OT History Part 1 – Ruth 1-2

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“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.”
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

  • Ruth 1:1-22

Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
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.”
Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you!” they answered.
Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
“The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”
Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “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.”
So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

  • Ruth 2:1-23

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ruth 1:1-2 ‘Elimelech moves to Moab’: “That was a bad move on their part-better poverty with the people of God than plenty outside the covenanted land.
“ ’Elimelech’ means ‘my God is king.’ A man with such a name as that ought not to have left the kingdom where his God was king. But some people are not worthy of the names they bear.
“[ED: ‘Settled there’ implies that they planned to be there a long while. The KJV says, ‘They continued there.’] That is generally what happens. Those who go into the country of Moab continue there. If Christians go away from their separated life, they are apt to continue in that condition. It may be easy to say, ‘I will step aside from the Christian path for just a little while,’ but it is not so easy to return to it. Usually something or other hampers; the snare catches the birds of paradise and holds them fast.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes [Explanatory comments from the Holman Bible Publishers Editor are in brackets.]

Ruth 1:4 ‘ten years’: “That was about ten years too long. Probably they did not intend to remain so long when they went there. They only meant to be in Moab for a little while, just as Christian people, when they fall into worldly conformity, only purpose to do it once, perhaps ‘for the sake of the girls, to bring them out a little.’ But it happens to them as it is written here.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Ruth 1:6 ‘not knowing the abundance of God’: “Some who profess Christ have gone a long way off from God. I wish they knew what abundance there is in the great Father’s house and what a blessed feast there is for those who live with him. There is no famine in that land. There is plenty of gladness, plenty of comfort, plenty of everything that is joyful to be found there. We need not go to Moab and to her false gods to find pleasure and satisfaction.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Ruth 1:6-15 ‘Naomi’: ”We need to consider the three testimonies that are in this section. The testimony of Naomi (vv. 6-1S). God visited His faithful people in Bethlehem, but not His disobedient daughter in Moab. Naomi heard the report that the famine had ended, and when she heard the good news, she decided to return home. There is always ‘bread enough and to spare’ when you are in the Fathers will (Luke 15:17 KJV). How sad it is when people only hear about God’s blessing, but never experience it, because they are not in the place where God can bless them.
“Many years ago, I was in a prayer meeting with a number of Youth for Christ leaders, among them Jacob Stam, brother of John Stam, who, with his wife, Betty, was martyred in China in 1934. We had been asking God to bless this ministry and that project, and l suppose the Word ‘bless’ was used scores of times as we prayed. Then Jacob Stam prayed, ‘Lord, we’ve asked You to bless all these things; but, please, Lord, make us blessable.’ Had Naomi been in that meeting, she would have had to confess, ‘Lord, I’m not blessable.”
“Whenever we have disobeyed the Lord and departed from His will, we must confess our sin and return to the place of blessing. Abraham had to leave Egypt and go back to the altar he had abandoned (Gen. 15:1-4), and Jacob had to go back to Bethel (35:1). The repeated plea of the prophets to God’s people was that they turn from their sins and return to the Lord. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and he will have compassion on him and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon’ (Isa. 55:7).
“Naomi’s decision was right, but her motive was wrong. She was still interested primarily in food, not in fellowship with God. You don’t hear her confessing her sins to God and asking Him to forgive her. She was returning to her land but not to her Lord.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 1:11-14 ‘Orpah’: ”The two daughters-in-law started off with Naomi (v. 7), but she stopped them and urged them not to accompany her. She even prayed for them (vv. 8-9) that the Lord would be kind to them and find them new husbands and give them rest after all their sorrow. But of what value are the prayers of a backslid believer (Ps. 66:18)? Three times Naomi told Orpah and Ruth to return (Ruth 1:8, 11-12).
“When she saw them hesitating, Naomi began to reason with them. ‘I’m too old to have another husband and bear another family,’ she said. ‘And even if I could bear more sons, do you want to waste these next years waiting for them to grow up? You could be in your mother’s house, with your family, enjoying life.’
