Full bible text
Ruth 1 verses 1 to 18
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “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. 17 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.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
About this painting
The family of Elimelech ('my God is king') has left Bethlehem ('house of bread') for the pagan Moab because of famine. The hunger was a sign of the covenant curse. (Deuteronomy 28,29,30)
When Naomi is left alone in Moab after a while, she hears that the LORD is giving his people bread again. Verse 6. Then she gets courage to return to Bethlehem, together with her daughters-in-law, who are also widows. On the way, however, Naomi tries to persuade Ruth and Orpah to return to Moab. Orpah yields to Naomi's words, but Ruth impressively swears allegiance to Naomi and to the LORD.
The Holy Spirit put faith in and love for the God of Israel in Ruth's heart. As happened before with Rahab. (Joshua 2 and 6)
The originally pagan Ruth is welcome, and may share in the grace, the salvation of Israel's God. Psalm 87 verse 5,6:
5 ‘And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in her”;
for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.”
There was enmity between Israel and Moab. Deuteronomy 23 verses 3 to 6.
Moabite men were barred from full citizenship of Israel. However, an Israelite may marry a Moabite woman, as Boaz does. Ruth 4.
Ruth's choice later proves to be of great significance in preparing for the arrival of the "man after God's own heart," King David. For Boaz son of Rahab and Salmon (descendant of Judah) begets a son with Ruth; Obed. Obed becomes David's grandfather. Thus Ruth the Moabite becomes the foremother of the great Son of David; Jesus. See Matthew 1.
He is the perfectly righteous Judge, King, Messiah.
In the time of the book of Judges, everyone does what is right in their own eyes. The performance of the judges themselves also leaves much to be desired. Yet also at that time the LORD unobtrusively proves His mercy and faithfulness to the covenant with Israel.