Bible Reference: Book of Ruth
Heart of the Story: Naomi, an Israelite woman who lived in Moab, determined to return to Bethlehem after her husband and son’s died. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, went with her.
Back Story: Naomi, an Israelite woman along with her husband and two sons, relocated to Moab because of a famine in the Bethlehem region. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband died. Both of Naomi’s sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Then, both sons died. Determined to return to Bethlehem, Naomi directed her daughters-in-law to return to their Moabite families. Orpah went back to her Moabite family. Ruth did not; she determined to stay with Naomi.
Story Line: Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth, loved Naomi and refused to return to her own people in Moab. Ruth’s words to Naomi were: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Pondering Relationships: Ruth’s words were powerful. They show her love and her determination to stay with Naomi. Powerful expression has three requirements: it is substantive, concise, and correct. Substantive means that the words move the line of thought forward and are relevant to the topic. Ruth’s words were relevant and essentially ended the conversation between herself and Naomi. Ruth wasn’t about to leave Naomi despite Naomi’s encouragement for her to go back to her family. Ruth was concise in her response to Naomi. She included no empty words, no fillers, no verbal pauses. Finally, Ruth’s assertion was grammatically correct (or whoever recorded Ruth’s words made them grammatically correct).
Ruth’s words to Naomi have been memorized and often repeated in wedding vows. They resonated with each of us who have loved another person and wanted to be with that person. I believe these 66 words were a reason the book of Ruth was included in the Canon of Scripture. Effective speakers fill their speeches with images and metaphors that create pictures in listener’s minds and cause them to remember what was said.
We remember Ruth’s words to Naomi more than any other part of the Book of Ruth. More even than Ruth meeting and marrying Boaz, the grandfather of King David.
Reflection: Ruth, from a nation (Moab) that had its origins in incest, was the grandmother of King David; therefore, in the ancestry of Christ. Are you as astounded as I am to how God works things out?
Copyright: August 5, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth
I had a new book published — Out of the Shadows (April 2017). It is stories of strong, influential Bible women.