“Orpah was the weaker of the two sisters-in-law. She started to Bethlehem with Naomi, kissed her, and wept with her; yet she would not stay with her. She was ‘not far from the kingdom’ (Mark 12:34 NIV), but she made the wrong decision and turned back. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but we wonder whether her heart was really in it, for her decision proved that her heart was back home where she hoped to find a husband. Orpah left the scene and is never mentioned again in the Scriptures.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 1:15-18 ‘Ruth’: ”Naomi was trying to cover up, Orpah had given up, but Ruth was prepared to stand up! She refused to listen to her mother-in-law’s pleas or follow her sister-in-law’s bad example. Why? Because she had come to trust in the God of Israel (2: 12). She had experienced trials and disappointments, but instead of blaming God, she had trusted Him and was not ashamed to confess her faith. In spite of the bad example of her disobedient in-laws, Ruth had come to know the true and living God, and she wanted to be with His people and dwell in His land.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 1:16 ‘Ruth’s confession’: “I am glad to see candidates for membership in a church make a profession of faith before the congregation. It does the man, woman, boy, or girl—whoever it is—so much good for once, at least, to say right straight out, ‘I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed of it.’ When people have once confessed Christ before men, they are apt to do it again somewhere else. And they thus acquire a kind of boldness and outspokenness in religious matters—and a holy courage as followers of Christ—which more than make up for any self-denial and trembling that the effort may have cost them. I think Naomi was right to drive Ruth, as it were, to take this brave stand in which it became an absolute necessity for her to express her commitment. What is there for any of us to be ashamed of in acknowledging that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ?”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Ruth 1:19-22 ‘Bitterness’: ”The two widows probably visited the three graves of their loved ones for the last time before leaving Moab. Then they committed themselves to the Lord and set out to begin a new life. It would be interesting to know what Naomi and Ruth talked about as they journeyed from Moab to Bethlehem. Did Naomi give her daughter-in-law some basic instruction in the law of Moses? Did Ruth ask questions about the Jewish faith, the Jewish people, and her new home in Bethlehem? We wonder what kind of answers Naomi would have given since she was a bitter woman with a faltering faith in the God of Israel.
“Naomi had been away from home for ten years, and the women of the town were shocked when they saw her. (In v. 19 KJV, the pronoun of ‘they said’ is feminine.) Their question ‘Is this Naomi?’ suggests both surprise and bewilderment. The name Naomi means ‘pleasant,’ but she was not living up to her name. She was not the Naomi whom they had known a decade before. Her ten difficult years in Moab, and the sorrows they had brought, had taken their toll on Naomi’s appearance and personality. Instead of making her better, the trials of life had made her bitter, which is the meaning of the word mara.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 1:19 ‘they came to Bethlehem’: “A trip from Moab (at least 60-75 miles) would have taken about 7-10 days. Having descended about 4,500 feet from Moab into the Jordan Valley, they then ascended 3,750 feet through the hills of Judea. all the city. Naomi had been well known in her prior residency (cf. Ephrathites of Bethlehem, 1:2). The question ‘Is this Naomi?’ most likely reflected the hard life of the last decade and the toll that it had taken on her appearance.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ruth 1:20-21 ‘Naomi … mara: full … empty’: “Naomi’s outlook on life, although grounded in God’s sovereignty, was not hopeful; thus she asked to be renamed Mara, which means ‘bitter.’ Her experiences were not unlike Job (Job 1; 2), but her perspective resembled that of Job’s wife (Job 2:10). In reality, Naomi had (1) a full harvest prospect, (2) Ruth plus Boaz, not to mention (3) the hope of God’s future blessing.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ruth 1:21 ‘Naomi afflicted’: “It is a sweet thing to be able to trace the hand of God in our affliction, for nothing can come to one of his children from that hand except what is good and right. Those are the hands of which the Lord says, ‘I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands’ (Is 49:16). So we may rest assured that nothing can come from those hands but what infinite wisdom directs and infinite love has ordained.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Ruth 2:1-3 ‘Putting faith into action’: A Latin proverb says, ‘Providence assists not the idle.’ Since Ruth was not the kind of woman who could long remain idle, she asked Naomi’s permission to glean in the fields so they would have food to eat. This was a step of faith on Ruth’s part, based on God’s commandment in the law (Lev. 19:9-10; 25:22; Deut. 24:19-22). Whenever they reaped a harvest, God’s people were to consider the poor and leave gleanings for them. After all, God gave the harvest, and He had every right to tell the people how to use it.
“The existence of this law was proof of God’s concern for the poor among His people. The nation was instructed to treat the poor with equity (Ex. 23:3, 6; Lev. 19:15; Prov. 22:22-23) and with generosity (Lev. 19:9-10). God was also concerned for the widows, many of whom were poor, and He told the people to care for them (Ex. 22:22-24; see Isa. 10:1-2). Ruth was not only a poor widow, but she was also an alien. Therefore, she had every right to look to God for His help and provision. ‘He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing’ (Deut. 10:18 NIV).”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 2:4-9 ‘Ruth’s first encounter with Boaz’: “Barely has Ruth discovered the identity of the landowner when he arrives to supervise the harvesting. Work has already begun under the direction of a foreman, and Boaz greets the laborers with a wish for blessing that has long since passed into Jewish and Christian worship. The exchange of mutual blessings shows the friendly rapport existing between master and servants.
“In this benevolent vein Boaz notices Ruth, and inquires of her family. In the ancient Near East life outside a family was impossible, and since Boaz does not recognize Ruth he is sufficiently concerned to inquire about her background. The foreman furnishes the required details, along with the fact that Ruth has requested permission to glean. The foreman himself has been keeping her under observation, and has noted the quality of her work. Even under the hot sun she takes only a brief rest


