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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!

  1. Disaster

    1. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    2. 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 future.)

    3. 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.")

      1. 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.")

  2. God's Blessings on Ruth

    1. 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.)

      1. What additional fact do we learn about Ruth? (She is not lazy.)

      2. 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!)

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. Instead of wishing her a "rich reward by the Lord," why didn't Boaz just give her that rich reward?

    4. 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."

    5. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    6. 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.)

  3. Boaz and Ruth

    1. 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.)

      1. What other principles about helping the poor have we learned in these texts? (The family has a primary responsibility.)

    2. 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!)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. Are Ruth and Naomi taking this aggressive stance without any encouragement from Boaz?

    4. 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.)

      1. What must Boaz do about this potential problem? (Boaz has to do a little "legal work" to get everything in order.)

    5. Read Ruth 3:16-18. What is wise Naomi's assessment of the situation? (Boaz is going to try his best to make this work out.)

    6. 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?

    7. Read Ruth 4:9-10. Have the requirements of the law been met? (Yes.)

    1. 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).)

    2. 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.

  1. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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