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Jeremiah gave testimony to a deep commitment to the Lord’s lovingkindness:

Lamentations 3:19-32

“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. 20 Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD. 27 It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and be silent Since He has laid it on him. 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust, Perhaps there is hope. 30 Let him give his cheek to the smiter; Let him be filled with reproach. 31 For the Lord will not reject forever, 32 For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness.”

Roy Hession: “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty.” — The first chapter of the book of Ruth is a very important one. Every preacher knows, or should know, he has to begin by awakening a sense of need in his hearers. He cannot plunge in too quickly with the positive side of his message. He must first convince the people that they are in just that state of need which requires the provision he proposes to speak about. So it is, before we are introduced to the subject of redemption in the book of Ruth, we have brought before us a story of trouble and loss which occasions the need for one who can redeem.

Concept of a godly remnant in apostate and rebellious times

Overview of Ruth – Gospel Love Story

– Focuses on the Redemption of Ruth – inclusion of the Gentiles

– Focuses on the Redeemer – Boaz and the Royal Line leading to King David and the ultimate Son of David, the Messiah

I. Ruth’s Background – Loyal Commitment as a Converted Gentile

II. Ruth’s Backbreaking Labor – Learning Lessons About the Providence of God

III. Ruth’s Boldness – Looking to Boaz for Redemption

IV. Ruth’s Blessing – Love Consummated – Redemption and Marriage






A. Timestamp

“Now it came about in the days when the judges governed,”

We know what those days were like; this will be set in contrast to those sad tales

Probably during the time of Gideon’s judgeship

Delightful love story

Picture of Redemption – the gospel in OT foreshadowing

Story of Redemption must be set against the backdrop of sin and death and bankruptcy

Bridge to the time period of King David … and ultimately the royal line of the Messiah

B. Trial

“that there was a famine in the land.”

Something is gravely wrong when there is a famine in the Promised Land

Cf. famine in days of Abraham (Gen. 12); Isaac (Gen. 26); Jacob (Gen. 46)

Lev. 26:18-20; Deut. 28:23-24 warn of God’s judgment via famine for idolatry and rebellion

C. (:1b-3) Transgression Followed by Tragedy – Failure of Faith

“And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.”

Bethlehem = “house of bread” – in land given to tribe of Judah; later called city of David and birthplace of Jesus; 5 miles south of Jerusalem

Elimelech = “my God is King”

Naomi = “pleasant”

Mahlon = “sick”

Chilion = “pining” – frailty, mortality; coming to an end

Planned for just a temporary stay = sojourn – but ended up staying for ten years

Worship of Chemosh (Num. 21:29; 1 Kings 11:7, 33); encouraged human sacrifices (2 Kings 3:26-27); practiced immorality (Num. 25)

Description of Moabites:

  • Proud and arrogant -Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:29

  • Idolatrous -1Kings 11:7

  • Superstitious -Jeremiah 27:3,9

  • Rich and confident -Jeremiah 48:7

  • Prosperous and at ease -Jeremiah 48:11

  • Mighty men of war -Jeremiah 48:14

You can’t run from your problems!

Oswald Chambers: The majority of us begin with the bigger problems outside and forget the one inside.

Wiersbe: How do you walk by faith? By claiming the promises of God and obeying the Word of God, in spite of what you see, how you feel, or what may happen. It means committing yourself to the Lord and relying wholly on Him to meet the need. When we live by faith, it glorifies God, witnesses to a lost world, and builds Christian character into our lives.

Watson: Elimelech, seeing his possessions melt away, has decided to leave Judah for a time so as to save what remains to him till the famine is over, and he chooses the nearest refuge, the watered field of Moab beyond the Salt Sea. It was not far; he could imagine himself returning soon to resume the accustomed life in the old home.

Block: It seems, however, that Elimelech designed his own solution instead of calling on God for mercy and repenting of the sins that plagued the nation during the dark days of the judges.

How did the Israelites feel about the Moabites??

1) contemptible origins in the incestuous relationship of Lot and his daughter (Gen 19:30-38)

2) their resistance to Israelite passage through their territory when they came from Egypt (Numbers 22-24)

3) Moabite women’s seduction of the Israelites and the latter’s subsequent punishment (Num. 25:1-9)

4) Israel’s constitutional exclusion of Moab from the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:3-6)

5) the recent oppression of the Israelites by Eglon the king of Moab (Judges 3:15-30)

Block: to be buried in an unclean foreign land was considered the ultimate punishment (Amos 7:17)

James 1 – important lessons about endurance

D. (:4-5) Transgression Followed by Tragedy – Failure of Obedience

“And they took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.”

Block: Deut. 7:3-4 – took by abduction – negative connotation; illegitimate marriages; their barrenness further sign of God’s judgment (Deut. 28:18)

Orpah = stubborn – turned her neck on her mother-in-law

Ruth = friendship, refreshment

Wiersbe: a family makes a bad decision and exchanges one famine for three funerals. Job 9:4 “Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?”




