A Woman of Devotion

Ruth: A Woman of Devotion

My all time favorite Bible story is Ruth. I love Ruth’s devotion, Boaz’s caring, and their love. Being a teenage girl I honestly love romances, therefore Ruth and Boaz’s story is very enjoyable to me. I also love how devoted Ruth was Naomi. The story of Ruth begins with famine and suffering, but ends with new beginnings and fresh starts. Perhaps that’s another reason I love the book of Ruth, I’m a sucker for happy endings. In case you haven’t heard the story of Ruth or don’t know it very well, let me give you a quick summary. Judges ruled Israel, and there was no king. Everyone one did as they pleased, and not what God had commanded them to do. It was at this time that famine struck the land. In Bethlehem there was a man and his wife Naomi, who had two sons. They left Bethlehem and moved to Moab. While they were in Moab their sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Then Naomi’s husband and sons died, leaving all three women widows. Heartbroken, Naomi took her two daughter-in-laws and started back to Bethlehem. But on the way she changed her mind and urged them to return to their families. They wept, and begged her not to send them back. Eventually Orpah gave in, and returned to the Moabites, but Ruth would not. In Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth says to Naomi, ““Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Naomi relented and allowed Ruth to come with her. They arrived in Israel just as the Barley harvest was beginning, and Ruth went into the fields to collect the leftover grain. She happened to go to the field of Boaz, the son of Salmon and Rahab, and a relative of Naomi. Boaz asked his overseers who she was, and they told him that she was a Moabite woman, who had come back with Naomi. Boaz came to Ruth and told her not to go into anyone else’s field, but to always harvest in his field. Ruth asked him why he would treat her, a foreigner, with such kindness. In Ruth 2:11-12 it says, “11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’” For the remainder of her time in Boaz’s field, Ruth was treated with kindness and respect. Boaz gave her extra barley, which she took home to Naomi. Naomi asked who had treated her with such kindness, and when she heard it was Boaz she said, “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20)  A guardian redeemer was a person responsible for taking care of a needy relative. One day Naomi told Ruth to wash, dress in her best clothes, and put on perfume. She sent her down to the threshing floor to lie at Boaz’s feet, after he fell asleep, so he would not know she was there. But in the middle of the night Boaz awoke with a start, only to find a young woman at his feet. You can imagine his surprise at finding it was Ruth. There, in the middle of the night, she practically proposed to him! Boaz loved Ruth and wished to marry her, but there was another guardian-redeemer, who was a closer relation. The next day he went to the other relative and asked if he could marry Ruth and buy Naomi’s land, and the man agreed. Ruth and Boaz had a son, and they named him Obed, and through Obed Naomi’s family was continued. What I find very interesting about this story is the similarities between Boaz and Ruth, and Salmon and Rahab. Both Boaz and Salmon loved and married women who were looked down upon by their people. Ruth and Rahab were both foreigners, who came from a wicked culture. They would have been mistreated and disrespected by most Israelites. Yet in their great love, both Salmon and Boaz were willing to overlook their backgrounds and baggage. Perhaps it was because of his father’s unconditional love for his formerly prostitute mother that Boaz was so quick to love Ruth, or maybe he was impressed with Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Either way both stories are beautiful illustrations of God’s unconditional love for us. No matter what we’ve done in the past, no matter what baggage we carry with us, God loves us. We don’t deserve it, but he gives it to us anyway. Why? Because he made us, and in his eyes we are precious jewels. He will never leave us or get sick of us. In a way, it’s like Ruth’s devotion to Naomi. Ruth could easily have left Naomi and gone back to her own family, but she didn’t. Instead she suffered through the challenges of a new culture, a new faith, and a new life. All because she loved Naomi so much, and was devoted to her. That’s the main attribute we can learn from Ruth: devotion. Devotion to God and devotion to our family. ~Ally

“Taken as a whole, the story of Ruth is one of those signs. It was written to give us encouragement and hope that all the perplexing turns in our lives are going somewhere good. They do not lead off a cliff. In all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy.”   ~John Piper

 

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