The Romance of Ruth

The Romance of Ruth

January 11th, 1987 @ 7:30 PM

Ruth 1-4

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens. And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz. And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field. So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law. Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning. And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day. Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
Related Topics: Love, Romance, Ruth, Ruth Hunt, 1987, Ruth
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Ruth 1-4

1-11-87    7:30 p.m.


We welcome you on radio and on television to a high day and a holy, heavenly hour in the First Baptist Church of Dallas.  We have dedicated for our youngsters and for the kingdom of our Lord the beautiful youth building, called the Ruth Ray Hunt Youth Building.  And next Sunday they will be in it for Sunday school, Training Union, and in the days of the week, glorifying the Lord in a thousand beautiful activities.  Long time ago when this day was planned, I was asked if I would preach a message from the Book of Ruth, and that address briefly is presented tonight.  The world never tires of a love story.  And Goethe, the famous and gifted German poet ,said the most beautiful love story in human language is the Book of Ruth.  It is a remarkable little volume in the Bible of our living Lord.  It is an astonishing thing when carefully you examine it.  We would never have known that it was a part of the life of David had the book not closed with the word, “Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” [Ruth 4:21-22].  The little book closes with that sentence.

It is also the story of the love of a mother-in-law for a daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law for a mother-in-law.  There is no culture, there is no language, there is no nation, where a mother-in-law is not lampooned and cruelly satired; but here, she is beautifully and preciously presented.  Not in human speech is there a word more beautiful in endearing love than the daughter-in-law who speaks to her mother-in-law:

Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

And where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried:  God do so, and more also, unto me if aught but death separate between me and thee.

[Ruth 1:16-17]

It was a daughter-in-law who said that to her mother-in-law.  And in the last chapter of the Book of Ruth, the daughter-in-law, said the Bethlehemites, “loveth thee better than seven sons” [Ruth 4:15].   Not only that—is it the story of a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, but it is also the story of a Moabite.  In Deuteronomy 23:3, “A  Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; they shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever.”  And in Nehemiah, the last chapter:

On that day they read in the Book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that a Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever…

And in those days saw I Jews that had married wives of Moab.

And I contended with them, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves…Thus, I cleansed them from all strangers.

[Nehemiah 13:1, 23, 25, 30]

Yet she is a Moabite!

For the love of God is greater

Than the measure of man’s mind.

And the heart of the Eternal

Is most wonderfully kind.

[“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”; Frederick W. Faber]

They drew a circle that shut me out,

But God and grace had the wit to win.

He drew a circle that took me in.

[adapted from “Outwitted”; Edwin Markham]

She is a Moabite, and it is the story of not only a Gentile, but a hated and cursed race.

It is an amazing little book.  It is tucked in between pages and pages of bloodshed and violence and war.  In the midst of the striving of the judges and the contentions and confrontations of the kings of Judah and Israel, is this beautiful, pastoral, idyllic poem called Ruth.  Why such a book in the Bible?  Because it teaches us to understand the Lord God who is involved in the humble and daily experiences of our lives.  There are many who can read the Book of Ruth who would be baffled by the mysteries of Ezekiel, and there uncounted multitudes who can follow the love story of Boaz who would be baffled by the revelations of the Apocalypse.  Why such a little book in the Bible?  Because it reveals to us God’s evaluation of the events of human life, which are so different from the evaluations of men.

A historian will recount the rising and crowning of a king, but God, God will note the falling of a sparrow [Matthew 10:29].  A historian will follow the marching victorious armies of a nation, but God will record the tears of a peasant woman [Luke 7:38].  Our newspapers in the city of Dallas will publish abroad the election of a mayor, but God will note the conversion of a teenager in our dear church.  The whole city will bow before the opening of one of these great skyscrapers, but God notices the dedication of our beautiful building for teenagers.  Isn’t it a wonderful thing how God is?  In His sight maybe, a Babe in a manger, in a stable [Luke 2:10-16], is of more meaning and consequence and significance than the princes in the palaces of Herod.  What an amazing God!  Maybe in His sight, it is meaningful more, Aquila and Priscilla, than Claudius Caesar who expelled them [Acts 18:2].  Maybe in God’s sight it is more meaningful, Paul in the Mamertine dungeon, than Nero who beheaded him on the Ostian Way.  We name our children after Paul; we name our dogs after Nero.  Maybe in God’s sight it is more meaningful, the simple words that Paul writes to his son Timothy [1 and 2Timothy], than all the aphorisms and plagiarisms and platitudes of Seneca, who was his contemporary.  And maybe in God’s sight, a Mary or an Elizabeth or a Dorcas is a more meaningful than a Herodias, or a Salome, or Drusilla, or Bernice.

