(a) Relates an episode in the ancestry of David which accounts for the introduction of non-Israelite blood into his family line. This family line, extended, leads ultimately to Christ, Mt 1:5. (b) Teaches the far-reaching grace of God in welcoming Gentile converts to the fellowship of his redeemed people. Thus foreshadows the worldwide gospel blessing to come. (c) Exhibits the function of the ‘kinsman-redeemer’. (d) Exhibits divine providence, showing how it concerns all events and experiences that concern us, and how these can be woven into God’s larger plans for redemption. See (e) Illustrates the beauty of family loyalty and love. (f) Gives a prominent place to women.
Background – ‘The days when the judges ruled’ – this book is a candle in a dark place; it is a pastoral interlude in troubled times, showing that godly values can survive in the face of prevailing godlessness.
The story –
(a) return journey to Moab: famine – Elimelech and family travel to Moab – marriage of 3 sons – their death – return of Naomi and Ruth (1:16) – Naomi’s emptiness (1:20f);
(b) in the harvest fields: Ruth gleans ‘as it turned out’ in Boaz’ field – Boaz enquires about Ruth – Boaz’ kindness, protection & prayer – report to Naomi;
(c) at the threshing floor: Naomi’s plan – Ruth’s trust (3:5) – Boaz’ response – the nearest relative;
(d) at the town gate: offer to nearer kinsman – his refusal – Boaz’ anouncement;
(e) conclusion: marriage – birth of son – Naomi’s care – the family line.
A picture of human kindness against a background of divine providence:-
Naomi: how Ruth must have loved and admired her to want to give up everything in order to be with Noami, and to live with Naomi’s people, and to worship Naomi’s God, 1:16; demonstrates the powerful influence of quiet godliness. Note God’s oversight of her life, both in emptiness and fulness, 1:20f.
Ruth: her loyalty, 1:16 and trust, 3:5; demonstrates God’s grace extending to the heathen, 1:16.
Boaz: noble protection and kindness; demonstrates God’s provision of a kingly line that would lead eventually to Christ, Mt 1:5.
One could say much of the merits and message of the book to which Ruth gave her name, as well as of the many lessons to be gathered from it. Benjamin Franklin, who was ridiculed at one time in Paris for his defense of the Bible, was determined to find out how much of it his scoffer had read. He informed one of the learned societies that he had come across a story of pastoral life in ancient times that seemed to him very beautiful but he would like the opinion of the society. A night was arranged for Franklin to read to the assembly of scholars a lyric which impressed him. The Bible lover read the Book of Ruth, and when he had finished the scholars were in ecstasies and begged Franklin to print it. “It is already in print,” said Franklin. “It is a part of the Bible you ridicule.”
— All the Women of the Bible
See: Zech 7:11-12; Eph 4:18