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INTRODUCTION TO RUTH | Bible Exposition Commentary
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INTRODUCTION TO RUTH

Dr. Grant C. Richison

  Theme: God providentially guides and blesses all who trust Him.

Ruth exemplifies God’s grace in the midst of suffering.

The story of Ruth is about a Gentile woman of Moab who chose to serve the God of Israel and was richly blessed by Him. The book shows Gentiles are not outside the scope of redeeming love.

Theme verse: Ruth 2:12

Key Verses: 1:15,16; 4:10

Key words: Kinsman, Redeem, Kinsman-Redeemer

Purpose: To present the providential provision of the kinsman-redeemer.

The book shows how Ruth, a Moabitess, became the great-grandmother to David. It brings the genealogy down to David and thus to David’s greater Son.

Ruth’s place in revelation has to do with the genealogy of Jesus through David (4:17-22). The message of Ruth is about the macro picture of God’s providential working through Israel to bring the Messiah. God is providentially active at work in the lives within the book but also in the scope of history. His work is often unseen in the dark days of the judges. God puts Ruth in the royal line of David and Jesus (Mt 1:5).

Ruth gives the brighter side of life during the time of the judges.

Ruth is a link between the time of the judges and the kings of Israel.

Authorship

The identity of Ruth’s author is uncertain. The Talmud (A.D. 200) ascribes the book to Samuel. If this is true, the writing of Ruth took place during the period of King David’s reign. (In any case, the book was written by an inspired writer, probably during the time of David.)

Date

There is no explicit time indicated in the book, other than that the story occurred when the “judges judged” (literally: 1:1)—probably near the end of the period of the judges, which covered 450 years (Acts 13:20).

The story of Ruth took place over a period of 10 years.

Because Ruth was the great-grandmother of David (Ruth 4:17) and Boaz his great-grandfather (4:21, 22), we must allow 100 to 150 years between the events and their recording (that is, time for Ruth to give birth to Obed, who sired Jesse, the father of David).

The genealogy in Ruth (4:17-22) does not mention Solomon, indicating that the book was written during David’s monarchy, 1010-970 B.C.

Name of Book:

The book of Ruth is named after its chief character. It is interesting that the book is not called after Naomi (the senior character) or after Elimelech (the head of the house), but after Ruth, the Moabitess, the stranger (non-Hebrew) who sought after God.

The Books of Ruth and Esther

Ruth and Esther are the only two books in the Bible named for and devoted to women in their entirety.

Esther was a Hebrew woman who married a Gentile king. God used Esther in a strategic time in the history of Israel to help preserve the nation from destruction. Ruth, on the other hand, was a Gentile woman (Moabitess) who married a Hebrew man living in Moab. God used Ruth to perpetuate the line of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ruth ultimately became an ancestor of the Messiah (see genealogy of Jesus, Mt 1:5). Ruth is a book dealing with the providential working of God upon the hand of a woman.

Lesson of Book

Circumstances should not affect the life of a believer. Faith always prevails over circumstance.

Background

Jews read the book of Ruth annually on the Feast of Pentecost commemorating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai (Ex 23:16); this was the beginning of the Firstfruits offering. Ruth was betrothed during the Firstfruits celebration (Ruth 3:2).

The events of Ruth took place during the time of the judges. This was a period of defeat and rebellion against God. God always shows His grace, even in times of rebellion.

Theological Emphasis:

The Sovereignty of God: It was in God’s sovereign plan that Ruth returned to Bethlehem with Naomi and married Boaz. It was also in God’s sovereignty that Boaz was the kinsman willing to redeem.

The Kinsman-Redeemer: Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer, was typical of Jesus in His redemption of man. Resolve to redeem is crucial for redemption.

The Davidic Covenant (2 Sa 7): The Davidic Covenant was a contract God made to establish a king for Israel. Jesus will be King Jesus, King of the World. Davidic Covenant

Names of God:

LORD” (Yahweh) – 17 times

God” (Elohim) – three times

Almighty” – twice

God’s sovereign provision:

God’s provision of food (1:6)

God gave Ruth a son (4:13)

God’s faithfulness (1:17; 3:13)

Focus on redemption: “redeem,” “redeemer,” “redemption,” and “kinsman-redeemer” used 20 times.

Focus on “mercy” – God’s faithfulness borne out of kindness and love (1:8; 2:20; 3:10).

God’s providential care in difficult times.

Reference to God’s activity eight times: 1:13, 20-21

God petitioned: 1:8-9; 2:12; 4:11-12

Invokes God’s blessings five times: 2:4 (2), 19-20; 3:10

Boaz and Ruth operated under God’s fidelity: 1:17; 3:13

Key word: “mercy,” which speaks of loyalty to others

Characteristics:

Ruth and Esther were the only two women of the Bible to have an entire book dedicated to them

Ruth stood in stark contrast to both her Moabite background and the failures of Israel itself during this period.

Ruth, a Gentile, believed in the God of Israel.

The kinsman-redeemer provides a type of Jesus, the Kinsman-Redeemer (Deut. 25:5-6; Ruth 4:9-17). Boaz accepted this responsibility because his fellow clan member, Mahlon, died.

The genealogy of Jesus included several non-Jews (Mt 1). God showed grace to the line of David:

Tamar the Canaanite (Mt 1:3)

Rahab the Canaanite harlot (Mt 1:5)

Ruth the Moabitess (Mt 1:5)

Bathsheba, probably a Hittite (Mt 1:6

Ruth demonstrates God’s grace:

She received blessings she did not merit

God acts in grace in the midst of evil

Her nationality was particularly odious to the Jews (Deut 23:3).

Matthew 1:5 is the only other mention of Ruth in the Bible, outside the book of Ruth itself.

Ruth is a love story without the use of the word “love.”

The book is the only example of the law of the kinsman-redeemer in motion.

The genealogy at the end of the book is an important link to Christ.

Ruth was written in symmetrical rhythm.

Ruth is one of the Megilloth or festal rolls. It was read at the Feast of Pentecost (it was a book of grace).

It is a book of seeking.

The setting of the book is near the town of Bethlehem.

The book is a sequel to Judges and a connection to the historical books such as 1 and 2 Samuel.

The book was written during:

Religious apostasy

Political disorganization

Social chaos

  Outline  I. Ruth in Grief — chapter 1

Naomi runs from her problems — 1:1–5

Ruth’s choice — 1:6–18

Naomi resentful towards God — 1:19–22

II. Ruth’s Service — chapter 2

Ruth’s Faith, 2:1–3

Ruth’s Friend, 2:4–16

Ruth’s Hope, 2:17–23

III. Ruth’s Redemption — chapter 3

Possibility of redemption — 3:1–7

Claim of redemption — 3:8–15

Hope of redemption — 3:16–18

IV. Ruth’s Contentment — chapter 4

Ruth redeemed by Boaz — 4:1–10

Ruth blessed — 4:11–12

Ruth blesses Boaz — 4:13–22

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