The story of Ruth is better than any Hallmark or Lifetime movie we could ever watch on TV. Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, has a wonderful, loving, servant heart towards her mother-in-law. The world would say she caught a bad break in the death of her husband, the son of Naomi, just as Naomi had caught one in the loss of not just one son, but both sons and her own husband, too. But the word “break” implies chance and nothing is left to chance with a sovereign God. God has permitted this situation to come about. Stuff like this makes us scratch our heads and ask, “Why, God, why?”
God had a plan for both Naomi and Ruth. At this point in the account of Ruth we don’t see it. So let’s delve a bit further into how Naomi and Ruth responded to this terrible situation. It isn’t surprising to us that Naomi, an alien in a foreign land, decides to go back home to family. And when she does, her two daughters-in-law initially start back with her. But Naomi, knowing what it’s like to be husbandless far away from home with no real support structure, encourages her two daughters-in-law to return home to their families in Moab, to try and find new husbands in their own land. One daughter-in-law decides to return back home, a logical choice with which there is nothing wrong. But Ruth, that’s not her way. That’s not her heart. Her response tells us about her character, about her love for her mother-in-law, and more importantly about the love she has for the God she has met through this family:
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.
“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17, NASB
Ruth’s heart is for the God of Naomi, the God of Naomi’s people, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Her heart is for the Creator who is sovereign over all. And her love for God causes her to stick by her mother-in-law, a relation of marriage, not of blood. In today’s culture the world sees a big difference between the bond of marriage and the bond of blood. The bond of marriage is being severed so often in our time that it is hardly considered a bond any longer. But Ruth treasures it. She is joined to Naomi and will not be parted from her mother-in-law. How can God not reward such faithfulness, both for Ruth towards her mother-in-law and more importantly, Ruth towards Him?
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. “Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” – Ruth 4:9-10, NASB
God had a reward in mind. He had prepared a Godly man who loved Ruth more than his own name, more than his own legacy. Though Ruth had to suffer through the loss of her own husband, though she had to face leaving her home, though she had to tend to both herself and her mother-in-law in a foreign land, God had a plan for Ruth. Her new husband and the love of her life was to be Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. And to her and Boaz was born a son. What is remarkable is the words about Ruth spoken to Naomi when that son is born:
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.
“May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” – Ruth 4:14-15, NASB
Again, we see the character of Ruth. In a society which valued sons, to be said of you that you were better than seven sons, that’s powerful. Remember, this is praise given to a foreigner, a woman from the detestable nation of Moab. Ruth had overcome the natural prejudice for someone from such a position. So it is no wonder that God had yet another reward for Ruth. Not only would she be remembered in Scripture for her story, but also for her descendants. Ruth would be remembered as the great grandmother of none other than King David:
The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. – Ruth 4:17, NASB
And we know from David’s line came our Savior, Jesus. All of this is the work of a sovereign and holy God. All of this shows God has a plan even in the worst of times. All of this demonstrates just how much God cares about His creation. God’s faithfulness to those who are His is unbelievable. It is often said that people will fail us but God never will. The story of Ruth is testament to this saying. The sovereign God who we serve and love is worthy of our trust. Whether we are facing good times or bad, it is to God we should cling. It is to Him we should embrace and place our hope. Ruth did. And her offspring, David, did, as well. God is sovereign. Nothing happens outside of His will and His control. Even when we don’t see the plan, we can trust the Planner. His Word testifies to the completeness of His vision. His Word reminds us of the love He has for His people. His people. Us. Me and You. May you feel the love and glimpse a part of the plan our sovereign God has for you today.