By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
The story of Ruth in the Bible is one of compassion, courage, boldness, and integrity. Ruth’s book may only be four chapters, but the legacy of her story endures, and it can encourage men and women alike today.
Sometimes, we can hear a story so many times we pass over little details in the Bible, but those details can make all the difference. Reading the Bible closely, and doing a little research of your own, can dig up so many facets of a story and make the meaning so much deeper.
There is much you may not know about a vivacious woman named Ruth that makes her story so inspiring. Here are 7 facts about Ruth and her amazing story.
1. Ruth Was a Foreigner
In the first chapter of Ruth, we are told some of the backstory of how her first husband’s family came to move lands and in time take wives that were not Israelites.
Ruth was a Moabite woman, and per Jewish tradition it was not encouraged to marry outside of the Jewish religion. This does not stop God from using a foreigner in part of His plan.
We see in Ruth 1:16 that Ruth has chosen to become a Jew, meaning she left the pagan religion of her heritage. It is evident that when she married into the family of her first husband, she came into the family in more than name.
When her first husband dies she has the opportunity to leave and return to her people, but she resists. She stays with her mother-in-law, Naomi stating, “where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” This is a poetic nod from God of His heart in what He planned to do through Jesus in accepting all people as His children not from their lineage or ethnic background, but through their acceptance of Jesus in their hearts.
As Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Ruth was the great-grandmother of David, who of course was in the ancestry of Jesus.
God chose Ruth, a foreigner, to be part of the lineage of Christ to represent His heart in all people to come into His kingdom based upon the acceptance of their heart, not the lineage of their ancestors.
2. Ruth Was Not forced to Be Bound to Naomi
Naomi had two sons, and two daughter-in-laws as such. When the husband of Naomi passes away along with the two sons, Naomi frees both women from their oaths to the family of Emilech.
Both women had agreed to marriage until death do they part, and with the deaths of both of their husbands they were no longer legally bound to the family. Orpah, the second daughter-in-law to Naomi chooses to return to her father’s home.
Ruth took a different approach.
Instead she chose to stay with Naomi, pledging a new oath to the family of Emilech and an oath to God as well. This noble and courageous choice would prove a blessing in time.
3. Ruth and Naomi Were Poor
Life would not be easy for Naomi and Ruth. They were two single widows at a time where women were not considered equals in culture.
The pair chose to return to Naomi’s homeland of Bethlehem in hopes of finding assistance in mere survival. It was tradition during this time that wealthy landowners would allow those less fortunate to glean in the boarders of the fields.
In modern times, it would be like a soup kitchen level of sustenance, but it was enough to continue to live. Ruth finds herself in the field of a man from the clan of Elimelech, Boaz. From the moment upon hearing her story he extends favor to her in the best of the fields, but Ruth and Naomi were still in a place where life was not easy.
This fact reveals even more the integrity of Ruth that she would choose a harder life to stay loyal to Naomi and to God.
Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock
4. Boaz Did Not Pursue Ruth at First
Despite Boaz being the stereotypical encouragement for Christian women to hope for in a husband, Boaz did not follow the typical man pursuing woman call.
In fact, Ruth was the one who made a move and was quite bold in her approach to sharing with Boaz her intent. Boaz upon meeting Ruth at first is taken with her beauty and integrity, sharing in verse 2:12 how he hoped the Lord would repay Ruth for her kindness to Naomi and for her trust in the Lord under His wings of refuge, but Boaz does not proceed to seek a romantic relationship with her.
Instead, time passes and Naomi encourages Ruth to make her feelings known. Naomi encourages Ruth to put on her best clothing, perfume and to go to Boaz’s home to make her intentions known.
Even in a culture today that is a bold move, but especially during this age it was beyond risky to do so. Ruth does as her mother-in-law encouraged and tells Boaz of her heart towards him.
Boaz is taken with her stance, and is even moved that she would choose someone older and not a younger man that would perhaps be more of a likely suitor. Boaz upholds Ruth’s integrity and assists her home and then takes necessary actions legally to marry Ruth.
5. Boaz Was Not First in Line to Marry Ruth Legally
During the time of Ruth’s story culture and tradition had specific guidelines of how marriage and lands would be conducted.
A kinsman-redeemer was someone who had the nearest relation and duty to redeem a land, or the first right to marriage of a widow. Another man actually had the role to be kinsman-redeemer to Ruth, which made it legally a more difficult path for Boaz to marry Ruth.
In Ruth 4 Boaz goes to the kinsman’s home and shares with him about the lands of Elimelech, and at first the kinsman desires to redeem it himself. When he hears in addition to the lands Naomi and Ruth would be acquired, the kinsman lacks interest to redeem it, and agrees for Boaz to take it on. This is where the hand of God is evident in shifting what legally should have been to the plans of God.
Boaz is then legally able to acquire the lands of Naomi’s husband and to marry Ruth.
6. Ruth Is in the Lineage of Christ
After the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, Ruth gives birth to a son. She and Boaz name him Obed, and Obed will grow to become the father of Jesse, who is the father of King David.
This places Ruth in the direct line of the lineage of Christ!
To our knowledge there is no record of God speaking to Ruth to tell her that her choice to stay loyal to Naomi and to God would in time bless her with a child, nor does it share that she was told she would be in the direct line of the Savior of the World, but what a beautiful ending it is that God blessed her abundantly for her noble character.
Naomi too was blessed, and the story ends with her cradling her grandson, Obed, and all of the townspeople extending joy for her at how happy her life turned out to be.
7. Ruth and Boaz Set Forth a Legacy for Generations to Come
Many of the themes of Ruth and Boaz’s life, as well as things they said would prove to be traits of legacy for their descendants to come.
The ideals of having noble character are evident in King David, especially with how he handles the attacks of Saul.
Boaz spoke upon their first meeting of Ruth finding refuge under the wings of God, something that David spoke in praise in Psalm 57. The legacy of Boaz and Ruth is evident in how their descendant, David, was brought up to know and love the Lord.
It was the choice of David to follow God, but the groundwork set forth by Boaz and Ruth is evident in how God was greatly revered and served in the lives of David’s great-grandparents.
The story of Ruth is one of a brave woman of noble character. Although her story is short, it is powerful.
The book is not called the Book of Boaz, but the Book of Ruth because it is her genuine love of God that empowers her to make hard decisions that are rooted in honor.
God does greatly reward Ruth for her authentic and sincere pursuits, but He blesses the world in that Ruth would be in the line of Jesus. What an encouragement to us today to know that integrity, courage, and rooting in the Lord is so important to His heart and ultimate plans years past our lives here on earth.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Yacobchuk
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys leading a high school girls’ small group, cooking, and spending time in tree houses. Her latest books, Dear Young Sparrow and Unveiled are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan.