The book of Ruth takes us on a journey of love, loss, trials, faith, and love anew. To understand Ruth is to first understand what her name means. Ruth, a Hebrew name רְעוּת (re’ut) in its very essence meaning, “friend,” sets the stage for the journey she was meant to take, a journey of endurance, a journey of a most sincere friendship, a lesson that will forever stand the test of time.
Ruth, from the land of Moab, was daughter-in-law to Naomi, an Israelite. It’s important to recognize that, historically, the Israelites and Moabites were enemies. But, the relationship Ruth and Naomi shared couldn’t have been further from the traditional hostile relationship shared by their native lands. The first chapter of Ruth starts this story by painting a picture of grief and loss, and what would have been defeat for many. You see, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died, deaths relatively close to one another. Imagine, just imagine, the sorrow…the tears…the fear.
According to the law, Ruth was freed from the covenant shared with her husband. She could have chosen to return to her people like her sister-in-law, Orpah, did. She could have gone home. In fact, Naomi encouraged her and pleaded with her to leave. But, Ruth would not go. She would not move from Naomi’s side. This book, this story, touches my heart so deeply, so sincerely. Despite the loneliness Ruth must have felt after her husband passed away, she decided to stay. Was this a part of Yahweh’s plan, that Ruth should serve Him? Ruth 1:16-17 reads:
“And Ruth said, Intreat 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 Elohim my Elohim: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (RSB)
The heartfelt words of this passage give a window, a glimpse, into the very soul of Ruth. Her selflessness and passion to serve Naomi, to serve Yahweh is so beautiful. In the hour of her pain, as she suffered the loss of her husband, not even knowing where she would live or how she would survive, she proclaimed a most precious commitment to Naomi—to become even closer to her, through a promise of love and adoption, unto death. Ruth encompasses an unwavering commitment as a friend. In Proverbs 17:17, we read, “A friend loveth at all times….” Ruth most certainly did.
Are you a Ruth? Are you a Naomi with a Ruth by your side? You see, even if we don’t have the role of daughter-in-law in the relational sense, we can live the lessons taught through Ruth’s actions in the Word. We all have spiritual sisters. We all struggle; we all need that “stand by me” kind of support. I encourage you to accept friendship when a sister extends it. I encourage you to let a sister help you in your hour of need. I also encourage you to be a Ruth and go where Yahweh so calls you to go, and serve how He so calls you to serve.
Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we forget that “we” are living stories, just as Ruth was and is for us. Yahweh is watching over us, watching our every move, listening to our every word. Do you think He is pleased with you? That is something only you can answer. As for me, I am a work in progress. I pray that I may humbly die daily to my weak flesh, to be raised anew in the tender embrace of His love and mercy. As you walk in the Word, as you go about your daily life, take time to meditate on Ruth’s story and what it means to you. For me, it’s a wonderful reminder of service and sacrifice. It reminds me of Yahshua and His unfailing love, love He so passionately lived and died for so that we might have a way to enter eternal life. Ruth’s story reminds me to never give up, to never let go.
I invite you to stay tuned to the next issue of “Come to the Garden” as we dive deeper in the Word and learn more about Ruth, for her journey is far from over. Her story unfolds in a most amazing way. Until next time, may Yahweh bless you and keep you all of your days.
by: Amy Pletz