The Legacy of Ruth

May 7, 2015

The Book of Ruth is a genealogy with a narrative preface. The genealogy belongs to King David with David being the last word in the book. The narrative explains how a Moabite woman came to be in the genealogy of Israel’s king. Despite her nationality, Ruth was a remarkable woman, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

The book is never shy about calling her a Moabite. Her name occurs twelve times in the book and five times it is in the phrase “Ruth the Moabite,” and in the first occurence she is identified as a Moabite. Her nationality, however, did not determine her faith. Ruth was a convert: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16c). Boaz acknowledged that she had taken refuge under the wings of Yahweh, the God of Israel (Ruth 2:12). Ruth was a woman of faith.

We live in a culture that often emphasizes outer beauty, and the standards of that outward beauty are so unreal that even models are photoshopped. In comparison, we have no physical descriptions of Ruth, but we are told of her inner beauty. Boaz praised her as “a worthy woman,” and acknowledged that the community knew this as well (3:11). This is the same word used to describe the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31:10. The NET Bible’s footnote in Proverbs 31:10 explains the word’s use in this passage and in Ruth 3:11. It has to do with moral worth and virtue. Ruth was a woman of virtue.

The antithesis of Ruth is Orpah, Ruth’s sister-in-law. When given an out by Naomi to look out for herself, she took it and abandoned Naomi. Ruth, on the other hand, modeled loyal love. This was no sentimentality or fleeting feeling. Ruth demonstrated loyalty and unfailing kindness in her actions. When the decision was made to return to Bethlehem and leave Moab, Ruth went. When the two women needed food, Ruth labored in the field as a gleaner. When Boaz provided her with a midday meal, Ruth saved leftovers for Naomi. When talk of a kinsman redeemer took place, she trusted Naomi and then Boaz. Ruth was a woman of love.

Ruth was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is in the family tree that produces “a man after God’s own heart” — David. Raising children is a labor-intensive, hands-on project. Society will be blessed with mothers who also model faith, virtue, and love. This was the legacy of Ruth.

Happy Mother’s Day!