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The book of Ruth tells one of the greatest love stories of the Bible. Ruth loved her mother-in- law more than life itself. The story of Ruth begins during the times when the Judges ruled (Ruth 1:1). There was a famine in the land which drove Elimelech to move his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to the land of Moab (Ruth 1:2). In the passing of time Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and their sons there. While living there, both the sons married women of Moab, whose names were Orpah and Ruth. In time Mahlon and Chilion also died, leaving behind three widowed women.

Naomi realized it was time for her to return to her native country, so she told Orpah and Ruth to return to their families. Orpah obeyed and shortly thereafter went home but Ruth refused to do so. She felt a strong attachment to Naoimi and decided to stay with her as Naomi returned to her homeland. It is this love and devotion to her mother-in-law, for which Ruth is best known.

When Naomi and Ruth arrived at Bethlehem, Ruth went into the fields to glean behind the reapers. It was their means of having food on the table and Ruth had to feed both of them. It is interesting that the name Ruth means - a friend. She certainly was living up to her name. Ruth was more committed to Naomi that most blood kin and her beautiful promises to Naomi are recorded in Ruth 1:16. That passage may well be one of the best known verses in the book of Ruth, as it has frequently been used in weddings. The name Naomi also had a good meaning, for it meant - pleasant. However, because of all her hardships, she wanted to change her name to Mara, which meant - bitter (Ruth 1:20). Indeed, Naomi had some bitter experiences, but having Ruth with her, changed her life for the better.

While Ruth was attached to Naomi by having been married to her son, there was a more important relationship which began to develop. As she gleaned in the fields, the providence of God brought her to the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:3), who was a relative of Naomi. Ruth gleaned in his field in her efforts to make a living for her and Naomi. Gleaning meant that she followed the reapers and gathered the fragments which they left behind (Ruth 2:16).

Quickly a connection developed between Ruth and Boaz. He seemed to have felt great admiration for Ruth, because of her kindness and commitment to Naomi. To make a long story short, they were married and Ruth finds her way into the lineage of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed (Ruth 4:13-17). Since Ruth was the mother of Obed, she was the grandmother of Jesse (Ruth 4:16-17) and the great grandmother of David, a man after Godís own heart. Ruth was then the ancestress of Jesus Christ. (See Matthew 1:5-6.)

Ruth had many noble qualities. One noteworthy characteristic was this, Ruth embraced the religion of Naomi and thereby served the true and living God. What a blessing that must have been to Ruth, but I feel confident that it was a blessing to Naomi and Boaz as well. Think of it, a Gentile in the lineage of our Jewish Lord and Saviour. What a wonderful person Ruth must have been. I think we would readily admit, that our world today needs a great many more people, who have the love and compassion manifested by Ruth.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014