Pastoral Commentary for Ruth 1-2
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
After all the "horror stories" from the era of the Judges, the account of Ruth is a welcome relief from this same period in Israel's history. In a time of famine, Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons went to Moab to live there temporarily. After Elimelech died, the two sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. After almost ten years Naomi's sons also died, and having learned that there was food in the land, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem in Judah. Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their homes and find new husbands. Orpah finally agreed to do so, but Ruth steadfastly refused, insisting on going with Naomi. Her words have become some of the most famous in the Old Testament: "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." Upon her return, Naomi's despair is so great that she urged people to call her "Mara" which means "bitter." In order to provide for the two of them, Ruth asked Naomi to let her glean the leftover stalks of grain left by the harvesters. In what was clearly a God ordained "coincidence" she found herself gleaning in the field of a close relative of Naomi's husband. The man's name was Boaz. When he learned who Ruth was he ordered that she be protected from assault and that extra gleanings be left for her. At meal time he invited her to dine with him and gave her extra food. When Ruth returned home Naomi knew that she had more grain than she could have possibly gleaned on her own, and realized that someone must have been looking out for her. Ruth told her that she had been gleaning in Boaz's field and immediately Naomi's faith was revived. Speaking of Boaz, Naomi said, "May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!" Naomi rejoiced to know that the Lord had provided a "kinsman-redeemer" who would protect the interests of needy family members. Thankfully, God has also sent us a close relative, a brother, to serve as our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord.