Ruth’s Beautiful Confession

“And 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: where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.” Ruth 1:16, 17.
This text here contains a wonderful confession of faith; it is the expression of deep and profound determination to be faithful to Naomi and to Israel’s God – even unto death! This confession proceeds from the lips of a Moabitish woman. She was, evidently, a young woman. She was now a widow, a young widow, having been married to Chilion, it would seem, the younger son of Elimelech and Naomi. How long she had been married we can only guess. We are sure that she was still a young woman, a Moabitish girl, but now the legal widow of an Israelitish son, born in the tribe of Judah! She has widow-rights in the land of Israel and can claim the inheritance and the marriage-privileges of a widow for the Levirate marriage!
Yes, her husbank, Chilion, had died. So had the brother of her husband, Mahlon who was the husband of another Moabitish girl, named Orpah. And her husband’s father Elimelech, had also died in the land of Moab. A father and his two sons die in the land of Moab and are buried there, leaving the three respective widows to shift for themselves. But they are not left to themselves. The Lord works faith in the hearts of Naomi and Ruth. Naomi has submitted to the mighty hand of God and to His correcting and saving chastisements. She has heard that the Lord has “visited His people” and given them bread. There is a wheat and barley harvest in Judah once more. The Lord has opened the windows of heaven according to His sure promised mercies. Once more His face shines from out of the holy place between the cherubims of heaven, and Israel is assured of the salvation of her God. Thus Naomi takes courage, notwithstanding her deep sorrow and bitterness under the might blows of her God!
Yes, Naomi (the pleasant one) will return to the land of her fathers, the land of her fathers’ God. Yes, it is the land of her God, her people. She will now return again to Moab. Here in Bethlehem-Judah she will live the rest of her days and die. She will live and die there childless, a widow without progeny! She will cast herself upon the mercies of God; upon that God who is exceedingly able to do far above all that she can ask or think…
Now these two young widows, daughters-in-law, will desire to accompany her. But what for? Certainly there is no point in their following Naomi for a husband from her womb. So she, in her short-sightedness, entreats these daughters to return to their people. Surely, she must have instructed them in the faith of the fathers, and of her godly resolve to return to Israel’s land of promise! And the Word of God had taken root. Superficially it had taken root in the heart of Orpah, but it had taken deep and abiding root in the heart of Ruth. This daughter from Lot, from a son of Lot by his own daughter, believes. Yes, Orpah, a Moabitess, returns to her own people and to their gods. But Ruth cannot leave, come what may.
Hear her speak to Naomi when the latter would have her also return to her people. She cannot return to Moab. She had died unto Moab and to the Moabitish people and their gods. She now lives unto Israel’s God. What she now lives she lives by the faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It is her turn to speak!
What a beautiful confession of faith!
“Entreat me not…”!
Do not ask me to leave thee, a God-fearing mother in Israel; I know the Lord has dealt bitterly with me for thy sake. But I receive this bitter cup from His hand as a token of His love and covenant mercies. I know that he has cut off a mother of Israel in the line of David’s house, without hope of a future. But do not entreat me to leave thee the hopeless one, for my trust is in the lord, God of Israel. Listen to the implications of her confession; hear this humble and profound faith. Yes, it is so beautifully worded.
Firstly, Ruth clings to Naomi as long as Naomi will be with her on this side of the grave. Death may then part them for a season here, but she shall join her in the grave, in the hope of the blessed resurrection. She will be buried next to Naomi in a grave in Bethlehem-Judah. Her confession is not a mere pious motto, but is is a confession which encompasses both life and death.
Secondly, Ruth desires a place among God’s people. She confesses that although she is a Moabitess, and still is living among these children of Lot, she is nevertheless a true child of Abraham. She is spiritually an Israelite, who belongs to the Israel of God. And it is a true confession proceeding from true faith. She leaves Moab with Naomi and comes to Judah, to whom the gathering of the people shall be. And among this Judah and its thousands she shall have a place, a central place! For, though she does not know it yet, from her shall be born the grandfather of David, a son whose name is Obed. And, Oh wonder, at a time when there was no king in Israel (when Judges ruled) and when everyone does what is good in his own eyes, God is preparing from Himself the Seed of David, by calling a Moabitish widow with Israelitish rights, to have an inheritance in Israel’s Holy Seed!
Thirdly, Ruth confesses that Israel’s God is her God. That which binds her heart to Naomi is not the erstwhile fleshly tie of her now dead husband, mere flesh and blood; what binds her to Naomi is their common faith in God! In this one God, one Lord, one faith and one hope she knows herself of kindred spirit with her mother-in-law. What is more, both of these women must be saved. And Naomi will be saved in Ruth’s son, Obed, Jesse, David, Christ. But Ruth shall be saved in her own great grandson, the man of God’s own choosing! It will be through the Levirate marriage of Ruth with Boaz the son of Rahab, the harlot! For the coming of Jesus Christ was thus in the world. Behold then Christ’s “Genesis,” but do no forget to see his “Exodus” at Jeruselem.
The plan of God unfolds, and faith conquers the world in Moab at the cross-roads! Here we seed the deep roots of history. It is the Root of David. The story reads so simple. Ruth seeks a husband in the land of Judah. She was fair and young. She does not, according to the flesh, seek a husband! She seeks one according to the Spirit; she seeks one under the law of Israel’s inheritance, and the law of raising up seed in a Levirate marriage. A near relative of Chilion must be sought to father a child to inherit her lawful inheritance to which she is the sole living heir after Naomi. This means that she will marry a man who is old enough to be her father. It is a marriage of the obedience of faith.
Ho, such an one! Turn aside, sit down here.
And great things happen. Boaz becomes the Goel-husband of Ruth.
And God gives them a son. And he is called “Obed” by the women, and Naomi’s faith too is rewarded in returning to Israel and to Israel’s God. A legal heir possesses the portion of Elimelech.
Many years later the Christ is born here in Bethlehem-Judah. Yes, His goings forth were from of old, even from everlasting.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 2 April 1970