Verse of the Day Devotion: Ruth 1:16
“But Ruth said, 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 1:16
The Book of Ruth tells the story a woman from Moab named Ruth and how she came to be in the line that led to David, the great king of Israel. We will not address the whole story here, but we will look at the character of Ruth that we as Christians need to exhibit in our lives.
This story starts with Elimelech and his wife Naomi, with their two sons Mahlon and Chilion, journeying to the country of Moab because of a severe famine in Israel. Everything was going OK until Elimelech dies, leaving her alone with her sons. These two sons would eventually marry, each taking Moabite women as their wives. Then after ten years, both her sons die and she is left alone, with her two daughters-in-law. After this happened, we read, “Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.” Ruth 1:6. She was unable to provide food for the three of them, and she hears that God was providing food for His people, so she left with Ruth and Orpah, her daughters-in-law, to return to Israel.
Now at a point in the journey, she spoke to her daughters saying, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Ruth 1:8-9a. Notice that she is blessing them, believing they will re-marry and will be settled and happy with new husbands. Now they both stated they did not want to leave her alone, however, as the story continues Orpah goes back but Ruth remains. “And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Ruth 1:14.
Now Naomi urges Ruth to go back as well. “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Ruth 1:15. But Ruth responds to Naomi according to our focus verse, “But Ruth said, 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 1:16.
By leaving her homeland and going with Naomi, Ruth renounced her citizenship in Moab. With the words, ‘Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge,’ Ruth separated herself from her country of origin. She abandoned one kingdom to be joined to another. Then she declared something that shows she was willing to give up her old life in Moab and devote herself to a new life in Israel. ‘Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’ She gave up everything because of her love for Naomi and I also believe the love she was developing for the God Naomi worshipped and obeyed. As you can see, redemption is the central theme of Ruth’s story.
And this also is what we must do when we give up our old, worldly life and become Christians. The young widow’s unwavering commitment to follow Naomi provides a beautiful depiction of Christian conversion. Ruth made a definitive separation from her past way of life. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ likewise involves a pivotal decision and breaking away from the past. She did not know everything about the true God, but she understood enough to turn from the gods of Moab to Jehovah, the true God. When we are saved, we do not fully understand everything. But when we read the scripture and study it with the help of others, we begin to understand more and more. This is what Ruth did.
Ruth’s statement to Naomi, wherever you go, I will go, is analogous to a new believer saying, I have decided to follow Jesus. Wherever you go, Lord, I will go. As true Christians, we are to be united with Christ. Paul put it this way. “and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” 1 Corinthians 3:23. We leave our old citizenship and identity behind and become new creations in Jesus Christ. “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” Colossians 3:8-10. We must, as a picture of what Ruth did, say goodbye to the darkness of sin and live in the light of His kingdom.
And, as with Ruth, His people become our people and the Sovereign God becomes our God. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. We give up our old way of living for ourselves; we take up our cross and follow Him” Ephesians 2:19-22. So, live as such. God was pleased with Ruth in her new life because she gave it all. And like Ruth, let us, give our all for Him as well.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.