The Book of Ruth
A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (A Key Word Bible Study)
By Andy Lee
This Key Word Bible Study will change the way you read and study the Bible. In-depth word-studies use the Old and New Testament dictionaries in the back of the guide to help you discover meanings lost in translation. The Book of Ruth Key Word Study is a thirty-one-day journey into one of the most beloved biblical stories. Each lesson focuses on a Hebrew word, bridges the gap from the Old Testament to the New, and invites our hearts to respond. If you know you’re somewhere you aren’t supposed to be, mad at God, or in need of provision, this study is for you. Come dig beyond the black and white text and find the secret to hope, redemption, and promise that lasts a lifetime.
Who Might Benefit
The woman who loves Bible study and digging deep into the Word.
An Introduction to Redeemer; More to Come . . .
Gâ̕ al (gaw-al ́)
I confess. I want to read the end of a novel at the beginning of the book. Sometimes I pester my husband to tell me how a movie ends before it’s over—especially if there’s a lot of tension or the story is heartbreaking. Some people would ask, “Well, why continue to read or watch if you know the ending?” It’s a fair question, but I have a fair answer: I don’t want to miss the details of the story, and if I know it ends happy, then I’ll persevere through the painful parts to get to the good ending.
Actually, I’ve just realized it’s no different from my husband watching a recorded football game even when he knows the final score. It drives me crazy! But I know he wants to watch every play.
Truth is I never allow myself to read the end of the book, and my husband always refuses to tell me the end of the movie, but the beauty of being an author is that you can start with the end if you want. So, rather than beginning this study of Ruth with the first chapter, let’s be bad. Let’s start with the last.
Yes, this will take away any suspense, but many of you studying this with me already know the blissful ending. If you are new to the Bible and the book of Ruth, I pray that starting with the ending will help you see the faithfulness of God all the way through every event of this narrative.
I think it’s a perspective we need to keep while living this life. When trouble and hardship, disease and sorrow come, we can know how our story will end—that trouble, hardship, disease, and grief, sorrow and pain will one day be no more—because we know that Jesus, our Redeemer—our Gâ̕ al—lives.
Digging for treasure
Before we start our excavation, I must introduce the characters with a quick summary just in case you aren’t familiar with the book of Ruth or you need a refresher:
Naomi and her husband moved their family from the country of Judah to Moab to survive a famine. Not long after the move her husband died, and her sons married Moabite women. But ten years after their move, both sons died. Naomi, distraught and desperate, moved back home, and Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, followed Naomi back to the land of Judah to help take care of her. Ruth gleaned wheat in a field to find food for Naomi, and that is when she met Boaz, the man who would make everything okay (author’s paraphrase).
Now that you know the short of the story, let’s dig in.
- Read Ruth 4:13. Who got married?
I love weddings. They are such happy occasions holding so much promise for two people in love. Ruth and Boaz’s wedding was no doubt a joyous occasion, but this matrimony was one of divine purpose and destiny. Hold that thought as we begin to excavate these verses.
- Read Ruth 4:13. In your own words, describe what God did for Ruth.
“. . . and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.”
The New International Version translates God’s gift to Ruth this way: “. . . and the Lord enabled her to conceive.” The ancient word translated as “gave her conception” or “enabled her to conceive” is the Hebrew word nāthan.
- Read this definition from The Complete Word Study and explain the picture formed in your mind when combining this definition with what God did for Ruth.
“A verb meaning ‘to give, to place’ . . . This Hebrew word also means ‘to put, to place, or something literally placed’ . . . It could also be something figuratively placed.”
What picture does this definition paint?
God not only enabled her to get pregnant, he placed the seed inside. Nāthan evokes the imagery of God placing a son inside her womb—his hand giving her this gift. I love this. He’s such a personal God. As we dig into the ancient text and study Scripture please remember that every word on the page points to the character of God. The wisdom of God. The love of God.
And for me.
And for Gentiles.
It’s a big-picture story of salvation, but don’t miss the details. Someday when you’re in a tough place, you will need to remember how good and faithful God is. Have you experienced his faithfulness, his hand in your life? When?
- Let’s witness God’s faithfulness to Naomi, too. Read Ruth 4:14. Why are the women giving God praise? What has he done for Naomi?
This is the same Hebrew word used in Ruth 2:20. “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 relative1350 of ours, one of our redeemers.” (ESV)
- Look up 1350 in The Old Testament Dictionary in the back of the study. Read the definition of gâ̕ al. Which meaning relates to the context of this verse?
Stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. The book of Ruth is filled with tangible metaphors of Jesus and what he did for us. I’m praying that our collective and individual need for a big “G” gâ̕ al will resonate in deep places, deeper levels of understanding as we study. With this in mind, read the definition again.
- According to Ruth 4:14, who has been redeemed, Naomi or Ruth?
Actually, they both were redeemed, but the townswomen sing of Naomi as the one who needed a kinsman-redeemer, a gâ̕ al. It’s my hope that as we continue to discover the treasures of this story and unravel its woven tapestry we’ll learn the significance of the women’s song about Naomi’s need for a gâ̕ al. We’ll learn as we read the back-story that this Jewish woman moved with her family to a nonJewish land, was gone for ten years, and returned to her hometown with nothing. No husband. No sons. No means to survive. Nothing. It’s likely that her husband sold or “leased” their land to fund their move.1 When she returned home destitute, she needed someone to redeem her family name and land. Only someone from her husband’s family could buy the land in order to keep it in the family—and, in the process, keep her in the family. Naomi was not a blood relative of Elimelech’s family.
. . . . . I must end my excerpt there! It’s just a taste of this study. But I hope you’ll want to read more and dig deeper with me. Come see how the story of Ruth is our story. Come connect the Old Testament with the New and answer the questions that move the treasure from your head to your heart. Every lesson ends with a prayer. Here’s the end of Day 1.
“Dear God, we are amazed by your hand in our lives—the little details you so carefully ordain that lead to something so much bigger than us. Thank you for being our Gâ̕ al (gaw-al ́), our Kinsman-Redeemer for eternity, but also for being our daily Gâ̕ al. Please open our minds and hearts to understand this concept in deeper ways. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.”
About the Author
Andy Lee is an award-winning writer, inspirational teacher, and blogger. She’s ministered to women for over twenty years through Bible study, women’s retreats, conferences, and just being a friend. She lives on the coast of North Carolina with her retired soldier husband and Hank the cat who makes the empty nest feel a little less empty.
Visit her website, wordsbyandylee.com to be inspired with weekly Bible reading plans and articles to help you dig deep to live fully. And come to her kitchen every morning via Facebook Live at 8:20 ET for fellowship with other believers and daily nourishment for your soul.
Another book by Andy Lee
A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called
While still in need of a Savior, they were called by God. Come find grace and courage to follow your call as you discover the Mary in yourself.
A Mary like Me unites twenty-first-century women with first-century saints by exploring the hearts of some of the most famous women of the Bible. One gave birth to the Son of God, another sat at his feet, and another was the first to proclaim his resurrection. These women shared the name Mary, which means bitter, defiant, and rebellious; and a closer look at Scripture reveals their personalities in light of their name.