The In-Laws

Rich Rockwood

READ : Ruth 1:1-18

Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (v. 16)

“Did you hear the one about . . .” And so begin many jokes about in-laws, especially mothers-in-law. Families assume they will all get along because their son and daughter are in love. Not necessarily.

Yet in the Bible we find a close and harmonious bond between in-laws. A Moabite named Ruth and an Israelite named Naomi had such a relationship. Moabites and Israelites had enmity dating back to Moses. Naomi and her husband had reluctantly moved to Moab because of a famine during the time of the judges. There, the sons grew up and married Moabite women. Tragically, all of the men died leaving the women to fend for themselves. Deciding to return to Israel, the two Moabite daughters-in-law started out with Naomi. But only Ruth continued to Naomi’s land, lived with Naomi’s family, and worshiped Naomi’s God.

Ruth’s words to Naomi are among the strongest professions of personal faith found in the Old Testament, and her actions display an unbreakable devotion to family—and, yes, to her mother-in-law. What energized that devotion seems to have been the love which grew during their years together before the men’s deaths.

Self-sacrificing faithfulness to one’s in-laws can provide cherished support when difficulties arise. The story of Ruth encourages us to try.


Grant us strength and boldness to reach out with openness to our in-laws.