From Empty to Full: An Overview of the Book of Ruth

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The Book of Ruth is about how God takes Naomi from empty to full, through Ruth & Boaz's faithfulness.

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From Empty to Full. A Walk through the Book of Ruth.

What sort of things make you feel empty & Hopeless?

The Overwhelming school work?
You couldn’t get your dream job?
You don’t have enough money to pay for the bills?
You’re lonely and you just want to find that significant other.
Or perhaps you lost a loved one.
All of these are things that can make us feel empty and hopeless. Our question today is what is God doing in the midst of our emptiness, and our hopelessness.
For an answer we are going to do a quick overview of the book of Ruth.
The book of Ruth takes place in the time of the Judges, so it’s a very harsh time period where Israel is either constantly being attacked or is experiencing famine. Israel also was not being very holy at this time. Throughout the book of Judges we see less than ideal characters.
Such as Gideon
And Samson
Such people are not to be copied, yet in the book of Ruth, we find two of the main characters to be a very different story, and to be great examples to follow. The book of Ruth is about the empty being made full. So first we start with Tragedy.

Naomi Returns Empty

Ruth 1:1–5 ESV
1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 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. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
So we are introduced to Elimelech, Naomi, their two sons (Mahlon and Chilion) and soon, Ruth and Orpha.
Bethlehem means ‘the house of bread.’ This is part of the promised Land, God had promised his people he would provide for them. But ironically, the place where there was supposed to be bread and food. There was NONE!
So Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons had a choice: Stay in the land and be hungry or move to Moab, which (fun fact) despite having plenty of food, did not have a very good history with Israel. In we see Moabites inviting the Israelites into Baal worship.
Neverthelesss, Elimelech and Naomi left for Moab.
The saddest part about this situation is yet to come though. (read )
They came to Moab hoping to find food in their fields, but in the end, they only found death. Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion died. Leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpha as widows.
It’s a tragedy. Naomi, hoping to be made full in Moab, only found emptiness.
Application: Don’t we do this sometimes. We go to things that we think will make us full. It’s not always bad things, it could be finding marriage, it could be having a house, getting a car, being a straight A student. These are not bad things but if we are so focused on getting these things and don’t trust in God to provide for us, we will have only found a false fullness and be left empty when God take them away.
It could be other things that are not good too, like drugs, pornography, or even pride, I suppose, as we try to make others smaller and ourselves bigger. These things will leave us emptier than we were before.
There was no one there for Naomi.
Actually there was, but she tried to get rid of them.

Ruth Refuses to Leave

In verse 6, we see a transition. For the first time, the LORD is referenced.
Ruth 1:6 ESV
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food.
Here we see for the first time that the LORD is providing for his people.
So Naomi decides to leave for Bethlehem, the house of bread. But halfway there she says this (Read )
Naomi asks Ruth and Orpha to leave. Lets not give Naomi a bad rap here, she is simply looking out for the wellbeing of her daughter in laws. She says “May the LORD deal kindly with you.” But Ruth and Orpha refuses to leave.
We don’t have time to get into it, but Naomi begs them again to leave. She gives them a few reasons, but I think the most significant is this. Read the later part of with me.
Naomi’s final plea is this. ‘The hand of the Lord is against me. So leave me.” All of this loss she has attributed to the hand of the Lord. And this may be true, at least in part. The Israelites were not supposed to live among the other nations, including the Moabites.
We see what happens next. READ .
So Orpha leaves, but Ruth clings! Lets not villianize Orpha, Naomi was pretty persuasive anyways and there is safety returning back to Moab. She will likely find a husband whereas in 0Israel, it would be much harder to. But Orpha does serve as a FOIL. A foil is a character who is basically the opposite of someone else. To put it simply. Orpha’s decision to leave makes Ruth’s decision to say far more impressive.
Nevertheless, Naomi is consistent. Look what happens next.
Ruth 1:15–18 ESV
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
First off. Notice what Naomi is essentially saying. She is saying follow your sister in law. But where is her sister in law going? To her people (which is ok… but what comes next really isn’t ok for Naomi to encourage Ruth to do). Naomi is essentially saying ‘go back to your gods.
But Ruth, clings all the more harder. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God!”
In our day in age it’s easy to leave and forget about those older than us. We put our parents and grandparents in nursing homes and leave them their without visiting. But Ruth is not such a person.
Here we begin to see the noble character of Ruth. She refuses to leave her mother-in-law all by herself. She is a woman of determination, but also someone of immense care. Essentially she has promised to be with, and care for her bitter old mother-in-law… up until death.
And so they return to Bethlehem. Or at least Naomi does… this is Ruth’s first time there .
I’d like to show you a visual of what happens next. So basically Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlahem, and the women of the city becomes intrigued and begins to ask themselves (not Naomi, but themselves) if this is Naomi. Naomi apparently overheard than and gives them an answer.
I want to show you this visually because I think it’s helpful. This is from the NIV Application commentary. Naomi tells them not to call her by that name twice, and then repeats the reason twice.
If someone says something to you twice, you better believe they are serious about what they are saying. So whatever Naomi is about to say, she is super serious about.
The NIV Application Commentary: Judges and Ruth Scene 2: Naomi and Ruth Arrive at Bethlehem (1:19b–22)

