Ruth Follows Naomi – A Lesson on Inspirational Faith

Shared on June 16, 2024

Are you inspiring others to live by faith? Naomi did that for Ruth, a woman who plays a key part in Jesus’ being born into the world. Join Pastor McCrary for this week’s Sunday School lesson as we take a look at the story of Ruth.


Our lesson this week keeps our focus on women of faith.  In our lesson this week, we are going to take a look at the story of Naomi and Ruth.  The book of Ruth is one of those overlooked books in the bible as it’s only four chapters long.  However, though it is only four chapters long, there are very powerful lessons we find in this book.  In fact, Ruth is one of the key figures to how Jesus comes through the lineage of Judah and David. So, for the next few weeks I hope you enjoy the lessons we will go over in this book.

Meeting Naomi and Ruth

Our lesson opens by providing background to the story for our protagonist.  We are first told the time setting of this story is during the days of the judges of Israel.  So, this was occurring during the days in between Joshua’s death and Saul’s reign as king.  We are also told about a certain man named Elimelech, that had to move to Moab with his family because of a famine (Ruth 1:1-2).

Now, not to get us too sidetracked, I would be remiss to point out the genealogy of Elimelech.  Elimelech was of Bethlehem, Judah – he was of the tribe of Judah.  That means that his sons were of the tribe of Judah as well.  That is, they were of the tribe that David come through and that Jesus would also come through.

Elimelech was married to a woman named Naomi and had two sons through her.  Sadly, Elimelech died and Naomi became a widow (Ruth 1:3).  The two sons would eventually get married to gentile women with one being named Orpah and the other Ruth (Ruth 1:4).  Ruth is the main protagonist of this story.  She’s also very important in that she is key to the lineage from Jesus to Judah (Matt. 1:5).

Now, according to the law, the children of Israel were not supposed to marry the people of the land of Canaan (Deut. 7:2-3).  Why was that?  The reason why was that the people of the land would turn the children away from following the Lord (Deut. 7:4).  Was Ruth and Orpah going to turn these sons away from the Lord?

Scripture tells us this family went on to live in Moab for ten years until the two sons of Elimelech also died (Ruth 1:5).  It is believed that their names say a bit about the health of these two sons.  The meaning behind their names is “sickly” and “puny/wasting away”.  The suggestion is that the two sons weren’t very healthy and died because of poor health.

This is a terrible circumstance for Naomi, isn’t it?  She lost her husband and both of her sons.  Let’s add on that her two daughter-in-laws are also now widows and the two sons had no children!  So Naomi and these two gentile women were left “alone” as they all outlived the men.  What would they do?  How would they make it? Could they make it?

Finding Faith in Unfortunate Circumstances

Years ago I preached a sermon – “On Your Worst Day” – and focused on Naomi and Ruth.  It’s our unfortunate circumstances that define who we truly are in our faith.  Some spiral out of control, some spiral into a death spiral, while others manage to stay the course during those times.  What would these women do?

Holding fast to hope

Naomi began to make preparation to return back to Bethlehem as the famine had ended (Ruth 1:6).  There was nothing left there in Moab for Naomi.  In a way, this reminds me of the prodigal son who left his father’s house and found great struggle during a famine (Luke 15:11-32).  Eventually, the son’s hope and desire was to return back to the home of his father and suffer no more.

For Naomi, we don’t see that she spent all she had on prodigal living.  Though, again, her sons did break the Mosaic Law and Naomi and was experiencing the aftermath.  However, rather than wallowing in despair, Naomi had hope in her heart and her hope was the Lord.

As she made this preparation, she looked to her daughter-in-laws who had remained with her and encouraged them to return back to their homes (Ruth 1:8).  She didn’t do this to get rid of two women.  In fact, her daughter-in-laws both did well by her and she loved them.  So, she desired what was best for them and could lead to them living happy lives.

Now, I want you to pay close attention to Naomi’s faith during this circumstance.  She prayed that her two daughter-in-laws be dealt with kindly by the Lord.  She prayed that they would be able to find rest.  In this moment of grief and pain, did she lash out in anger?  In this unfortunate circumstance, Naomi has responded with love, hope, and faith.  She is setting the example that one should follow in such a circumstance.

Naomi’s contagious faith

Our lesson skips over Orpah and Ruth’s initial response to Naomi’s request, but neither wanted to leave Naomi alone.  But Naomi was adamant that the women return to their own homes for a better life.  So, Orpah, with tears in her eyes, kissed Naomi and left to return home (Ruth 1:14).  Ruth, on the other hand, clung to Naomi- she wouldn’t let her go.

Why did Ruth not let her go?  Ruth said to her, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn from following after you (Ruth 1:16).”  This is Ruth pleading for Naomi not to turn her away.  Ruth continued, “For wherever you go, I will go;  And wherever you lodge, I will lodge.”  I would say that it’s very clear that Ruth had no intention of ever leaving Naomi’s side.

The question still remains:  why was Ruth so determined to stay with Naomi?  Was she afraid to go back to her own home?  Nothing indicates to us that Ruth was afraid of going back home.  Naomi certainly wasn’t holding anything over her head to force her to stay with her.  So, what was it?

Ruth said to Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”  This is the answer as to why Ruth desired to stay with Naomi.  I believe that Ruth was a very observant woman.  We have to keep in mind that she had just became a widow and so I believe she observed how Naomi carried herself.  

Ruth would have met Naomi when Naomi was already a widow.  As we have seen, Naomi was a caring and loving person but we also see her strength and wisdom as well.  If you and I can see Naomi’s character through words, imagine the person Ruth saw with her eyes.  I don’t believe Ruth was afraid to go back home, I believe she had found something better.

Ruth, I believe, wanted to be more like Naomi as a woman and person.  Naomi’s hope and faith was contagious and Ruth wanted to grow into such a strong and caring person.  So, unlike Orpah, Ruth was simply unable to turn away from the opportunity before.  Ruth chose to lay claim to God.

The strongest people I believe are those who, no matter the circumstance, will lay hold of the Lord.  Think about what Naomi believed Ruth was giving up:  her future well being, husband, and family.  So, Ruth was willing to make that sacrifice because she believed she would be happier with Naomi and her God.  How many of us would be willing to make such a sacrifice?

Thank You For Visiting New Found Faith

Sign up to our newsletter today so that you can stay up to date with New Found Faith