In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 spiritual lessons from the book of ruth that can help believers grow in their faith.
There are numerous ways we can get life lessons from the Bible. One is digging into a specific character and learning from the events and actions of their life. I’ve done this with Jonah, Esther, and more. But you can also glean lessons from an entire book of the Bible.
The book of Ruth is a story of faith and obedience. It’s about those who find their way in the dark, trusting that God will lead them to where they’re supposed to be. We can learn so much from it. And today we are going to do just that! You can check out an outline of the book Ruth too…this is helpful if you are doing a study on the book.
The Two Leading Ladies: Naomi and Ruth
Before we dive into this lesson, I thought it might be good to cover a little info about the two main characters.
With 100’s of stories in the Bible, the book of Ruth is unique as the two leading characters are two common women.
Naomi is a Jewish woman who had two sons, but her husband and both of her sons died in Moab. And Ruth one of Namoi’s daughters-in-law was from Moab. She went back to Naomi’s land with the hope of finding a new life after suffering great loss in her homeland.
Their relationship to each other? Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Most people cringe at the very thought, but these women clung to each other in their time of need.
Who Was Naomi?
Naomi was from Bethlehem in Judah. She and her family left there because of a horrible famine. They moved to the country of Moab. There her husband Elimelech, and her two sons Mahlon and Chilion started their lives.
It doesn’t say when or how, but Elimelech passed away while they were in Moab. Within 10 years her two sons married Moabite women. One married Orpha and the other Ruth. But her sons followed her husband’s footsteps and passed away.
They had no grandchildren to carry the name. She was left with her two daughters-in-law in a foreign land.
Naomi is often referred to as a prophetess or an ancestress of Jesus Christ in Christianity due to how significant her role is in the book of Ruth. There are many lessons that can be learned from Naomi. How she handled great suffering, rejoicing with those less fortunate than yourself and trusting God’s plan even if it doesn’t make sense.
What Does the Name Naomi Mean?
נׇעֳמִי Noʻŏmîy, no-om-ee’; from H5278; pleasant; Noömi, an Israelitess:—Naomi.
In Hebrew, the name Naomi means pleasant, or happy. How ironic her name means pleasant when her life faced such hardship. She even pinpointed this out, saying she should change her name.
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” – Ruth 1:20
I can’t imagine the pain this woman felt. She lost everything and was blaming God for her loss.
Who Was Ruth?
She has been listed among some of the most memorable Bible heroines and mothers along with people like Esther, Rahab, Deborah, Mary, and many more.
Who were the Moabites? “In Old Testament accounts (e.g., Genesis 19:30–38), the Moabites belonged to the same ethnic stock as the Israelites. Their ancestral founder was Moab, a son of Lot, who was a nephew of the Israelite patriarch Abraham. “ (source)
What Does the Name Ruth Mean?
רוּתRûwth, rooth; probably for H7468; friend; Ruth, a Moabitess:—Ruth.
In Hebrew, the name Ruth means friend or friendship.
I love this about Ruth’s name because no matter the age difference or relationship between Naomi and her, she was a true friend that stood by Naomi’s side. Especially in her time of need.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24
5 Spiritual Lessons from the Book of Ruth
To be honest, I probably could have written 20 different spiritual lessons from the book of Ruth, but I just wanted to focus on 5 that were highlighted to me. But I encourage dive into the book. It’s only 4 little chapters, but it is rich in what we can learn.
Lesson 1 – The Power of Loyalty
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16–17
My first life lesson is all about the power of loyalty. Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi was amazing and conveyed beautifully in her words spoken in Ruth 1:16-17. It was this loyalty that led blessings to be poured out later on in both Naomi’s and Ruth’s lives.
But Ruth wasn’t the only loyal person. Naomi was loyal to Ruth as well. She could have easily told her I don’t want you to come with me, go with Orpha. (Ruth 1:14) or abandoned her when they reached Bethlehem. Instead, they both clung to each other and this unity brought them the breakthrough they needed.
Lesson 2 – Obedience Brings About Breakthrough
I love this quote from Nora Elkins on Ruth,
“Ruth’s story is not one of self-determination and feminine independence. Instead, it is one of obedience, integrity, and trust in the God of her Mother in Law – and now also the God of Ruth. (Ruth 1:16) She is not helpless by any means, she is a hard worker who does what she can with what God has given her but she doesn’t go out and try to prove herself.”
