Read Ruth 1: 1-22, focusing on verses 18-22. How did the town respond to Naomi’s return
It’s important to get a good overview of the whole book before we start to break it up into smaller parts. For today, I simply want you to read all four chapters of Ruth. Jot down notes, thoughts, questions, and truths that minister to you. I’m including Warren
Wiersbe’s outline of the book, but don’t read it until AFTER you do your own . I
love how he places things together to help give us a better picture of how it’s all tying
together. Have a great day!
Key Theme: God providentially guides and blesses all who trust Him.
Key Verse: Ruth 2:12 (Would you agree?)
1. Sorrow: Ruth Weeping (1:1-22)
A. Naomi tries to run from her problems (1:1-5)
B. Naomi tries to cover up her mistakes (1:6-18)
C. Naomi gets bitter against God (1:19-22)
2. Service: Ruth Working (2:1-23)
A. A new beginning – faith (2:1-3)
B. A new friend – love (2:4-16)
C. A new attitude – hope (2:17-23)
3. Submission: Ruth Waiting (3:1-18)
A. Ruth presents herself to Boaz (3:1-7)
B. Ruth is accepted by Boaz (3:8-15)
C. Ruth waits for Boaz to act (3:16-18)
4. Satisfaction: Ruth’s Wedding (4:1-22)
A. Boaz redeems Ruth (4:1-10)
B. The people bless Ruth (4:11-12)
C. God gives Boaz and Ruth a son (4:13-22)
Memory Verse of the Week: But Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn
back from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will
lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16Second Day
What’s your memory verse?
The story in the book of Ruth includes two journeys, one from Bethlehem to Moab,
and one from Moab back to Bethlehem.
1. Let’s begin today by reading Ruth 1:1-22. Reread verses 1-5. When
was the story taking place?
No one knows who wrote this book, or exactly when, except that it was “in the days the
judges ruled.” Since David is mentioned in it, some scholars think it was written about
During the time of the judges, the people of Israel had no king and were morally and
spiritually weak. Judges 17:6 tells us that “All the people did whatever was right in their
own eyes.” (Also see Judges 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). It’s one of Israel’s lowest points in
history. It was a time of division, cruelty, civil war, and disgrace. Hmmm, sort of like
2. Describe the first , from Bethlehem to Moab. Who left, why did they leave,
and where did they settle?
Moab was a land east of the Dead Sea. The Moabites were descendants of Moab, a
son of Lot and Lot’s eldest daughter. Moab was conceived when Lot’s two daughters
got their father drunk and slept with him. As a result, both girls became pregnant and
had sons, Moab and Ben- Ammi. Each son headed a nation, Moab and Ammon, and
the people of these lands were called the Moabites and the Ammonites, who
frequently fought together against Israel (Genesis 19:30-38). Israel was forbidden to
intermarry with people of these nations (Deut. 7). After the Israelites had wandered for
40 years, God gave them the Promised Land, land that flowed with milk and honey.
They didn’t need to go anywhere else; this land was permanent.
3. Read 1 Kings 11:1-8 for an example of why God didn’t want His people to
intermarry. Summarize the story in your own words.Elimelech feared for the health and safety of his family, but instead of trusting
God, he leaned on his own understandings. He may have been afraid, and honestly,
we all sympathize with him. But it appeared that he walked by sight, and not by faith.
4. Who made that same mistake in Genesis 12:10? Continue reading that chapter.
What kind of trouble did he get into?
5. Why do you think God was allowing a famine in their land? Read Judges 2:11-19
Israel had a history of turning to God during seasons of punishment, but
forgetting Him during seasons of prosperity. Sadly, this sounds familiar.
6. Do you turn toward God only in times of trial and difficulty, and forget Him the rest
of the time? How can this pattern affect your relationship with God?
7. Elimelech made some bad choices. He not only walked by sight, but what did he
allow to motivate and control his decisions?
