And To Sum It Up…

And To Sum It Up…

The last chapter of Ruth can be seen as a summary of the way she lived her life in very few words.

Boaz wasted no time in settling the matter of being Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. I see that he did this not only because it was part of his character, but also because he saw who she was (that’s not very good phrasing, so I hope you understand what I’m trying to say in just a few words).

He did not have to take her as his wife. He could have passed on the responsibility to the next closest relative after him, just as the one before him did (4:6-8). But he proclaimed, at the public gate, that he would take her as his wife. The elders of the city gave their blessing (because they knew her character and reputation also?) and said that they hoped his house would be as prosperous as that of Jacob (although they referred to Rachel and Leah presumably because they were the ones who bore him his sons).

After Ruth bore him his first son, the women of the city made a very bold proclamation concerning her. First they acknowledged what it seemed everyone knew…that Ruth loved Naomi. But then they said something that was very uncommon in that culture/time. Ruth was better than seven sons! Wow! That statement sums up the entire character of Ruth:

Respectful, hardworking, caring, unselfish, thoughtful, faithful, loyal, obedient, steadfast, conscientious, loving

 

I think her greatest characteristic was that she was submissive. She was submissive to Naomi and to Boaz, but her ultimate submission was to a God she was just getting to know. When she said, in chapter 1, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God,” she really meant it. She lived those words, and her life led to the birth of the Savior. (See the lineage in Matthew, chapter 1)

So why do I think that “submission” was Ruth’s greatest characteristic? Without doing a whole study on submission, my point of view on submission is really very simple. There is freedom in being submissive. (Please read Romans 6:15-23. I read it in the English Standard Version to get a better understanding of what it said.)

I want to always be aware of the people and things God brings into my life, and remember that every event will lead to THE end. I am responsible for making the choice of whether I want that end to glorify my Savior or myself.

 

Gaining strength though our fellowship.

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” {1 John 1:3 KJV}

Photo by Channen M. Sallee
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The Beginning of a Love Story

The Beginning of a Love Story
In chapter 3, Ruth’s character is put to the test.

From the narrative, it seems that she and Naomi have been in Bethlehem for quite some time, because Naomi suggests it’s time for Ruth to find a husband.

Naomi instructed Ruth on how she should approach Boaz (3:3-4). Ruth, without question, said, “I will do everything you say.” (3:5) She is respectful and obedient to Naomi. Ruth may have been with her long enough to understand the laws or customs of the Hebrew people. Regardless, she simply did what Naomi told her to do. She could have raised many questions or made demands of her own. But it doesn’t seem that Ruth had even been thinking about her own needs, rather she was focused on caring for Naomi. We also see that Naomi, with her aged wisdom, saw that it was time for Ruth to have a husband. Not only for herself, but also to carry on the family name.

Then Ruth went to where Boaz was going to be sleeping that night and did as Naomi instructed, waited for him to lie down, and then went and lay at his feet. What a sign of submission, to both Naomi and Boaz.

When Boaz realized she was there, he did not chastise her because she had “shown more kindness now than before” (3:10) He said this because he had seen her almost daily for two harvest seasons. He noticed that she had not chased after the younger men, nor had she pursued any man, either rich or poor. She remained steadfast to her commitment to Naomi, because she loved her more than she loved herself. When it came time for her to leave Boaz, the next morning (sleeping at his feet the whole night), she left “while it was still dark” (3: 14) She did not want anyone making assumptions about Boaz. I don’t believe it was for her own reputation. She was conscientious of his reputation.

A word (or 80+) on my thoughts about submission…

According to Strong’s Concordance, to submit means to “to yield to one’s admonition or advice.

How many times has someone, with age and wisdom, told me to do something that was in my best interest and I just thumbed my nose at them? TOO MANY!!!

1 Peter, chapter 5, tells me…”{5} Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” {1 Peter 5:5 KJV} (blueletterbibl.org)

I think the world has told us (women especially) that to be submissive means to be a slave. I believe to be submissive frees me from making mistakes…great big life mistakes! I don’t think God intended me to submit blindly. There has to be some wisdom behind both leading and following. Maybe one day we’ll do an in-depth study on submission…lots of analogies to be made between submission and or relationship with God!!!

The remainder of the chapter speaks about the kindness of Boaz and also his character. He is a man who does not put things off, but gets them done because it is how it should be done. More on Boaz in the next post.  There, you will also read my conclusion about what I feel is Ruth’s most significant characteristic.

 

Photo by Channen M. Sallee

Loyalty or Obligation?

Loyalty or Obligation?

I’m going to start sharing something that may get me into to trouble with some of you women. Hold on tight…and read each post (there will be four) before you tell me I’m crazy! We are going to look at the life of Ruth.

I had a specific reason for choosing this book. Ruth is a wonderful example of a woman who serves, and puts others before herself. I read this book with that specific mindset.

A little background/refresher: Ruth and Orpah are the daughter’s-in-law of the widow Naomi. Famine in the land of Moab. Both of Naomi’s sons die. Naomi decides to go back to her homeland (Bethlehem). She tells Ruth and Orpah to stay with the Moabites, their people, where they will be able to find new husbands and be taken care of.

The first thing I see about Ruth, is that she is loyal.

Ruth 1:14, 16-17 {NKJV}

“{14} Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. … {16} But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, [Or to] turn back from following after you; 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. {17} Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If [anything but] death parts you and me.'” (blueletterbible.org)

Ruth thought more of her mother-in-law’s needs than she did her own need for a husband/children/someone to take care of her. Because she would be a foreigner in Bethlehem, there was no guarantee that she would ever again be married, but it seems like that did not even cross her mind when she pleaded with Naomi, begging her not to send her away. Ruth had nothing to gain by going with Naomi, but because of her love and loyalty, she made a journey into the unknown.

The question may be asked, “Was it love and loyalty or fear of change and being without the comfort of those she knows?”

The culture of that time would have said that because Ruth was a Moabite, it would be her duty to stay with her people and find a new husband…like Orpah did. Ruth chose to put that cultural rule aside. I can only speculate, but the opening verses sort of explain her feelings toward Naomi. And her desire to be with her to take care of and comfort her in a strange land.

I often think about my “comfort level” when God tells me to do something. That is what I admire about Ruth. She put that aside and put Naomi’s comfort and wellbeing ahead of her own. In the following chapters, that is exemplified even more, but I don’t want to ruin the suspense for you 🙂 🙂

Did Ruth go with Naomi because she felt obligated?

I would not say that Ruth felt obligated to Naomi. Naomi had shown her who God was (although this can only be assumed by what Ruth “said”) and Ruth wanted to follow Him instead of going back to the pagan religion of Moab. Just part of why she went with Naomi. Not a lot is said about the character of Naomi, but she must have been a good woman for Ruth to want to stay with her, and she was well thought of in Bethlehem as well. The people there were excited when she returned home (1:19)

The favored daughter and her friend return. Good reception for good loyal people.

Thanks to my “fellowship friend” for the questions and comments!