One of the key characteristics of God toward his people is his loyalty. The Hebrew word used is hesed and is translated by various words in our English translation (mercy [by far the most prominent translation], kindness, loving kindness, favour, goodness). When the Bible speaks of Jehovah it is this attribute that is principally in view. God is loyal to his people in mercy because He loves them. Love is the basis of his loyalty; he is loyal because he loves them. The word mercy is also closely linked to this loyalty (Psalm 103:4; Zechariah 7:9; Genesis 19:19; Psalm 109:12).
When we see this word hesed in the book of Ruth it is first referring to God (1:8) in Naomi’s prayer for Ruth and Orpah. That prayer was answered with respect to Ruth, the Lord”[did] her kindness” in bringing her into the “rest” (1:9) and security of Israel. The next mention of hesed in the book is the result of this, Ruth has “showed more kindness” (3:10 Lit. “bettered her kindness”) towards Boaz. She made good on the love of God to her.
The kindness Ruth showed was extraordinary and unexpected by the world’s standards. Orpah chose to go back, but Ruth’s love for Naomi and her God demanded that she followed on, even beyond the grave (1:17). This lifestyle of hesed is subsequently seen throughout the book and it underlines for us the characteristics of Christian fidelity and loyalty in the home, church and in every area of life. Loyalty of this kind is based in love; “let us love one another, for love is of God” I John 4:7