A. (:6-7) Right Course of Action . . . Wrong Motivation

“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.”

B. (:8-14) Crossroads of Tough Decision

Picture them at the banks of the Jordan River – making the decision whether to go back to Moab or continue on to Bethlehem

1. (:8-9) First Entreaty by Naomi – Find Security in Marriage in Your Homeland

“And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.’”

2. (:10) Response to First Entreaty – Loyal Devotion and Commitment

“Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, ‘No, but we will surely return with you to your people.’”

3. (:11-13) Second Entreaty by Naomi – No Prospects with Naomi

“But Naomi said, ‘Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.’”

4. (:14) Response to Second Entreaty – Contrasting Decisions

“And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in- law, but Ruth clung to her”

Importance of the motif of dialogue throughout this historical narrative

Now the story becomes all about Ruth

Naomi’s motivation seems more to go where there is food rather than to renew her worship and fellowship of the one true God in obedience to His revealed covenant with the nation Israel

MacArthur: The return of physical prosperity only shadowed the reality of a coming spiritual prosperity through the line of David in the person of Christ

Block: hesed is a covenant term, wrapping up in itself all the positive attributes of God: love, covenant faithfulness, mercy, grace kindness, loyalty. In short, it refers to acts of devotion and lovingkindness that go beyond the requirements of duty. Divine acts of hesed would bring the opposite of the pain and grief these women have all been experiencing for more than a decade. Specifically it could involve the application of the covenant blessings specified in Lev 26:3-13 and Deut 28:1-14.




A. (:14b-18) The Bravery of Ruth’s Loyal Commitment

1. (:14b-16a) Committed to Leaving and Cleaving

“but Ruth clung to her. Then she said, ‘Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you;’”

2. (:16b) Committed to Going Where Naomi Goes

“for where you go, I will go,”

3. (:16c) Committed to Dwelling Where Naomi Makes Her Home

“and where you lodge, I will lodge.”

4. (:16d) Committed to Changing Nationalities

“Your people shall be my people,”

5. (:16e) Committed to Changing Gods

“and your God, my God.”

6. (:17-18) Committed on a Permanent Basis

“’Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’ When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.”

– Until death

– Under the curse of God’s accountability

– End of discussion

Illustration: often used in wedding ceremonies as expression of commitment; studying the permanence view of marriage and divorce – controversial issue – note the words in the marriage vows: “Until death do us part” – do we really believe that?? Or is it just until our partner behaves in a way we do not approve and cannot tolerate??

Block: the center couplet is the most impressive of all. Using a mere four words she answers Naomi’s final plea to join Orpah in returning to the people and the god of Moab. With radical self-sacrifice she abandons every base of security that any person, let alone a poor widow, in that cultural context would have clung to: her native homeland, her own people, even her own gods. Like any Near easterner of her time, she realized that if she would commit herself to Naomi and go home with her, she must also commit herself to Naomi’s people (Israel) and to Naomi’s God (Yahweh).

B. (:19-21) The Bitterness of Naomi’s Reaction to the Lord’s Hand of Discipline

1. (:19) Shocking State of Humiliation

“So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’”

Not the type of homecoming that someone would wish for; imagine the gossip that spread through the city about this prominent woman – this blood relative of Boaz – about what had happened to her husband and two sons; the shame of returning with a Moabite daughter-in-law; the hardness of her face and features; you could see her bitterness in her countenance

2. (:20) Sad Change of Identity

“And she said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.’”

Tone of Bitterness pervades Naomi’s outlook; but amazingly does not spill over to corrupt Ruth’s spirit; Naomi continues to blame God rather than take responsibility for the sins of her family

Continues to subscribe to the Lord’s sovereignty and yet fails to give Him credit for His mercy and compassion and wisdom and love and grace; she has much to learn about the hesed of her covenant God and about His amazing providential care

3. (:21) Somber Testimony of the Lord’s Hand of Discipline

“I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

somber = dark and gloomy; melancholy

The gospel story of Ruth with its picture of Redemption will trace the path from emptiness back to overflowing fullness by the grace and mercy of God

C. (:22) Transition: Prospect for New Beginnings in the Promised Land of Blessing

1. Emphasis on Returning

“So Naomi returned,”

2. Emphasis on Gentile Inclusion

“and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab.”

3. Emphasis on Bethlehem

“And they came to Bethlehem”

3. Emphasis on Harvest Time of Blessing

“at the beginning of barley harvest.”

MacArthur: Naomi’s outlook on life, although grounded in God’s sovereignty, was not hopeful


How are we going to face the trials the Lord brings our way?

– Running away – like Elimelech – experiencing the sad consequences of sinful choices

– Becoming bitter – like Naomi

– Embracing them and using them as opportunities for new beginnings in experiencing God’s mercy and grace – beautiful love story of Ruth in the midst of the dark days of the judges