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).
Boaz honors his word.
- Boaz promised that he would take care of the kinsmen-redeemer situation that morning. He could have waited, but he went to the gate to settle the matter. There was another redeemer that had the first right to redeem the land and name of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband. But the closest relative was more concerned with his own inheritance than his family member’s name living on. Boaz was a man of his word.
Naomi is released from bitterness.
- Naomi may have set out to find physical security for Ruth, but along the way, she found renewed hope in God. For He did not leave her in a state of despair, God created a path to redemption for her. Naomi recognized that God had not left her abandoned and alone. That she could release bitterness and embrace joy.
Ruth is the included outsider.
- Ruth was an outlier from the beginning. She chose to follow Naomi away from her family, her culture, and her native land. Despite being in an unfamiliar place, she followed the advice of Naomi and found provision. Her faith in action led her to redemption; and into the lineage of Jesus Christ, the ultimate redeemer.
God demonstrates loving-kindness.
- In the story of Ruth, the prevailing theme is God’s loving-kindness (hesed). It’s common for us to be kind towards people who are nice to us, but how do we respond to those who are mean? The difference between God’s kindness and human kindness is His steadfastness. God is committed to us even when we’re difficult or disobedient. His pursuit of us demonstrates the power of His loving-kindness to transform our lives.
The book of Ruth shows the transformation and redemption of two women. Naomi, who starts out abandoned and angry at God, releases bitterness to embrace hope and joy. Ruth, who leaves behind her home and culture, embraces obedience and faith to find redemption. Both women show how God’s loving-kindness is present even when we are in the middle of challenging situations. God’s hand is always guiding provision. The question is are we willing to look beyond our circumstances to see Him moving?
How has God’s loving-kindness shown up in your life? How has God’s steadfast pursuit of you changed your life?