The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. (Ruth 2:12—NKJV)

One of the most treasured, historical accounts in the Old Testament is the story of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess; she had no part in or claim upon Israel, or Israel’s God. Her people were perpetual enemies of Israel and had been forbidden to enter the tabernacle of Jehovah for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). She probably had been a pagan worshipper of Moab’s chief deity Chemosh.

Into her life comes a family from Bethlehem. An Israelite along with his wife and two sons came into the land of Moab. This era of the Judges in Israel was a tumultuous time with cycles of upheaval and turmoil. There were times of religious apostasy followed by foreign oppression, repentance, and then divine deliverance. During one of the times of God’s judgment upon Israel, particularly characterized by a severe famine, this Israelite led his family out of the land of Jehovah and into the land of Ruth.

Over the course of time, Ruth became married to one of his sons. But tragedy befell her adopted family. All the male members died and Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, determined to go back home to Bethlehem. Ruth chose to go with her. Despite the devastating loss of being a widow in unforgiving times, Ruth clung to the Israelite and her true God. Though Naomi told her daughter-in-laws to return to their families and to their gods four distinct times (1:8, 11, 12, and 15), Ruth determined to go to Bethlehem to the land of Jehovah. Her words in response to Naomi are courageous, visceral, and full of faith (1:16–17): “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God [acknowledging Jehovah as her God]. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Despite Naomi’s embittered and morose testimony (one of the worst “testimonies” for God in biblical history) God was doing a wondrous work in the heart of Ruth. She turned to the true God of Israel and risked her all in dependence upon God. There was no hope to be found in Naomi. She was not independently wealthy. She had no support structure upon which to rely. Ruth placed herself under the protective wing of God Almighty. She fully knew what she was doing when she “clung” to Naomi (1:14).

When Ruth arrived in Bethlehem she obediently followed the biblical admonitions of Jehovah. God providentially led her steps and sovereignly brought her to her “kinsman redeemer,” Boaz. It was for Ruth’s living in fidelity and integrity that Boaz spoke the words (2:11–12), “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before. The LORD repay your work, and full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

“Under His Wings” is a phrase that had great significance to the believing Israelite. It comes from Exodus 19:4, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Myself,” and Deuteronomy 32:10–12, “He found him [Israel] in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the LORD alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him.” In these texts Jehovah’s sovereign and omnipotent love for Israel is pictured as an eagle which hovers with its great wings over its young, protects and comforts under its wings in the stormy heights of the nest, and supervises the fledgling in its first flight by catching it with strong, parental outstretched wings when the young eagle wearies in flight and begins to fall.

It is this God whom Ruth has chosen to trust! Review Psalm 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 61:4, 63:7, 91:1–4, and Matthew 23:37. Psalm 91:1–4 seems to fully illustrate the courageous faith of Ruth. May your daily faith find its courage only in the shadow of the Almighty! Trust and obey.