Introduction: Sometimes life treats you harshly. At those times, you
wonder where God is? Why has He let such terrible things happen to
me? This week we look at women whose lives are torn apart by the
death of their spouse. Will remaining faithful to God pay off? Will
grit and determination help? Let’s dive into our lesson and find out!

  1. Disaster

    1. Read Ruth 1:1-5. This was a terrible time in which to
      live. There was no government in Israel( Judges 17:6),
      people did whatever they wanted. Apparently, there was
      also no rain, so Elimelech decided to take his little
      family to another country where they had food. What do you
      think of Elimelech’s decision? (It put the physical above
      the spiritual. Although Israel was not following God the
      way it should, the god of Moab was Chemosh.)

      1. Was it wrong for Mahlon and Kilion to marry Moabite
        women? (It was not specifically prohibited
        ( Deuteronomy 7:1-3), but it was not a good idea
        because they worshiped other gods.)

      2. Has the move improved Naomi’s situation? (It turns
        out that the husband’s attempt to improve the welfare
        of his family actually makes things worse.)

    2. Naomi hears that the famine has ended in Israel, so she
      decides to return home. Read Ruth 1:8-13. What kind of
      women is Naomi? (She is bitter towards God, but she is
      unselfish towards her daughter-in-laws. They have been
      good wives to her sons and she is looking out for their

    3. Read Ruth 1:14-15. Orpah is convinced by Naomi about the
      best course for her future, but Ruth decides to stay. What
      is Naomi’s spiritual state right now? (She is in rebellion
      against God. In her opinion, God has harmed her, not
      helped her. Thus, she recommends that Orpah and Ruth
      return to their “people and [their] gods.”)

      1. Has Naomi always been like this – rebellious towards
        God? (Read Ruth 1:16-18. Elimelech’s family converted
        Ruth to serve the true God. Although Ruth has lost
        her husband, she does not have this rebellious
        attitude towards God. Instead, Ruth shows her strong
        character by disregarding the “practical advice” for
        her future and instead remaining faithful to Naomi
        and the God of Israel. Naomi must have held on to
        some faith because Ruth refers to “your God.”)

  2. God’s Blessings on Ruth

    1. Read Ruth 2:1-4. What do we learn about Boaz? (He is a
      relative of Elimelech, he is prominent in the community,
      he is a land-owner and farmer, he is Godly and has a good
      relationship with his workers.)

      1. What additional fact do we learn about Ruth? (She is
        not lazy.)

      2. Notice that Ruth 2:3 says “as it turned out, she
        found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz.”
        It sounds like this was mere chance. Is that how you
        see it? (God is leading the actions of this
        industrious young lady!)

    2. Read Ruth 2:5-7. Ruth catches the eye of Boaz. What
      recommendation does the foreman give her? (He says three
      important things. First, he tells Boaz that she is a
      relative (or at least with one of his relatives). Second,
      that she asked permission to “glean” (which was her right
      under Leviticus 23:22). Third, she is a hard worker.)

      1. What do you think Boaz may have previously heard
        about “the Moabitess who came back from Moab with
        Naomi?” (Naomi had a very sad story. The one bright
        spot in her situation was this young woman from Moab
        who not only left her own country to help Naomi, she
        converted to the God of Israel. I’ll bet the people
        had a favorable opinion of Ruth.)

    3. Read Ruth 2:8-10. Ruth has the same question I have, why
      is Boaz being so kind to her? It is one thing to let her
      glean – which is her right – it is another thing to tell
      her to glean only on his property, promise his personal
      protection, and make her a part of the “household.” Why?
      (Read Ruth 2:11-12. It turns out I was right about her
      reputation. Boaz had already formed a high opinion of her,
      so when she “happened” to show up in his fields, he was
      anxious to help her.)

      1. Instead of wishing her a “rich reward by the Lord,”
        why didn’t Boaz just give her that rich reward?

    4. Read Ruth 2:13. What do you think of this answer? What if
      she had said, “You are right, I am doing a lot for Naomi!
      This gleaning stuff has cramped my style. You are rich,
      how about helping me a bit more? I deserve the help. You
      can afford it.”

