Before we get too far into our current sermon series through the book of 1 Samuel, I want to provide an overview of what we covered in our series through Ruth. Despite its brevity, Ruth serves a pivotal role in the sequence of Old Testament books. While Israel was floundering under the chaotic leadership of various judges (as recorded in the book of Judges), God was providentially working to bring about redemption in Israel. Starting with a family rooted in Bethlehem (cf. Ruth 1:1), God chose to stop the revolving door of leadership in Israel by raising up a king after his own heart (as recorded in the book of 1 Samuel). This king, moreover, would pave the way for the King—the One we know as Christ Jesus.
So what can we learn about those through whom God fulfilled his overarching plan of salvation?
1. The Lord works in and through our hardships for our good and for his glory. Upon finding herself widowed and childless, Naomi came to believe God had permanently rejected her. Naomi was so despondent, in fact, that she chose to change her name to “Mara” (meaning “bitter”). In the midst of her pain and heartache, however, God provided a devoted daughter-in-law named Ruth. Not only would Ruth take care of Naomi, she would also give birth to a son God would eventually use to change the course of history.
2. To find refuge in our hardships we’re called to act in faith. Even though Naomi chose to remain bitter, Ruth chose to humble herself by going to the grain fields to pick up the leftovers. As she did so, she met Boaz—the one person with both the ability and the willingness to help restore their family. Ruth didn’t know what or who she would encounter in the grain fields, but she believed she would never find refuge in despair and isolation.
3. Don’t settle for good gifts; go to the Giver. Once Ruth and Naomi learned of Boaz’s willingness to help, they chose to go to the source. Merely picking up the scraps in Boaz’s grain field was not enough. With Naomi’s encouragement, Ruth went boldly to Boaz to propose marriage. The God who gives every good and perfect gift intends for his gifts to lead us to a relationship with him. Don’t settle for anything less.
4. Understand the difference between restoration and renewal. Naomi never had her deceased husband restored to her, and her dead sons never came back to life. But God did bring about renewal in her life through Boaz and Ruth’s son. God can and does bring about renewal in our lives by giving us new life. Our part is to bring our hurts and hardships before the Lord in faith. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will be you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We have a standing invitation. Will we come?