We can learn a lot from the relationship of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. When both of their husbands died, Naomi planned to return to Israel from Moab and encouraged Ruth to return to her mother’s family. Instead, Ruth answered, “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). These beautiful words of commitment, which are sometimes included in wedding vows, show the deep loyalty between Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth and Naomi were family. They had lived closely for some time due to Ruth’s marriage to Naomi’s son. There had already been a strong relationship prior to this decision by Ruth to return to Israel with her mother-in-law. Ruth 2:11 says that Ruth “left [her] father and mother and [her] homeland and came to live with a people [she] did not know before.” Ruth certainly cared deeply for Naomi and had a close relationship with her both before and after the deaths of their husbands.
Ruth made a vow or covenant to remain with Naomi, calling judgment upon herself if she ever left her (Ruth 1:17). Once this vow had been made, she would have felt an obligation to keep this commitment to Naomi.
Ruth apparently had made a commitment to follow Naomi’s God as well. In her vow, she told Naomi, “Your God, my God.” Naomi was convinced Ruth was serious, too. Ruth 1:18 notes, “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”
This commitment to follow Naomi’s God is also seen in Naomi’s response prior to Ruth’s commitment. After further encouragement, Ruth’s sister, Orpah, returned to her family. Then Naomi said, “Look . . . your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her” (Ruth 1:15). Ruth contrasted Orpah’s commitment to the gods of her family with her own commitment to follow Naomi’s God.
Ruth’s loyalty certainly resulted in long-term good. In an unexpected way, God allowed Ruth to remarry and give birth to a son named Obed who became grandfather to King David. Despite Ruth’s status as a non-Israelite woman, God worked through her life to change many. Ruth serves as clear proof that God desires those from all backgrounds to follow Him and that He can work in our lives in important ways to influence the lives of many.