The story of Ruth found in the Older Testament is a well written account of a story passed along orally for many years. The story takes place during the time of the judges, but references David (King f Israel) so it was probably written later by an author who is unnamed.
This is a love story, but the love goes beyond Ruth and Boaz. It is more intriguing than the unique way in which Ruth meets Boaz and their eventual marriage. And there is certainly more to the story than the idea of the “Kinsman Redeemer” and the foreshadowing of Jesus who ultimately redeemed us. It starts with love of family. Naomi is in Moab because there was a famine in Judah and her husband who loved her, Elimelech, moved the family to Moab. From there the story unfolds. Let’s take look.
- Real love requires a correct understanding of God – but God’s actions raise questions. (Ruth 1:13 & 2:20-21) Ruth felt that her husband & sons had died because God was against her. She never reveals a reason she believes this except that it was the prevailing view of her day. She was working from information available at the time. We now know that the result of living in a world broken because of sin is that bad things happen to good people. We don’t know why they happen and we don’t know why God doesn’t stop them. But, if we want to live a life that is full of faith, love and joy we need to believe that God loves is and isn’t out to “get us.”
- Real love requires risk. (Ruth 1:16-17 & 2:2-3) Ruth us determined to return to Judah with Naomi because she loves her. It would have been easier to stay in Moab like her sister Orpah. In Moab she had family and friends, things were familiar, she knew the customs and religion. In Judah she didn’t know anyone or anything. One back in Judah she volunteers to go glean in the fields so she and Naomi can eat. An a unaccompanied woman was a great risk in her day,but she didn’t let that dissuade her. This risk leads her to a solution to her situation and a life she could have never imagined.
- Real love defines our reputation. (Ruth 2:10-12; 3:11 & 4:15) Ruth has been gleaning in the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s family. He treats her with respect and protects her. When she wonders why, Boaz mentions that everyone knows of her love for her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s reputation was a reflection of her loving heart put into action each and every day.
- Real love requires risk (again) and acceptance of responsibility. (Ruth 4:6-10) Boaz wants to marry Ruth but here is a person who is legally ahead of him according to the law of the day. In front of ten elders Boaz offers the other man the opportunity to buy Elimelech’s land, marry Ruth and care for the aging Naomi. It’s more risk than he is willing to take on, so Boaz becomes the “kinsman redeemer” of the family. Apparently love was greater than the potential risk.
- Real love rewards, but perhaps not here and now. (Ruth 4:13-15) First let’s state that the scores are not always settled in our lifetime. Many go to their graves wandering why the cheater seems to win. One day God will make it all right, but that day may not be any time son. However, we need to be faithful and do the right thing – no matter what. In this story Ruth marries Boaz and they have a baby named Obed. Well Obed grows up and has a son named Jesse and when Jesse is grown he has a son named David. That David! Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David. All because she loved her mother-in-law and wouldn’t abandon her. That’s a risk reward risk worth taking.