There are a lot of stories in the Old Testament that chronicle the actions of God’s faithful servants. One of these is the story of Ruth. Loyalty, faithfulness, and obedience are some of the aspects displayed by the character of Ruth. Although Ruth is not an Israelite, her perseverance and persistence eventually, get her a place in the genealogy of Jesus.
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This Old Testament character offers a lot of lessons to Bible scholars and Christians alike. Some of these include those of redemption and divinity. A review of her character will shed light on aspects that can be correlated to a Christian’s day-to-day life.
Ruth was a Moabite woman and Naomi’s daughter in law. Naomi was a woman who had escaped famine from Bethlehem with her husband and two sons. When in Moab her husband and two sons die leaving behind two young widows. One of these widows is Ruth. When the famine is over in Bethlehem and Naomi decides to go back, Ruth insists on following her. She declares her loyalty to Naomi by saying, “your people shall be my people, your God my God, and where you will die I will die”. (New Jerusalem Bible, Ruth. 1.16–17)
After both women return to Bethlehem, Ruth looks for her daily bread by gleaning in the fields of a man named Boaz. He shows a lot of kindness to Ruth and is very appreciative of her service to Naomi. Boaz’s kindness is partly due to the fact that he is Naomi’s relative. After a while, Ruth is advised by Naomi to seek marriage to Boaz. In doing so, Ruth would ensure her husband’s bloodline continues and be able to claim her inheritance.
Eventually, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife. The two of them bear a son and name him Obed. This son became David’s grandfather. Obed is also an ancestor of Jesus as detailed in the first chapter in the book of Matthew. This makes Ruth one of the few gentile characters in the Old Testament that were integrated with Jews and had great significance.
Ruth’s character is an exemplary one and is enviable in many ways. For instance, right from the beginning Ruth had the option of going back to her people and remarrying. However, her loyalty to her mother in law overcomes this urge. She was willing to follow Naomi to a foreign land.
By doing this, she forfeited her chance to get married again, her gods, her own people, and her position in this society, among other privileges. Because she was a gentile, she also risked being rejected by the Israelites. Her loyalty may have stemmed from the admiration she had for Naomi and her ways.
Ruth’s character also reveals the obedience she had for her mother in law. She trusted her advice and obeyed her orders. This included obeying the customs followed by the Israelites at that time. By doing so, Ruth might have found favor in God’s eyes. Her place as David and Messiah’s ancestor is testament to this. This obedience also appeals to Boaz the man who later marries her.
Another Godly character found in Ruth is love. The love she has for her mother in law is immense. This love is portrayed by Ruth’s care for Naomi. Even when she had the chance to pursue her own endeavors, she chose to care for Naomi. This fact was well known throughout the town as it was said Ruth gave Naomi the service of seven sons. It can also be assumed that she had the same love for Naomi’s God.
Her diligence and hard work paints a picture of a woman who took actions in the hope that God will bless her. Right from the start Ruth knew it was upon her to fend for her mother in law. Later her diligence pays off as God helps her out of her initial poverty. She also gains a piece of land as her inheritance (Nielsen 24).
There are many lessons that can be learnt from Ruth’s character. One of such is the fact that God rewards those who make great sacrifices. If one chooses to honor and follow the Lord, He in turn bestows great things to him/her. Ruth gave up a lot. In the end, her sacrifice is rewarded. Another lesson is that God’s blessings are not restricted to color and race. From the story of Ruth, it is clear that God blesses whomever he chooses to bless.
Personally, I can relate to Ruth’s character. It is only after I chose to give up worldly pleasures that I started witnessing good things in my personal life. In the beginning, it seemed like following in the Lord’s footsteps was an effort in futility. However, a few years down the line my education and personal life are better than they were before I made the sacrifice. One may be of the opinion that making sacrifices is a restraining endeavor. However, it has now become clear to me that making sacrifices may be a gateway to better things in life.
Nielsen, Kirsten. Ruth: A Commentary, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997. Print.
The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. Susan Jones. New York: Doubleday, 1985. Print.