So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem…
Ruth 1:19. So they two went till they came to Bethlehem. "They two!" Sometimes it is husband and wife. Sometimes it is two sisters commencing life together in the great city where they have to earn their bread. Sometimes it is two lovers who have large affection and little means, and who have to wait and work and hope on. Sometimes it is widow and child. "They two!" What unrecorded histories of heroism there are written in God's book all unknown to us.
I. HERE IS THE COMMENCEMENT AND CLOSE OF A PILGRIMAGE. They went. They came. So is it of the life history itself. All is enfolded in these brief words. What a multitude of figures in Scripture suggest the brevity of life. A tale that is told. A post. A weaver's shuttle. The morning flower. So indeed it is. What a multitude of incidents would be included even in this brief journey of Naomi's; but these are the two clasps of the volume of life. They went. They came. "Every beginning holds in it the end, as the acorn does the oak."
II. HERE IS THE SIGHT OF A CITY. Bethlehem. Cities with them were not like cities with us. Even Bethlehem was called a city. But the old dwelling-places, after ten years, have a mute eloquence about them. Other feet come to the well. Little children who gathered flowers on the wild hills are now bearing pitchers to the well. But after a weary journey how refreshing to the Easterns was the glimpse of the white houses on the hills. We look for a city. A city which hath foundations. A city where our beloved are; for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. We do not think of it in health and strength and excitement of human interest, but one day we shall look with quiet longing for the city gates. The evening of life will come upon us, and we shall pray, "Let me go, for the day breaketh."
III. HERE IS A PILGRIMAGE ENDED. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning, said the wise man. And so it is. "I have finished my course." How much is included in that. When the battered ship comes into harbor we take more interest in her than the spick and span new vessel with trim decks, and untorn sails, and scarless masts. When the battle is over we think more of the shot-pierced flag than of the new banner borne out by the troops with martial music. We like to see the pilgrim start. But some pilgrims turn back. We like to hear Ruth's resolve. How much better is it to see the resolve written in letters of living history. We can call no man hero, no woman heroine, till the march is over and the victory won. - W.M.S.
Parallel VersesKJV: So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?