Bible character study- Ruth
Preparing for a new chapter
Read: The book of Ruth (chapters 1 to 4)
The first time I read the book of Ruth was when I was a child. We were preparing for a Church Bible competition and we had to read the whole book and be prepared to answer questions from any chapter of the book. It was a challenge for me at the time, but when I read it, I found the story of Ruth to be very fascinating. Reading it again as an adult opens my eyes to things I never noticed as an 8/9 year old, and it is truly a remarkable story.
A quick summary:
Ruth was a Moabite woman married to Mahlon, one of Naomi’s sons. When Mahlon, his brother, and Naomi’s husband all die, Naomi decides to return to her hometown in Judah. Whilst the other daughter in-law returns home to her own people, Ruth is determined and decides to go along with Naomi to Bethlehem. Ruth finds herself (after following her mother in-law’s advice) in the fields of a man named Boaz, who she goes on to marry. In the end of the book of Ruth, we are told that Ruth gives birth to a son named Obed, who becomes the father of Jesse, who is the father of David.
There are a few things I want to point out from the study of the Book of Ruth, as we look at preparing for a new chapter.
1. Ruth was faithful and committed to her husband’s family. After her husband dies, Ruth was given the option of going back to her people, but she refused. In chapter 1 verse 16-18, she renders the most heartfelt plea to her mother in-law when Naomi asks her to leave; ‘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.’ This tells me that Ruth was committed to the family God had called her to. She may not have known what the future held for her and Naomi, and even though going to a foreign land may have seemed very scary to her, she was determined in her commitment to this family. Where has God called you? It may be a job, a ministry, a Church, or even your family. Stay faithful. Stay committed, as you transition into the next phase.
2. Ruth was hardworking and diligent (see chapter 2 verse 7). When Ruth arrived in the field of Boaz, she immediately went to work. Her hard work was noticed by the overseer who told Boaz, ‘she came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter’. When God is calling you to another phase in life or in ministry, you must be prepared to work hard. You must be diligent. God always shows us favour and guides us as we commit our ways to Him, but we must be prepared to put in the work, and trust Him to bless the work of our hands.
3. Ruth was humble (see chapter 2 verse 10). When Boaz gives Ruth permission to continue to glean from his field, the Bible says she ‘bowed down with her face to the ground.’ This reference to bowing with the face to the ground is also used in Genesis chapter 19 verse 1, when Lot meets two angels arriving in the city of Sodom. The Bible says when he saw them, ‘he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground’. Also, in 1 Samuel chapter 20 verse 41, after Jonathan saves David’s life by telling him to run away because Saul was after him, the Bible says that David ‘bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground.’ In the two examples given above, both the angels and Jonathan were life savers- the angels saved Lot from destruction in Sodom, and Jonathan saved David from destruction by Saul, his father. Perhaps Ruth recognised that her life and that of her mother in-law would be saved by this man Boaz, and in a way, it was, when Boaz decided to marry Ruth. Whatever the case was, Ruth recognised that this man Boaz was no ordinary man and showed him respect by bowing before him. As you prepare for the new chapter in your life, be mindful of the people you will encounter. Destiny helpers don’t always appear like knights in shining armour. They may look ordinary, just like anyone else. Ask God to open your eyes to recognise such people in your life.
4. Your good deeds will speak for you (see chapter 2 verse 11, and 3 verse 11). In chapter 2 verse 11, Boaz said, ‘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.’ In chapter 3 verse 11 Boaz also says, ‘All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character’. Ruth’s good deeds towards her mother in-law had not gone unnoticed in the town. Whilst she may not have been doing it for the recognition, people were observing and taking note. And sooner or later, talk of her good deeds reached the ears of the man that was to transform her life. In Galatians chapter 6 verse 9, the Bible says, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. So, as you prepare for the new chapter in your life, continue in your good works. Don’t give up, even when it’s hard; know that your time of harvest will definitely come.
5. God can turn your story around. In Ruth chapter 4, we see that Boaz finally marries Ruth, and she bore him a son named Obed. In my Bible (NIV), the section from verse 13 is titled ‘Naomi gains a son’. Naomi, who at one point wanted people to call her ‘Marah’, which means ‘Bitterness’, was now being praised, because God had granted her a son in her old age. The women said to her, ‘Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons has given him birth.’ No matter what your life has looked like so far, know that God is faithful and He can turn your story around, just like He did for Ruth and Naomi. Trust Him as you enter this new chapter.