And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge…
The Bible affirms that no man liveth to himself. Each life has an influence. What is influence? It is that subtle something which resides in our deeds, words, spirit, and character. It is a shadow of ourselves, our impersonal self. It is to us relatively what the fragrance is to the flowers, what light is to the star. We are all sensitive to influence: our hearts are open to goodness, beauty, genius. There is never a day when perhaps unconsciously we do not receive and reflect a thousand shadowy forms. Some are more receptive of influences than others, just as there are certain soils that drink in more greedily sunshine and shower; and as there are certain bodily conditions more open to disease, so there are certain mental and moral dispositions more open to good and evil, truth and error. There are men like clay — you can mould them as you will; others are like rock — you must chisel them as you can. Naomi was not perfect, but she exerted a great influence upon her daughters-in-law.
I. SOME OF THE LINES ALONG WHICH HER INFLUENCE WAS TRANSMITTED.
1. There was relation ship. Naomi was mother-in-law to Ruth. This link was sanctified to the salvation of Ruth. Relationship is to-day one of the most powerful aids to moral influence. See it in the Gospels: Andrew first finds his own brother Simon; Philip findeth Nathanael. Most children are open to maternal influences. Native missionaries are the best. Influence follows love.
2. There was sorrow. These women had shared a common grief: they had watched at the same bed of death; participated in the same hopes and fears. Naomi would comfort Ruth with her Jewish hope and consolation. Sorrow fits for influence. The heart is plastic. The wax is melted and receives the impress of the seal. The mind is filled for the teaching. Such opportunities for transmission of holy influence are constantly occurring.
3. There was humanity. Relationship and sorrow are accidental; humanity is the essential fact, and binds the world together. Angelic influence is impeded by difference in nature. Our hands fit into each other's palm, our faces reflect similar features. We have common wants and ways. Influence runs along the lines of our human brotherhood.
II. SOME OF THE IMPEDIMENTS THAT MIGHT HAVE INTERRUPTED HER INFLUENCE. There were considerations adverse to her influence.
1. Nationality. Ruth was a Moabitess. Israel and Moab were ancient enemies. The Turk will not readily yield to the English influence. Yet so great is the power of moral influence that it overcame this barrier.
2. Education. Ruth had grown up to womanhood before she came under the influence of Naomi; her habits were formed. She was a devout idolatress. Here was a strong impediment for moral influence to overcome. Virgin soil may be easily cultivated as we wish; not so the land long covered with weeds. When the whole man is overrun with noxious principles it is not easy to exterminate and implant new ideas and habits. This the good life of Naomi accomplished in Ruth.
3. Adverse example. Orpah went back to Moab. The good influence may fail even where its power has been felt strongly. Who can estimate the power of adverse example to-day! How many are turned by it from the ways of religion! Naomi may be counteracted by Orpah.
III. THE SUCCESS OF THE GOOD INFLUENCE. The success was not absolute. Orpah returned, Ruth continued. See her wisdom. She in her turn becomes influential and useful — a help to Naomi. She becomes a permanent factor in the redemptive history. See the wisdom of yielding to high moral influences.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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:
WEB: Ruth said, "Don't entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after 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;