Survey of the Bible - Ruth
Text: Ruth 1:15-18
I. The book of Ruth takes place during the later years covered by the book of Judges - Ruth 1:1
A. It serves as a contrast to the overall gloomy description of the decay of Israel - Judges 21:25
B. Here we find a story of love and high moral standards.
C. Like the characters mentioned in Judges, the main characters in this story are unexpected heros: a devastated widow and a widowed Moabite woman.
1. The book is named after the woman from Moab and she isn’t even an Israelite.
2. It explains how Ruth became the ancestress of Israel’s famous king David, and ultimately the Messiah.
3. Because it mentions David (Ruth 4:17), we know the story was recorded after David began reigning.
D. But the story also tells us how God rewards those who make wise spiritual choices and show steadfastness in their lives.
II. A Series of Unfortunate Events - Ruth 1:1-18
A. A family is driven from their home town of Bethlehem because of famine
1. Elimelech moves to Moab with his wife and two sons
2. They decide to stay, but at some point Elimelech dies.
3. The two sons are now young men and they take two Moabite women as wives.
4. But about 10 years after being in Moab, Naomi’s two sons also die.
B. Naomi decides to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. She had heard that the famine had ended
1. Her daughter-in-laws go with her
2. But Naomi decides she is better off returning alone
a. She can’t offer them another husband - Ruth 1:11-12
b. She is certain that God is against her - Ruth 1:13; 20-21
3. Like many, Naomi had decided she was better off alone in her misery
C. Orpah returns, but Ruth refuses to go - Ruth 1:16-18
1. Ruth had chosen to become an Israelite, leaving behind her family, her nation, and her gods.
D. The importance of choices
1. Elimelech made a choice to leave Israel
a. It appeared to be a good business decision, but it left Elimelech and his sons dead and their wives widowed.
2. Ruth made a choice to leave Moab and its false religion for new country and the true God - Mark 10:29-30
III. Kindness Shown - Ruth 1:19-2:23
A. Naomi’s return causes a stir - Ruth 1:19
1. Naomi insists that her name of “pleasant” wasn’t suitable and that people should call her Mara, or “bitter.”
B. They get back at the beginning of the barley harvest - Ruth 1:22
C. Under Israelite law, those in need could provide for themselves by harvesting - Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22
D. Ruth volunteers to glean after the harvesters to provide for herself and her mother-in-law - Ruth 2:2
1. The field she happens to choose to work is that of Boaz - Ruth 2:3
2. We are told that not only is Boaz related to Elimelech, but that he was also very wealthy - Ruth 2:1
3. Ruth probably knew neither fact. It was providence that led her here.
E. Seeing Ruth working in his fields, he asks about her - Ruth 2:6-7
1. Boaz is now aware of who Ruth is.
2. He tells her to stay in his fields and work by his young women.
3. He has told the young men not to touch her
4. He gives her permission to drink from the jars his young men have drawn for the harvesters.
F. When Ruth asks why she, a foreigner is getting such kind treatment, she finds out her reputation has proceeded her - Ruth 2:11-12
1. And Ruth politely thanks him - Ruth 2:13
G. Boaz invites her to join the rest for lunch - Ruth 2:14
H. He instructs his servants to be extra clumsy - Ruth 2:15-16
I. At the end of the day, she had gathered about a ephah of barley (about 2.4 pecks or 0.6 bushels, which would weigh about 29 pounds)
1. Notice she worked all day and then continued into the evening to process what she gathered - Ruth 2:17
2. The amount she gleaned from the scraps were more than she should have found and Naomi notices - Ruth 2:19
J. Naomi realizes that Ruth is being favored by a close relative and suggests she continues to work in Boaz’s fields since it was safer - Ruth 2:22-23
K. Notice how kindness is shown
1. Ruth willingly works long days to supply food for herself and her mother-in-law
2. Boaz shows both generosity and a sense of sympathy for a foreign woman working in his fields
a. He tells his workers not to touch her, not to insult her, and make his gifts look like normal.
3. The result of this restores Naomi’s faith - I Peter 5:5-7
IV. Opportunity to Repay
A. Naomi wants Ruth’s future secured - Ruth 3:1
1. The Israelites had a law for childless widows - Deuteronomy 25:5-10
2. But I don’t think Naomi was aiming for marriage, though she might have hope.
3. She has Ruth wash and put on her best clothes. She was not to let Boaz to notice her until after the harvest feast is done - Ruth 3:3-4
B. Why uncovering the feet is important has been a source of debate
1. Most likely Ruth’s action demonstrated her willingness to put herself under Boaz’s feet
a. That is to become a servant in his household or possibly a concubine - Ruth 3:9
b. Why at night? To avoid embarrassing either one if Boaz turned her down
2. Boaz is honored that Ruth would offer herself to him - Ruth 3:10-11
3. He agrees to consider the offer, but since there is a closer relative he must be given the right of refusal
a. He tells her to stay the night because the threshing floor is out of town
b. But he suggests she leave early to protect his reputation and hers. He also tells those with him not to let it be known that a woman was on the threshing floor that night - Ruth 3:14
C. He also wouldn’t let her go back empty handed - Ruth 3:15
1. The amount is uncertain as the actual measurement is not stated.
2. But again it shows Boaz’s kindness.
D. Naomi understands that Boaz plans to do something about the proposition that day - Ruth 3:18
E. What we see is the integrity of the people involved
1. Ruth was known as a woman of excellence
2. Though Ruth approached Boaz at night, he did not take advantage of the situation
3. He makes sure her reputation is preserved
4. Though it becomes clear that Boaz has more than gaining a servant in mind, he insists that the nearer relative be given a chance first.
V. Joy returns
A. Boaz catches the nearer relative at the city gates - Ruth 4:1-2
1. The gate of a city is where the older men, judges, gathered to offer advice, make judgements, and act as witnesses to transactions - Deuteronomy 16:18
2. He informs the man that Naomi either sold the family land or was about to sell it. He suggests that the man purchase the land to keep it in the family - Leviticus 25:23-28
3. The proposition was of interest to the man until he learned that Ruth was a part of the deal - Ruth 4:4-6
a. You see, if Ruth had a son by him, then that land he just purchased would go to the son
b. So he would have spent money that could have gone to his children (he probably was already married) to purchase nothing on their behalf.
c. He indicates his refusal by giving his left sandal to Boaz - Deuteronomy 25:7-10
(1) By Ruth’s time it has become a custom to refuse a deal, not a matter of shame - Ruth 4:7-8
(2) By the writer of Ruth’s time it had fallen out of practice
B. Boaz announces that he would redeem Elimelech’s land and that he would marry Ruth - Ruth 4:9-12
C. From this union comes a son named Obed (servant) by the neighboring women, perhaps in memory of what Ruth had offered to Boaz.
1. Naomi’s joy is restored - Ruth 4:14-16
2. The book of Ruth is an apt illustration of this passage - Hebrews 6:10-12
D. Throughout the book we see God’s providence at work and learn that He works His will in our lives as well.
E. We also see a shining example of people following God’s ways and prospering as a result.