Prologue (1:19)

When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

Naomi’s Bitter Speech (1:20–21)

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara [“Bitter”],

A because the Almighty [Shaddai] has made my life very bitter.

B I went away full, but the LORD [Yahweh] has brought me back empty.

Why call me Naomi?

B′ The LORD [Yahweh] has afflicted me;

A′ the Almighty [Shaddai] has brought misfortune upon me.”

Epilogue (1:22)

So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Q: So what did Naomi say? Why shouldn’t the people call her Naomi (which means pleasant by the way?)
A: Because THE LORD the Almighty has made her life bitter.
A: Because THE LORD the Almighty has brought her misfortune and emptiness.
Q: Now let me ask you a question. Who came back with Naomi?
A: RUTH!!!!!
Naomi is saying that she came back empty, but she didn’t really did she. She might have less than she had before, but she still had Ruth who UTTERLY REFUSED to leave her mother-in-law’s side. And considering how much Ruth clung to her Mother-in Law, I’d be willing to bet that Ruth was standing right next to her as she said this. Ruth was committed! There is also hope in verse 22.
When things are rough, do you try to send people away like Naomi did. Who are the people that refuse to give up on you?
Do you have friends who will be there whenever you need them.
Who in your family refuses to let you go?
And remember, if your family forsakes you, you still have the Lord. Naomi may have thought that the Lord had abandoned her, but in reality, he had not. READ ,
That’s hope! Everything bad was happening, but there was still hope. The Barley Harvest was coming. And she returned with the most important tool in her arsenal. RUTH. It is through the Barley harvest that Ruth would meet the person who could provide for both her and her mother in law.
Naomi thought she came back empty, but she came back to a land of hope and fullness. Through Ruth’s faithfulness, God was about to work wonders!

Ruth Provides for Naomi

Here we see a shift in focus. While the first chapter was primarily focused on Naomi the author now shifts to Ruth. It is through Ruth and her character that Naomi will be made full once again. (READ) .
Notice how it was Ruth (not Naomi) who asked to go to the field. It was Ruth’s idea. I suppose there was still a bit of bitterness in Naomi’s voice. ‘Go, my daughter.’ That’s all she really says.
And so Ruth goes. Will she find someone ‘in whose sight she will find favor?’
Well we see this in verse 3.
Ruth 2:3 ESV
3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.
Ruth 2:
I love how the author puts it: ‘and she happened to.’ She just so happened too. This is by pure chance, there is no sovereignty of God behind it. Right? Uhh, no. This is a creative way to show us that sometime the random events that happens in life, isn’t actually random at all.
The enterance of Boaz teaches us a few pretty significant lessons about the man.
Ruth 2:4–9 ESV
4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” 8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”
Ruth 2:4–6 ESV
4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.

