She was one of those rare persons who loved deeply and selflessly, and she loved her mother-in-law. “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; 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” (Ruth ).Her God was about to direct her to a wonderful man with whom she would be united.
Although Elimelech’s family was out of the center of God’s will and out of the place of God’s blessing, they did accomplish something worthwhile.
Through their testimony, this young Moabite named Ruth turned from worshiping Chemosh, the God of the Moabites, with all the abominable practices associated with his worship, and put her trust in the one true and living God. And it was evident to all who knew her that she had come to enjoy an intimate relationship with the Lord God of Israel.
Sometime later, Boaz would say to her, “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Ruth ).
Her trust in God and her love for God were the sources of an inner strength and beauty that could not be hidden and of a love for others that could not be suppressed. Instead of brooding over the loss of her own husband, she devoted herself to meeting the needs of her mother-in-law, to filling the void in Naomi’s life, to helping her the best she could.
That meant leaving her home, her family, and her friends, moving to another land as a despised foreigner and living in poverty and privation. Love and concern for her mother-in-law were her only apparent motives.
Boaz pointed that out later in the story: “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know” (Ruth ).
Many a woman who loves her husband cannot seem to love his mother.
And men seem to have the same problem with their wives’ mothers, as evidenced by the mother-in-law jokes that have circulated through the years, Where does love like Ruth’s come from? If you want some of it, you will have to cultivate a close personal relationship with Him just as Ruth did.
It had been more than 500 years since they laid old Jacob to rest in the cave of Machpelah. There were the hard years of Egyptian bondage culminated by God’s gracious deliverance; there were the forty years of wilderness wanderings culminated by the great conquest of Canaan; then there were the strange cyclic years of sin, servitude, and salvation we know as the period of the Judges.
That gloomy era provides the setting for the most beautiful love story in the Bible, the story of Boaz and Ruth.
“Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.