As we commemorate Ruth today, we read an excerpt from Ruth: More Than a Love Story about Ruth’s devotion to Naomi and her faith in God.
In Hebrew narrative, the first dialogue of any character is important to note and often reveals the personality or another important aspect of that character. Ruth’s speech reveals that she is decisive—she gets to the point quickly and poetically. It also reveals her faith in Yahweh; the first thing we hear from Ruth is a strong vow based on a profession of faith in Yahweh.
Additionally, a literary device called merism, very common in Hebrew writing, is employed here in Ruth’s speech. Merism, by stating two opposites or extremes, covers everything in between. Ruth’s speech uses merism when she promises to accompany Naomi in life and in death. By mentioning both of these aspects of the human experience, Ruth is telling Naomi that her commitment to her is all-encompassing and never-ending.
The final surprise and most striking aspect of Ruth’s speech is that she uses the covenant name of God, showing that she is a true believer. Only the covenant people of God were given the gift of knowing and properly using His personal name, Yahweh. This is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3 and used by the patriarchs and matriarchs. . . . Ruth is saying that her vow to Naomi is so strong that not even death will separate them. This seems to convey that Ruth believes in the resurrection. The belief in life after death and in a resurrection is not uncommon in the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel 28:14–20 and Job 19 for examples). Ruth’s clinging to Naomi will last not just for their present earthly life, but into life eternal as well. So strong is this vow that Naomi, for the first time in this section, is reduced to silence. She has no more clever rhetorical questions, no more prayers or blessings, and no more statements urging Ruth’s departure.
O Holy Spirit, Giver and Strengthener of faith, grant that we, like Ruth, may confess the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so others may hear of Your great mercy and be brought to faith in the waters of Holy Baptism, for You live and reign with the Father and the Son, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Devotional reading and prayer are from Ruth: More Than a Love Story, pages 55–56 and 41 respectively © 2014 Elizabeth Ahlman. Published by Concordia Publishing House.