    5. Read Ruth 2:14-16. Aside from feeding her, what do you
      think Boaz is trying to do for Ruth? (He wants her to feel
      accepted and be accepted by his employees. He does not
      want her to be embarrassed because she is gleaning. He
      views her as a special person. A person who, if
      circumstances were different, would not be gleaning.)

      1. What principles about helping the poor do we find in
        our story so far? (Boaz did not just give Ruth money
        or food – although he could afford it. Following
        God’s plan of gleaning, the poor had to work for
        their food. On the other hand, Boaz realizes Ruth’s
        unfortunate circumstances and takes steps to both
        keep her from embarrassment, keep her safe, and make
        her food collection a little easier.)

    6. Read Ruth 2:17-18. What traits of character do we see in
      Ruth? (We see again that she is hard-working. We also find
      she is generous.)

  3. Boaz and Ruth

    1. Read Ruth 2:19-20. Our story introduces a new fact. Boaz
      is “one of our kinsman-redeemers.” What is that? (Let’s
      read some texts: Leviticus 25:25; Leviticus 25:47-49; and,
      Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Family was important in Israel. This
      idea of one family member “redeeming” someone who had
      fallen on hard times was written into the law. It even
      extended to the “Levirate law” in which a brother of a
      deceased man would marry his widow in order to have a son
      to continue on the name of the deceased. Ruth and Naomi,
      had not only fallen on very hard financial times, they had
      both lost their husbands.)

      1. What other principles about helping the poor have we
        learned in these texts? (The family has a primary

    2. Read Ruth 3:1-4. You recall that Naomi argued that Ruth
      should stay with her people so that she could find a
      husband. What is Naomi up to now? Is she trying to have
      Ruth seduce Boaz? (No. Naomi is doing “her job” as a
      parent to arrange a marriage for Ruth. Boaz has made no
      move to marry (redeem) Ruth, so Naomi is going to help
      move things along by getting the girl cleaned up and
      having her lay by Boaz when he is sleeping. The smell of
      her perfume should waft over to snoring Boaz and he may
      start dreaming of marriage. When his feet get cold he
      would wake up and there Ruth would be – looking and
      smelling good! Let’s see how this plan works!)

    3. Read Ruth 3:5-9. Let’s compare notes a bit. Naomi told
      Ruth ( Ruth 3:4) that when Boaz awoke “he will tell you
      what to do.” Who is telling whom what to do in Ruth 3:9?
      (Ruth is telling Boaz that she wants him to redeem (marry)
      her! So much for waiting for him to have the idea.)

      1. What lessons do the single ladies learn about
        marriage? (Listen to you parents advice, wear nice
        clothes, be clean, smell good and be aggressive!
        Otherwise your Boaz might just snore along the rest
        of his life.)

      2. Are Ruth and Naomi taking this aggressive stance
        without any encouragement from Boaz?

    4. Ruth has now put herself “on the line.” She could be
      rejected, not simply as a wife, but as a gleaner. If Boaz
      does not want to marry her, he might not want her around
      to constantly remind him of what Naomi considers to be his
      duty. Read Ruth 3:10-13. It works! Has this idea already
      been in Boaz’s mind? (Yes! He has already considered the
      problem of the closer relative.)

      1. What must Boaz do about this potential problem? (Boaz
        has to do a little “legal work” to get everything in

    5. Read Ruth 3:16-18. What is wise Naomi’s assessment of the
      situation? (Boaz is going to try his best to make this
      work out.)

    6. Read Ruth 4:1-6. How would you rate Boaz as a business
      negotiator? Does he mention which widow goes with the
      estate? Which is logical?

    7. Read Ruth 4:9-10. Have the requirements of the law been
      met? (Yes.)

    1. Read Ruth 4:13-16. How did Noami go from a woman unhappy
      with God to having a grandson who was the grandfather of
      King David? (It was a mix of things. A decision to return
      to God’s people. The loyalty, commitment and hard work of
      Ruth. The law of God. God’s hand in leading Ruth to the
      field of Boaz. Boaz’s kindness. All of these good things
      working together created something very special for Boaz,
      Ruth, Naomi (and now, little Obed).)

    2. Friend, when you follow God’s rules, when you work hard
      and smart, God will remember you and bless you even when
      times seem very difficult.

  1. Next week: Elkanah and Hannah: Fulfilling a Vow.