This is an excerpt from Ruth Bible Study (Revised and Expanded) by Kelly Minter.
The book of Ruth, nestled in the Old Testament between Judges and 1 Samuel, is a short, four-chapter narrative that bundles the human experience of loss, love, and legacy with the divine hope and sovereignty of a redeeming God. From its pages steps a wayfaring foreigner into the town of Bethlehem, amidst hardship and famine and tragedy, affecting the course of human history forever.
A widow turned wife, a servant turned heir, a childless foreigner turned mother, she was born in Moab but found her home in Israel. Ruth. The name that chimes a thousand redeeming notes for every woman who has ever been devastated by loss, struggled as a stranger, lived with the bitter, longed to be loved, fought for crumbs, or wept along the journey. She is an emblem of grace for every flawed and ailing sinner who has lived in her wake, not because of her own nobility but because of the One under whose wings she came to trust—the God of Israel.
Ruth’s story runs the gamut of human experience, inviting us to engage with God about our own stories. Despite heartbreak and trial, she is an accessible image of integrity, kindness, purity, commitment, faith, and hard work as a marginalized outsider and vulnerable widow. She is godliness with its sleeves rolled up. Perhaps most impressive, she is a committed God-fearer despite profound loss and with a mother-in-law who changed her name to Mara, which incidentally means “bitter.” (I think this means they weren’t baking a lot of cookies together. Or sharing sweaters.)
When I first wrote about Ruth and the book that bears her name, I was in my early thirties, single, and exiting not the land of Moab but the music industry, so kind of the same. It was a time in life when I particularly related to Ruth’s aloneness, feeling like an outsider, longing for that one person to choose me. I wrestled with her resolve to follow God when by all accounts it appeared He had let her down, or at the very least let down the mother-in-law she lived with. As I write today, I am still single though not unhappy. I have found God enduringly faithful even when I don’t understand Him. And when I think of the book of Ruth, I don’t only think of Ruth, Boaz, or Naomi but the redemption of Jesus Christ under whose wings each of us, no matter our past, is invited to take refuge.
It is one of my prayers that this study results in you loving Jesus more deeply. The whole book yearns forward toward Him. You are not alone. Ruth and her God await you.