Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, Ephrathites from Bethlehem and descendants of Judah, leave Bethlehem during a famine and go to live in Moab. There Naomi’s husband and two sons die, leaving Naomi with her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. When Naomi hears there is now food in Judah, she sets out to move back home. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their homes because she can not provide them with husbands. In the midst of Naomi’s suffering with the loss of her husband and her sons, she wrongly believes that the Lord is against her. Naomi pleads with her daughters-in-law to leave her and return home “for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”
Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi and says, “For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.” Ruth commits herself to Naomi and to the Lord instead of going home and worshiping the false gods of Moab. Ruth further expresses her loyalty to Naomi and faith in the Lord when she says, “The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” So Naomi concedes, and when Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, the people are excited to see Naomi. But Naomi responds, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara [which means bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.” But did Naomi come back empty as she said? No. Naomi was so blinded by her deep pain that she could not see all that the Lord was doing and all the ways He was for her. She could not see how God was going to use the life of Ruth, who clung to Naomi and trusted in her God, to fulfill His promise to send a Savior.
Ruth works in the field of Boaz, a descendant of Judah’s son, Perez (one of the twins from Judah and Tamar). Boaz admires how Ruth has been so faithful to Naomi, and he says to her, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” When Ruth brings the barley she gleaned from the field to Naomi, Naomi tells her that Boaz is a close relative and instructs Ruth to go to him and lie down at his feet and wait for him to tell her what to do. Ruth obeys Naomi. When Boaz awakes and finds Ruth at his feet, she says to him, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”
Boaz responds, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” Then Boaz follows the proper procedures per the Levirate law and becomes the owner of all that belonged to Naomi’s husband and sons, and he becomes husband to Ruth – “And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.’”
Tomorrow we finish the book of Ruth bringing an end to the Judges Era and transitioning us into the Kingdom Era. Keep reading. (Ruth 1:1-4:12)