Daily reading assignment: Ruth 1-4
The Book of Ruth is a beloved book of God’s people and of particular interest to Jews and Christians because it establishes the genealogy of David as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe of which Jesus Christ is born. We read in Matthew 1:5-6, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth [the subject of today’s Bible reading]; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king…”
Ruth 1 – Far From God
The Book of Ruth is a bridge between two eras, from the time when judges ruled Israel but before kings reigned in the land. It is a testimony of God’s sovereignty… overruling in the affairs of man and providentially working out His will through the frailty of human decisions.
The book of Ruth is often described as a book of “Redemption,” for it explains how Ruth, a Gentile Moabite woman who had no right of inheritance among the tribes of Israel, came to be named in the lineage of Christ when she became the wife of Boaz, a wealthy man who paid the price of her redemption.
The opening verses of Ruth introduce us to Elimelech and his wife Naomi. We find Israel in the midst of a crisis (“there was a famine in the land”) that demanded a response of faith and obedience. Elimelech, however, failed to respond to the famine by faith and led his family to Moab…far from the LORD, his people, and the land of his inheritance (Ruth 1:2).
Elimelech’s fateful decision ended tragically when he and his sons, both of whom had married Moabite women, died in Moab leaving Naomi alone with the wives of her sons (1:3-5).
What a miserable fate Naomi had suffered during her ten-year sojourn in Moab!
She became a widow in a foreign land and was left in poverty and despair. A glimmer of hope ignited in Naomi when she heard, “the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread” (1:6).
Naomi determined to return to Israel, and, knowing Moabite women would have no place in Israel, she encouraged her daughters-in-law to find Moabite husbands (1:7-9). When Orpah and Ruth, Naomi’s daughters-in-law, insisted on returning with her, she counseled them toward an unwise decision (1:10-12).
Orpah heeded Naomi’s counsel and returned to Moab (1:13-15); however, Ruth clung to Naomi, refusing to depart. Ruth’s love for Naomi inspired one of the most beautiful confessions of faith in the Bible (1:16-17).
Ruth 1:16-17 – And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORDdo so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
The trials and ten year sojourn in Moab had taken such a physical toll on Naomi’s appearance that when she returned to Israel, the people of Bethlehem looked on her and said, “Is this Naomi?”(1:19) Ten-years of trials, troubles, and losses had dramatically changed her.
Naomi answered their inquiries and confessed her bitter spirit toward the LORD saying, “20b Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty [El Shaddai] hath dealt very bitterly with me…21b the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent One] hath testified [responded to her sin] against me, and the Almighty [El Shaddai—Eternal; All powerful; All Sufficient One] hath afflicted me?” (1:20b-21)
Ruth 2 – The Sovereignty and Providential Care of the LORD
Time and space do not allow me to carry this story of love and grace to a proper conclusion, but I urge you to read all four chapters in the Book of Ruth.
Ruth’s beauty and exceptional character captured the eye and the affections of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth’s deceased father-in-law (2:5-17). Although she was Moabite woman and stranger in the midst of God’s people, she changed her citizenship, and by faith became part of the house of Israel. The LORD sovereignly led Boaz to extend his grace to Ruth, and he loved her and acknowledged her faith saying, “the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (2:12).
Ruth 4 – A Romance of Redemption
Boaz’s romance of redemption is completed in Ruth 4 when he purchased the right to take Ruth as his wife (4:9). This amazing story of romance, grace, and God’s sovereignty ends stating that Ruth, a Moabite woman by birth, would be the great-great-grandmother of David, Israel’s future king (4:22).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith