Ruth – Woman who lived faithful day by day
The book of Ruth is a remarkable story of the plight of one family from tragedy to blessing.
Running from a problem into a problem
The husband sought to take care of his family by leaving his home and inheritance behind to go to a place where the living was easier because famine was in his land. So he packed up his family and traveled to a foreign land to take care of his family.
While he was there, tragedy struck. He died and left his wife with her two sons. Her sons married women from the foreign land. Then her two sons died.
She is a widow in a foreign land with only her two daughter-in-laws. So she decides to go back home.
Ruth 1:1–5 ESV “1:1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
1:2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.
1:3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.
1:4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years,
1:5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.”
As she leaves, her two daughter-in-laws follow her. She compels them to return back home; Orpah does, but Ruth refuses to go back. Here is one of the great passages on love found in the the Scriptures.
Ruth 1:16–17 ESV “1:16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
1:17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.””
Naomi had to be a remarkable woman for Ruth to be willing to leave her home and family behind and follow Naomi. The book speaks about the character of both Naomi and Ruth.
Tragedy strikes because it began with a problem and ended with tragedy.
Begins with death and famine and ends with Naomi returning back home without her husband and two sons. Elimelech left his inheritance for food and safety, but only found death and the grave. When one leaves the blessings of the Lord, they are left wanting and suffering.
Ruth 1:19–22 ESV “1:19 ¶ So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
1:20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
1:21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
1:22 ¶ So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
Ruth 2:1–7 ESV “2:1 ¶ Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
2:2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
2:3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.
2:4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”
2:5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”
2:6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.
2:7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.””
Ruth 2:17–23 ESV “2:17 ¶ So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
2:18 And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
2:19 And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
2:20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
2:21 And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’”
2:22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”
2:23 So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.”
Naomi comes back home poor and destitute. She cannot buy back her land that they left to go to Moab. So Ruth has to glean in the fields behind the reapers. She can only glean what is left behind which is very little.
Deuteronomy 24:20 ESV “When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.”
The special part of chapter 2 is Ruth’s willingness and determination to glean enough for her and her mother-in-law to eat. She worked hard all through the wheat and barley season to take care of Naomi and herself.
Her faithfulness is rewarded by the care and thoughtfulness of Boaz because her testimony on how she treated her mother-in-law went before her. This should be a lesson to us on how we treat our family will have a direct impact on out testimony.
Ruth was a faithful, determined, hardworking young woman.
Ruth 3:1–5 ESV “3:1 ¶ Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?
3:2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.
3:3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
3:4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.”
3:5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.””
Naomi sent Ruth to Boaz to appeal to him as the near kinsman. However, there was a kinsman nearer than Boaz. So Boaz had to the near kinsman and tell him to fulfill his obligations to Naomi.
Near kinsman had three obligations:
- Redeem his brother and his brother’s inheritance.
- Avenger of any fatal violence against his brother.
- Raise up a successor to his brother if he died without a son.
What Ruth did was not improper or immoral, she was appealing to Boaz to fulfill the obligations of the near kinsman.
The reason why Boaz had not done this earlier:
- His age – up in years
- He was not the nearest kinsman
- Naomi had the first claim as the one to be redeemed but she gave up the claim by sending Ruth.
Six measures of Barley was a sign that he would pursue the obligations of the near kinsman quickly.
Deuteronomy 25:5–10 ESV “25:5 ¶ “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.
25:6 And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.
25:7 And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’
25:8 Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’
25:9 then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’
25:10 And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’”
Leviticus 25:25–28 ESV “25:25 ¶ “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.
25:26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it,
25:27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property.
25:28 But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.”
Boaz does not delay in going to the nearest kinsman in the presence of the elders. He asked if he will redeem the land of Elimelech. Near kinsman agrees until he hears that he has to redeem Ruth also. He removes his shoe and gives it to Boaz to show that it is now Boaz’s obligation.
Boaz immediately agrees to redeem the inheritance for Naomi and he marries Ruth.
Ruth 4:13–22 ESV “4:13 ¶ So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.
4:14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!
4:15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
4:16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.
4:17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
4:18 ¶ Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,
4:19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,
4:20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,
4:21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,
4:22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.”
Living principle: Faithfulness is a requirement for blessing.
James 1:5–8 ESV “1:5 ¶ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Her willingness to stay, support, help, and treat kindly was noted by all. They saw her love, loyalty, work, and faithfulness. Her kindness was a sign of her heart which was filled with love for her family.
God blessed her faithfulness by taking care of her through Boaz. He gave her another husband and a child which was the great grandfather of King David.
Naomi was blessed by the Lord even though earlier she felt God’s hand of blessing was removed from her life.
Lesson – there are times in our lives where we will go through a famine and tragedies. But, we must not give up or quit because God will bless our faithfulness to Him through all the struggles and trials.
Galatians 6:5–10 ESV “6:5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6:6 ¶ Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”