Boaz Provides for Ruth

We are first told that he is a worthy man. (And lets be honest, what a way to be introduced. That what we should want to be known as worthy men (or women)) The word used for worthy is hayil. Basically it means strength and can be used in a military context but here is used to mean a strength of character and honor. Throughout the story, how is Boaz shown as a ‘gibbor hayil.’ A Worthy Man. How is he shown as a worthy man?
Well, right off the bat, we see that he acknowledges God. ()
As the story goes Boaz asks one of his men who that ‘young lady’ is… his man tells him that she is Ruth. Upon learning who Ruth is and that she came back with Naomi... Boaz seeks to PROVIDE for Ruth and tells her that 1) She should continue to work in his fields, 2) that he told the young men not touch her, 3)and that she may drink the water that the men have drawn when she is thirsty.
We also see that he is a provider, later in chapter 3.
So Boaz is a worth man. A Gibbor Hayil. This was his character, this was his heart, and Ruth is pretty astonished that she is being recieved so kindly by Boaz. And there is a reason. Listen to what the Bible says
Ruth 2:10 ESV
10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
Ruth 10:
Ruth was a forigner. She was from Moab. We see in the Old Testament that Hebrews and Moabites were not supposed to marry each other. This was because the Moabites would lead the Israelites to sin, Yet here we see, in God’s providential grace, a woman who is a Moabite and a devoted follower of YHWH!!! But that didn’t even occur to Ruth! Moabites and Israelites were not supposed to get along. Yet she had found favor in the eyes of Boaz.
Now here is something cool. Take a look at . Q: Do you see any thing that is phrased similarly?
A: Her hope (if not prayer) was that she could work in the field of a man whom she would find favor. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!! Boaz found favor in Ruth.
Now, as much as this is a romance story, and you might want to slow down time as Boaz look towards Ruth, who is, in slow motion, picking up some grain with her hair flowing in the wind, … aaaaaand its love at first sight moment.!
NOPE/ That’s not what this is. Boaz probably doesn’t have any romantic intentions at all, simply he notices something very admirable. THIS is his reasoning for showing favor.
Ruth 2:11–13 ESV
11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
Ruth 2:11
Q: So what prompted Boaz to favor Ruth?
A: It was her care of and commitment to her mother-in-law that brought her to Bethlehem. And notice the last part of the verse. Boaz acknowledges something else, she took refuge under the wings of the God of Israelite. THE MOABITE WOMAN LEFT HER HOME TO TAKE REFUGE UNDER THE WINGS OF THE GOD OF THE ISRAELITES!
This shows two things.
That Ruth was also a worthy woman (which we will discuss later)
But also that Ruth did indeed trust in YHWH.
And notice v 13. Ruth humbly awknolwedges the favor that Boaz has shown to her, even though she isn’t really his servant.
Boaz and Ruth are both excellent characters to imitate. They are both excellent examples of hayil. They are worthy men and women and both of their acts would lead to hope for Naomi.
So when we come to a passage like this, it’s often good to take a step back and ask ourselves, are we worthy people? Do we care for others.
Are we like Boaz and caring for the people that God puts in our lives or do we have prejudices because of their past or their nationality? Do we care for people who are having it harder than we do? Both Ruth and Boaz cared. Ruth cared for Naomi refusing to let her return to Bethlehem alone. And Boaz cared for Ruth, making sure she and Naomi were both were provided for as Ruth collected barely.
I say this with a caviot. We need to actually care for people and not just our reputation. Both Ruth and Boaz cared for people because their character was God and Other oriented. They didn’t care for others to be well known, well liked, to feel good or even to influence the people and events into their favor. Rather they cared for others because they had a God given love for them. Caring for others with a selfish reason, no matter how good the act, is sin. So check your heart and start caring.
Also, we should ask, how is our character, both in private and in public.
In private are we eating up God’s word, are we people of prayer, are we speaking only wholesome things? Who we are in private will manifest itself in public.
So how is your public testimony? What do people know you as? A worthy man (or woman)? Or are you known as the angry one? The picky one? The rude one? The careless one? The Lazy one? As God’s people we need to have good testimonies. What is your testimony? God puts people like Ruth and Boaz in the scripture not to discourage... but to encourage us to be like them. They are examples whom we should follow.
Boaz continued to care for Ruth’s (and Naomi’s) wellbeing, and Ruth in her efforts to care for Naomi continued to work hard. She worked so hard, that the first day working in Boaz’s field, she returned home in the evening with an ephah of barley. Now you may be wondering… as I was… what on earth is an ephah. Let’s keep this simple, An ephah, was around a week’s worth of food, if not more. So in one day, Ruth had gleaned a WHOLE WEEK’S WORTH OF FOOD!!!
Jumping back to the story. Ruth returns home to in the evening with an ephah of barley. Now you may be wondering… as I was… what on earth is an ephah. Let me keep this simple, An ephah, was around a week’s worth of food, if not more. So in one day, Ruth had gleaned a WHOLE WEEK’S WORTH OF FOOD!!!
You can imagine the surprise of Naomi when Ruth came home. Her tone now, is not as bitter but is one of rejoicing!
Ruth 1:20 ESV
20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
Ruth 1:
Ruth 2:20 ESV
20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
First, take notice of the word KINDNESS: That’s the Hebrew word Hesed. Hesed means fulfilling obligations, loyalty, faithfulness, and goodness. It’s often translated as kindness or steadfast love.
Boaz was showing God’s Hesed through providing for Ruth and Naomi. And in addition to that. He was ‘a redeemer.’ We will get to that part soon. But first, lets ask ourselves, how can we show Hesed, that is God’s kindness and love to each other? The NIV Application Commentary gives us a few ideas:

