of the Israelites. You can read more about Moab and how it goes back to the day of Lot and the heinous times of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). Talk about some eye-opening, jaw-dropping history!
Anyways, the Moabites were known for their idolatry and for performing human sacrifices (2 Kings 3:27, 2 Kings 16:3). They were corrupt and fell into sinful patterns, yet, interestingly enough, this is where Naomi’s family escaped. Not only that, but her sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Talk about scandalous!
But, while they stayed in Moab for a decade, maybe because they needed stability or the men found successful work in the town, tragedy struck again. The famine hits Moab, and an unfortunate fate takes Naomi’s sons, leaving behind these three women.
With the weight of grief and feeling somewhat lost and alone, Naomi decides to travel back to her hometown of Judah. Somewhere on this trip back home, Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to go back home to Moab and be with their mothers (Ruth 1:8). She was inviting them to basically let go of their past and embrace what the Lord had for their future (Ruth 1:12-13).
We could imply here that Naomi was also concerned for their health and safety because the trip was rather treacherous, especially since it took the life of her husband. There was also the concern about their marital status and entering a town full of Israelites as Moab women. And then there’s the fact that over time, Naomi had grown somewhat bitter, blaming the Lord for all her loss. That said, there is the possibility she wanted to be alone on the journey to relent to her Lord and grieve (Ruth 1:20-21).
But, all that aside, we see Ruth practically beg to go with her mother-in-law when she states the infamous line, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Wherever you go I will go, and wherever you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”
We see Ruth’s determination and full-fledged faith unfold here. It is apparent that these ladies shared a very special bond and that, over the course of time, Ruth must have witnessed Naomi’s faith. Ruth was literally ready to spend the rest of her life with Naomi and serve the same God!
So what can we learn from Ruth and even Naomi? A lot, actually!