A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
A Family Tragedy: Famine and Death
1:1 During the time of the judges there was a famine in the land of Judah. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah went to live as a resident foreigner in the region of Moab, along with his wife and two sons. 1:2 (Now the man’s name was Elimelech, his wife was Naomi, and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were of the clan of Ephrath from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there. 1:3 Sometime later Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, so she and her two sons were left alone. 1:4 So her sons married Moabite women. (One was named Orpah and the other Ruth.) And they continued to live there about ten years. 1:5 Then Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died. So the woman was left all alone – bereaved of her two children as well as her husband! 1:6 So she decided to return home from the region of Moab, accompanied by her daughters-in-law, because while she was living in Moab she had heard that the Lord had shown concern for his people, reversing the famine by providing abundant crops.
Ruth Returns with Naomi
1:7 Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah, 1:8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother’s home! May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me! 1:9 May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept loudly. 1:10 But they said to her, “No! We will return with you to your people.”
1:11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands! 1:12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again. Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, 1:13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! No, my daughters, you must not return with me. For my intense suffering is too much for you to bear. For the Lord is afflicting me!”
1:14 Again they wept loudly. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung tightly to her.
Lord, tragedy comes in this fallen world and You have instructed us to gather together so that we may assist and encourage one-another. May I be found faithful in the gathering-together with fellow Christians and in assisting and encouraging my brothers and sisters in Christ.
A man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife Naomi and two sons, moved to the land of the Moabites due to a famine.
While there he died. His wife, now in a foreign land with no certainty if or when she might ever return home to Bethlehem in Judah, allowed her sons to marry Moabite women.
After a while, but before they had any children, both of her sons died.
Naomi heard that the famine had been lifted in Judah and so she made plans to return home. She first thought to bring her two widowed daughters-in-law with her and then thought better of it, encouraging them to return to their people to find new husbands.
They both resisted, Orpah eventually departed, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side.
Orpah and Ruth would have been well-justified if they had returned to the Moabites as they had a greater probability of being accepted and re-married there than in Judah.
What might have drawn Ruth so close to Naomi as to risk traveling to Judah?
The cultural animosities and resistance to cross-nationality marriage may have been Naomi's reason for her change of heart about bringing them with her to Judah.
When have you felt such a strong sense of loyalty to a person that it over-rode your natural send of apparent self-interest.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you someone who has earned your affection and trust because they have a bond to the Lord of affection and trust.
Today I will tell someone that the reason I have a sense of brotherly or sisterly affection for, and trust in, them is because of their intimate relationship with the Lord. I will do so as both an affirmation of and encouragement to them.
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1:15 So Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law back home!” 1:16 But Ruth replied,
“Stop urging me to abandon you!
For wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will become my people,
and your God will become my God.
1:17 Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise!
Only death will be able to separate me from you!”
1:18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to dissuade her. 1:19 So the two of them journeyed together until they arrived in Bethlehem.
Naomi and Ruth Arrive in Bethlehem
When they entered Bethlehem, the whole village was excited about their arrival. The women of the village said, “Can this be Naomi?” 1:20 But she replied to them, “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’! Call me ‘Mara’ because the Sovereign One has treated me very harshly. 1:21 I left here full, but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that the Lord has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?” 1:22 So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab. (Now they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.)
Lord, You choose to use us in Your great plan to draw others to Yourself. May I be surrendered to You so that You may show Yourself through me to those whom I meet.
Naomi was concerned that Ruth was not returning to her fellow Moabites, along with Orpah, without really thinking it through. Ruth assured her that her faith was no longer in the false god of the Moabites but in the one true God of Naomi.
It is likely that Ruth married Naomi’s son as a girl of 14 or 15, perhaps as old as 17, so she would have grown from that age to an adult of 24-27 years of age alongside Naomi and she appears to have bonded with her emotionally.
Ruth finally declared that not only had she no intention of parting from Naomi but that she would worship the same God and had surrendered herself to His punishment should she depart from Naomi.
Naomi arrived in Bethlehem bitter for the loss of her husband and sons and without grandchildren to carry the family line.
They arrived in Bethlehem at harvest time which was God’s provision.
Ruth’s speech to Naomi revealed that she had already accepted the one true God of the Israelites as she called Him “Lord”.