The story begins in the saddest kind of a way.  It begins like a cloudy day that closes in a rain of tears.  Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are forced by a terrible famine to find shelter and food and life in Moab across the Jordan River.  And where Elimelech had sought a home, he finds a grave.  He and his two sons die and are buried in Moab.  And Naomi is left alone in her tears and sorrow with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth [Ruth 1:1-5].

At the waters of the Jordan, there is a great and final decision.  As the waters of the Jordan have come to mean commitment and consecration in all of our lives, Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and goes back to her god, Chemosh, and back to her home in Moab [Ruth 1:12-14].  But Ruth embraces the faith of Jehovah God, and gives her life in trust and love to the people of the Lord [Ruth 1:14-17].

And in the next chapter is one of the most unusual verses in the Bible: Ruth the Moabitess “came and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz, the kindred of Elimelech” [Ruth 2:3].  “Her hap was,” she is standing in the fields of Bethlehem.  “Her hap was,” but God was in the “hap.”  Let’s read the story backward: she is standing where Jacob, Israel, buried Rachel when she died giving birth to a son [Genesis 35:16-20].  She is standing in the fields where David, God’s sweet singer, was born [Ruth 1:22 1 Samuel 16:1, 13].  She is standing in the place where Micah traversed the centuries, saying:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the cities of Judah,

yet out of thee shall He come who shall be the Savior of My people;

whose goings forth have been from of old, even from everlasting.

[Micah 5:2].

She is standing there [Ruth 2:3].  She is standing in the place where the star shone over the magi and where the angels sang over the Babe in Bethlehem.  She is standing where the Savior of the world was incarnate [Matthew 2:9-11; Luke 2:8-16].  Her “hap” was to glean in the field of Bethlehem [Ruth 2:3].  God is in it; little is much if God is in it.  And she represents all of us who are Gentiles, outside of the covenant of Israel, but made nigh by the love and grace of our living Lord [Ephesians 2:12-13; Titus 2:11].

There is no finer passage in the Holy Scripture than this inclusive word of the apostle Paul as he speaks in the Book of Ephesians:

We are to remember, that we being in time past Gentiles in the flesh . . . that at that time we were without Christ,

being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,

without hope and without God in the world—

like Moabites—

But now in Christ Jesus we who were sometimes far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ . . .

We are therefore, now, no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

[Ephesians 2:11-13, 19]

A fellow heir with Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:17].

What a beautiful picture, this Moabitess who is adopted into the family of God [Ruth 1:16-17], and is made a great-grandmother in the lineage of David and finally of the Savior Himself [Ruth 4:21-22; Matthew 1:5-17].  That’s God’s grace and mercy toward us.

Now may we pray?  Our Lord, this beautiful, beautiful book but brings to our hearts the loving grace of Jesus our Lord.  We who sometimes were afar off are brought nigh in Him [Ephesians 2:13].  And we who were strangers and aliens to the covenant of promise [Ephesians 2:12], we now are members of the household of faith; brothers and sisters with Jesus our Lord, pilgrims on the road to the glorious home in heaven [Ephesians 2:19].  And our Lord, we pray that tonight in this precious moment there will be those who will join us in that pilgrimage, standing at the waters of the Jordan [Ruth 1:16-17], making a commitment of life that shall adorn Thee and magnify and glorify Thee forever and ever.

And in a moment, when we sing our hymn of appeal, to give your heart to the blessed Savior, or to come into the fellowship of our dear church, or to answer a call of God in your heart, make that decision now.  And in a moment when we stand to sing, come and stand with us.  A thousand times welcome, and angels attend you in the way as you come.  And thank You, Lord, for the sweet precious harvest You give us, in Thy saving and wonderful and glorious name, amen.  While we stand and while we sing, welcome.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Ruth 1-4


Ruth is astonishing and amazing

Why such a book as Ruth?

The opening of the book

A.   Famine

B.   Sorrow of Moab

Decision at the Jordan

God’s purpose of grace