Learning from The Book of Ruth – a Bible Study
- with thanks to Michelle Taylor for this material given at the Dating Academy in 2018.
In order to get the most from this study article, please read the book of Ruth in the Bible. It’s 4 short chapters.
What has your dating experience been like so far? Would you describe it as ‘The Long and Winding Road’, or ‘Twist and Turn and Trust’?
If it is either of those then the book of Ruth in the Bible is a good companion to you and a good book to draw solace from.
In this study of the book of Ruth we are going to be focusing on Naomi. We learn that she suffered a whole series of setbacks.
Naomi means pleasant, but in fact she has had a hard life. In fact she wants to change her name to Mara (which means bitter) as her life starts easy and blessed but then she loses everything and it becomes hard. She married, had two sons but then was widowed and both her sons died as well.
Ruth’s journey is the same but the other way round. It started blessed but now we find her gleaning to survive – a job only for the lowest of the low.
This isn’t the Lord’s will for us. He doesn’t want us just to survive but to thrive.
God leads Ruth to glean in a relatives field. Through this relative – Boaz – the Lord blesses her (he is a prospective redeemer). This is not a co-incidence – it’s a God incidence.
Are you able to walk humbly with the Lord despite unexpected circumstances?
Ruth and Naomi go through their difficult circumstances trusting in God and with His leading.
Look back at your own life and see God’s hand on it. Was God there? Was God leading you down the road to things you couldn’t see?
Boaz has everything – but he sees Ruth’s value for who she was – i.e. a loyal hardworking woman. It’s worth noting here that no-one is worth settling for unless they look at you with respect and pride.
Do you sometimes feel your fate is in the hands of others and over which you have no control (see 3:12 when Boaz says someone else has greater claim over her)? When that happens how do we respond?
Naomi says ‘Wait. Sometimes God says ‘Wait’ because he is doing things that we can’t necessarily see – we need to remember in this life that it is his battle and he is fighting it.
And yet we have to play our part. We can ask God to set us free from things. He is able to do that. If we don’t ask him but rather try to extract ourselves from something we have got ourselves into that isn’t right, the more we get entangled and knotted up. Then it takes the Lord much more work to undo the knots we have created.
Boaz offers Ruth to someone else. This man refuses so Boaz gets Ruth – who is no longer barren. The women around see the resulting child as Naomi’s son. So she is blessed, pleasant and full again. God takes away her bitterness and she is greatly blessed.
We may not have the ‘one’ relationship we have been hanging our hopes on. But maybe God has used other people in our lives that have been better to you than a husband/wife may be. (The woman say to Naomi that Ruth was better than 7 sons!)
This is a story that begins with death and ends with birth. That’s Gods kingdom for you. Upside down from the way the world works. God brings life to the dead.
Naomi’s road wasn’t straight but it did lead to glory. And history was changed as a result of it.
Naomi starts off so well, but becomes so empty – it wasn’t her plan how her life went. But in the waiting (and remember it is important to wait well) the best is yet to come.
Look back and see where you didn’t wait well, where you did things in your own way and in your own strength and see how things didn’t work out. In your waiting make good choices.
As you look back, discern where God was leading and where it was you deciding which way you should go.
The Bible says don’t look left or right, just keep your eyes on the road ahead. It is Wisdom that stands at the forks in the road and calls out: “Go that way, not that way.” Stand still and ask the Lord to show you which way to go.
God is as in control as we allow him to be. He gives us free will to allow us to love him (otherwise we’d have no choice!).
Your road isn’t over yet. The life of the godly isn’t a straight line – it is full of twists and turns, but it is in God’s hands.