Ruth 1:6-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Naomi and Her Moabite Daughters-in-Law
6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your 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 security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 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? Do I still have 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. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
I love the story of Ruth in the Bible. It goes like this: A woman named Naomi has her husband die, and then her two sons. The wives of those two sons are from the country, Moab, a country that has not been friends of the people called Israel. When the sons of Naomi die, the two daughters-in-law (Orpah and Ruth) are told by Naomi to go home to Moab, to rejoin their families and go make a new life for themselves. Both plead with Naomi to stay with her. Naomi refuses them, and tells them to go on. Orpah does go back to Moab. But Ruth pledges her undying loyalty to her Mother-in-law and in this beautiful message, “where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”
The Hebrew word “hesed” is a word that denotes this type of loving-kindness as exhibited in the love of Ruth for Naomi. The word denotes a pure love, a dedicated love, a sacrificial love that is rare in the human experience but mirrors the love God has for us. Ruth is an example of God’s “hesed.”
How rare is the experience of “hesed” for you? Is there a love in your life that is like Ruth’s? Is there a sense of loyalty and self-giving in your love of family and friends? Lately, I have been reminded of the blessing of that love I have within my family. During challenges, to know of a love that is so deep and so loyal as to provide a deep sense of comfort and blessing is quite amazing to feel. I am grateful to God that I have that blessing, and it reminds and encourages me to be that love for others. It is the love we are to share as God’s family, and is beautifully personified in this story of Ruth.
As the Bible presents it, Ruth is an ancestor of King David, through Obed and Jesse. And we know who is the “son” of David, Jesus (the true “hesed”)!