  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ruth 2:8 ‘Boaz notices Ruth’:”Grace means that God makes the first move to come to our aid, not because we deserve anything, but because He loves us and wants us for Himself ‘We love Him because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19 NKJV). God took the initiative in salvation when we were spiritually dead (Eph. 221-10), without strength (Rom. 5:6), sinners (5:8), and His enemies (5:10). Salvation was not an afterthought of God but that which He planned from eternity. We have every reason to believe Boaz loved Ruth and therefore took the first steps to meet her needs.
“It was he who first spoke to her, for she would not have dared to speak to a man, especially one who was a stranger and ‘the lord of the harvest.’ What right did a widow and an alien have to address a great man like Boaz? Yet he interrupted his conversation with his foreman to speak to a poor stranger gleaning in his field.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 2:9, 14-16 ‘Boaz promises to protect Ruth’: Boaz called Ruth “my daughter” because she was younger than he (see 3:10), but it was also a term of endearment. He would treat her like a member of his family. (This is what David did for Mephibosheth. See 2 Sam. 9.) Boaz instructed his young men to protect her and the young women to work with her. She was to walk with the female servants who followed immediately after the reapers. In other words, Ruth had first chance at the best of the gleanings! Boaz even instructed his workers to allow her to glean among the sheaves and told them to deliberately drop some of the harvest so she could pick it up. If she was hungry or thirsty, she could refresh herself with his workers. In fact, Boaz ate with her and personally handed her the food (Ruth 2:14)!
“What a picture of the grace of God!”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 2:10-13 ‘Boaz encouraged Ruth’: Ruth’s response to Boaz was one of humility and gratitude. She acknowledged her own unworthiness and accepted his grace. She believed his promises and rejoiced in them. There was no need for Ruth to worry, for the wealthy lord of the harvest would care for her and Naomi. How did she know he would care for her? He gave her his promise, and she knew he could be trusted.
“Ruth neither looked back at her tragic past nor did she look at herself and consider her sorry plight. She fell at the feet of the master and submitted herself to him. She looked away from her poverty and focused on his riches. She forgot her fears and rested on his promises. What an example for God’s people today to follow! …
“They need to heed the counsel of the little poem a radio listener sent me years ago:
Look at self and be distressed,
Look at others and be depressed,
Look at Jesus and you’ll be blessed!”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 2:12 ‘Boaz provides comforting words’: “This was the language of Boaz, a man of substance in Bethlehem, to a poor stranger who had left her people and the idols of her nation to become a worshiper of the living and true God. He acted nobly when he cheered her and instructed her to have courage now that she was casting in her lot with Naomi and the chosen nation. Such a greeting of tender encouragement is precisely what all elder Christians should do to those who are Ruth’s counterparts. We should make a point of looking out for the young converts and speaking kind and comforting words to them. As God commanded Moses to encourage Joshua (Dt 1:38), we should encourage those newly aspiring to holiness. Where spiritual life is weak, it should be nurtured with affectionate care. We desire to cherish, not to censure. If the lambs are to grow, they must be shepherded. If Ruth is to be happy in the land of Israel, a Boaz must look after her and be her true friend.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Ruth 2:14, 18 ‘Boaz ensured satisfaction’: All of this happened to Ruth because of her faith in the God of Israel. Boaz fully knew Ruth’s story, for it didn’t take long for news to travel in a little town like Bethlehem. He knew that Ruth had abandoned her home and her gods and had put her faith in Jehovah. She had taken refuge ‘under His wings.’ That image sometimes refers to the hen protecting her chicks (Ps. 91:4; Matt. 23:37), but it can also refer to the wings of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies (Ps. 56:7; 61 :4). Ruth was no longer a foreigner and a stranger. She was not only accepted by the God of Israel, but she was also dwelling in the very Holy of Holies with Him! (See Eph. 2:11—22.)”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 2:17 ‘’: “[ED: Spurgeon compares the labor of gleaning to the spiritual work of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and Bible study.] The gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little. So I must be content to search for single truths, if they come just one at a time. Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise for salvation. The gleaner stoops for all she finds, and I must do the same. Proud minds criticize and object, but humble minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is the key to profitably hearing the gospel. The soul-saving Word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes for a bad gleaner. What the gleaner gathers, she keeps. If she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but meager; she is as careful to retain as to obtain. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing. Do I understand the importance of storing up the truth? Hunger helps make the gleaner wise; if she has no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table. My need is even greater, Lord; help me feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields that yield to diligence a plenteous reward. “

