It’s a friendship that nobody but God could see coming. Ruth, a Moabite woman, married Naomi’s son, Mahlon—an Israelite. Then, after living as a resident alien in the country of Moab, Naomi suffered the deaths of her husband and two sons—which also meant the death of her hope for grandchildren, security, a legacy, and rest. When Naomi felt most empty and alone, Ruth stayed. The otherworldly kindness and stubborn will of Ruth play specific roles in this unique friendship.
After her loved ones die, Naomi implores Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, to return “each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband” (Ruth 1:8–9). Orpah turned away after Naomi urged her to depart. On the other hand, Ruth “clings.”
Their friendship was bonded in a mutual love for God. Naomi spoke to Ruth as a fellow God-fearer. Ruth, in turn, could understand and give godly compassion and strength back to her. Our friendships should be built upon the firm foundation of love for the Lord.
The verb used for clung in verse Ruth 1:14 is the Hebrew word dabaq. All over The Old Testament, this word is used to describe being “joined together” or “to hold fast.” Ruth commits to Naomi, despite of challenges or opposition. Even the unknown does not deter Ruth from saying “Where you die, I die, and there I will be buried” (Ruth 1:17). Talk about “Ride or die”!
Naomi imagined the emptiness her future held, a lonely and bleak existence. Ruth was overcome with empathy. She couldn’t bear the thought of watching Naomi walk through the rest of her life alone, facing the difficult challenge of being a widow in harsh times. Ruth was willing to sacrifice the hope of her own future to walk alongside her.