Many of us are familiar with the book of Ruth, but for those who are not, this blog is an attempt at a summary of the book and the love and relationship lessons we can learn from it.
Ruth was a Moabite woman who married into an Israelite family who worshiped God. She was attracted by the God that they followed as opposed to gods of the Moabites. However, early on, we see her husband fall ill and pass on.
Naomi (Ruth’s mother-in-law), having lost her husband and both her sons, decides to return to the land of Jerusalem. She commands both daughters-in-law to return to their families and to consider remarriage. The first daughter-in-law, Orpah, returns to her home. However, Ruth stubbornly refuses to do so. Her words to her Naomi are worth quoting. They are also used regularly as vows for a wedding.
“Entreat[e] me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
At this moment, Ruth pledges her unyielding allegiance to Naomi and reveals herself as a woman of strong will and character.
When in Bethlehem
Then, the two of them set off for the land of Bethlehem. Ruth, being the diligent woman she is, realizes she needs a job to support herself and Naomi. She goes to the field of Boaz and asks to be allowed to glean the fields. Boaz sees her and asks about her. He quickly learned that she is a very hard worker. Boaz, tells her to stay on his field, as she will be well-protected and cared for. He shows her his mercy and kindness. She has found favor in his eyes.
Related Post: Marriage God’s Way
Then Naomi concocts a plan with Ruth. Realizing Boaz is Ruth’s kinsmen redeemer, she tells Ruth to take a bath, put on some perfume, and to go down to the threshing floor while the men go to sleep. She should lay down at the feet of Boaz.
According to Jewish tradition, laying at the feet at a man, was a way of asking him to protect her, to redeem her. Ruth was offering herself to this man, not in a physical sense, but more in a way of surrender. Boaz is impressed as he believed Ruth could have approached any other man, yet she approached him.
Lesson 1. Trust
Ruth’s obedience to Naomi is endearing. She trusted Naomi more than anyone else and followed through with Naomi’s plan because of that trust. We are not even sure if Ruth had any romantic inclination towards Boaz. What we do know is that being a widow in those days exposed a woman too much danger and made Ruth incredibly vulnerable. Naomi was seeking security for her dutiful and loyal daughter in law, and she was convinced that Boaz was the best choice as a husband for her. She had Ruth’s best intentions at heart.
Which brings me to the first point: Sometimes, we may not know what is best for us. We sometimes choose people based on superficial things like looks, humor, hobbies, interests, family backgrounds, language, culture. Yet what God may have for us, might prove to be the better option.
Only when we have genuinely renewed our minds in the word and have begun trusting God in this area can we trust our decisions, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. The heart can be deceived when we trust in our own wisdom instead of in God’s.
Back to the Story
Back to the story, Boaz tells Ruth that he knows of another man, who may be a closer family member to redeem her. He promises to speak to this man first, yet if this man was not willing, Boaz would redeem Ruth and marry her.
The following day, Boaz has a conversation with this man and informs him of the land that he could get, but that it came with the marriage of the widow, Ruth.
I believe that Boaz was in love with Ruth, but he wanted to make sure that he had done everything to the best of his ability to honor her. He was not a selfish, self-seeking person, but incredibly selfless.
Lesson 2. Selflessness
This is a fundamental trait for marriage/dating: Selflessness. Laying one’s life down, daily for another.
“Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13
We see that as soon as Boaz marries Ruth, God blesses them with a child. Their marriage is blessed and fruitful. Jesus is borne from their lineage – Jesus, who turns out to be our Redeemer, our Protector, and our Savior. We see how Boaz is a foreshadowing of what Jesus ultimately does for the whole world.
Lesson 3. Sacrifice and Submission
So, now that we have a basic synopsis of the story, the question remains, ‘Did Ruth make the first move?’ In essence, I would say she did, yet it was not a move made based on lust or emotion, but rather in sacrifice and humility. Both she and Boaz were people of strong character who wanted to do the right thing and please God. Through that desire, they received their heart’s ultimate desire, of a blessed, fruitful marriage.
As we venture forth into this sphere of dating/marriage, the question is, ‘Are we submitted to God’s ultimate plan for us, as we seek first His kingdom?’ or maybe we are still stuck on what we desire and are running after. Let us submit this area to God, and experience the fruitfulness that comes with that.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34