Ruth & Naomi—BFFs in Christ
“Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return 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. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’ And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.” (Ruth 1:16-18)
I wonder what it would be like for a woman to know that she would have a book of the Bible named after her? In my imagination, Ruth is humble and would see herself as unworthy of the honor, which she is. After all, she only did what she was compelled to do, having come to faith in the Lord, most likely through her marriage to Naomi’s son. I wonder what David thought of his great-grandmother and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Did the women’s friendship influence David’s friendship with Jonathan? Perhaps. Ruth and Naomi’s hearts and souls were obviously knit together, though there is no direct mention of it in the Scripture. Somehow, by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, Ruth knew that she would only find true Life with God’s people. She was prepared to be Naomi’s companion, to die with Naomi, and be buried with her.
Ruth knew what God’s favor looked like; she had discernment and attentiveness to his grace as she returned with Naomi to Bethlehem. She was able to comfort Naomi in her sadness and bitterness just by staying calmly by her side, ready to work to support them both. She saw the goodness of God, being allowed to glean from the edge of a field, under Israel’s law for sojourners. She was awed by Boaz’s warm hospitality. “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:13) While Naomi was at home (presumably), Ruth was in the fields, doing what was necessary to support them in their impoverished circumstances. Ruth protected Naomi from loneliness, desperation, and anxiety about their provisions. At the same time, Naomi offered Ruth a God who would never leave her, and bring her into the center of his will for his people, including her in the descendants of the Messiah.
When Naomi was ready to leave Moab to return home, Ruth begged her not to discourage their friendship (v. 16). And Naomi never did again, according to the short account of their life together. Are you fortunate enough to have a friend (who may be a family member) whom you’ve loved for decades? In the last several days I have spoken with some friends about the trouble our young people are having making friends of their own. We have especially noticed that high school students can barely name one close friend, in spite of being involved in many activities. What will they do when they graduate and move on to higher education or work? What does it take to make a friend, besides saying something like, “Would you like to get a cup of coffee or lunch together sometime? How about tomorrow?” What are you doing to make new friends or move to the next step with the friends you have? What might be hindering you from making friends who will support your sanctification and service to Jesus Christ?