What We Can Learn from Ruth and Naomi - Women in the Bible Series

Alicia Searl

Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 01, 2024
What We Can Learn from Ruth and Naomi - Women in the Bible Series

When we humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to use us for His will and way, we find our purpose. 

Ruth is a story that is purposefully tucked between the pages of Judges and 1 Samuel. Her story may seem short and sweet, but make no mistake about it; there is much we can learn from her life, giving us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves.

Ruth and Naomi - The Backstory

To begin with, Ruth lived in a pretty brutal time (Ruth 1:1). In the day of the judges, Israel had no king, which meant there were no laws, and each family was forced to fend for themselves. Mass corruption and chaos ensued, leaving violence, brutality, and famine in its wake. Many traveled to new lands in search of food and to merely survive. Naomi and her husband and sons were upon one of the many families escaping Judah, fleeing to Moab. 

Unfortunately, the travel to Moab costs the life of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech (Ruth 1:2). While in Moab, we meet Ruth, a Moabite woman. It might be important to note that the Moabites were a mortal enemy of the Israelites. You can read more about Moab and how it goes back to the day of Lot and the heinous times of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). Talk about some eye-opening, jaw-dropping history!

Anyways, the Moabites were known for their idolatry and for performing human sacrifices (2 Kings 3:27, 2 Kings 16:3). They were corrupt and fell into sinful patterns, yet, interestingly enough, this is where Naomi’s family escaped. Not only that, but her sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Talk about scandalous!

But, while they stayed in Moab for a decade, maybe because they needed stability or the men found successful work in the town, tragedy struck again. The famine hits Moab, and an unfortunate fate takes Naomi’s sons, leaving behind these three women.

With the weight of grief and feeling somewhat lost and alone, Naomi decides to travel back to her hometown of Judah. Somewhere on this trip back home, Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to go back home to Moab and be with their mothers (Ruth 1:8). She was inviting them to basically let go of their past and embrace what the Lord had for their future (Ruth 1:12-13). 

We could imply here that Naomi was also concerned for their health and safety because the trip was rather treacherous, especially since it took the life of her husband. There was also the concern about their marital status and entering a town full of Israelites as Moab women. And then there’s the fact that over time, Naomi had grown somewhat bitter, blaming the Lord for all her loss. That said, there is the possibility she wanted to be alone on the journey to relent to her Lord and grieve (Ruth 1:20-21).

But, all that aside, we see Ruth practically beg to go with her mother-in-law when she states the infamous line, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Wherever you go I will go, and wherever you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” 

We see Ruth’s determination and full-fledged faith unfold here. It is apparent that these ladies shared a very special bond and that, over the course of time, Ruth must have witnessed Naomi’s faith. Ruth was literally ready to spend the rest of her life with Naomi and serve the same God! 

So what can we learn from Ruth and even Naomi? A lot, actually!

Ruth Was a Bold Outcast

Ruth is often portrayed as this sweet and innocent young lady who is loyal and compassionate, but there is more to her than meets the eye. This young woman was bold! She wanted to leave the wickedness of Moab, and her actions prove it when she clings to Naomi, pleading with her not to return back home. All the while knowing that moving on to Judah, she would be seen as a foreigner and the one that was deemed “different.” 

Can you imagine the looks that the people of Judah must have given Naomi and Ruth as they walked into the city? Both of these ladies were stricken with grief and most likely weary from their travel, yet they entered together as an Israelite and a Moabite. Naomi must have felt the judgmental stares as she tells the people not to call her Naomi but “Mara,” declaring that the Lord Almighty had afflicted her and caused her misfortune (Ruth 1:20). 

Yet, they arrive in town just in time for harvest, which is no coincidence and brings such sweet symbolism. Harvest time offered a way to show God’s provision and blessings for His people. Ruth, never understanding this, confidently saunters out and gleams the fields. She knew she looked different, yet she was unafraid of others’ perceptions. Besides, her eye was on a prize—hoping to gather food and maybe score a future husband. 

This is where we see God meet her and orchestrate a multitude of beautiful, fruitful blessings!

Ruth Lived with Passion and Purpose

As Ruth is gleaming the fields, a blissful love story emerges. She catches the eye of Boaz, who hears of her story and how she traveled with Naomi and chose to care for her, then proceeded to work diligently in the fields, and that’s it—he’s smitten (Ruth 2:5-7).  

Something to note: Levirate marriages were custom at the time, making it an obligation of a surviving brother to marry his brother’s widow. While Boaz was not the brother, he was of relation, causing their union to be known as a kinsman-redeemer marriage. This meant that a family man could “redeem” the widow, caring for her and her children. Furthermore, it also assured that land and possessions would be kept within the family.

Naomi, knowing this, urged Ruth to pursue Boaz. Ruth agrees and one evening lays at Boaz’s feet and asks him to redeem her (Ruth 3:8). Whoa! Talk about boldness with purpose! Remember that Ruth is still trying to care for Naomi while listening to her wisdom and instruction. But Boaz, being the honest man that he is, tells her there is another male in the lineage before him to redeem her (Ruth 3:12). While this must have been disheartening, this also showed Ruth that Boaz was a man of integrity and wanted to honor her and marry her righteously. 

As the story goes, they do end up getting married (righteously, see Ruth 4:1-8) and have a child, Obed, who is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David, who is the royal bloodline to Jesus (Matthew 20:30)! Oh, how good is our God to use everyday people and even those that we may see as unfit to fulfill an extraordinary purpose!

A Loving Lesson from Ruth

Oh, friend, there is so much we can learn from Ruth. From her kind heart to her captivating boldness, this woman can teach us a lot about how to be the woman God is calling us to be today!

Here are a few take-way truths to tuck into your heart today:

Your identity is found in Christ alone. You may feel like an outcast or searching for a place to fit in, but be mindful that God is the only One who can tell you who you are and remind you that you are His beloved daughter!

Your past doesn’t define you. No matter what scars you carry from your past, God often uses those for a greater purpose. The hurts and hang-ups you may be holding on to from your childhood, or the trials you replay in your mind and can’t seem to let go of, God can (and will) use to do good things and bless you. Hand it all over to Him.

Your actions are important to God. We are called to be servants of God. When we humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to use us for His will and way, we find our purpose. 

So live courageously, love passionately, and remember who you are as a daughter of the Great King!

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/mycola

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.