Overview of Ruth

As we get ready to start our “Nothing Wasted” study through the Book of Ruth, we thought it would be a good idea to provide you with some context for this amazing and powerful Old Testament book. Why was it written? What are some of the key themes? These are all questions we’ll address here to help you get a full picture of Ruth. So let’s dive right in!

Author: Unknown

Some scholars have attributed both the Book of Ruth and the Book of Judges to Samuel, but its literary style and language suggests that it may date to the time of David and Solomon, likely around 300 years after the events of these books.

Audience

The Book of Ruth was written for the Israelites several generations after the time of the judges. The book offered a beautiful view of true faith and righteousness, which was an encouragement to the Israelites because they were experiencing serious national disunity, foreign oppression, and moral degeneration—sound familiar?

Cultural Facts and Relevant Notes

During Ruth’s day, the Israelites were in the habit of alternating between pleading with God for His help during desperate times and then forgetting all about the Lord and falling into the idolatrous and debaucherous ways and cultures of the neighboring nations.

Despite this, the Lord was working behind the scenes, continuing to weave His masterful plan of redemption. In typical God fashion, He used Ruth, a faithful, courageous, dedicated, perseverant female foreigner—a Moabite—not only to impact the Jews of her day, but also to play a key role in their history. She became the great grandmother of King David and a key member in the line of Jesus.

Key Themes

Acceptance: Ruth is living proof that acceptance in the family of God is not based on birth or nationality, but on faith in and obedience to God. Just like with Noah, who predated the Jewish people, Abraham, who was from a pagan family from Ur before becoming the father of faith, and Rahab, a prostitute from Jericho, God honored her faith in Him and obedience to His word in the face of difficult circumstances and bewildering commands.

Kindness and Faithfulness: Naomi’s transformation is truly something beautiful to behold in this book. Here, we see a woman go from complete emptiness and despair (v. 1:20) to a fullness and joy (v. 4:14–16) through the selfless loyalty and loving kindness of Ruth, who was given an out by Naomi and Boaz. This reflects the provision, grace, and heart of God, which shines through the love and faithfulness of His obedient children.

RedemptionThis is the foremost theme that we see woven throughout this book. Boaz’s actions to redeem the land (Leviticus 25:25–29), marry Ruth (Deuteronomy 25:5–10), and father a child to keep Naomi’s family line alive (Deuteronomy 25:6) make him a kinsman redeemer.

The typology—comparison or imagery of something or someone—in this book is truly phenomenal and one of the clearest, most amazing example of Scripture as God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The events that take place between Ruth (who represents the Gentiles), Naomi (who represents the Jewish people), and Boaz (the kinsman redeemer, who represents Jesus Christ—known as a type of Christ) are all a perfect foreshadowing of what would take place through Jesus. It is all symbolic of Christ’s redemption of His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25–27; Revelation 19:1–8, 22:17), and of the Jewish people (Titus 2:14).

Threads

As you read through the Book of Ruth, notice the pattern of faithful love among those who honor God. Notice Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, the acceptance of Ruth by the Jews in Bethlehem, and Boaz’s unfailing kindness and compassion to both widows.

In addition, notice the way God works. All throughout this story, we see the Lord orchestrate seemingly insignificant details—things that just seem like random, typical, commonplace occurrences—to work out His overriding purpose for Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, and the future of the Jewish people and the world.

Book Outline

  1. Intro: Naomi loses everything, her cup is emptied (Ruth 1:1–5)
    1. She loses her husband Elimelek
    2. She then loses her two sons, Mahlon and Kilion
  2. Naomi returns from Moab (Ruth 1:6–22)
    1. Naomi compassionately releases her two daughters-in-law so that they could make a new life for themselves, find husbands, and have children.
    2. Ruth pledges herself to Naomi, to make Naomi’s people her people, and Naomi’s God her God.
  3. Ruth and Boaz meet in the harvest fields (Ruth 2)
  4. Ruth goes to Boaz at the behest of Naomi (Ruth 3)
  5. Boaz arranges to marry—redeem—Ruth (Ruth 4:1–12)
  6. Naomi filled with joy (Ruth 4:13–17)
  7. Genealogy of David (Ruth 4:18–22)

We hope you’re as excited to study and learn about the Book of Ruth as we are. We know God is going to show us that nothing is wasted in His redemptive hands as He speaks to us over the next six weeks

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.