This study guide synthesizes lessons on the book of Ruth that I led (along with Carson Wong) for Maranatha Grace Church in March 2021. I share these thoughts and reflections for those who want to study and think about Ruth on their own or in a group Bible study. I encourage you to take a quick look at my comments on how and why we should study the Bible before proceeding.
I also encourage you to study the book of Ruth before and while you read this study guide. The process of study is simple but important. Try studying Ruth yourself by making Observations, asking Questions, and considering Meaning. Then compare your understanding with what Carson and I drew out (along with observations from folks in the class).
This guide is divided by the four chapters of the book. So, read Ruth chapter 1 and jot down Observations, Questions, and potential Meanings before proceeding.
Observations on Ch. 1:1-5
Now read through chapter 2 making observations, asking questions, and discerning meaning.
19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”
Meaning / Application
Read through chapter 3 making observations, asking questions, and discerning meaning.
Read through chapter 4 making observations, asking questions, and discerning meaning.
If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.”
What does this story mean for us, as Christians? How does this story fit into God’s redemptive history?
The last chapter resolves the dilemma from the beginning of the book, the question of finding a home and a husband for Naomi (and by extension Ruth). While Naomi wished she could have another son for Ruth to marry, she knows that she won’t. Yet in the end it is Ruth who gives Naomi a son and a hope. And of course it is ultimately the Lord at work behind this: “the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.” The women of the town knew this too when they said: “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be 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.”
Paul Mueller is a Senior Research Fellow at AIER, a research fellow and associate director for the Religious Liberty in the States project at the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy, and the owner and operator of The Abbey Bed and Breakfast.