Today’s devotion will focus on Ruth.
What’s the Book of Ruth about?
Ruth means ‘lovely friend’.
People often think the Book of Ruth is just a pretty love story. It’s not. It’s an outcry account against some of the severe laws passed in Israel at the time – the ‘purity laws’ of Ezra and Nehemiah.
These laws banned Jewish men from marrying non-Jewish women and commanded Jewish men to divorce their non-Jewish wives.
Many people disagreed. They said a woman’s worth was in her actions, not her blood-line. Boaz agreed. He knew Ruth was from Moab, not Israel, but he loved her and married her anyhow.
It’s awesome he did: she was loyal, hard-working, and generous – and gave him a great-grandson who was Israel’s hero, King David.
Even though there was protesting against the laws; the text of the Book of Ruth is, still, one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible.
- It’s about loyalty: to God, to family, to each other.
- Ruth wasn’t the sort of heroine you’d expect: Ruth is a foreigner, not even an Israelite – which meant a lot at that time.
Notwithstanding of this, Ruth survived and thrived. It’s just as well she did because it was vital for the future of Israel. Ruth’s great-grandson will be David, king of Israel, founder of a royal dynasty.
The story of Ruth has four parts
- Naomi and Ruth go to Bethlehem – the grief of losing someone you love.
Naomi and Ruth suffered terrible misfortune: the men in their family, including both their husbands, died. Deserted in Moab, the older woman Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem. Ruth, though a Moabite herself, chose to go with her. She vowed her loyalty to Naomi and they set out on the long journey, arriving in time for the barley harvest.
- Ruth meets Boaz – a love story.
Soon after, Ruth met Boaz, a rich land-owner, and relative of Naomi. It seems to have been love at first sight for him, and he commanded that Ruth be well attended to when she worked in his fields. The older woman Naomi saw immediately what had happened, and encouraged Ruth to continue working in Boaz’s fields.
- Ruth proposes marriage to Boaz.
Cleverly, Naomi notified the young woman how to catch her man. Ruth addressed Boaz during the night, on the threshing floor, and the text crookedly hints that there may have been some intimate mischief. The next morning, Ruth recommended that they marry, reminding Boaz of his responsibility to her as her nearest male family. Boaz promised to do all he could.
- Ruth and Boaz marry – a happy ending.
Naomi’s plan worked. Boaz demonstrated good on his word, and he and Ruth were married. She had a son called Obed, and Naomi cared for the child, who would grow up to be the grandfather of King David.
What are the chief points of Ruth’s story?
- Friendship: Ruth was poor and a foreigner, but she listened to the counsel of an older, wiser woman. In turn, Naomi was honored by Ruth’s steadfast loyalty. The message? Courage and ability triumph over hardship.
- Family: The story of Ruth honors the family and the way it continues through many generations. Ruth, a childless widow at the beginning of the story, became the great-grandmother of Israel’s great king, David.
- God’s plan: The story of Naomi’s family and the way it remained is a common theme. Even Ruth, a foreigner from the detested Moabites, could move God’s plan towards accomplishment.
Ruth has special importance for Christians: Matthew’s gospel lists four women who were ancestors of Jesus (Matthew 1:2-17). Ruth is one of them.
Life Lessons from Ruth
- Ruth’s promise to Naomi is one of the most beautiful declarations of commitment in Scripture (Ruth 1:16-17).
- Her obedience to Yahweh God brought rich rewards (4:10-17).
Do you have rich rewards from your obedience to Yahweh God? If not, why? If so, praise His Holy Name. Share with us.
Why be obedient to Yahweh? What’s the importance of it?
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