2006-02-16 - Better Than
Ruth 4:15 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." (NASB)
In our very competitive society, the idea that one thing or person is better than, taller than, stronger than, faster than, etc. another is a common theme. We look for the best. We keep track of records and celebrate those who push the envelope of performance. I don't think this is, necessarily, a bad thing. A little competition can be a very positive thing.
I was struck by a statement in this verse tonight: "... who loves you better than seven sons ..." It has a few immediate implications in my mind.
Sons were very important in the culture at the time of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was a daughter-in-law and of foreign decent. And yet, Naomi's friends claim that Ruth cares for her mother-in-law better than seven sons. To say that a daughter surpasses a son is, obviously, a stunning compliment to Ruth, let a lone that the daughter exceeds a son by seven times. Remember that Peter thought he was doing well by saying that he would forgive someone seven times. Jesus raised the bar explained that we should forgive seventy times seven times - or a virtually unlimited number of times. But seven, the number Ruth is complimented with, is apparently an significant number as well.
The other thing that is surpassing in this phrase is Ruth's love. Naomi had dismissed Ruth and her sister, and told them to go back to their homes and find new husbands, as they were young widows. But Ruth clung to Naomi and refused to be parted from her. She accepted Naomi's Lord as the true God. They shared tears, and shelter and what provisions they had. Ruth's love must have been an amazing comfort to Naomi in very trying times for both women.
There are some things that will rarely win trophies or awards. But the loyalty, the love and care, of close friends and family are among the truly treasured things most of us have. Even though we do not posses it, this critical fiber of a relationship is displayed in honored places in our lives. In a world that is full of negative things that try to pull us down, the Lord puts special people in our lives to hold us up, help us stand and point us to Him.
Phil 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things . 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. (NASB)