We find Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth in a pickle, with no men to care for them and no heir to pass on the family name. Naomi's husband dies then her two sons die as well. Decidedly going home to Bethlehem, Ruth in tow, Naomi stops and instructs Ruth to go back to her mother's house in Moab to remarry. Ruth refuses to leave Naomi. It is clear in the text that Ruth loves her mother-in-law and is willing to start a new life in a foreign land with her. Ruth recites one of the most beautiful passages in scripture, "Where you go I will go, where you live I will live, Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God...". Talk about loyalty!
When the two women arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth begins to glean the barley left behind by the harvesters. Her hard work and commitment to Naomi, quickly catches the eye of Boaz; a relative of Ruth's late husband. The Jewish customs concerning widows were very clear. If a man dies without an heir, then his brother or next of kin is to marry the widow and produce an heir in the dead man's stead. This is called kinsman redemption or a Levirate marriage. Boaz was the kinsman redeemer for Ruth. Naomi loved her daughter-in-law and wanted to see her happy and fruitful, so she helps arrange the marriage to Boaz. After talking it over with the elders in the city, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and they conceive a son, Obed. Ruth loves Naomi, and shares the joy of the new baby boy with her. Naomi is overjoyed that there is finally an heir to continue the family name and thrilled that Ruth and Boaz are happy together.
Something that none of them knew, was how important the birth of Obed would be to the lineage of Messiah. Boaz was the son of Salmon (Rahab's Jewish husband), and Obed would produce Jesse the father of King David; 14 generations later Jesus was born to a virgin.
I believe The Lord orchestrates such situations in our lives to complete His will for us, even when we don't understand. The relationship between Ruth and Naomi is equally important. They leaned on each other, learned from each other, and they cared for each other's needs. Their friendship reminds me that we as women were made for relationship, made to strengthen each other and care for one another. We are the huggers and healers in our own families. These women illustrate the love and commitment of friendship. They worked together to remedy the bitterness they suffered and pulled through together.
Do you have a best friend? Maybe you have a circle of good friends. Whatever the case may be, we can use Ruth and Naomi as a model for healthy friendships with other women. We truly need each other to lift us up, pray for us, a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen. Friendship takes work and commitment, but the most important ingredient is love. Give your friend a call or email today to remind her you love her and are committed to your friendship. Be encouraged, the Lord Jesus seeks to have a relationship with you today. As you pray and practice this Christian life, draw near to Him who made you. What a friend we have in Jesus!