How could Ruth return to the Moabites, and their false god, when her God had become that of the Israelites?
Naomi had suffered terrible losses but God’s timing for her and for Ruth was perfect.
When have you experienced or observed someone coming to faith as a result of them seeing Jesus in the life of another person?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are either an attractive witness for Christ or where you may need to address some things about your walk so that you are.
Today I will prayerfully celebrate the work God is doing in me and will surrender to the Holy Spirit of God as He transforms me one step at a time so that I, like Ruth, may be used to draw others nearer to Him.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Ruth Works in the Field of Boaz
2:1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. 2:2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” Naomi replied, “You may go, my daughter.” 2:3 So Ruth went and gathered grain in the fields behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
Boaz and Ruth Meet
2:4 Now at that very moment, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied, “May the Lord bless you!” 2:5 Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 2:6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. 2:7 She asked, ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now – except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.”
2:8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers. 2:9 Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.”
2:10 Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?” 2:11 Boaz replied to her, “I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. 2:12 May the Lord reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” 2:13 She said, “You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!”
2:14 Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have some food! Dip your bread in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest. 2:15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among the bundles! Don’t chase her off! 2:16 Make sure you pull out ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!” 2:17 So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds of barley!
Lord, You provide loving-care for those who honor Your name. May I always remember to honor You.
As she went to cull the dropped and missed grain, according to the instructions of the Lord God that the harvesters leave something for the poor, Ruth was (unbeknownst to her) led by the Lord to the field of Naomi’s wealthy kinsman Boaz.
She worked very hard all day, only resting once, and then briefly. When Boaz asked who she was he was informed of her relationship to Naomi. Boaz kindly encouraged her to return each day and assured her that he would be sure of her safety while she was there.
She asked him for the reason for his kindness and he explained that he knew of her loyalty to Naomi, and of her hard work in the fields to provide for them both. He also noted that she had trusted the Lord as her protector and provider.
The God-honoring among the Israelites had continued to practice God's instruction to share their harvest with the poor by not culling every last bit of grain. In that way the poor still had to work yet there was opportunity to successfully gather enough to feed themselves and their families.
Imagine the surprise of a foreigner like Ruth when treated so well by a wealthy Israelite?
There was an interesting cultural balance between care for needy fellow Israelites and allowing them to retain some pride by earning their food through hard work.
When have you been given opportunity, but not a handout, and found yourself better for it?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you can encourage and perhaps provide opportunity for someone.
Today I will seize the opportunity to encourage a fellow believer, and as the Lord provides, to give them an opportunity to learn, to serve, and or to work.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
Ruth Returns to Naomi
2:18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much grain she had gathered. Then Ruth gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime. 2:19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 2:20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.” 2:21 Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’” 2:22 Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.” 2:23 So Ruth worked beside Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law.
Naomi Instructs Ruth
3:1 At that time, Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you so you will be secure. 3:2 Now Boaz, with whose female servants you worked, is our close relative. Look, tonight he is winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3:3 So bathe yourself, rub on some perfumed oil, and get dressed up. Then go down to the threshing floor. But don’t let the man know you’re there until he finishes his meal. 3:4 When he gets ready to go to sleep, take careful notice of the place where he lies down. Then go, uncover his legs, and lie down beside him. He will tell you what you should do.” 3:5 Ruth replied to Naomi, “I will do everything you have told me to do.”
Lord, You bless those who give You the proper honor of Lordship, and You bless and provide beyond our expectations. May I trust You with my needs and my eternity and declare Your name to the world.
Ruth returned to Naomi who celebrated with her the fruits of her labors in the fields.
Naomi questioned Ruth as to whose fields she culled and celebrated all the more that it was of her relative Boaz and that Ruth was blessed with both bounty and safety.
Naomi then instructed Ruth to make known her availability in marriage to Boaz by what was apparently an accepted act of submission – to which he would be trusted to respond respectfully and with instructions as to how to proceed according to the law and local tradition.
The Lord God not only provided a safe place for Ruth to harvest, He provided great bounty for her to harvest for herself and Naomi.
What level of trust must Ruth have had for Naomi that she’d submit herself to the humility of presenting herself to Boaz as instructed?
Naomi apparently had a strong sense for the integrity of Boaz to ask Ruth to place herself in such a vulnerable position.
