This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Ruth 1:16 ‘Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’

This Week’s Focus Passage: Ruth 1:16

‘Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’


The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren; and Judah begat Perez and Zerah of Tamar; and Perez begat Hezron; and Hezron begat Ram; and Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon; and Nahshon begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king.---Matthew 1:1-5. And, of course, David was the well-known progenitor of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this, in the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, is the genealogy of the Christ from Abraham to David. This paragraph (although the paragraphs are not inspired) contains the only notice of Ruth in the New Testament. And there are but twelve times her name is cited in the Older Testament, all twelve being found in the book which is under her name; the book of Ruth.

And apart from the book of Esther, which is rather enigmatic in itself, Ruth is the only book, in the Bible, under the name of a woman. Her name is mentioned, as we have said above, in the account contained in the four chapters of this, the eighth book of our Old Testament, twelve times. Matthew Henry has written, in his intro-duction to his commentary upon Ruth, the following remarks. He made mention that: 

“This short history of the domestic affairs of one particular family fitly follows the book of Judges (the events related here happening in the days of the judges), and fitly goes before the books of Samuel, because in the close it introduces David. It relates not miracles nor laws, wars nor victories, nor the revolutions of states, but the affliction first and afterward the comfort of Naomi, the conversion first and afterward the preferment of Ruth. Many such events have happened, which perhaps we may think as well worthy to be recorded; but these God saw fit to transmit the knowledge of to us; and even common historians think they have liberty to choose their subject. The design of this book is, 1. To lead to providence, to show us how conversant it is about private concerns, and to teach us in them all to have an eye to it, acknowledging God in all our ways and in all events that concern us. In the conversion of Ruth the Moabitess, we have a type of the calling of the Gentiles in due time into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have underlined in bold letters Henry’s remarks regarding the distinguishing and beautiful conversion of the woman of Moab as just one lovely typological specimen. The story of her coming to faith in Christ; displaying God’s Providence in doing so.

    The story began with a certain man of Beth-lehem-Judah, Elimelech, who went with his family, because of a famine in the land, to sojourn in the country of Moab. Now is this not providential? After all, Who is it that brings famine? Is it not God Himself? Do we not read the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, as it is called, that he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.? Yea, it surely is Jehovah’s sun and Jehovah’s rain. So that Providence was employed here to move Elimelech to ‘sojourn in the land of Moab’ with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, in leaving Beth-lehem-judah. It appears that, very shortly, Elimelech died, and Naomi was left, and her two sons. And they, Mahlon and Chilion, both took them wives of the Moabites. Was this not providential as well? The names of these women of Moab, were Orpah, and Ruth. These two sons of Elimelech, with their wives, and Naomi then dwelt there [in Moab] twelve years. Scripture then simply, and rather coldly, tells us that Mahlon and Chilion died [we are not told, how]. So that Naomi was left of her two sons and of her husband. Providence, providence, she had become a widow. 

    Again, in God’s Providence, Naomi hears that Jehovah had given bread to Judah, so she determines to return to her homeland. Taking leave of Orpah and Ruth, she says to them, Go, return each of you to her mother’s house: Jehovah deal kindly with you, and ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. But neither of them wish to leave her. this could even be considered to be a prayer of Naomi for her daughters-in-law; their mother-in-law especially uttering these words, Jehovah deal kindly with you. And she lovingly advises them both to return to their mother’s house. And she continued to press the issue, saying at least two more times, ‘return to your mother’s house. Upon this continuance, Orpah finally, even as each of the daughter-in-laws ‘lifted up their voices and wept,’ we witness the separation of the two. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave to her. In the narrative which follows, we hear not one word more about Orpah. This then may be considered the ‘great separation,’ But why, why did Orpah leave while Ruth clave to Naomi? 

    There are words of explanation from the lips of Ruth given us in the ensuing conversation, where Naomi once more entreats Ruth to leave, as Orpah had. Ruth’s lovely response is special; she tells her mother-in-law, with the boldness of grace:

Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee, for whiter thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. 

Here, Ruth demonstrates that she has been separated from Orpah and from Moab, by the sovereign grace of God. Why should that be so difficult to understand? Have we not already, in God’s Word, witnessed this sovereign division between Cain and Abel? Between Ishmael and Isaac? Between Jacob and Esau? And do we not see this same thing even in our own lives, and in the lives of family members? Hopefully not in our immediate family, though that division is sadly not uncommon among us. We must keep the language of God,’ especially perhaps reflecting over and again upon the adjective, Sovereign. And determining to reflect particularly upon the blessings of that glorious wonder of sovereignty; we cannot save relatives, but God can.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church     


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