Doing ḥesed. Few of us will be in fields harvesting the edges, and few of us will find foreign widows gleaning in our fields. Thus few of us will have an opportunity to do ḥesed in an exactly similar manner as in Ruth 2. However, the ways in which we can manifest ḥesed are all around us: at home, at work, in church, to name just a few. The ḥesed that Ruth and Boaz do is a reflection of the type of ḥesed God does. It is through the doing of ḥesed that people will know that we are Christ’s disciples, if we do ḥesed one to another (cf. John 13:35).

So how can you love those in your family?
Do you love your parents, siblings, spouse or grandparents and find ways to serve them even when it is not ideal for you?
Do you speak well of them and encourage them as Boaz did?
How can you love those at work?
Do you care about the new guy at work?
Do you do your work faithfully without complaint?
How can you love those in your church?
How can you love those in your church?
Are you willing to give up your pew for another?
Do you go out of your way to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Closing the chapter, Naomi tells Ruth to keep working in Boaz’s field until the end of the barley and wheat harvesting seasons (which is about 2 months).
KEEP EDITING HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep the focus on how God is using the faithfulness pf Ruth and Boaz to bring fullness into the life of Naomi

“Will You Kindsman-Redeemer Me?”

Chapter 3 starts off with a game plan. 2 months have passed, and both Ruth and Naomi have been well provided for. Naomi has an idea that Ruth agrees to follow.
Ruth 3:1–5 ESV
1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” 5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
Ruth 3:
I think it is probably a good time to explain what a Kindsman Redeemer is. Naomi said earlier that Boaz is a redeemer, a ‘Go-El’ in Hebrew. This can mean a lot of things including paying the price for land that a family member had sold.
Israel had a high emphasis on family and clans, and it was considered a tragedy if a clan lost it’s property and especially if it died out. The biggest issue at stake in the book of Ruth was that the family of Elimelech was going to die out if Ruth did not bear a son, and, being a Moabite widow in Israel, having a son was VERY unlikely. It was also important in those days for a woman to have a husband and especially a son so that when she became old and was unable to care for herself, her son and his family would take care of her. Putting these two together, that is the need for Ruth’s future stability in a home, and for the clan of Elimelech to continue, you can understand why levirate marriage was a part of Israel and a Kinsman-Redeemer’s role. Levirate is when a close relative of a deceased man marries the deceased relative’s wife to continue on the family name. What Naomi is trying to do here is to get Boaz to be willing to marry Ruth, and to protect her. While some sense of shame may come to a man who refuses to perform the duty of a kinsman redeemer, THIS IS NOT AN OBLIGATION.
And Naomi shows tack in trying to help convince Boaz to marry Ruth.
First, Ruth was to wash and anoint her self (I suppose so that she smells good)
Next she was to ‘put on her cloak’ some of the commentaries think that this is taking off of the widow’s garb and putting on the average woman’s garb to show that she is available.
She was to go to the threshing floor (that’s where big forks were used to throw the grain mixture in the air so that the wind blew away the chaff, which is the inedible ‘bad stuff.’ ) and she was to wait until he had eaten and drank.
Basically, Naomi is telling Ruth to wait until Boaz gets some wine into his system, so that he is a little drunk and is more open to Ruth’s question.
And then we have this part: Then she was to go and uncover his feet. This is a weird one, and there is much debate over this. A lot of people think that this has a few sexual connotations in it. Other people think that this is a just a customary nonverbal means of requesting marriage.
Honestly on this one I don’t know what to think.
If it was a sexual suggestion, it is hard to believe such a noble and worthy woman like Ruth would have listen to Naomi’s advice so easily.
