These days, absolute and total commitment is more of an ideal than a reality. Employees jump from company to company. Employers lay off workers, then give their jobs to others for less pay. Marriage vows state “till death do us part” but are translated “I hope this works out and we’re lucky enough to stay together.”
The book of Ruth is about commitment. There you see the commitment of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law, the commitment of a relative to another relative, the commitment of a man to a woman, and the commitment of God to His people.
Chapter one of Ruth sets the theme of the book by focusing on Ruth herself. After her husband dies, Ruth has every reason to cut ties with her mother-in-law (Naomi). Ruth is a foreigner with no cultural obligation to Naomi, Naomi’s people, or Naomi’s God. As a young widow, it would be perfectly understandable for Ruth to pursue a new marriage and family at home, rather than caring for an old woman to whom she has no further ties, in a foreign land where she knows no one.
Yet, in Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth expresses an unwavering commitment to Naomi, surrendering her life for the good of Naomi. And, as we see later in the book, this commitment changed not only these two women, but the course of history.
This is the type of commitment God wants the readers of Ruth to see. It is the type of commitment he desires from us, because it is the type of commitment He has made to us…though He was under no obligation to do so.
The book of Ruth is our call to be people of commitment…first to God, and then to those around us.