In this opening chapter of the Book of Ruth, the confession of faith made by Ruth (vv. 16-17) is familiar and beloved by many. Coming as it does from the lips of a Moabite woman, however, we mustn't let its familiarity overshadow it's striking and unexpected declaration of faith in a foreign God. Just as Abraham courageously left behind family, his (pagan) gods, and familiar surroundings to follow the true God, so Ruth leaves behind family, land, neighbors, and the comforts of home to follow Naomi and her Israelite God.
Don't plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
May the LORD punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.
In the middle of this memorable and poetic statement is her bold confession of faith in Yahweh, "Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God." We must keep in mind that this confession is made not to the god of her people and family, but to the true God of the people of Israel. As a result, through the ages Ruth has been seen as a type of the church, and specifically a type of each of us passing through the rite of Confirmation, where we likewise boldly declare our faith in the living God, proclaiming allegiance to him.
As the sixth century Spanish Bishop Isidore of Seville wrote, "This voice without doubt shows that she is a type of the church. For the church was called to God from the Gentiles in just this way: leaving her native land (which is idolatry) and giving up all earthly associations, she confessed that he in whom the saints believed is the Lord God; and that she herself will go where the flesh of Christ ascended after his passion; and that on account of his name she would suffer in this world unto death; and that she will unite with the community of the saints, that is, the patriarchs and the prophets" (Isidore, On Ruth).
May God grant us grace to cling to him and his people equally as boldly!