As I read that the son born to Ruth and Boaz was Obed, I knew that she was who I wanted to do my character sketch on this week. In reading that the book of Ruth was mainly the story of Naomi, I could not help but think it was more than that.
In Ruth, I see a girl who was more than just humble and loyal. We are not told much about her relationship with her first husband, but we do know that Ruth viewed Naomi as a mother. When Naomi was preparing to head back home to Bethlehem, she insisted that both her daughter-in-laws remain in Moab and put their lives together again. Ruth refused the offer and made a commitment to follow Naomi until they were parted by death! She forsake the gods of the Moabites and instead told Naomi that her God would be Ruth’s God and Naomi’s people would be her people.
Ruth must have truly loved Naomi. I think she had great compassion for her as well. It may have been easier for Ruth to have stayed in Moab but she chose to stand by her mother-in-law insisting upon following her into a strange land. Not only did she insist on following her, she promised that Naomi’s people would be her people and that she would serve only Naomi’s God.
Ruth appears to have had a genuine servant’s heart. We read about her asking to go glean ears of grain. Naomi did not ask, Ruth volunteered without prompting. In those days, farmers were required to leave sheaves behind for the needy.
As it turns out, Ruth catches the eye of Boaz who inquires about her. You can tell that Boaz is taken in by Ruth because of the protection and provisions he offers her. Not only did he offer her protection in the fields, he tells her that when she is thirsty, his servants will draw her water. Ruth, being truly humble, is recorded to inquire of Boaz “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” ~ found in Ruth 2:10 (NASB)
From that point forward in their conversation, it seemed that Boaz revealed his admiration of Ruth to Ruth. We are told he had her sit close enough to dip her bread in the vinegar. It is also reported that he served her! After she had finished eating, Boaz commanded his servants once again regarding provisions for Ruth.
I truly believe that Ruth’s servant heart, her immense loyalty to her mother-in-law as well as her willingness to follow her into a strange land, was what caught Boaz’s admiration. I also firmly believe it was the protection, provision, favor and kindness of Boaz that appealed to Ruth. Before chapter 2 ends, we learn that Ruth understood that Boaz was one of their closest relatives and she had confided to Naomi that he wanted Ruth to stay close to his servants until the harvest was finished. To me, it seemed that she planted the seed in Naomi’s head to arrange for her to be married to Boaz.
In the end Naomi and Boaz are married and neither one of them is credited with any improper behavior. Ruth and Boaz end up having a son and we are told that he is given the name of Obed by Naomi’s friends! Obed is the grandfather to King David! I truly love knowing that in the lineage of Christ there is a gentile; A Moabite woman no less! I also could not help but notice that Ruth and David seem to have the same type of heart, for their words of devotion are much the same.
Ruth asked Boaz who was she to have found favor in his eyes and David is recorded as asking the LORD what was man the He should take thought of him. The similarity in their humbleness cannot be ignored.
We are told in Psalm 138 that the LORD regards the lowly, the humble. I believe the sovereign LORD united two of his most humble servants to fulfill His purpose.
I know the story of Ruth, according to Arnold and Beyer, is truly the story about how Naomi’s life was turned around, however, I found it to be an inspiring story about a girl who was loyal, humble, hard working, dedicated, devoted, loving and grateful. Who, due to her inner beauty, caught the eye of a godly man. In the end all parties involved were blessed. Through Ruth’s story we see a sovereign God at work.
© Wendy Glidden 2015, written originally for my History of Ancient Israel College Class
Encountering the Old Testament, 2008, Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group
http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.13.Ruth.htm, 2006, Elizabeth Fletcher
The MacArthur Study Bible, 2006, Thomas Nelson Publishing
The Unfolding Mystery Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, 2013, Edmund P Clowney, The Edmund P. Clowney Legacy Corp