And if it was just a custom to sneak towards a man who’s a sleep and uncover his feet. That doesn’t make sense 100% either. It typically wasn’t the woman who initiated marriage in those days. And also, I have yet to see evidence that this was a norm way of popping the question,
Although, as a side note, next time you give your friend some dating advice, and he is thinking about popping the question… tell him to do this. … And then make sure you tell me how it goes.
Actually don’t do that. Because it wasn’t exactly a safe way for Ruth to ask, and it probably isn’t the wisest thing for anyone to do today either.
I am quite Befuzzled. And that ok. Just understand that there are options in interpreting this text.
Naomi, though meaning well, put Ruth in a situation that really could have compromised her integrity or caused her damage. What if Boaz was not a worth man and tried to abuse her, or what if someone saw her leaving, what might they think? Naomi’s plan. Though well meaning, was very dangerous.
But, Ruth put the plan to action. And Boaz’s reaction is priceless.
Ruth 3:8–9 ESV
8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
So Boaz is having a good night’s sleep, and all of a sudden he becomes startled and turns over and.... I love how the Bible puts this.... BEHOLD! A WOMAN LAY AT HIS FEET.
First off, can you imagine how confusing that would be. Like what on earth lady, where did you come from?
I think think the first question Boaz asks is a very reasonable one.
“Who are you?”
And Ruth gets straight to the Point. “I am Ruth. Will you Kinsman redeemer me?”
Boaz’s Answer is as follows
Ruth 3:10–13 ESV
10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
Ruth 3:10-
Notice again the word ‘Worthy Woman.’ This is Eset Hayil in the Hebrew. It is speaking of Ruth’s character. Hayil is the same word used to describe Boaz. The Worthy Man notices the Worthy Woman (and everyone else does too, that’s Boaz’s point, Everyone knows how Ruth is a worthy woman.)
Really brief side note. This is for singles. Look for someone who is worthy. Someone who is serious about their faith and is practicing integrity on a day to day basis. While it is true that it has been said opposites attract, its equally true that people of the same kinds of character attract too. So continue to work on your character to be a worthy man (or woman) and as you look for a significant other, find someone with integrity and spiritual maturity.
AND… Don’t uncover people’s feet at night! That’s just weird. While Ruth is an example of integrity, that doesn’t mean everything she did was the wisest. Naomi put Ruth in a situation that had potential to arouse both of their sexual desires, yet, Boaz and Ruth still handled themselves with integrity which is very admirable.
It seems to me, that God was bringing together two worthy people to bring fulness into the emptiness of Naomi’s life.
So everything seems to be going good! Boaz will marry Ruth! God has provided! But wait… there is just one problem. There is someone else who is a kinsman redeemer who technically is first in line to redeem Ruth. So Boaz will give him the first choice.
Remember again, that this was no obligation for Boaz, but trying to be faithful to the law of God he decided to give the other man the first opportunity.
And so this chapter concludes with Ruth returning to Naomi, with the news. Ruth did not go back empty handed though. Boaz gave her six measures of barley. And the scripture says..
Ruth 3:16–18 ESV
16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ ” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
Ruth 3:16
Remember how at the beginning of the story, Naomi thought she was empty. And in a sense she was, she lost most of her family. Yet, here the narrator uses the word ‘empty’ saying ‘you must not go back empty handed to your mother-in-law.’ Once again we see the empty being made full! God was providing for Naomi through Ruth and Boaz, and Boaz was going to deal with the matter TODAY!
It also says alot about Boaz’s character since Naomi is certain that he will settle the Kindsman Redeemer matter ‘today.’ Just like Ruth, Boaz was proactive.