Nora hit it on the head. Ruth remained faithful and obedient even when there were other options. She could have easily shoved Naomi’s advice to the side and do her own thing. But it was her obedience to Naomi that lead her into the family line of King David, and later on the Messiah, Jesus!
So, many times we look at obedience or submission as a form of control. But when it comes out of mutual love for one another it’s a beautiful thing.
For example, when we tell a child not to touch the hot stove it’s not because we want to control him. We tell him that because we don’t want him to get burned. The same goes for our relationship with God. He is a loving and kind Father, and when we disobey His Word this leads us to experience pain and hurt.
Lesson 3 – Working Isn’t A Lack Of Blessing
She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” – Ruth 2:7
I have noticed in our modern church culture that if something is from God or God wants to do something, then somehow we don’t need to work for it. That it will magically appear on our door wrapped in an enormous bow.
The odd thing is the Bible doesn’t teach this at all. Most all breakthroughs, and blessings came as believers put their hands to the plow.
- Abraham had gone on a long journey to reach the land of milk and honey.
- Moses was tending sheep when he saw the burning bush.
- It took Noah and his son 120 years to build the Ark.
Ruth worked in the fields. Day in and day out, she was their picking grain. If she hadn’t she would have never connected Boaz.
Lesson 4 – Remaining Humble While Being Favored
At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” – Ruth 2:10
Boaz was a GOOD catch. He was a wealthy landowner, but beyond that, he showed compassion and generosity by following the Levitical law. This means he was also God-fearing. Ruth would, therefore, live a very happy and comfortable life with Him.
See, it’s easy when things start to change for the better to get a chip on our shoulders. I’ve seen it time and time again in the church. But I find it refreshing and beautiful that Ruth gains favor with Boaz yet remains humble.
You could say she remained humble because she was a foreigner (Moabite) But I don’t think that was the case. Many people will become prideful even despite their past situations. Humility is a heart issue.
Ruth was able to do something amazing. She was able to remain hopeful and not get bitter despite her circumstances. And she was able to remain humble when things started going well for her.
This is a vital lesson for us to learn as Christians. That no matter how low we go or how high we go, we can remain hopeful and humble, trusting God to help us through.
Lesson 5 – Willing to Take Advice from Elders
It’s easy in our youth to make our own decisions and think they are wise and right. And sometimes you are lucky and they are, and sometimes not so much. Those are those OUCH moments in life. “I knew I shouldn’t have touched the stove…“
Our last lesson, which similar to lesson 2 with a different angle, is that Ruth was willing to take advice from elders.
After Ruth’s husband passed away, she had no obligation to Naomi. But she had made a choice in her heart to follow God, which in turn meant to go with Naomi. She was willing to listen to Naomi’s advice, even though she could have done her own thing.
Before we can walk in obedience, we have to be willing. This is a sacrifice of self, because it’s so easy to want to do things our own way. But there is a great wisdom that comes when we lay down our ideas to hear those who are older.
I love what 1 Peter says…
Likewise, you younger men [of lesser rank and experience], be subject to your elders [seek their counsel]; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another [tie on the servant’s apron], for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], BUT HE GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. – 1 Peter 5:5 AMP
Ruth’s willingness to heed an elder’s advice led her to finding her Kinsman-Redeemer. Which, in turn, led to the genealogy of Christ! Another story similar to this is about Queen Esther taking advice from her uncle Mordecai.
We need to learn to be willing to listen and take advice from those who are older and have more experience. Who know perhaps they are giving us a word of wisdom that can affect our future.
More On The Book Of Ruth
Learning about the book of Ruth? Get excited, because I’ve got exactly what you need! I’ve been devoting my time to studying the book of Ruth and have some articles that might perk your interest.
Well, there you have it! We have covered some important facts and lessons from the book of Ruth:
Feel free to leave me a comment below! I would love to know what you are learning from the book of Ruth.
Melissa is a passionate minister, speaker and an ongoing learner of the Bible. She has been involved in church and vocational ministry for over 18 years. And is the founder of Think About Such Things. She has the heart to equip the saints by helping them get into the Word of God and fall more in love with Jesus. She also enjoys family, cooking, and reading.
She has spoken in churches in California, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico and has been featured in Guidepost Magazine and All Recipes Magazine. Read More…