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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 7: Boaz and Ruth: Firm Foundations *
Introduction: Sometimes life treats you harshly. At those times, you
wonder where God is? Why has He let such terrible things happen to
me? This week we look at women whose lives are torn apart by the
death of their spouse. Will remaining faithful to God pay off? Will
grit and determination help? Let's dive into our lesson and find out!
- Read Ruth 1:1-5. This was a terrible time in which to
live. There was no government in Israel( Judges 17:6),
people did whatever they wanted. Apparently, there was
also no rain, so Elimelech decided to take his little
family to another country where they had food. What do you
think of Elimelech's decision? (It put the physical above
the spiritual. Although Israel was not following God the
way it should, the god of Moab was Chemosh.)
- Was it wrong for Mahlon and Kilion to marry Moabite
women? (It was not specifically prohibited
( Deuteronomy 7:1-3), but it was not a good idea
because they worshiped other gods.)
- Has the move improved Naomi's situation? (It turns
out that the husband's attempt to improve the welfare
of his family actually makes things worse.)
- Naomi hears that the famine has ended in Israel, so she
decides to return home. Read Ruth 1:8-13. What kind of
women is Naomi? (She is bitter towards God, but she is
unselfish towards her daughter-in-laws. They have been
good wives to her sons and she is looking out for their
- Read Ruth 1:14-15. Orpah is convinced by Naomi about the
best course for her future, but Ruth decides to stay. What
is Naomi's spiritual state right now? (She is in rebellion
against God. In her opinion, God has harmed her, not
helped her. Thus, she recommends that Orpah and Ruth
return to their "people and [their] gods.")
- Has Naomi always been like this - rebellious towards
God? (Read Ruth 1:16-18. Elimelech's family converted
Ruth to serve the true God. Although Ruth has lost
her husband, she does not have this rebellious
attitude towards God. Instead, Ruth shows her strong
character by disregarding the "practical advice" for
her future and instead remaining faithful to Naomi
and the God of Israel. Naomi must have held on to
some faith because Ruth refers to "your God.")
- God's Blessings on Ruth
- Read Ruth 2:1-4. What do we learn about Boaz? (He is a
relative of Elimelech, he is prominent in the community,
he is a land-owner and farmer, he is Godly and has a good
relationship with his workers.)
- What additional fact do we learn about Ruth? (She is
- Notice that Ruth 2:3 says "as it turned out, she
found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz."
It sounds like this was mere chance. Is that how you
see it? (God is leading the actions of this
industrious young lady!)
- Read Ruth 2:5-7. Ruth catches the eye of Boaz. What
recommendation does the foreman give her? (He says three
important things. First, he tells Boaz that she is a
relative (or at least with one of his relatives). Second,
that she asked permission to "glean" (which was her right
under Leviticus 23:22). Third, she is a hard worker.)
- What do you think Boaz may have previously heard
about "the Moabitess who came back from Moab with
Naomi?" (Naomi had a very sad story. The one bright
spot in her situation was this young woman from Moab
who not only left her own country to help Naomi, she
converted to the God of Israel. I'll bet the people
had a favorable opinion of Ruth.)
- Read Ruth 2:8-10. Ruth has the same question I have, why
is Boaz being so kind to her? It is one thing to let her
glean - which is her right - it is another thing to tell
her to glean only on his property, promise his personal
protection, and make her a part of the "household." Why?
(Read Ruth 2:11-12. It turns out I was right about her
reputation. Boaz had already formed a high opinion of her,
so when she "happened" to show up in his fields, he was
anxious to help her.)
- Instead of wishing her a "rich reward by the Lord,"
why didn't Boaz just give her that rich reward?
- Read Ruth 2:13. What do you think of this answer? What if
she had said, "You are right, I am doing a lot for Naomi!
This gleaning stuff has cramped my style. You are rich,
how about helping me a bit more? I deserve the help. You
can afford it."
