The Bible is full of fascinating stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, stories of friendships are demonstrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. God wants us to have relationships—not just of the marital and familial kind but deep and abiding friendships as well. True friendship provides us with support, love and enjoyment and is nothing short of a gift from God.
The friendship between Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament is an example how friendships can be forged and enhance our faith. Ruth and Naomi began their friendship as family when Ruth married Naomi’s son. Through a series of unfortunate events for both women, they ended up more than just family.
We all experience heartbreak throughout our lives. Unfortunately, Naomi had a particularly hard time and suffered the loss of her husband, then both of her sons died within several years of each other. Grief-stricken, Naomi decided to move back to her hometown of Bethlehem. She told both daughters-in-laws to return to their own hometowns, to remarry and live good lives. One of her two daughters-in-law goes, but the other, Ruth, tells Naomi that she will stay with her. In Ruth 1:12, we learn that “Ruth clung to her.”
The word ‘clung’ in Hebrew means “to stick by and stay close,” but what defines this friendship is that they were joined together. Ruth joined with Naomi. Their friendship demonstrates God’s faithfulness to those who will serve each other when in need. Ruth makes an oath to stick by Naomi’s side no matter what, then Ruth works to provide for the two of them when Naomi is unable to contribute. Ruth’s love for Naomi was sacrificial.
Ruth 1:16-17 tells us, “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’”
True friendship brings us and our friends closer to God. They help each other overcome challenges and celebrate each other’s good fortune. No matter where we are in life or where we stand with our faith, we have the opportunity to draw closer to God. Ruth and Naomi set a wonderful example to all women by having a shared love of God at the heart of their friendship.