Naomi and her husband were forced by famine to become refugees in Moab, whereupon her husband and both sons died, leaving her destitute in a foreign land. Distraught, desperate and bitter at her fate, she returns home to Bethlehem, despite no longer having any family there to care for her. Unexpectedly, her
daughter-in-law Ruth accompanies her, rather than returning to the financial security and gods of her own people. Ruth famously places all her trust in Naomi and her strange hidden God.
They have no way to grow or pay for food, so Ruth must pick up the scraps left behind by the harvest, which the text makes plain puts her in physical (and possibly sexual) danger (v9). By luck she is seen by Boaz, a righteous man who knows the Law (Lev 23:22). But they aren’t safe yet, so Naomi suggests Ruth give up her body to Boaz in order to gain his protection. It’s a desperate act – if it went wrong she could have been stoned to death. Instead this Moabite is honoured as one of four women in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
Question: What can we learn from Ruth’s willingness to completely let go and trust in God, even at risk of her own life?
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the story of Ruth and Naomi, through which we see the world through the eyes and voices of two extraordinary women. Thank you for Ruth’s model of complete trust in you, forsaking even her own safety. Give us similar courage in our own times of trial. Amen.
We are reading the Bible with Justin Whelan until 16 June.