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes [Explanatory comments from the Holman Bible Publishers Editor are in brackets.]

Ruth 2:17-23 ‘We must live in Hope’: ”All day long, Ruth labored with a happy and hopeful heart. She didn’t have to worry about the men harassing her or the other workers hindering her. She had food when she was hungry, drink when she was thirsty, and a place of rest when she became weary. The grain she gleaned amounted to about half a bushel, enough food for the two women for nearly a week. She also had some food left over from her lunch (v. 18). Ruth was not only a diligent worker, but she was also careful not to waste anything God had given her.
“How will Naomi respond to Ruth’s experiences? The last time we met Naomi, she was sharing her bitterness with the women of Bethlehem and blaming God for her sorrow and poverty. When Ruth had asked permission to go to the fields to glean, all Naomi said to her was, ‘Go, my daughter’ (v. 2). She gave her daughter-in-law no word of encouragement, not even the promise of her prayers. But now we hear a new word from Naomi’s lips: ‘blessed!’ (vv. 19-20). She not only blessed Ruth’s benefactor, but she also blessed the Lord! We have moved from bitterness to blessedness. When Naomi saw the grain, she blessed the man who allowed Ruth to work in his field, and when she heard that the man was Boaz, Naomi blessed the Lord. What a change has taken place in the heart of this grieving widow! This change came about because of the new hope she had in her heart, and the one who gave her that new hope was Boaz.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed


My Thoughts

In the Bible Study of Judges 9-10, Rev. MacArthur talks about how during the time when Jair was the judge, Judges 10:3-5, the story of Ruth is thought to have occurred.

In the cycle of the book of Judges, there was sin, then oppression, then repentance, then God brought up a judge.  We must understand that God does not just use our sinful neighbors to oppress us.  There was a famine in the land.  Elimilek rejects his Godly inheritance and takes his family to Moab.  Rev. MacArthur seems to address this issue with compassion while Rev. Spurgeon and Rev. Wiersbe were rather harsh regarding Elimilek.  Elimilek should have known that God felt the human sacrifices done by the Moabites was abominable before the eyes of God.  Elimilek did not pack for a weekend trip or only a short stay.  He moved.  When I spent 9 months on a contract job in Florida in 2015, if I had packed everything, I could have saved money.  My home rent and utilities were basically to store our “stuff” which for the most part will be placed in a dumpster when my wife and I pass to the next life.  I know what it is like to partially move with an intended home left behind, but Elimilek took everything.

I do not know if we can use the deaths of Elimilek and his two sons as God’s judgment on the decision to move.  It may simply be that God’s will is embodied in the faithfulness of Ruth, the Moabitess who must have read the Scriptures while in the home of Elimilek.

