Women of the Word | Faithful Women, Day 1
God uses difficult circumstances in our lives for His plan and purposes.
Verse of the Day
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” Ruth 3:9 ESV
How do you typically respond to difficult or inconvenient situations in your life?
When was a time your hard work was recognized and praised? How did you respond?
Have you ever worked hard and did not receive the recognition and praise you felt you deserved?
Have you ever taken a huge leap of faith in order to help someone else at your own expense?
Has God used a difficult circumstance in your life to bring you to a destination you didn’t expect?
We often respond to difficult circumstances in a variety of ways; panic, complaining, irrational behavior, anger, mistreatment of others. Our natural inclination is not typically a pleasant response, but one that finds us needing to seek repentance rather than praise.
God often asks us to make difficult choices, and often even sacrifice our own wants and perceived needs for the sake of His plans and the needs of others.
In the story of Ruth we see how God intertwines two widows, outcasts in their culture, and a single man, who was the son of a prostitute, into His plans for redemption.
Naomi, mother-in-law to Ruth, had lost her sons and her husband, was too old to have more children, and was alone with Ruth, who was a foreigner. They lived together in faithfulness to each other.
Boaz was a wealthy, powerful bachelor, and son of Rahab (the prostitute) and Solomon.
Read Ruth 1:15-18
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. Ruth 1:15-18 ESV
How would you describe Ruth’s determination to stay with Naomi?
When Naomi’s sons and husband died she told her two daughters-in-law to return to their families; one did, but Ruth stayed with Naomi refusing to leave her alone. They went together to Bethlehem, Naomi’s homeland.
Ruth was faithful to Naomi, not wanting to leave her mother-in-law alone, knowing Naomi had no one to take care of her or provide for her.
How is Ruth an example in how to respond to difficult choices?
Ruth, being a foreigner, sacrificed a lot to move to a foreign place rather than back to the comforts of her own home and family where they would have taken her in and likely found her a new husband quickly. She sacrificed that future for the unknowns ahead in following Naomi.
Sometimes God calls us to make difficult, uncomfortable or even painful choices, asking us to sacrifice our own comforts and gains for His greater purpose.
Ruth displays faithfulness through her sacrifices, putting the needs of Naomi above her own needs, and likely her own desires as well.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Read Ruth 2:8-13
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” Ruth 2:8-13 ESV
When was the last time you recognized and praised someone else for their hard work? How did they respond?
Ruth was recognized for her hard work and dedication in taking care of her mother-in-law.
She clearly did not expect to find such praise and favor for her work; she simply desired to care for her mother-in-law.
Ruth, receiving such praise and recognition, showed incredible humility and gratitude.
Read Ruth 3:8-14
At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord , my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Ruth 3:8-14 ESV
“Spread your wings over your servant” is essentially a request for marriage. Ruth went to Boaz, asking for him to marry her.
What are some key characteristics of Ruth?
Boaz recognized Ruth’s humility in how she made her request; she did not seek the younger men, and she also humbly lay at his feet rather than trying to tempt Boaz.
They both displayed great humility and respect toward one another and God’s Law, and great virtue in their conduct, not wanting to defile one another.
Ruth has also displayed much love, faithfulness, obedience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
How does her reputation and conduct affect her circumstances?
Boaz wanted to protect her reputation, did not lay with her, and made sure she made it out without notice so no one would think she had defiled herself.
He promised to seek a “closer relative” to marry her, as was the custom in that culture, and if the other man would not marry her, he would. He also recognized God’s hand in the arrangements.
He also recognized that the town knew she was “a worthy woman”. Her reputation was helped by her characteristics, and therefore her circumstances were helped by being seen as worthy.
Read Ruth 4:1-12
Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.” Ruth 4:1-12 ESV
Why did Boaz bring this matter to the elders and this other man, the closer relative to Naomi?
One of the levirate customs of the time was that a man was to marry his brother’s widow in order to carry on the deceased brother’s lineage. If there was no direct relative, the closest relatives would be next in line. This, however, was not the primary part of the overall custom.
The primary focus of the custom was that land owned by a deceased man or his widow should be “redeemed” or bought by the closest family relation so as to keep it in the family.
Naomi would have either needed to have the closest relation redeem her husband’s land for her, or sell it for money to survive, seeking the closest relative for the sale. She, as the widow of the land-owner, would have been the first choice to be offered as a wife along with the land, but as she was too old to have children Ruth offered herself as a surrogate for Naomi to carry on Naomi and her husband’s lineage.
Boaz was second in line and brought the matter before the first in line. The first in line was probably married, or had some other reason why the inclusion of Ruth as a wife would have prevented him from redeeming the land, so he forfeited it to Boaz who agreed to purchase the land, take Ruth as a wife, and carry on the lineage of Naomi’s deceased husband.
Read Ruth 4:13-17
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord , who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:13-17 ESV
Why does it say “a son has been born to Naomi” if Ruth had the baby?
Ruth and Boaz were carrying on the lineage of Naomi and her deceased husband, so this child was Naomi’s “guardian redeemer”, and according to custom, heir to her deceased husband’s inheritance.
Why would Ruth be more valuable “than seven sons”?
Seven is symbolic of completeness, and to have seven or more sons was considered the best blessing for a family.
This was an incredible praise for Ruth regarding her devotion to Naomi.
What is the significance of the story of Ruth?
Ruth is an incredible example of faithfulness, obedience, respect, purity, and humility. She voluntarily endured great sacrifice for the sake of others. She was in due time incredibly blessed and seen as a “worthy woman” after much time of loss, hardship and hard-work.
Ruth sacrificed everything in order to care for her mother-in-law, and because of this faithful devotion to Naomi, Ruth landed herself in the lineage of David, therefore into the lineage of Jesus.
Ruth is one of only five women named in the lineage of Jesus;
Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, Mary & Ruth
What can we learn from Ruth about enduring difficult circumstances?
Who is someone in your life that could use some additional support, love and care?
How could we better put the needs of others ahead of our own?
How can this community better care for those in need?