Ruth: A Lesson in Overcoming

“And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse” (Matt. 1:5).

The name of Ruth brings special thoughts to those who know the history of this great woman.  While some would consider marriage to a Moabite something disagreeable (cf. Ruth 4:5-6), Boaz did not see her in such light.  Prejudice can cause people to misinterpret God’s will for mankind.  Ruth is an example of how an outsider became one of the great people of the line of Christ.  Consider three lessons from her life.

  1. Her Devotion. The name Ruth in Hebrew means friendship.  There was not a better friend that Naomi had than Ruth.  The first chapter of the book of Ruth finds her in distressing circumstances with the death of his husband (cf. Ruth 1:5).  A “fair weather” friend would not have been like Ruth to Naomi when things looked as bleak as they did (cf. Ruth 1:3-13).  While one of Naomi’s daughters-in- law, Orpah, returned to Moab (cf. Ruth 1:14), Ruth stayed with her as some might say “Through thick or thin.”  Her well-known words, “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: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17) reveal her devotion.  Her devotion led her to do what Boaz would later say, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (Ruth 2:12).
  2. Her Diligence. When Ruth and Naomi came back to Israel it was the time of the barley harvest (cf. Ruth 1:22).  Ruth happened to glean in the field belonging to Boaz (cf. Ruth 2:3).  Her work ethic was not one of laziness or half-hearted effort.  The text states, “so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house” (Ruth 2:7).  The amount gleaned and beat out “was about an ephah or barley” (Ruth 2:17).  She gleaned “unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law” (Ruth 2:23).  After Naomi found out that Boaz was a near kinsman who might raise up descendants, Ruth was diligent to do what her mother-in-law told her to do (cf. Ruth 3:5-18).  She had truly demonstrated to all that she was a “virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11).
  3. Her Destiny. This friend of the house of Elimelech would ultimately be in the family line of the Messiah.  The promise to Abraham that of his seed “shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18) would ultimately have one originally from Moab in the genealogy (cf. Matt. 1:5).  Ruth would be a blessing and also be blessed.  Women from Israel would say to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him” (Ruth 4:14-15).  Her biography could declare some of the great men of Israel to come through her.  Truly, God brought about a greatness that started with one who overcame great obstacles.

Jimmy Clark