In looking at the three ladies starting their trek, you see similarities to church members.  Naomi is simply interested in being fed.  Orpah is a hanger-on.  She is not sold on the idea, and when Naomi confronts her with the harshness of the change in culture and the lack of prospects, Orpah moved on.  But Ruth accepted every aspect of Naomi’s homeland, including her God.

I have recently been thinking about my mother-in-law, who passed away not long before starting this blogsite, a few months before.  In thinking of her, I thought of her husband who insisted that English was the only language to be spoken in the home when they immigrated to El Paso, TX.  Unrest with neighbors was started when my mother-in-law complained that when being sworn in as a citizen, she and her family had to speak English while the Mexican immigrants had a translator.

But oddly, as everyone was learning English, my father-in-law loosened the rule.  Friday nights became Dutch nights, and multilanguage nights.  My mother-in-law brought out her guitar and the family sang songs from around the world.  When they moved from El Paso to Port Arthur, TX, they settled near Nederland, TX, a town founded by Dutch people.  Someone heard that they sang songs from the Netherlands, and Moeder Molly and her Dutch Daughters was born.  The boys were not so interested with the singing, but the girls sang with their mother until they had children of their own, some nearly grown children.

My point in the story is that while Elimilek and his family became part of Moab culture, Ruth became part of Israelite culture.  She confessed trust in the God of the Israelites.  And since she suggested that she could glean in the fields, she knew the Scriptures.  Her confession may have been when she did not have full knowledge, but she was informed of many things before the move, and she was prepared.

Then it is clear that God had Ruth glean in the fields of Boaz.  From the protection of Ruth, the justice of Boaz, and the added provision of Boaz for those who were less fortunate, we see God’s Law at work and how following that Law became sufficient for all parties.  But we also saw a budding romance, even though the two may not have realized it at the time.  Boaz and his overseer are taking care of this Moabite woman, knowing she is a Moabitess, but a Moabitess who is adhering to Israelite Law.

But in returning to Naomi, when she first returned, she preferred to be called Mara, for bitterness.  But you look at what happened.  They rejected their God-given inheritance and moved to the worst place in God’s eyes, at least one of the worst.  They intended to stay.  Naomi did not return to worship God, but to obtain food.  And yet, in all her sin, she blames God.  Now some may think that Naomi was trapped and had to do as her husband commanded, but Naomi cannot be held totally blameless.

We do that.  We think that just because we have repented, we should not have to suffer the circumstances that often come with our sin.  Even Christians who sin (having had their sins washed away and forgotten by God) still must pay those credit card bills.  The bank never forgets and rarely forgives.

Naomi does not emerge from her funk until she finds out that Boaz owns the field where Ruth has been gleaning.  Ah, now Naomi praises God, but only after her stomach is full and she has grain enough for tomorrow.  Again, we are like that at times, and some seem to never leave that mode of operation.

But we will see that Naomi, once she rids herself of the bitterness, can be a very wise woman, but that can be saved for the next chapters.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Ruth 1: 1. Like Ruth, have you ever had to cross over to another ethnic or cultural group? Were you able to assimilate, or did you remain a stranger?
“2. What kinds of groups do you feel like a stranger among? (On what basis: Social class? Race? Creed? Politics? Past hurts?)
“3. Like Ruth, have you embraced God’s people as your own, forever? (Or have you settled in with a church?)
“4. What has been stressful for you this year? Did you cope like Naomi, Orpah, or Ruth? How so?
“5. Who in your life is like Ruth, who is loyal to you in your emptiness? How can you be like Ruth to someone else in their desolation?
Ruth 2: 1. What mechanisms does your country have for coping with the hungry and the homeless? What is your view of beggars? Of welfare programs?
“2. If you suddenly had no means of supporting yourself, do you think your reaction would be like Orpah (and do what was expected of you)? Like Ruth (simple, humbling action)? Or like Naomi (with some bitterness creeping in)? Why?
“3. When have you shared Naomi’s experience of God using a Ruth to show his kindness to you (as in vv.11,12,20)? How did this unmerited act of kindness change you?
“4. Whom do you know that needs to be reminded that God still loves them? What wilt you do today to demonstrate such love?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for each chapter.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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