"And Ruth said, Intreat 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: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried." This emphatic declaration she confirmed by a solemn oath—"The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." The piety, resolution, and enthusiasm of this speech convinced Naomi of the integrity and determination of Ruth, and "When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem" (Ruth 1:16-19).
The bold and devout words of Ruth revealed her to be a genuine disciple of truth. Already in her heart faith was working through love (Galatians 5:6). The "good fruit" of her lips was a clear indication that the tree was "good," not "corrupt" (Matthew 7:16-20). Look at Ruth 1:14, where we read that in contrast with the departure of Orpah, Ruth "clave unto" Naomi. The word "clave" denotes Ruth's complete self-surrender in love and loyalty to her new calling. She was yielding herself wholeheartedly and unreservedly to share not merely the temporal fortunes of her mother-in-law, but also the worship of Jehovah in the land of His chosen people.
To cleave is the term used by God at the beginning of human history to express the undivided and unchanging affection that a man should maintain for the wife of his choice (Genesis 2:24). This love is so intimate and unifying that by cleaving the "two shall be one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31). Moreover, cleaving is expressive of the loving obedience and worshipping service which should mark the people of God, and six times the children of Israel were exhorted by Moses and by Joshua to cleave unto Jehovah their God (Deuteronomy 10:20; 11:22; 13:4; 30:20; Joshua 22:5; 23:8). It is significant, therefore, that in recording Ruth's decisive step towards Bethlehem, it is said that she "clave" unto Naomi. Her choice sprang not from a mere whim of her friendly emotions, but from a rooted conviction of her soul. Her eye was upon the God of Israel rather than upon the mother of her dead husband.
Barnabas exhorted the young church at Antioch, "that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord" (Acts 11:23). To "cleave to the Lord" includes loving the Lord, walking in His ways, obeying His Word, and serving Him wholeheartedly. It means that we belong to Him alone and that we cultivate our devotion to Him. May every child of God today heed this needed exhortation.
—W.J. Hocking, adapted.
It is encouraging to see the changes that have taken place in Naomi because of what Ruth did. God used Ruth to turn Naomi's bitterness into gratitude, her unbelief into faith, and her despair into hope. One person, trusting the Lord and obeying His will, can change a situation from defeat to victory.—Warren W. Wiersbe