Ruth The Moabitess
The book of Ruth derives its name from the chief personality in the narrative, “The Rose of Moab”. It is devoted to the history of a Gentile woman who married a Hebrew named Boaz, their union culminating in the birth of a babe. Ruth is one of five women who appears in the genealogy of Matthew’s Lord. Three of the five had bad records: Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba. Two of the five were Gentiles: Rahab and Ruth. Ruth portrays a sublime picture of the Christian life: deciding, serving, resting and rewarding. The book presents the Grace of God in reaching an outcast Moabitess and overshadowing her in gleaning, guidance and goodness.
The Book’s Setting
The setting of the book is in the time of the Judges. “Was there ever a blacker time in Israel’s pre-exile history than that of the Judges?” It was black with religious apostasy and civil confusion; and the tragic book ends with the final sigh, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Yet on the very heels of that last sentence in the book of Judges comes the priceless little book of Ruth, opening with the words, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled”—reminding us at once that even in those ugliest of days there were the loveliest characters, godliest believers, and most chivalrous lives.
The book covers a period of about ten years. The widowed Naomi, faithful Ruth, and noble Boaz stand out in sharp contrast against the black landscape of the days of the Judges. It was a time of gross idolatry, grievous immorality, and godless anarchy. In the midst of such evil there were still noble souls who lived in faithfulness before God and witnesses to their generation concerning the God of Israel. Here family life is seen at its best, whereas in the book of Judges, it is revealed at its worst. Ruth is as a lovely lily in a stagnant pool. Instead of immorality and infidelity, there are purity and faith. Rebellion gives way to rest and the shout of the battlefield is exchanged for the serenity of the home. It is a beautiful pastoral idyll, an oasis in the desert, and the matchless story of a grand friendship between two women.
The Book’s Purpose
The purpose of the book is threefold: (1) It traces both the history of the nation during the reign of the Judges and the genealogy of David and David’s Greater Son. From the child born to Boaz and Ruth sprang Jesse, the father of David. Thus the Gentile Ruth becomes a forbearer of the Lord Jesus Christ, who ends all race and class distinctions. Ruth brings the promise of a coming king, David, whose righteous reign would bring strength and stability to the nation that had fallen into the bondage and oppression of the Philistines. Later on as a statesman, warrior, and poet, he utterly vanquished this enemy. Ruth proclaims the advent of His Greater Son, David’s Lord, who not only would redeem the nation, but would be the Saviour of the Gentiles; from the family of David, Christ was to be born. (2) The book tells out the Grace of God in reaching an outcast Moabite and bringing her into the place of blessing. (3) It teaches the great truth of Redemption, for Ruth found rest through a Kinsman-Redeemer, Boaz. The book is worthy of our closest study and has a moral, historical, doctrinal, typical, dispensational, spiritual, and industrial value, above many. Among the Jews it is linked with the Megilloth or Festal Rolls and usually read at festal seasons in the nation’s history.
The Book’s Application
Through the ages, countless thousands of precious girl babies have been born, bearing this name. How significant to note in the name the progressive love story that has captivated millions and lost none of its charm over the centuries. (Note the letters):
R - Resolve
U - Unselfishness
T - Trust
H - Honour
In chapter 3 Ruth comes to a most important hour in her life. She had been brought face to face with Boaz and had learned of his residence, his relationship, and his resources. What thoughts must have clustered around her heart as she contemplated this mighty man of wealth and his position as Kinsman-Redeemer. It is imperative for her to wait a while until the gracious purpose of God unfolds for her future life.
The message of Naomi under God was, “Sit still.” How difficult it is at times to just quietly wait until God acts (Psalm 37:5). How suggestive this phrase and surely it is the hallmark in this virtuous hand-maiden of the Lord.
We have entered into rest through our union with Christ. We have learned of His Place - Bethlehem; His relationship to us as Redeemer, Saviour, Lover and Lord; His resources that are exhaustless and eternal, and we await the blessedness of the day when we shall be with Him for all eternity. Meantime how essential to sit still and await His Word, His will, and His design for us as His purchased possession. Ruth proved the faithfulness of God and entered into the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow. Oh, that in our lives we might be delivered from the fretful and frustrating things of life that cause us to act and move in the flesh! Only as we learn to sit still, ponder the path of our feet, and rest at His feet shall we be enabled to possess our souls in patience and prove “that all things work together for good to them that love God.” May God by His Spirit teach us to tarry and to trust, knowing that God will make good His Word in our day as in the life of the Psalmist: “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
Were this little book omitted from the canon of Scripture, it would be an irreparable loss; a most important link would be missing between the Judges and the Kings. Further, it is preparatory to the bringing in of David, the man after God’s own heart, who was God’s anointed; it points on to “great David’s greater Son” the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus we see in the tale of two widows, the end of the harvest, the romance of redemption, and the wedding bells of Bethlehem, the changeless certainty of all the things which are of God.