Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where you felt like God was distant? Have you ever felt lost or alone? Have you ever found your soul longing for compassion, tenderness, and care—the kind that only God gives? Well, you’re not alone. The plight of an aching soul is a real thing, and it can only be healed by the goodness and grace of God. Take heart, dear friend, and know that God can minister to you through His Word. For you, the book of Ruth just might be the best book in the Bible.
Main themes: God’s Redeeming Lovez
Favorite verse: “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back 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. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’” (Ruth 1:16-17)
The widow Ruth was intimately acquainted with grief and loss, and desired to find rest and protection. In this short book, we follow her as she travels far from home, seeking comfort from her only family—Naomi—and soon discovers the grace of God.
Chapter 1 introduces us to Elimelech and Naomi—an Israelite couple with two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. At this point, they are living in the last days of the judges (late twelfth century B.C.) and things are not looking good in Israel. In a desperate attempt to make a better life for his family, Elimelech moves them to Moab, a nearby Gentile region. There, his two sons marry Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. But then, Elimelech dies, followed by his two sons. Not sure of what to do, the now-matriarch of the family, Naomi, decides to release her two daughters-in-law, and head back to Israel. Orpah goes, Ruth stays. Ruth pledges herself to her mother-in-law and the two women return to Bethlehem.
Beginning in chapter 2, we learn that Naomi has family in the region; a wealthy relative named Boaz. It was often the practice of landowners to let the poor glean food from their fields once the prime crop was harvested. This was a common grace in Israel. By providence, Ruth stumbles onto Boaz’s field and begins to glean. She catches his eye and he begins to allow her to glean before the reapers, ensuring that she receive the best of his fields.
Chapter 3 leads off with Naomi suggesting for Ruth to present herself to Boaz for marriage. After preparing, she goes down to his resting place and sleeps at his feet; he awakes to find a beautiful, young woman at the base of his bed! He blesses her and agrees to marry her.
Chapter 4 chronicles Boaz’s legal endeavor to settle the family estate with the closest living relative. Along with a land agreement, Boaz states that the relative must also marry Ruth. Since he cannot, Boaz becomes the benefactor. In the end, Ruth and Boaz are married and have children. The book closes with a short genealogy.
What Makes This Book So Great:
There are several key factors that make this book so essential to the rest of Scripture. It has been noted that the story serves as an illustration of the sovereignty of God, as well as the faith of a Gentile woman in the one true God. All of this is good and correct, but the real power behind the story lies in its typography. Boaz is known as a “kinsman-redeemer”—a close relative who would redeem family property, as well as marry childless widows in order to keep the family name going. This was an honorable charge. More than Boaz establishing himself as an honorable man, we see that he functions as a type of Christ—a blood relative (Rom. 1:3; Heb. 2:14) who purchased a forfeited inheritance (1 Pet. 1:18-19) and was willing to redeem (Heb. 10:7). While Ruth is rescued from poverty and shame by her noble husband, the bride of Christ—the church—is rescued and redeemed by her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ (see Eph. 5:25-32).
Another remarkable detail to be noted is the genealogy in (4:18-22). It is here that we see the gaps in ancestry of Judah’s line, from Perez—son of Tamar—through Boaz to King David. We see this same lineage traced in Matthew 1:3-6. In filling out the places in the genealogy, we see that Jesus of Nazareth is legally and rightfully established in the kingly line of David.
This book is short enough where it can be read in one sitting. Challenge yourself to read it several times and learn the story. Note how often God providentially moves in the story. If God can rescue a wandering Moabite widow from peril and bless her beyond imagination, surely He can provide for us when we find ourselves in dire circumstances. Read the genealogy at the end of chapter 4 in line with Matthew’s genealogy. Look up each name listed and see how well you can trace the kingly line of David, as well as that of Jesus Christ.
- John J. Davis & John Whitcomb, Israel from Conquest to Exile: A Commentary on Joshua – 2 Kings. B&H, 1994.
This is a great commentary on these historical books.
- Arthur E. Cundall and Leon Morris, Judges and Ruth. (Downers Grove: IVP, 2008).
A great scholarly commentary.
- Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. The Book of Ruth. NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989).
A thorough scholarly commentary.
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries