2013-11-24 - More Good Decisions
Ruth ~ Part 11
As Orpah walks away, Ruth clings to her mother-in-law. Naomi does seem to recognize whats at stake. She not only notes that Orpah is returning to her people and to her gods, but she encourages Ruth to follow Orpah and return to Moab.
But Ruth refuses to leave. She wants to go with Naomi. She is willing to give up everything, even her future as a wife and mother, to be with Naomi. But there is something else involved here: Ruths strong faith. Her commitment is to stay with Naomi until death separates them. She is committed first to Naomi and her people - and then to God. This may simply be a way of expressing her inability to separate the God of Israel from the Israelites themselves.
Ruth is going to Judah, to join herself with Naomis God. Somewhere along the line, she had moved away from the gods of her land and had come to a faith in the one true God. How could she return to Moab now, knowing the truth and the one true God?
Thus Ruth gives an oath to demonstrate the sincerity of her commitment. She calls Gods judgment down on herself, if anything causes her to leave Naomi other than death.
She swore a solemn curse on herself if she did not keep her promise (May the LORD deal with me [v.17], a formula found here and in eleven passages in Samuel and Kings, e.g., 1 Sam 3:17; 14:44; 1 Kings 2:23; 2 Kings 6:31; lit., Thus may the LORD do to me and thus may he add). Ruth invoked the covenant name of God for the first and only time in this self-imprecation. Her commitment of no separation even by death probably refers to the Israelite custom of burying members of the same family in a family tomb. 5
Tradition states that Naomi is giving the women the opportunity to convert. This is why, on three occasions, she encourages them to return home. Orpah fails, and Ruth succeeds. There is absolutely nothing in the text that supports this position. Remember, when we let tradition becomes our basis for understanding Scripture, we are in danger of going well beyond Gods intent for His word.
Ruth commits to the Lord and Naomi. Naomi gives up any attempt to change Ruths mind.
To be continued.
For more information about the author, podcasts and additional studies visit www.GKRAGEN.com.