Before studying any passage, it’s important to understand the context.
For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick summary of Ruth:
Author: Unknown; several scholars credit Samuel as recording this book, but the book itself gives no clues to its writer.
Date: approximately 1030 to 1010 b.c
Background: Judges Period (Judges was a time of social and religious disorder. Judges 17:6 – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”); Bethlehem and the country of Moab (The people of Moab were descendants of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) through incest.)
- Ruth—Moabite; Naomi’s daughter-in-law (married Mahlon); later married to Boaz; direct ancestor of Jesus
- Naomi—widow of Elimelech and mother of Mahlon and Chilion; mother-in-law of Orpah and Ruth; wisely instructed Ruth
- Boaz—a prosperous farmer who married Ruth, the Moabite; direct ancestor of Jesus
Interesting Facts: 1) This book is the only one in the Old Testament named after a non-Jewish person; 2) This book is one of only two books in the Bible named after a woman (Ruth & Esther).
Ruth asked for permission.
- In those days, it was common for widows to gather fallen grain from the fields after the harvesters, yet Ruth was mindful of authority. She asked Naomi’s permission to go to gather grain. She asked for permission to gather in Boaz’s fields.
God’s providence is at work.
- There were probably several fields where Ruth could have gathered grain. Yet, she wound up in Boaz’s field. And Boaz just happened to be a relative of Naomi. These details all line up in ways that only God could orchestrate.
Ruth displayed her character in the field.
- Ruth stood out. She was a foreigner, but she also had a noticeable work ethic. The servant in charge of the harvesters reported to Boaz how Ruth had been on her feet since morning. It was clear she was diligent in her work.
God’s hand is seen.
- In this chapter, we see God without seeing God. His hand is guiding and lining up details to provide for His children. It is because of His provision of food and a potential kinsman-redeemer that Naomi starts to regain her hope.
Some people may read Ruth and think all of these details lining up are just a coincidence, but God is intentional. God’s providence is not happenstance. We serve a God that is aware of our needs and arranges resources for our provision. Remember, Naomi and Ruth left Moab on a rumor that Bethlehem had food and they arrived during harvest season. Naomi had been blaming God for her circumstances, but God was still providing for her needs. Naomi was too blinded by bitterness to see that she had companionship in Ruth and grain from the excess of the harvesters. The beauty of God’s mercy is that He doesn’t stop providing for you as you work through your season of testing. You just have to open your eyes beyond your circumstances to see God’s provision.
Have your circumstances ever clouded you from seeing God’s provision in the middle of a storm? When you look back on that situation, where do you see His hand? What did that teach you about God’s nature?