When have you been in need and God provided beyond what you expected?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place where He has protected and provided for you abundantly.
Today I will share the story of God’s provision with a fellow believer as an encouragement to them and together we will celebrate His faithfulness.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Ruth Visits Boaz
3:6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her to do. 3:7 When Boaz had finished his meal and was feeling satisfied, he lay down to sleep at the far end of the grain heap. Then Ruth crept up quietly, uncovered his legs, and lay down beside him. 3:8 In the middle of the night he was startled and turned over. Now he saw a woman lying beside him! 3:9 He said, “Who are you?” She replied, “I am Ruth, your servant. Marry your servant, for you are a guardian of the family interests.” 3:10 He said, “May you be rewarded by the Lord, my dear! This act of devotion is greater than what you did before. For you have not sought to marry one of the young men, whether rich or poor. 3:11 Now, my dear, don’t worry! I intend to do for you everything you propose, for everyone in the village knows that you are a worthy woman. 3:12 Now yes, it is true that I am a guardian, but there is another guardian who is a closer relative than I am. 3:13 Remain here tonight. Then in the morning, if he agrees to marry you, fine, let him do so. But if he does not want to do so, I promise, as surely as the Lord lives, to marry you. Sleep here until morning.” 3:14 So she slept beside him until morning. She woke up while it was still dark. Boaz thought, “No one must know that a woman visited the threshing floor.” 3:15 Then he said, “Hold out the shawl you are wearing and grip it tightly.” As she held it tightly, he measured out about sixty pounds of barley into the shawl and put it on her shoulders. Then he went into town, 3:16 and she returned to her mother-in-law.
Ruth Returns to Naomi
When Ruth returned to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did things turn out for you, my daughter?” Ruth told her about all the man had done for her. 3:17 She said, “He gave me these sixty pounds of barley, for he said to me, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 3:18 Then Naomi said, “Stay put, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out. For the man will not rest until he has taken care of the matter today.”
Lord, Boaz was a man of honor and integrity, a role model for all men. May I strive to mature to his fine example.
Ruth went to Boaz as instructed and when Boaz awoke she announced her availability for marriage.
Boaz was impressed as Ruth was not obligated to marry an older man any more than she was obligated to return with Naomi to a foreign land and culture.
Boaz informed her that he had to allow a closer relative the right of first refusal to marry her then promised to see the process through the very next day.
Boaz protected her honor by giving her a load of grain and sending her back to Naomi so that there would be no appearance of evil when others arrived later in the morning.
Boaz was a man of integrity as he made no effort to take advantage of the younger and highly vulnerable Ruth. He was also a man who gave honor to others as he took care to prevent anyone from observing and misinterpreting her presence there overnight.
Boaz was clearly attracted to Ruth as well as impressed by her loyalty and her work ethic, yet he was always respectful toward her; how often in the earlier texts of the Old Testament had men in a similar situation treated foreign women dishonorably?
Ruth took a huge risk in going to Boaz. Neither she or Naomi knew of the nearer-relative.
When have you found yourself at the mercy of someone and rather them abusing that power they blessed you?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a relationship where you have influence or power over someone.
Today I will prayerfully consider how the Lord God would have me use my authority to be His conduit of blessing to someone.
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Boaz Settles the Matter
4:1 Now Boaz went up to the village gate and sat there. Then along came the guardian whom Boaz had mentioned to Ruth! Boaz said, “Come here and sit down, ‘John Doe’!” So he came and sat down. 4:2 Boaz chose ten of the village leaders and said, “Sit down here!” So they sat down. 4:3 Then Boaz said to the guardian, “Naomi, who has returned from the region of Moab, is selling the portion of land that belongs to our relative Elimelech. 4:4 So I am legally informing you: Acquire it before those sitting here and before the leaders of my people! If you want to exercise your right to redeem it, then do so. But if not, then tell me so I will know. For you possess the first option to redeem it; I am next in line after you.” He replied, “I will redeem it.” 4:5 Then Boaz said, “When you acquire the field from Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the wife of our deceased relative, in order to preserve his family name by raising up a descendant who will inherit his property.” 4:6 The guardian said, “Then I am unable to redeem it, for I would ruin my own inheritance in that case. You may exercise my redemption option, for I am unable to redeem it.” 4:7 (Now this used to be the customary way to finalize a transaction involving redemption in Israel: A man would remove his sandal and give it to the other party. This was a legally binding act in Israel.) 4:8 So the guardian said to Boaz, “You may acquire it,” and he removed his sandal. 4:9 Then Boaz said to the leaders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have acquired from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 4:10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, as my wife to raise up a descendant who will inherit his property so the name of the deceased might not disappear from among his relatives and from his village. You are witnesses today.” 4:11 All the people who were at the gate and the elders replied, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built up the house of Israel! May you prosper in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. 4:12 May your family become like the family of Perez – whom Tamar bore to Judah – through the descendants the Lord gives you by this young woman.”