8. What should be our motivation as we make daily ? Read John
Elimelech wasn’t honoring God in his decisions. By going to Moab, he was
leaving God’s land and His laws, yoking himself with God’s enemies. We are called tomake the same choice every day; will we follow the Lord, or follow the ways of this
world? Joshua told the people to “choose” whom they would serve (Joshua 24:15).
Elimelech chose to leave God out of his decisions.
9. We face hard decisions every day. Are you choosing to follow the Lord and His
ways? His ways are found in Scripture. Is the world luring you away, like Moab did to
Elimelech? (Sometimes following the easier path is tempting when we are tired.) Ask
the Holy Spirit to search your heart.
10. Elimelech’s decision didn’t just affect him. What happened as a result? Who is
watching you? How many people are affected by the decisions you make?
11. Elimelech was running from his circumstance. That rarely is the answer, unless
you’re fleeing temptation, like Joseph. Are you running away from something? Stay
put and trust the Lord. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Peter 5:9, and Ephesians
6:10-11. How do these verses encourage you in your situation?
12. How long did the family stay in Moab?
It’s important to point out what the names of our characters meant. Elimelech
translates “My God is King,” Mahlon meant “sick,”, Chilion meant “Pining,” Orpha
meant “Stubbornness,” and Ruth meant “Friendship.” Naomi meant “Pleasant but we
read in 1:20 she asks to be called “Mara” meaning “Bitterness.”
Perhaps Elimelech only planned to be in Moab a short time, but obviously that
didn’t happen. Sin breeds sin. Carolyn Custis James wrote, “In five short verses, death
wipes the men off the scene, leaving three grieving widows behind. In a male-centered
culture that ascribed value to women based on their relationships to men, these
husbandless, sonless women hold no interest to anyone. In many minds, especially in
the minds of the three women themselves, the story is over. Nothing is left to tell. Yet
ironically, this is where the narrative heats up as the Biblical spotlight settles on Naomi
and an all-female cast. Now the real story begins.” See you tomorrow, ladies. The
Third DayAre you working on your memory verse?
1. Today let’s begin by reading Ruth 1:1-17. Summarize verses 6-17 in your own
2. We now look at our second journey, from Moab back to Bethlehem. What
motivated Naomi to want to return to her homeland? Was it physical or spiritual?
I love this quote: “It seems that their physical circumstances and not
necessarily the God of their circumstances, dictated their decisions.” Is the
God “of your circumstances” guiding you, or is your circumstance?
3. Why do you think the daughters in-law decide to go back with
4. At what point does Naomi have the hard conversation with her daughters
in-law, advising them to turn back? Why did she wait?
5. Why do you think she doesn’t want to take them with her to
Naomi is heartbroken, to say the least. We understand, or at least sympathize with
her pain. If I lost my husband and both my kids, I can’t imagine how I would feel. The
Bible is very honest about the hardships that we will face while we live on this earth. We
are broken people and our world is fallen and broken as well. Eugene Peterson writes,
“No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of life than the Bible.
At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from
difficulties … On every page of the Bible there is recognition that faith encounters
Although her hardship is retold in five short verses, it was years of heartache, loss,
disappointments, and grief. Some scholars have called Naomi a female Job. She wasshattered and most likely struggling with her God. Her pain started years earlier with a
horrific famine, which most of us can’t imagine. While in Moab she was a foreigner,
which had to be extremely difficult. She probably lived as an outsider there, especially
with the political tension between Moab and Israel. She was probably ashamed and
homesick, and then when her husband dies, she was thrown into a grief she hadn’t
expected. I bet she threw herself into the work of caring for her sons. Their culture also
measured a woman’s worth by the number of sons she produced. As the years pass,
and neither Orpah nor Ruth conceive, which is pretty much a catastrophe for the family.
Did Naomi plead with God, begging Him to open their wombs? Did she experience
many sleepless and anxious nights? Then, the worst possible scenario … both sons
die. Her beloved boys. Naomi probably felt that she may as well have died along with
them. ☹ Now she has no social status, no male connection, and no source of income.
Many preyed on widows at the time, making her prey to constant attacks.
