The famine had taken many lives, and was growing more severe. And with the death of her husband, things for Ruth were going from bad to worse. All of the men in the family had passed, including her own husband, leaving only Ruth, her mother-in-law Naomi, and her sister-in-law, Orpah.
There was no way the three women could make it alone. And so Naomi said to her daughter-in-law’s, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house.” For as heartbroken as she was to send them away, Naomi knew there was no future for them if they stayed. And so with much weeping and sorrow, begrudgingly, Orpah left. But when it came time for Ruth to go, she couldn’t. Overcome by emotion, she ran to Naomi. Falling on her knees, Ruth clung tightly to Naomi’s waist, and refused to let go. Looking up at her mother-in-law, Ruth pledged, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.” Naomi could feel the determination in Ruth’s words, and the pure love reflected in her eyes. And so she let Ruth stay.
Remaining in Moab wasn’t an option, for surely they would starve. But Naomi, who was from Bethlehem, had heard news that the Lord had remembered His people and blessed them with grain. So the two woman made preparations to go back, packing provisions and a few personal items. Ruth wasn’t sure where this journey would lead, but she trusted her mother-in-law. For Naomi was a woman who suffered great loss. Yet her faith in her God was still strong. A woman who so trusted in His provision, she was willing, in complete surrender, to travel over 60 miles to seek refuge under His wings. And even though Ruth did not know this God of Israel, out of her love for Naomi, she too would surrender.
The two arrived at Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. Hungry and without money, Naomi sent Ruth to a field belonging to a relative named Boaz. There, she faithfully followed behind the reapers, carefully collecting the stalks they left behind. For every bit she got would be baked into bread. It wasn’t much, but at least it meant their stomachs wouldn’t go empty. And it was there in that field where she met Boaz.
Not recognizing her, Boaz had asked about Ruth, and to whom she was with. And upon hearing her story, learning of her sacrifice, virtue, and loyalty to Naomi, he couldn’t help but be awed. Boaz encouraged Ruth to stay in his field, making provisions for her care and welfare. And after two months of work in the harvest fields, Naomi encouraged Ruth to seek Boaz as her “kinsman redeemer.” (A male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need.)
Through Naomi’s instruction, Ruth’s obedience, and a series of divinely appointed circumstances, joyfully, Boaz and Ruth got married. And together they had a son, Obed, who was the grandfather of David, the forefather of Jesus.
The story of Ruth is one of surrender, devotion, faith, and deliverance. She chose to follow her mother-in-law Naomi, and in doing so chose to follow the Lord God. And the overwhelming compassion, grace, love, and redemption she found in Him, is there waiting for us. For He is our kinsman Redeemer, joyfully eager to provide us with His great protection, provision, and blessings. And under His mighty wings will we find a perfect refuge of His never ending tender care.