14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. 15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.
11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord grant that the woman who is coming into your household be like Rachel and like Leah, both of whom built up the house of Israel. May you be fertile in Ephrathah and may you preserve a name in Bethlehem. 12 And may your household be like the household of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah—through the children that the Lord will give you from this young woman.”
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.
He was intimate with her, the Lord let her become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi, “May the Lord be blessed, who today hasn’t left you without a redeemer. May his name be proclaimed in Israel. 15 He will restore your life and sustain you in your old age. Your daughter-in-law who loves you has given birth to him. She’s better for you than seven sons.” 16 Naomi took the child and held him to her breast, and she became his guardian. 17 The neighborhood women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They called his name Obed. He became Jesse’s father and David’s grandfather.
Scholar Linda Day wrote, “The book of Ruth is a beautiful story…. This isn’t a story about national or international affairs. It is set in a village of farmers. Action revolves around family relationships.”* (Today’s reading just samples the book. It only has four chapters—if you’ve never read it, try to make time to do so.) The family relationships in the story had far-reaching effects. Ruth became the great-grandmother of Israel’s King David, and an ancestor of Jesus (cf. 1 Samuel 16:1-13, Matthew 1:5.)
O God, guide me to live in ways that make the people I influence to value our relationships. Make me a person of loyal, devoted love. Amen.
* Linda Day, introduction to Ruth in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 410 OT.
** Linda Day, study note on Ruth 1:16-17 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 411 OT.
*** David Jackman, The Preacher’s Commentary series, Volume 7: Judges, Ruth. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 345.
My first and deepest welcome came from my parents. I’ve been incredibly blessed to be loved by a mother and father who welcomed me into the world, into their lives, into my own life. This gave me the model for how God welcomes each of us.
For some of us, this kind of deep welcome into Life has comes through our friends, our “family of choice” or our extended families. Naomi finds this deep welcome from a surprising source – her daughter-in-law, Ruth. “Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay” (v. 16). As their difficult journey unfolds, Ruth and Naomi each find a deep welcome, a belonging, in one another.
Perhaps this is what all of us want – to belong. We hunger for our lives to be held by Love that surpasses understanding. Ruth’s choices don’t make sense to others or meet the cultural expectations of her society. Ruth and Naomi, though devalued for who they are (their ethnic, marital, maternal, national and economic status), nevertheless welcome and belong to one another, thereby becoming agents of a new future for God’s people.
People are hungry for welcome and belonging. We can offer welcome and belonging as a powerful witness of faith. Ruth and Naomi show us what it can look like.
Where have you known such deep welcome in your life?
Where have you offered it?
How has this welcome changed you?
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