Daily Devotion | Day 327
“But Ruth said . . . 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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17, ESV).
[Correction: In yesterday’s message, I incorrectly referred to Ruth as the grandmother of David. The fact is, Ruth was the great grandmother of David]
We began yesterday to reflect on Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi. In addition, we spoke briefly about the value of loyalty and the role it plays in love and friendship. Today we will conclude the message by taking a close look at the content of the vow Ruth made to her mother-in-law. Our words are part and parcel of who we are. Consequently, we cannot separate ourselves from our words. The integrity of your words affect the integrity of your character. The stakes are even higher when you make a vow or a promise. Ruth’s words fall into the latter category. She did not simply express a desire to follow Naomi. She vowed she would. Her vow was solemn, specific and comprehensive. She meant every word she spoke, and she made good on it.
What is interesting is that Ruth was not entering into a covenant with Naomi. A covenant usually involves two parties who both make a mutual commitment to fulfill the terms of the covenant. Naomi did not ask Ruth for any commitment. Nor did she pledge any commitment to Ruth. Therefore, this was all Ruth’s initiative and hers alone. Her vow looks similar to the marriage vows we have today. But Ruth was not getting married to Naomi. She was not taking office, either. No one had promised to give her any benefits in return for her commitment to Naomi.
When a man and a woman exchange marital vows, they anticipate mutual benefits arising from their union. These benefits include, but are not limited to, offspring, carnal intimacy, financial security, job security, tax benefits and social status. In Ruth’s case, she could not count on any of the above-mentioned benefits. She had little to no expectation of receiving any favors from Naomi in exchange for her loyalty. Her vow, therefore, was primarily a unilateral commitment of loyalty motivated by genuine love for her beloved mother-in-law. If Ruth could be this loyal to her mother-in-law, one wonders how loyal she was to her late husband. If you are a man and you get to marry a woman like Ruth, I say, blessed are you among men.
Before we sum up, let us point out something else about the things Ruth said. First, she said would go wherever Naomi went. Geographical boundaries would not make her abandon Naomi. She was not afraid to travel beside the one she loved. Second, she said she would lodge wherever Naomi lodged. In Ruth’s eyes, Naomi was family. If all Naomi could afford was a single room, she would be with her. If she even ended on the streets, she would not leave Naomi’s side. Third, Ruth embraced Naomi’s people as her own. Race, ethnicity and nationality would not come between her and her loyalty to Naomi. Because she loved Naomi, she loved her people also.
Fourth, she embraced Naomi’s God. She did not despise the LORD, but was willing to abandon her own gods and serve JEHOVAH. Keep in mind, Naomi did not ask Ruth to abandon her religion. This step of faith was Ruth’s alone. Fifth, Ruth vowed to die and be buried where Naomi would die and be buried. She determined to honor, cherish and love Naomi even in the latter’s death. And to seal her commitment, she invoked the LORD, asking Him to judge her if she failed to honor her vow to Naomi.
Ruth’s loyalty knew no bounds. It did not fluctuate. It was stable and it extended to the very end of life. By her loyalty, Ruth became the daughter Naomi never had. In this, she became a true icon of loyalty. Looking to her example, let us review how we treat the people we say we love. Amen.
For further study: Ruth 2:1-23