The Book of Ruth has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. It reads more like a short story and the insight in it runs deep. No matter your age or season of life, there is wisdom to learn from the lessons that unfold as we walk along with Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.
I encourage you to read the book (four chapters) along with me as we delve into 10 powerful lessons it can teach us!
1. Loss Is Hard
The book of Ruth starts with the life of Naomi. Naomi was from Bethlehem and moved to Moab with her husband Elimelek and two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Naomi later on lost her husband and she was left with her two sons. Her two sons found wives, Ruth and Orpah, but 10 years later, both sons died as well. Talk about a hard time, right? It was then that Naomi decided to return back home to the land of Judah. Because Naomi had lost her husband and sons, she was moving back home to Bethlehem as a widow. Her heart and life had crumbled. This is a reminder that loss and change is hard and, unfortunately, it’s more common than we know. Many times while dealing with grief we can feel lost or forgotten. Naomi knew all too well how that felt.
2. Keep Your Commitments
Ruth and Orpah were both given the blessing from Naomi to go back to their hometowns after their husbands had passed. Naomi knew she couldn’t provide the women new husbands and she wanted them to take the obvious choice for “moving forward” for another marriage, if it was God’s will. Orpah took the option but Ruth decided to stay with Naomi and head to Bethlehem together. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) How many times have we made choices to be in a place that we “think” will give us what we want? Ruth was brave in keeping her commitment to Naomi, staying with her instead of looking to her own interests.
3. Bitterness Happens
When Naomi and Ruth made it to Bethlehem, townswomen stated, ““Can this be Naomi?”” (Ruth 1:19) But when Naomi, which name means “pleasant,” heard she answered with, “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”” (Ruth 1:20-21). Needless to say, Naomi was upset. She knew that she had been blessed to have her husband and sons, and then she felt like God just took everything away from her. Returning to her hometown, she felt less-than, empty, and bitter for what had happened to her. Have you ever felt that way? Bitter and mad at God for what may feel like a ruined life? You’re not alone.
4. Get to Work
When they had reached their new home, Ruth decided to get to work. “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” (Ruth 2:2) She was in a new town, with new people, and wanted to help take care of Naomi and herself. She decided to glean in a nearby field and follow the harvesters. Her work ethic did not go unnoticed as a foreman would speak about her labor to Boaz shortly after his notice of her: “She’s been at it steady ever since, from early morning until now, without so much as a break.” (Ruth 2:7 MSG)
5. The Man Noticed First
Yes, ladies. God had orchestrated Ruth’s location into Boaz’s presence. She was minding her own business, looking to pick up leftover grain, when he came into her life. “Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” (Ruth 2:5) Many times, as a single, I wonder if I am doing my best to meet available men. Here, we see that Ruth was working, probably sweaty and soiled from the day’s work, and was not “trying” to get anyone’s attention. But God made sure that it was gained by the right man at the right time.
6. Honorable Intentions
After her introduction, Boaz tells Ruth to not “… glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.” (Ruth 2:8). Later on in the chapter we understand more fully how much Boaz’s first reaction of Ruth was to protect her as Naomi explains, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.” (Ruth 2:22). Boaz’s first reaction to Ruth was not in charm but in protection.
7. She Made a Move
Naomi wanted Ruth to find a home where she can be provided for. Naomi believed Boaz to be the guardian-redeemer in her family line. She told Ruth to get dressed up in her best clothes and perfume and go to Boaz. Ruth did just that. She let Boaz know of her interest by lying at his feet after he had fallen asleep. When he woke up and asked what she was doing she stated, “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” (Ruth 3:9) Talk about letting a man know you are interested, right?!
8. Noble Character is Important
As Ruth went to Boaz to ask for his covering, he knew there was another man in line ahead of him for Naomi’s land. He stated that if the man wanted to be her guardian-redeemer, then he would have the rights to her land and her hand, but if not, then Boaz was more than happy to oblige. He didn’t let Ruth just leave after their conversation in the middle of the night as to protect her reputation because she was a “woman of noble character.” He was a gentleman even in a vulnerable position and did the right thing. She rested at his feet until dawn and left when no one would notice her. On top of that, he didn’t let her leave empty handed as he gave her and Naomi 6 measures of barley!
9. He Takes Care of Business
Before getting too taken by emotions and excited about Ruth’s interest in him, Boaz made sure that the right thing was done first. Naomi wanted to sell a piece of land that belonged to Elimelek and whomever bought the land would also acquire Ruth’s hand for the land in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property. Although Boaz was in line for the rights of the land, there was another guardian-redeemer that had “first dibs.” Boaz talked to guardian-redeemer himself and, as it turned out, that man did not want the land and Ruth. So this gave Boaz the “go-ahead” and he declared there to buy the land and take Ruth as his wife!
10. Our Decisions Matter
After Boaz purchased the land and acquired Ruth’s hand in marriage, they became pregnant with a son. This son was named Obed who later became the father of Jesse who later became the father of David who, as we know, is in the direct family line of Jesus Christ! How awesome to see how the braveness and commitment of a young woman would later meet a man that would help to bring the family lines of Jesus Christ into fruition. God also brought joy back to Naomi as she lovingly helped to take care of Obed! How awesome is our God that He can take such a dark and lonely season for Naomi and Ruth and turn it into joy, love, and prosperity! Never underestimate the power of your decisions, commitment, humility, and integrity!
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