Naomi Made Full

Read verses
So now we move onto Chapter 4. Remember how Orpha was a foil for Ruth, that is her differences from Ruth highlighted Ruth’s strengths. Well, the nearest kinsman redeemer is a foil for Boaz. But, unlike Orpha who at least gets her name in the book and is shown in neither a positive or negative light, the kinsman redeemer has no name and isn’t supposed to be seen in a good light. The word we translate as ‘friend’ here is actually mean something more along the lines of ‘Mr. So and So.’ (Which I shall so unaffectionately be calling him)
There is a progression in the transaction that is about to take place. Boaz first waits at the gates and God sovereign brings Mr. So & So there. Boaz tells him to sit down, and then, he gathers ten of the elders in the city to be his witness.
Here is how it went.
Ruth 4:3–4 ESV
3 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.”
RUth 3
So Boaz asks Mr. So & So so to buy a field. Notice how Boaz is using tact. He didn’t say anything about Ruth just yet. All he says that there is land that Naomi is selling. Mr. So & So, seeing a business opportunity agrees to the offer.
Something important to note is this. If Mr. So & So bought the land, and there were no descendants of Elimelech left, then the property would be all his. So, he quickly agrees.
Notice how genius this storytelling is. The whole time we are all routing for Ruth and Boaz to get together, but now, all of a sudden Mr. So & So comes in and says ‘I’ll redeem the land.’ This ought to concern us, as the reader. For a split moment we are led to wonder whether or not Ruth and Boaz will truly end up together.
But Boaz wasn’t finished. He saved the most important detail for last.
Ruth 4:
Ruth 4:5–6 ESV
5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” 6 Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”
All of a sudden, Mr. So & So changes his mind. “I cannot redeem it!” he says. He says that he can’t twice! Even though seconds earlier he says that he can.
His reason is simple. He doesn’t want Ruth. If he accepts Ruth and takes her as his wife then he might, according to himself, impair (or cause trouble/ruin, in the Hebrew) his own inheritance.
This is probably why Mr. So & So gets his name ommited. He was selfish. Instead of caring about Elimelech’s Clan, he cared only about himself and his property. It was a shameful thing to abandon one’s family, and Mr. So & So, caring only about making wealth for himself, refuses to redeem Ruth.
WHICH MEANS!!!!! in we see Boaz buying all that belonged to Naomi, Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion, and taking Ruth to be his wife. (Read)
The elder’s (and all the people at the gate… cause apparently there were onlookers) then respond:
Ruth 4:11–12 ESV
11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”
Ruth 4:11
This is beautiful! Remember how I said that the book of Ruth is about the empty being made full? Is this not exactly what the elders are praying for?
Remember how I said that the book of Ruth is about the empty being made full? Well
They are praying that Ruth, this young Moabite woman, would make Boaz’s house like that of Rachel and Leah.
Remember Rachel and Leah? They were Jacob’s wives and in total they birthed 12 sons to Jacob, that is where the 12 tribes of Israel cames from.
They also pray that Boaz will be well known in future generations.
And, they pray that their house would be like the house of Perez (whom Tamar bore Judah). If you know the story of Tamar and Judah, it’s not a pretty one. But there are two important things to note. 1) Tamar was not an Israelite (much like Ruth is not an Israelite), 2) Perez is from the house of Judah which is a special house since it will eventually become the house of the kings. So the prayer here is also about having important decedents.
And here is the coolest thing. As we are about to see. ALL OF THESE PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED!!!!! We see this especially in the epilogue in verses 13-17. But, we are not there yet. Before we focus on he broad scope and see how God would use the family of Ruth and Boaz to bless the whole world, we must look again at Naomi.
Naomi has the biggest transformation in this book.
Q: What does she loose at the beginning of the book?
A: She leaves the promise land, she looses her husband, she looses her sons.
Q: What does Naomi gain by the end of the book?
Before you answer, listen to what the Bible says.
Ruth 4:13–17 ESV
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:13
A: So, we know she is back in the promised land, and she has Ruth (who is said to be more to her than 7 sons)… but also, SHE GAINS A SON!!!! OBED!
