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).
Naomi gets clarity.
- Naomi’s bitterness had clouded her ability to see beyond her current circumstances. It was the provision of grain from the fields of Boaz that reminded her that there was a redeemer for their situation. Naomi had a glimmer of hope and began to coach Ruth on what to do to ensure that Ruth was taken care of.
Ruth demonstrates faith.
- Ruth trusted the advice of Naomi. She was obedient to the instructions and followed them despite being unsure of the outcome. As she lay there waiting at Boaz’s feet, Ruth demonstrated faith. She believed in something that she could not see (Hebrews 11:1) and was rewarded.
Boaz recognized Ruth’s worth.
- Boaz recognized Ruth’s noble character. She had cared for her mother-in-law, Naomi, when she had the opportunity to return to her family. She had left behind her home in Moab to journey to a new land at the rumor of provision. She had worked hard throughout the harvesting season to gather grain. And now, she had pursued Boaz instead of younger or richer men in the town. Boaz saw Ruth’s worth, and others did too, but he must follow the laws of the culture. There was a process to redeem, but Boaz resolved to settle it that day.
For Ruth, one midnight changes everything. She trusts the word of Naomi and lays in obedience at the feet of Boaz. In faith, Ruth finds covering and redemption. The beauty of this moment in Ruth is how it points us toward our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. We, too, are like outsiders seeking covering and redemption. We are saved by faith when we surrender ourselves at His feet.
Think back to the moment when you surrendered your will and joined the body of Christ. How has your faith and obedience grown since that moment?