Have you ever hit rock bottom? Been “flattened” so to speak? Struggling to
understand why the Lord would let “this” happen to you? Naomi’s story and Job’s are in
the Bible so we can learn to be honest about our feelings and how bad we’re hurting; to
ask the hard questions and be real with our struggles. James says, “By spotlighting
Naomi’s ordeal, the narrator gives us permission to voice the thoughts and questions
we are fighting so desperately to suppress. And in some mysterious way, we met God
in our desperation.” Both Naomi and Job tragically lose their families and the life they
were building. But Job still had a wife, and some friends, not necessarily smart ones
though. But Naomi is an immigrant and a woman. And, it appears, friendless, besides
her daughters in-law.
6. What did Naomi ask God to show the girls in verse 8?
7. What was their first response?
It doesn’t appear that Naomi is simply testing their loyalty; she is adamant about
them returning to Moab. She seems to realize they are both determined to stay with
her, so she tries again, using the levirate marriage rule as leverage. This law is
discussed in Deuteronomy 25:5 and refers to the custom that the next brother is
expected to marry the childless widow of his deceased brother. The first child of that
second marriage is considered a descendant of the deceased brother, and the child
carries on the family line. This child also inherits the property originally belonging to the
dead brother. Naomi is saying she can’t have any other sons to replace the husbands
that they lost. There was no hope for them to fulfill this law or continue with her.We need to remember that the “god” of Moab was named Chemosh (Numbers
21:29). If they returned to their original family, they would also return to the worship of
that false god of their family.
8. In verse 15, Orpah returns to her people and her gods. What does Ruth choose to
do? What does this choice say about her character?
Ruth chose to be loyal to Naomi, but even more significantly, she chose to worship
Jehovah, the God of Israel, as the One true God. Each girl had a choice of which “god”
to follow. Ruth chose rightly. How about you?
9. Summarize Ruth’s beautiful words in verses 16-17. Which words or phrases
reveal Ruth’s determination and strength? Which ones show her love and support
for Naomi? Her spiritual convictions?
Today these beautiful words are used in many marriage vows because of their
spiritual significance. Think about the context in which Ruth said them. It was during
difficulty and extreme loss and hardship that these words were uttered, not in a time of
celebration. Ruth was offering a “sacrifice of praise” and declaring her obedience to
God, despite adversity. She was declaring her faith in a faithful God, whom she had
grown to love. We can’t help but notice the contrast of her attitude with that of Naomi’s,
Kelly Minter, in her book about Ruth, called Loss, Love, and Legacy, makes an
interesting point. I wish I could say I thought of this, but alas, give credit where credit is
due. She compares the two daughters in-law crying, noting that Orpah wept “backward”,
but Ruth cried “forward.” Sometimes obedience to God calls for a big change of plans. It
can be through grief and pain, or something much simpler. And we weep because of the
loss. We weep because of our pain, or our fears. God sees our tears. But when we
weep, do we weep forward? Although there will be weeping in this life, the direction in
which we weep is what truly matters. Orpah wept and went back, while Ruth wept and
clung to Naomi, and ultimately moved forward. The apostle Paul wept, but didn’t allow
his grief to stop his forward motion (Acts 20:22, 36-38), while the rich young ruler
walked away from Christ with much sadness (Mark 10:17-22).
10. Have you turned back in the face of adversity or loss, rather than moving forward?
How did God honor and reward Paul and Ruth who, in their tears, kept walking
forward?11. Kelly Minter continues, “Be encouraged. God sees your tears. Cry them, wipe them,
feel them, but don’t let them stop you. It’s possible to cry and walk.” Write your thoughts
Ruth’s obedience wasn’t a “one time” thing. It was a lot more than that. Naomi
continued to try to talk Ruth out of coming, but Ruth persisted. This was “prolonged
obedience.” When we are called to move forward in obedience, like Ruth, will we
draw on God’s continued strength and grace, rather than just giving up?
12. Is there a situation in your life that God is calling you to “prolonged obedience”?
Can you share? Where can you find strength and grace for the battle? Can you
think of another person in Scripture who is a good example of living a life of
prolonged, persistent, obedience?