Now technically, Obed is Ruth’s son. But the women of the city speak as if he is Naomi’s.
Remember how earlier the women were astonished that Naomi was back in town and talked about her. Well now, they are doing so again, but this time Naomi is not talking back. The women speak of Naomi as the mother because Ruth lets Naomi be Obed’s nurse.
Obed’s name means to serve and to work. And as the women said, in Naomi’s old age Obed would take care of her (and presumably Ruth as well.)
Do you now see the whole picture of the book of Ruth? Is it a love story? Yes. But it is far more than that. It is a story about how uses two faithful people of integrity to bring hope back into an old woman’s life. It’s about how God is in control of every situation. Not a moment is wasted with God. It’s about God bring together, and build a family that was on the verge of utter ruin.
So while we are supposed to look at Ruth and Boaz and imitate them, there is much more to the story. There is a God of Hesed, of loving Kindness, working throughout it. Above all, we are supposed to see our gracious and sovereign God who provides for us and gives us true hope.
Maybe God’s hand was agaisnt Naomi? Maybe she shouldn’t have gone to Moab. But used her sinful mistakes anyways, and she brought back one of the godliest women in Biblical History. A woman who God would use to bring fullness back into her life.
Oh, by the way, who does it say gave Ruth conception?
Do you see what is happening in this book? God is providing. The whole book of Ruth capitalizes on the sovereign provision of God!
So we’ve come full circle. Naomi started as a bitter and empty woman, but God working through the committed faithfulness of both Ruth and Boaz, restores Naomi and makes her full once again. Naomi was empty, but now she is full. She thought the hand of God was agaisnt her, but now she re-realized the love that YHWH has for her. He has provided her a son.
APPLICATION: This really is the application of the whole book. Trust in the Lord to provide for your needs.
Even if things seem dark, the Lord is still at work.
And notice that the Lord loves to work through faithful and commited people.
Maybe you are like Naomi and you just feel empty, look to the lord. He is the restorer of your life. You may not get the things you lost back in this life, but if you are God’s child you will be made full for all eternity. Naomi and Elimelech should not have gone to Moab. But, God still restored Naomi. Whatever mistakes you have made in the past, God still can restore you.
Or maybe you are like Ruth and Boaz, and you have an opportunity to be a blessing. Be faithful to God and to others, and let the Lord use you in whatever way he sees fit.
Ultimately, none of us are like the Lord. Who is sovereign and faithful to orchestrates both the good and the bad parts of our lives to grow us and shape us into people of faith. He worked through the plans of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz’s life, and he is working in your as well. Have faith in God, and be faithful.
There is one more thing I want to mention. God made Naomi and Ruth full, but what about the rest of the world. Ruth is just this self contained story right? It doesn't impact anything important, does it?
Well, as the elders prayed, Ruth and Boaz’s family did increase… in fact, (I love how the author only reveals this at the end), from this family would come kings.... and eventually the king of kings. The great redeemer all humanity. Jesus Christ.
Ruth 4:17–22 ESV
17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. 18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
Ruth 14:
So, get this. From this faithful, God honoring Moabite woman and her family, would eventually come the Messiah!
The Lord Provided for Naomi and Ruth… but how much more does he provide for us today. We are spiritually empty, we’ve hated God and have sinned against him. But he sent the great Kinsman-Redeemer, Christ, to save us from the wrath of the Father and give us a new, and Christ filled life. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to give an abundant life. That doesn’t mean we will have everything we want, or that there will be no tragedies in our lives, but it means we have a purpose for living, and an eternal glory waiting on the other side.
Jesus is our ultimate provider. He has not only provided so many earthly things such as our daily needs, but he has provided eternal life, and the eternal care of God. Boaz was only a mirror of one to come.
So with that I ask this final question. How can your emptiness be made full?
There is only one answer. And it is God.
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