Lord, You bring honor to those who honor Your name and who serve You faithfully. May I seek honor from You first and never look first for the approval of mere fallen-man.
Boaz was faithful in bringing the matter of the widow Naomi and the family inheritance of property and the redemption of their name to the one who was a closer relative. That man refused to serve as the kinsman-redeemer for Elimelech and his dead sons Kilion, and Mahlon because he selfishly did not want their inheritance to interfere with his own.
The Bible does not record the name of this relative because he refused his duty to redeem the name of his close relative – he is forgotten.
Boaz then declared his intent to purchase the property and to also marry Ruth to bring her a son which would continue the family line.
The people gathered-about celebrated what he had done and prayed that the Lord God would bless him as He had others of great fame and importance in Israel’s history.
Boaz would have received minor mention and the closer relative major mention, in the line of David, had that relative accepted his duty as a kinsman-redeemer. The kinsman-redeemer process was intended to continue the name of an Israelite family but could have the effect of displacing the name of the kinsman-redeemer if he only had one son by the widow whom he married. It was an unselfish act.
Ruth took a large risk traveling with Naomi and then submitting herself to the kinsman-redeemer process, but so did Boaz now; he seems to have not hesitated to offer himself as kinsman-redeemer without fear for his own family name should he have only one son.
Boaz was a respected and wealthy man, but for some reason apparently unmarried, and it seems the Lord had prepared him for such a time as this.
When have you experienced or observed a risk taken for the sake of another?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where in your life you might serve Him by taking a risk with something of significant to you.
Today I will step-out in faith and take a risk in order to be His instrument of blessing to another. If I have any doubts as to His call, or the specifics of my potential action, I will both pray and consult one who meets the Biblical qualifications of an elder.
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A Grandson is Born to Naomi
4:13 So Boaz married Ruth and had sexual relations with her. The Lord enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son. 4:14 The village women said to Naomi, “May the Lord be praised because he has not left you without a guardian today! May he become famous in Israel! 4:15 He will encourage you and provide for you when you are old, for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, has given him birth. She is better to you than seven sons!” 4:16 Naomi took the child and placed him on her lap; she became his caregiver. 4:17 The neighbor women named him, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. Now he became the father of Jesse – David’s father!
Epilogue: Obed in the Genealogy of David
4:18 These are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 4:19 Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, 4:20 Amminadab was the father of Nachshon, Nachshon was the father of Salmah, 4:21 Salmon was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Obed, 4:22 Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David.
Lord, You pour out Your favor upon the faithful. May I make myself available to Your favor by choosing to be faithful.
Boaz kept his word and married Ruth and the Lord blessed their faithfulness “The Lord enabled her to conceive ...” a son.
The entire local Israelite community witnessed and celebrated the Lord’s blessing of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi.
As a result of their faithfulness the son was blessed by the Lord God to be the father of Jesse who was the father of David.
Ruth had been married for 10 years and yet was childless but the Lord intervened and enabled her to bear Boaz a son.
Boaz and Ruth allowed their fellow Israelites to name their son; is that not a clear evidence that they understood that the child belonged to all of God’s people, and that he represented God’s working His plan through them?
The Lord God transformed Naomi’s sorrow to gladness.
When have you experienced or observed the Lord God blessing one person through others because they were faithful and therefore available to be used by Him?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place where you may be used to bless someone else.
Today I will prayerfully make myself available to the Lord at the beginning of every day so that He may find me faithful and obedient enough to be useful in Him in bringing His blessing to someone else.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.