Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons



From the world’s perspective, Ruth was a “nobody”.  Yet God, who sees the heart, takes the true story of this humble, obscure woman and uses it to impact hearts around the world and throughout time.  It's truly remarkable to think how much influence, and long reaching affect one “ordinary” good person can have.

The Background

During the time in Israel’s history when the Judges governed, a Jewish family from Bethlehem decided, because of famine and dire economic conditions, to move to the land of Moab.  The father of the family died, and after the two sons in the family married Moabite women, those sons also died.  The Jewish mother (Naomi) decided to go back to Judah, for she had heard that  God had once again visited His people and blessed them (Ruth 1:6).  Naomi then encouraged her daughters-in-law to go back to their people (1:8) truly hoping the best for them.  At first both refused, then later one decided to go back.  The remaining daughter-in-law (Ruth) refused to part ways with Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), the mother-in-law with whom she had experienced such great loss.

Naomi’s Viewpoint

“For the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me” (Ruth 1:13).  “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty…the Lord has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me” (Ruth 1:20-21).

Sadly, Naomi seems to view the death of her husband and sons as God punishing her.  It is easy to feel that God is somehow against us when bad things arrive on our doorstep, yet such is never proof that God has abandoned us, in fact, with our cooperation, God can use even setbacks for spiritual advantage. 

Hardship and Our Perspective

Perspective is half our battle, and Naomi, for a time, appears to have lost sight of some of her blessings.  For starters, she had a very godly and wealthy relative (2:1, 20).  In fact, the way chapter 2 starts with the introduction of Boaz seems be the Holy Spirit’s way of reminding the reader that Naomi had not listed all her blessings. She also had Ruth— a priceless blessing.  And behind the scenes, God had been making plans to provide for her. Naomi even encouraged her daughters-in-law to go back to Moab with its worship of false gods—a testament to the fact that when we are hurting we don’t tend to be very optimistic.  She may have felt that the Jewish men in Judah would not even think about marrying a Moabite woman.  Or, she might have thought that there is no way that Ruth would have converted to the true faith.  Yet Ruth was quite ready to renounce the empty faith of her ancestors to side with the one true God (Ruth 1:16 “Your God, will be my God”).  Naomi is wrong about the future, and the future prospects for Ruth and marriage.

Ruth’s Commitment

“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” (Ruth 1:16-17).   How beautiful, Ruth's determined and reasoned conviction.  It is not that Ruth is simply willing to trade faiths or families for the best deal, for she invokes an oath and attaches God’s name to it (1:17).   Ruth’s renunciation of her people and their false gods was total and complete, despite the absence of short term gain.   In addition, she placed a solemn curse (in the name of the true God) upon herself if she did not keep her promise.  How remarkable that Ruth does all this despite being discouraged from doing it by one of God’s own people.

Ruth the Worker

Ruth is not laying around the house, staring at the ceiling or complaining that she can’t get a job.  In fact it appears Naomi may have initially discouraged her from getting out and working for she says, “Please let me go to the field and glean” (2:2).  The corners of the field were to be left for the poor to reap (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22), and Ruth understood the rights of the poor in Israel to gather grain in a field after the harvesters had harvested.  “Some generous landowners were known to have left as much as one-fourth of their crop for the needy and aliens” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 422).   Ruth didn’t feel sorry for herself, though she had also lost a husband, and neither did she wait idly for Naomi to do something.  She didn’t argue, “There is no way that a Moabite woman will find any fairness among these Israelites”.  She wasn’t naïve, she knew that cruel landowners existed, but she also believed there existed landowners in whose sight a Moabite woman could find favor.  She refused to adopt the attitude that “a hardworking person just can’t get a break”.  Gleaning was not glamorous work, and it was work done only by the very poor, yet she was humble enough and eager enough to do it.

“She Happened”: 2:3

Ruth knew absolutely nothing about even the existence of Boaz (2:20), yet it just so happened that the first field she entered belonged to him.  Would any of this have happen if Ruth had played it safe, staying in Moab, or sitting around fretting? What an outstanding example of how our efforts and God’s providential care can team up for an unbeatable combination!

“May the Lord be with you”: 2:4

Boaz is immediately presented to the reader as a very godly man who was genuinely concerned about the welfare of those working for him.  In his fields people talked about and praised God.  How innumerable the problems avoided by something as simple as trust in God.  Secular society and the business world may have little use for Christianity, but every strike, lockout, and disruption between management and labor stands as proof that God is being ignored. “Where both labor and management share the same faith in the Lord, peace and satisfaction will reign supreme” (Smith p. 218).  Boaz is very observant— he even noticed the very poor who gleaned in his fields and that there was a new gleaner that day (2:5).  Boaz is immediately told about her nationality, relationship to Naomi, respectful manner and work ethic (2:7).  


We live in a culture that seems to downplay the importance of “reputation”, and yet many of the “breaks” we receive in life are directly related to our reputation.  The reputation preceding Ruth is that of a hard worker, respectful, pure and unselfish (2:11-12), let's make our best effort to say and do daily only those things we'd want others to remember. 

Outdoing Each Other

Very quickly, as a reader, we realize why God wants these two people to get together and have a family.  On the one hand, Boaz urged Ruth to glean exclusively in his fields (what wealthy landowner ever cared who gleaned his fields (2:8)?  Normally the gleaners would move in after the harvesters had left an area, yet  Ruth was invited to follow along with the servant girls as they worked in the reaping.  Boaz assured Ruth that she would be protected from any remarks or other embarrassing incidents that might come from the male workers (2:15).  When she was thirsty, she need not be concerned about drawing or finding water;  She could drink from that provided for the workers.  In these several ways Boaz was providing for Ruth beyond what was required by the Law, leaving Ruth to humbly ask why such kindnesses are being shown to a foreigner (2:10), and to someone who is really just a servant (2:13).  Boaz then proceeds to talk to Ruth about God, and suggests that Ruth has joined herself to the true God (2:12).  Conversion and conviction is something that everyone can see.  Let us determine to never be leave people unsure what side we are on.

Love in the Early Stages

Though Boaz had not directly expressed his interest in Ruth, love, in the early stages, is both protective (2:15) and generous (2:16).  Boaz may be showing partially, but it is his field, and there's nothing wrong with being partial to helping godly people.  Ruth didn’t let any of this special treatment go to her head, and she certainly does not go from servant to queen overnight.  The two harvest seasons would have lasted for about seven weeks, from late April to early June. She continued to work for a while before anything drastically changed (2:23).  She remained the same, humble, obedient, and a diligent worker.  “However, the tension in the plot continued, for the harvest would soon come to an end.  What would happen to the widows after the harvest was over?” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 424).  

Intentions Declared

Naomi now takes the initiative (3:1) and feels that Boaz’s kindness suggests that he is interested in Ruth.  Her plan is both simple and wise and a way that Ruth can bring up the subject of marriage in private, yet still protect both their reputations.  Boaz immediately catches on (3:10), clearly announces his intentions, but must honor what is right—even in love (3:12), and immediately moves on the situation (3:18).  Boaz can marry now because he has been preparing himself.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that you will not need to grow up or mature until you find the right one. The sacrifices of marriage demand a great deal of maturity, thus using one's "waiting time" for building character and learning to make sacrifices in the best interest of others, is time well spent.

The Result

Just as in the lives of Boaz and Ruth, the choices you and I make today will still be having an impact long after we are gone.   The result of this marriage between Boaz and Ruth is King David (4:22). Determine to lead a life that makes good ripples, ripples that will bless the lives of those yet to be born and others you may never meet.

Mark Dunagan/