S (Scripture):Ruth 1:8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother’s home! May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me!”…
10 But they said to her, “No!We will return with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands! 12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again. Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, 13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! No, my daughters, you must not return with me. For my intense suffering is too much for you to bear. For the Lord is afflicting me!”
14 Again they wept loudly. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung tightly to her. 15 So Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law back home!” 16 But Ruth replied,
“Stop urging me to abandon you!
For wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will become my people,
and your God will become my God….”
O (Observation): Backstory: Naomi and her husband, Elimilech, and their 2 sons move from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine in Bethlehem. The two sons marry Moabite women – Orpah and Ruth. Elimilech dies. The sons die. The famine is over in Bethlehem, and Naomi wishes to move back to Bethlehem. She wants her daughters-in-law to go back to their families for the possibility to re-marry. Oprah takes up Naomi’s offer. Ruth refuses (and therefore wishes to stay with Naomi and go to Bethlehem).
The one word to key on in this book is “devotion.” Ruth 1:8 has Naomi saying: “May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me!”
My commentary suggests that
חֶסֶד (devotion) “is not merely an attitude or an emotion; it is an emotion that leads to an activity beneficial to the recipient”; an act of חֶסֶד is “a beneficent action performed, in the context of a deep and enduring commitment between two persons or parties, by one who is able to render assistance to the needy party who in the circumstances is unable to help him – or herself”
Ruth commits/devotes herself to Naomi. Ruth lays her life on the line to support Naomi. Her devotion is a glimpse into the devotion that the Lord has towards His people.
This Hebrew word “chesed” can also mean “loyalty” or “faithfulness.” God continually shows faithfulness to all of God’s people.
A (Application): Faithfulness and devotion are hard for us to fulfill these days. We all seem to be so busy that we cannot commit to serving the community. We are so tied up in our own lives, we fail to see how we can use our gifts for the greater good.
High school football players commit to schools, but until signing day (in February 2017) they can change their minds. And some do. These commitments can falter and fail. But in our text today, we see a strong commmitment by an exemplar in the faith: Ruth.
Ruth gives us an example of giving up everything for someone else. God does this for us, too, by giving up Jesus and staying devoted to all who believe.
Devotion may not always be rewarded, but the call to devotion is important. And even when we fail, God remains devoted to us.
Which commitments are you able to keep? Which ones slip through your fingers?
P (Prayer): Lord, remind us always that your commitment to us is steadfast. Amen.