We’ve been discussing the idea of shub, or return. In the book of Ruth, the first chapter is rich with this returning. Naomi returns to her homeland. She begs her daughters-in-law to return to their homes.
Let’s take a look at few more uses of shub in Ruth:
Ruth 1:15 Then she said, "Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back (shub) to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law."
Orpah gives up. She kisses Naomi good-bye and returns to her mother and her gods. The problem is now revealed. Naomi is not just sending these young women back to their homes, but also back to their gods. She releases them from worship of God, which has apparently been the family tradition. Naomi now turns to Ruth, who is standing firm. Look, Naomi says, your sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods. Go do the same thing. You need to return as well.
Ruth 1:16 But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back (shub) from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
Ruth responds with an incredible pledge. She commits herself to Naomi like a bondservant might. “Your people are my people. Your God is my God. For me to return is to go to Bethlehem with you. What is “return” for you is “return” for me. I identify myself with you. I am your servant.”
Naomi abandons the debate. She says no more to Ruth but instead heads for home.
Ruth has bonded herself to Naomi. That returning or turning back will change both their lives.
We’ll look at Naomi’s stubborn point of view next time, when she ignores the companion that God has given her while insisting that God has left her destitute and empty.