- Read Ruth 2:14-16. Aside from feeding her, what do you
think Boaz is trying to do for Ruth? (He wants her to feel
accepted and be accepted by his employees. He does not
want her to be embarrassed because she is gleaning. He
views her as a special person. A person who, if
circumstances were different, would not be gleaning.)
- What principles about helping the poor do we find in
our story so far? (Boaz did not just give Ruth money
or food - although he could afford it. Following
God's plan of gleaning, the poor had to work for
their food. On the other hand, Boaz realizes Ruth's
unfortunate circumstances and takes steps to both
keep her from embarrassment, keep her safe, and make
her food collection a little easier.)
- Read Ruth 2:17-18. What traits of character do we see in
Ruth? (We see again that she is hard-working. We also find
she is generous.)
- Boaz and Ruth
- Read Ruth 2:19-20. Our story introduces a new fact. Boaz
is "one of our kinsman-redeemers." What is that? (Let's
read some texts: Leviticus 25:25; Leviticus 25:47-49; and,
Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Family was important in Israel. This
idea of one family member "redeeming" someone who had
fallen on hard times was written into the law. It even
extended to the "Levirate law" in which a brother of a
deceased man would marry his widow in order to have a son
to continue on the name of the deceased. Ruth and Naomi,
had not only fallen on very hard financial times, they had
both lost their husbands.)
- What other principles about helping the poor have we
learned in these texts? (The family has a primary
- Read Ruth 3:1-4. You recall that Naomi argued that Ruth
should stay with her people so that she could find a
husband. What is Naomi up to now? Is she trying to have
Ruth seduce Boaz? (No. Naomi is doing "her job" as a
parent to arrange a marriage for Ruth. Boaz has made no
move to marry (redeem) Ruth, so Naomi is going to help
move things along by getting the girl cleaned up and
having her lay by Boaz when he is sleeping. The smell of
her perfume should waft over to snoring Boaz and he may
start dreaming of marriage. When his feet get cold he
would wake up and there Ruth would be - looking and
smelling good! Let's see how this plan works!)
- Read Ruth 3:5-9. Let's compare notes a bit. Naomi told
Ruth ( Ruth 3:4) that when Boaz awoke "he will tell you
what to do." Who is telling whom what to do in Ruth 3:9?
(Ruth is telling Boaz that she wants him to redeem (marry)
her! So much for waiting for him to have the idea.)
- What lessons do the single ladies learn about
marriage? (Listen to you parents advice, wear nice
clothes, be clean, smell good and be aggressive!
Otherwise your Boaz might just snore along the rest
of his life.)
- Are Ruth and Naomi taking this aggressive stance
without any encouragement from Boaz?
- Ruth has now put herself "on the line." She could be
rejected, not simply as a wife, but as a gleaner. If Boaz
does not want to marry her, he might not want her around
to constantly remind him of what Naomi considers to be his
duty. Read Ruth 3:10-13. It works! Has this idea already
been in Boaz's mind? (Yes! He has already considered the
problem of the closer relative.)
- What must Boaz do about this potential problem? (Boaz
has to do a little "legal work" to get everything in
- Read Ruth 3:16-18. What is wise Naomi's assessment of the
situation? (Boaz is going to try his best to make this
- Read Ruth 4:1-6. How would you rate Boaz as a business
negotiator? Does he mention which widow goes with the
estate? Which is logical?
- Read Ruth 4:9-10. Have the requirements of the law been
- Read Ruth 4:13-16. How did Noami go from a woman unhappy
with God to having a grandson who was the grandfather of
King David? (It was a mix of things. A decision to return
to God's people. The loyalty, commitment and hard work of
Ruth. The law of God. God's hand in leading Ruth to the
field of Boaz. Boaz's kindness. All of these good things
working together created something very special for Boaz,
Ruth, Naomi (and now, little Obed).)
- Friend, when you follow God's rules, when you work hard
and smart, God will remember you and bless you even when
times seem very difficult.
- Next week: Elkanah and Hannah: Fulfilling a Vow.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.