The wiser choice is sometimes not the practical one (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth 1:16-17

They were living in times of moral chaos and religious confusion. A famine came over their homeland. This family of four sought shelter in a foreign land. They hoped to eke out a meager existence working as migrants. Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons traveled from their home in Bethlehem to Moab, hoping for something better. But what they found was not hope, but more tragedy.

Elimelech, the husband, dies in Moab. Now Naomi, bereft of her husband, must raise her boys alone in a land whose customs differ from her own. Naomi, however, is a resourceful woman. Though plan A failed, she comes up with plan B. She marries each of her sons to Moabite women. She hopes her family-line can continue through these marriages.

Ten years later, Naomi’s hopes are dashed again. Her arms were still longing to hold that grandson. But, by all appearances, both couples were sterile. But things then go from bad to worse. Both of Naomi’s sons die. Now Naomi finds herself in a foreign land, left to care for her two Moabite daughters-in-law.

Yet, Naomi hears that the famine has lifted in Bethlehem. She and her two daughters-in-law make their way down the road from Moab to Bethlehem.

But wait! This idea might not work out well for Naomi’s two daughters-in-law. What good Israelite boy is going to marry a widowed Moabite? On the way, Naomi pleads for her two daughters-in-law to go back. If they go back to Moab, they can remarry and start over. One of the daughters-in law, named Orpah, goes back. She makes the practical decision. The other one, Ruth, turns to Naomi and says: “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.” (Ruth 1:16–17)

Though Ruth may not have made the practical decision, she did make the wise decision. In choosing the harder path, not only did she choose Naomi, but she also chose Naomi’s God. She even looks like Naomi’s God by willingly giving up her life in order to love her mother-in-law (see John 3:16).

It was a time of moral chaos and religious confusion in Israel, and the one seen choosing the LORD and walking the harder road of a disciple is not an Israelite but a Moabite.

Leave a Reply