Ponder the words of your memory verse today.
1. Read Ruth 1: 1-22, focusing on verses 18-22. How did the town respond to
Naomi hasn’t seen her friends in over ten years. Although she was happy to see
them, I’m sure she was sad, perhaps ashamed, as well. After all, they knew she had left
during the famine. Would they still be kind to her? Would they see her as disloyal? The
text says the town was “stirred” which literally means “echoed with excitement.” The
word conjures up images of joyous shouting and happy, animated conversations in
response to an event. One imagines citizens scurrying around the streets shouting the
good news to others, who then do likewise.”2. What does their response suggest about Naomi’s reputation
3. It says they were excited to see “them”? What feelings or thoughts do you think
the people had concerning Ruth, the Moabite?
4. In verses 20-21, how does Naomi respond?
5. It’s important to see this. To whom does Naomi attribute her suffering?
6. Do you ever blame God for your circumstances, when they might be a direct result
of your decisions? Are you blaming Him right now? Can God still fix the situation,
even if it was your fault?
Naomi not only points to God as the One allowing her pain, but for being
responsible for it. It’s true that God is sovereign over everything that happens to us, but
Naomi feels that God is “out to get her” and destroy her. My heart breaks for her. I think
Naomi felt hopeless, sad, and alone, forsaken and forgotten by God. Have you ever felt
like that? I certainly have. Maybe that isn’t theologically correct, or the “right” words to
say, but it’s how our hearts can feel. And Naomi is honest about how “low,” rejected,
and alone she feels. God wants our hearts, and He is near to the brokenhearted. He
wants you to cry out in honesty and be transparent before Him.
7. Is God desiring you to be honest with how you feel about something, instead of living
in a state of denial? Are you willing to address your feelings, rather than just pretend, or
do things to “numb” yourself? Will you sit and be honest before the Lord? Are you bitter,
grieving, or doubting? Bring it to Him. He can handle it.
I read a statistic that was devastating. Nine out of ten wives will spend some portion
of their lives in widowhood. Carolyn James Custis wrote, “Widow is a label that has a
way of suddenly affixing itself to a woman without her permission, often without
warning, and certainly without apology for the drastic alterations it will bring into her
life.” Naomi feels as if her life is in ruins, much like Job. When their world collapsedaround them, they wondered where God was, the darkness casting a shadow over
God’s goodness and justice. Their stories remind us that we are called to trust and
depend on God, even when all the puzzle pieces aren’t fitting together. The difference
between Job and Naomi, is that she’s a woman, and he is not. Doors are shut to her;
poverty is inevitable for her. He can work and rebuild, she cannot. He will not face
many of the difficulties Naomi will. He will even have rights and be able to take legal
action. Having lost her credentials and place in society as a wife and mother, she feels
as good as dead. But God’s view of widowhood is nothing like this! When anything,
including widowhood, alters a woman’s life, the center of her identity doesn’t change,
for she is not defined, or redefined by circumstances, relationships, her resume, or
public opinion. God defines her. We are God’s image bearers, which makes us
incapable of insignificance!
8. In verse 21, how does Naomi describe herself? (How do you think that made Ruth
feel?) What does she rename herself?
9. As Naomi and Ruth travel to Bethlehem, they are accompanied by both despair
and hope. They have no idea of what God has in store for them. According to verse
23, when did they arrive? Why do you think this is good timing for people who lived
in ancient times?
10. “When God is at work, bitter hopelessness can be the beginning of some
surprising good.” We know this to be true for this story. What about for you? Do you
believe that God can bring you hope in your despair? Joy in your mourning? What
does Ecclesiastes 3:1 say about this?
Let’s end on that note of hope, shall we? I pray that you find hope today as you face
difficult situations. God has not left you; there’s good ahead.
Write out your verse from memory.
In ancient days, harvest time speaks of assurance of provision. With each grain of
barley, there is hope, opportunity, and a promise that God’s timing is perfect. The author
ends our chapter by reminding us it’s the beginning of barley harvest, which is actually a