Who wrote it?
The book of Ruth does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that the book of Ruth was written by the Prophet Samuel.
When(ish) was it written?
The exact date Ruth was written is uncertain, but the prevalent view is a sometime between 1011 and 931 BC.
Why was it written?
The book of Ruth was written to the Israelites. It teaches that genuine love at times may require uncompromising sacrifice. Regardless of our lot in life, we can live according to the precepts of God. Genuine love and kindness will be rewarded. God abundantly blesses those who seek to live obedient lives. Obedient living does not allow for “accidents” in God’s plan. God extends mercy to the merciful.
Some Key Verses
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” – Ruth 1:16
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” – Ruth 3:9
And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. – Ruth 4:17
A Quick Summary
The setting for Ruth begins in the heathen country of Moab, a region northeast of the Dead Sea, but then moves to Bethlehem. This true account takes place during the dismal days of failure and rebellion of the Israelites, called the period of the judges. A famine forces Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, from their Israelite home to the country of Moab. Elimelech dies and Naomi is left with her two sons, who soon marry two Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. Later both of the sons die, and Naomi is left alone with Orpah and Ruth in a strange land. Orpah returns to her parents, but Ruth determines to stay with Naomi as they journey to Bethlehem. This story of love and devotion tells of Ruth’s eventual marriage to a wealthy man named Boaz, by whom she bears a son, Obed, who becomes the grandfather of David and the ancestor of Jesus. Obedience brings Ruth into the privileged lineage of Christ.
A major theme of the book of Ruth is that of the kinsman-redeemer. Boaz, a relative of Naomi on her husband’s side, acted upon his duty as outlined in the Mosaic Law to redeem an impoverished relative from his or her circumstances (Leviticus 25:47-49). This scenario is repeated by Christ, who redeems us, the spiritually impoverished, from the slavery of sin. Our heavenly Father sent His own Son to the cross so that we might become children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ. By being our Redeemer, He makes us His kinsmen.
What does this mean?
The sovereignty of our great God is clearly seen in the story of Ruth. He guided her every step of the way to become His child and fulfill His plan for her to become an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). In the same way, we have assurance that God has a plan for each of us. Just as Naomi and Ruth trusted Him to provide for them, so should we.
We see in Ruth an example of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. In addition to being devoted to her family (Ruth 1:15-18; Proverbs 31:10-12) and faithfully dependent upon God (Ruth 2:12; Proverbs 31:30), we see in Ruth a woman of godly speech. Her words are loving, kind, and respectful, both to Naomi and to Boaz. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 “opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the Law of kindness” (v. 26). We could search far and wide to find a woman today as worthy of being our role model as Ruth.
Take a few minutes to review the Scripture from this past weekend, which was the book of Ruth. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What would you like to remember and apply to your life?
Naomi experienced significant loss in her life, to the point that she renamed herself “bitter.” Bitterness is when you hold onto anger resulting from unfair treatment. Do you struggle with bitterness? What is the root cause? How can the truth of the Gospel impact the bitterness in your life?
Who are the people “on the margins” in our culture today? What opportunities do you have to love, serve, and fight for marginalized people? Are there any specific steps you as a Small Group can take to engage this need in our world?
Consider Boaz as a forerunner to Jesus in the role of “kinsman redeemer,” able to take action on behalf of a relative in need. How has Jesus taken on this role in your life? Describe the time of “need” Jesus has set you free from. How can you help introduce others to Jesus, so they can be redeemed and set free as well?