Today begins our study of the Book of Ruth.  To help you better understand the text, background information on Ruth is provided, and following the Scripture passage you will find a devotional and prayer log.   My prayers are with you as we seek to grow in wisdom of God’s Word together this week.

The Book of Ruth
Background Information:

AUTHOR:
The author is not identified in the text. Samuel is suggested by the Talmud and Jewish tradition because of the similarity of language within the books of Ruth, Judges and Samuel. Hezekiah and David also have been suggested as possible authors. However, the textual evidence does not confirm any of these theories.

DATE:
According to the text, the story is set during the period of the judges, probably the latter part of that era (Ruth1:1, 4:18-22) but the date of authorship is generally understood to be during the reign of David (1010-970 B.C). The Book must not have been completed before the time of David (Ruth4:22); yet surely it was not completed after the time of Solomon, or Solomon would have been included.
SETTING:
The setting for Ruth begins and ends in the Judahite village of Bethlehem with a Moab sojourn in between. Moab was the pagan nation that began with the incestuous relationship between Lot and His elder daughter (Genesis 19:36, 37). The Moabites, as perpetual enemies of Israel, were the recipients of consistent pronouncements of judgment from the prophets (see Isaiah 15:1-9)
THEMES:
Divine Providence – God’s undergirding hand is seen and felt throughout the book. God brought comfort to Naomi in her greatest hurt, following the deaths of her husband and sons, through Ruth’s tender and loving care (Ruth 1:16, 17). God provided sustenance in the days of poverty for Ruth and Naomi, through the generous “close relative” Boaz, who became the kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 2:7, 8, 4:10). God replaced Naomi’s root of bitterness with a fountain of joy, through the birth of her grandson Obed (Ruth 4:15, 16). God used the brokenness of two women who, though seeming to lose all, found the highest honor in becoming part of the ancestry of the Messiah (Ruth 4:17; see also Matthew 1:3-6; Luke 3:31-33).
Commitment in Relationships – The Book of Ruth clearly establishes commitment as the key to all interpersonal relationships (see Ruth 1; Matthew 16, Commitment). The following elements of commitment are clearly illustrated in Ruth herself (Ruth 1:16, 17); a willingness to give up home and family; a determination to follow the living God; and acceptance of different people, a strange land, and a new faith; an awareness of the exclusiveness of a new faith; a testimony to the permanence of her pledge; and a consistent example of perseverance even in the midst of adversities. Ruth’s commitment was tested repeatedly, beginning with the departure from her birth family, her native land, and her secure environment, and continuing as she experienced the opportunities and trials of a new life and faith. The routine cycles of life – up and down, good and bad, hope and despair – typically challenge all commitments.

Friendship Between Women – The remarkable friendship between Ruth and Naomi – women from diverse backgrounds (one a Gentile and the other Hebrew) and different generations (one young and in the prime of life and the other old and beyond childbearing age) – illustrates the unique joys found in the caring relationships women have with one another as their lives and hearts are knit together in mutual affection and reciprocal commitment (see Luke 1, Friendship). They are carried through difficult times not only by God’s providential care but also by their extraordinary devotion to one another and creative initiative to care for one another.

Romantic Love – This book also describes the growing relationship between a man and a woman, as the romance of Ruth and Boaz unfolds in a charming way (see Song 2, Romance). Gentile and Hebrew are ultimately united in marriage to become a link in the chain of redemption.

Redemption and Reconciliation – The Moabitess Ruth experienced spiritual reconciliation as she was drawn into the family of God. She chose the godly Hebrew family; then God adopted Ruth into His family. As Ruth remained committed even in the midst of sorrow and poverty, God in His providence rewarded her with the security of a husband’s protective care, the joy of a mother’s nurturing task, and the legacy of her own place in the ancestry of Messiah.

Ruth chapter 1

Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

1 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. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, 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.

3 Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

6 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. 7 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.

8 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. 9 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 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

11 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? 12 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— 13 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!”

14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 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. 17 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.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

19 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?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 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.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

 

January 12 devotional

So often we read the Book of Ruth and we marvel at the fairytale ending; however, just like in the typical fairytale, we get so enamored by the perfect ending that we ignore the struggles and difficulties intertwined through the text. The book of Ruth describes the journey of a Moabite girl who chooses the path of commitment over the path of convenience. There are struggles and difficulties along the way but blessings and provisions in the end. Ruth chapter 1 gives us the background we need to appreciate how God works in this book.

In the first 5 verses we learn that there was a famine that was bad enough to cause Elimelech’s family to migrate. Then Elimelech and his two sons lost their lives, and Naomi, Ruth and Orpah were widowed.

  1. About how long had Elimelech’s family been in Moab (verse 4)?

 

 

  1. A decade is long enough for you to get VERY attached to someone or become VERY frustrated with someone. Verses 6-14 describe the dramatic farewell conversation between Naomi and her daughters in law. What do you learn about Naomi from these verses?

 

  1. Ruth had to make a choice. Going home would have been the convenient choice; however, she chose the committed choice to stay with Naomi (16-18).

16 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. 17 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.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Ruth made her choice- She was ALL IN with the different location, the new people, and the God who she had seen through her Mother-In-Law.

Have you encountered a difficult crossroad in your life? What helped you make the decision? What did you learn from this pivotal time in your life?

 

 

 

  1. In verse 20, Naomi says that her life is bitter.   Matthew Henry quotes, “When our condition is brought down our spirits should be brought down with it. And then our troubles are sanctified to us when we thus comport with them; for it is not an affliction itself, but an affliction rightly borne, that does us good. So many calamities have been lost upon you if you have not yet learned how to suffer.”

What life lessons have you learned at crossroads in your life? How has God changed you in and through trials and difficult decisions?

 

 

Prayer Requests:

1. Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.
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