Taken out of context, the 16th verse of the book of Ruth is often used as a scripture reading at weddings.
Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. — Ruth 1:16 NLT
But surprise! These are not words of love between two people being married. Rather, it’s what a young woman named Ruth told her mother-in-law Naomi at a crucial point in their relationship.
Naomi and her husband had two sons, and they had lived happily in Bethlehem until a time of famine. Then, attempting to find better conditions, they crossed the Jordan River to a country called Moab. Unfortunately Naomi’s husband died an early death.
The boys grew up and married women from Moab. One son married Ruth and the other married a woman named Orpah. (Note: Spellcheck wants me to change that to Oprah, but it’s actually Orpah. Besides which, Oprah isn’t that old.)
We don’t learn why, but the two sons also died at an early age.
So the three widows were left together.
Naomi made the decision to go back to the family she had left in Bethlehem and entreated her two daughters-in-law to return to their own families there in Moab.
Orpah did so. But apparently, Ruth loved Naomi so much that she made a case of staying with Naomi. And that’s where the verse comes up: And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. — King James Bible
I get to teach this lesson in Sunday School tomorrow, and I’m so happy. This story resonates with me especially at the beginning of November which is the anniversary date of when my own mother-in-law Rosalie left this earth.
I loved Rosalie every bit as much as Ruth loved Naomi. And without a doubt, I was loved back that much.
Naomi and Ruth, Norma and Rosalie.
I actually had the opportunity to present a tribute to Rosalie on the Mother’s Day the year before she died. I retold this lesson of Ruth and Naomi as I began speaking, “From my lips to your ears, Rosalie, whither thou goest, I will go…”