Bible Themes: Ruth
One Word Theme: Redemption
Date written: 1030 –1010 b.c.
Author: Unknown/possibly Samuel
Setting: Moab and Bethlehem
The Book of Ruth in the Bible
The book of Ruth takes place during the spiritually dark days of the Judges. Ruth is the story of a woman (named Ruth) who lives during this evil period in Israel’s history but does not succumb to its moral decay.
Ruth's story is one of integrity, righteousness, and faithfulness. Her story covers about 11–12 years and shows how her faithfulness to follow the God of Israel leads to great blessing not only for her, but for Naomi, for Boaz, and ultimately for the world as she takes her place in the family line of Jesus Christ.
Key Themes in the Book of Ruth
Chapter 1 Bible Theme: Ruth’s Faithfulness
Ruth’s story opens with a severe famine that forces an Israelite named Elimelech to move his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to Moab from Bethlehem. While living there, both sons marry Moabite women but subsequently die, as does their father.
Now alone, Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and suggests that her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, remain in Moab with their people. Orpah chooses to stay. Ruth, however, clings to Naomi and follows the God of Israel, giving up her gods, culture, and people.
Chapter 2 Bible Theme: Ruth’s Service
Naomi returns to Bethlehem a bitter woman, thinking God is her enemy because of her losses. But God has plans she doesn’t know about, which begin to unfold when Ruth volunteers to pick up the grain in the fields left behind by the harvesters. Such gleaning was permitted to provide for the poor.
In God’s plan and providence, Ruth enters the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s. Boaz has heard of Ruth’s faithfulness toward Naomi and gives instructions to his workers to leave grain behind and thus provides for her and Naomi.
Chapter 3 Bible Theme: Ruth’s Proposal
Over a period of several months, Ruth willingly works in Boaz’s fields to provide for her and Naomi. Naomi repays Ruth’s kindness by devising a plan that will force Boaz to make a more serious decision about Ruth.
Ruth is instructed by Naomi to engage in a common, ancient Near-Eastern custom of asking Boaz to take her for his wife in the place of her dead husband because he is a close relative (see the levirate marriage principle of Deuteronomy 25:5-6). This takes place at night on a threshing floor during the harvest.
Ruth’s proposal is accepted when Boaz throws a garment over her. Even though Ruth sleeps at Boaz’s feet through the night, there is no hint of improper behavior.
Chapter 4 Bible Theme: Ruth’s Reward
Boaz agrees to marry Ruth as a close relative, but reveals the next morning that he must first ask another closer relative, to see if that man wanted to fulfill the levirate custom. The man declines, thus permitting Boaz to marry Ruth.
God blesses Ruth’s faithful devotion by giving her a husband in Boaz and a son, Obed, who would later be the grandfather of the famous future king of Israel, David, and whose ultimate ancestor is Jesus Christ.
The book of Ruth gives us an important analogy of the work of Christ. Like Boaz, Jesus is related to us by His physical birth, able to pay the price of redemption, willing to redeem, and able to redeem. And like Ruth, you must choose to accept redemption and leave the transaction to Jesus, who makes the redemption a reality.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word and the many faithful saints who have shown us examples of integrity, loyalty, and hope. Amen.
This Bible study from Elizabeth George looks at the dark days of the Judges, where God faithfully raised up men and women of character to lead his people. Journey through the books of Judges and Ruth, and marvel at the godly character of women, such as Deborah, Jephthah’s daughter, Samson’s mother, Naomi, and Ruth.
REFLECT ON BIBLE THEMES
Life Lessons from Ruth:
- What you think to be a tragedy is God’s opportunity to show Himself faithful, and your opportunity to exhibit godly character.
- Your abundance is an opportunity to help the less fortunate.
- God honors faithfulness.
God blesses faithful devotion.