Main point summary
As Naomi returns to her people, Orpah chooses to remain in her mother's house while Ruth forsakes her family to cling to Naomi, her people and her God.
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab,
for she had heard in the fields of Moab that e the Lord had visited his people and f given them food.
So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law,
and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law,
“Go, return each of you to her mother’s house.
May the Lord g deal kindly with you,
as you have dealt with h the dead and with me.
The Lord grant that you may find i rest, each of you in the house of her husband!”
Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
And they said to her,
“No, we will return with you to your people.”
But Naomi said,
“Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me?
Have I yet sons in my womb j that they may become your husbands?
Turn back, my daughters; go your way,
for I am too old to have a husband.
If I should say I have hope,
even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,
would you therefore wait till they were grown?
Would you therefore refrain from marrying?
No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that k the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”
Then they lifted up their voices and wept again.
And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law,
but Ruth clung to her.
And she said,
“See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to l her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth said,
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you.
For where you go I will go,
and where you lodge I will lodge.
m Your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die I will die,
and there will I be buried.
n May the Lord do so to me and more also
if anything but death parts me from you.”
o And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
When Naomi turned to go back to her homeland of Israel, her daughters in law accompanied her to the border of their land. Having completed the appropriate courtesy, they have a decision to make: do they forsake their own homeland in favour of Naomi's or do they return to their mother's house? At first, they both indicate they would not turn from Naomi. Then Naomi indicated the cost in order to ensure that their decision had the right motives. If they chose to accompany her they should not do so in order to find self-serving benefits in this life, after all, Naomi couldn't even guarantee them a husband. If they chose to remain with Naomi, they should do so with a pure motive. They should choose to stay with Naomi because she was part of God's chosen people and a worshipper of the one true God. Orpah could not. In verse 15, we see that Orpah chose not only her own people but her own gods. Orpah was willing to accompany Naomi until she realized the only benefit was God. Jesus spoke about people like this as well in Matthew 13:20-21 when he described the seed that fell on rocky soil. Initially, they sprung up and saw tremendous growth, but when the sun came out and they saw what they had to lose, they shrank back. The seedling withered and died. Such was the case with Orpah. Ruth, however, shows in verses 16-17 that she understands what's at stake. She affirms her allegiance to Naomi, then beyond that to her people, and ultimately to her God, even at the cost of her life. Ruth's faith is tested, and proven when she faces the reality of the cost of following.