These small group studies of Ruth contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Ruth 2 Inductive Bible Study – A Lesson on Providence and Hard Work
Ruth 2 Video Bible Study
Ruth 2 Audio Bible Study
I. Ruth begins gleaning in Boaz’s field (1-7)
II. Boaz extends kindness to Ruth (8-16)
III. Ruth reports to Naomi (17-23)
I. Ruth begins gleaning Boaz’s field (1-7)
- What was the Old Testament practice of gleaning?
- What type of people normally gleaned? What does this tell us about Ruth and Naomi’s status within society?
- Why did God originally institute the practice of gleaning?
- What can we learn about Ruth that she took initiative to begin this hard work?
- Do you think she just “happened” to the field of Boaz by chance? What does this teach us about God’s providence?
- What insights can we gain into Boaz’s character from how he greets his workers in verse 4? How might many bosses start a conversation with their workers?
- What can you see about Ruth’s work ethic in verse 7?
- What lessons can we learn from this passage about being a good worker?
Proverbs 13:4 – The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 – Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Ephesians 5:19 – Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
1. Ruth takes initiative – Ruth and Naomi have returned to the land. The first thing Ruth is recorded as doing is volunteering to go and glean. She doesn’t wait around for someone to come and rescue or serve her. Ruth sees what needs to be done and does it. It was already the time of the harvest and Naomi and Ruth had certainly not been able to plant and grow a crop so quickly. Yet they needed to eat. At that time there were few paths that a young woman could take to provide for herself. And even fewer still, were respectable. Begging or prostitution were certainly out of the question for a pure, industrious young woman like Ruth.
Application: There is a famous saying attributed to the Bible which is actually not in it, “God helps those who helps themselves.” While this is not completely accurate, it is not completely inaccurate either. God does favor those who are diligent and proactive. We should be people who observe what needs to be done and then take steps to do it, even if it is not comfortable.
2. Old Testament background of gleaning –
God established a certain kind of welfare system for Israel. He commanded that land owners leave a small part of the crops unharvested so that the poor people of the land could go and glean. This was not a way to become rich. But it was a way to have food to eat. The system that God set up has one key advantage over many welfare systems in the world today. And that is that those who needed had to work to feed themselves. It would ensure that only hard working and industrious people who needed it, could get it. It was available and easy, but not too easy. Meanwhile it did not put an undue burden on landowners. For them, the system was easy to implement. All they had to do was leave a few crops in the field unharvested.
Even so some landowners would not want to share what they grew and would attempt to do the very least they were required to do by law. Others would not even do the minimum required by the law. In areas such as this people’s selfish nature will often fight against God’s mandate toward generosity.
Application: God wants us to be generous with what we have. Throughout the Bible we see that He cares for the poor and He wants us to as well. Many times we are not required to. Nobody is forcing us to share or be generous. It is a choice. We have a choice to use what God has given us to bless others or to hoard for our own desires. What will you choose?
Ruth knew about this practice. The fact that she was willing to go glean gives us some insight into her character as well. We learn that she was diligent. She was willing to work hard to feed herself and Naomi and didn’t expect a handout. In addition, she it shows us her humility. While some people might say “I would rather die than endure the humiliation of picking up others’ leftovers,” Ruth did not care overly much about her own face or reputation. She was willing for others to know she was poor instead of trying to put on airs.
Application: God does not appreciate vanity and pride. We should be real about who we are. There is no shame in being poor. There is no shame in others knowing we are poor. On the other hand, there is shame in thinking we are “too good” for some task. Work is a good thing and every kind of work no matter how small or insignificant we think it is, should be done with a good attitude in order to please God.
3. She “happened” to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz – From people’s perspective this appears to be a happy coincidence, finally a bit of good luck! However, we know that God is sovereign. It was not luck or chance that brought her to Boaz’s field that day. It is called “providence.” Providence means that God divinely arranges circumstances and events in our lives to fulfill His good purposes for us. Often He arranges these things unseen and unknown. To the unbeliever, these are mere coincidences. But to those who put their faith in God, we know that He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. He brought Ruth to Boaz’s field for her good, for Boaz’s good, and for Naomi’s good.
4. Ruth worked from morning until evening – In verse 7 we again see that Ruth is very diligent. She worked the whole day with only a short rest. Resting is necessary sometimes, but probably a lot less than most of us do it! After creation, God ordained that people work six days and rest one day. Whether that work is school, our occupation, fixing our house, or ministry, we should spend the bulk of our time doing these productive things. If a person who is on a job constantly asks for breaks it can often be a clear sign that the person is not a diligent worker.
Application: What kind of a worker are you?
II. Boaz extends kindness to Ruth (8-16)
- What can we learn about Boaz from this passage?
- What can we learn about Ruth?
- What can we learn about communication?
- What can we learn from Boaz in verse 12 about making meaningful conversation?
- What do you think motivated Boaz to treat Ruth this way?
- How do you think Boaz treated Ruth differently than most farm owners may treat people gleaning on their property?
- Did Boaz tell Ruth what special favor he was giving her? Why not? What does this teach us about giving?
- What lessons can we learn about how to operate a business? Did Boaz operate his business in the most profitable manner possible?
Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Acts 20:35 – In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Proverbs 11:24-25 – One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Matthew 10:42 – And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
1. Boaz is generous – He does not try to hoard his crops or make sure that he makes the most possible profit out of his field. Although he doesn’t know Ruth personally, he is happy to share what he has with her. From Boaz, we can learn an important principle about what God expects out of a Christian businessman.
God wants Christian business owners to use the resources He has given them in a wise and generous manner. While most secular businesses operate with the sole goal of squeezing every possible cent out of the business, we should not run a business this way. Consideration for others (employees or customers) should trump dollars and cents.
Application: Whether you run a business or are working for someone else, know that God has placed resources into your hands. Those should be used generously for building up God’s kingdom.
2. Boaz is considerate – Boaz treats Ruth in a loving way, caring for interests and needs. From this passage we can already see how he acts in love for her. That love is not romantic or sensual. It is simply putting her needs first and treating her in an kind, unselfish manner.
Note that Boaz not only does the minimum required by the law, but commands his workers to purposefully leave extra grain for her to pick (15-16). He is considerate because he does this without telling Ruth.
If he told her, how might she feel?
Boaz considers her feelings by making sure her needs are met, but not drawing attention to the fact that he was doing it. If he told her she would likely feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. She might protest. Or she might in turn make a big deal out of thanking Boaz and showing him appreciation. He did not do it for appreciation. He did not do it to impress her. He acted solely for her well-being.
Application: It is not always necessary to tell people what you did or will do for them. Jesus exhorted His disciples to give in such a way that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. In other words, give anonymously. Serve anonymously. This often goes against our nature to seek out praise from people. So next time you wash the dishes or fold the laundry, it is not necessary to toot your own horn and tell your spouse all about it.
3. Boaz’s communication shows us what is in his heart. – Boaz talks a lot about the Lord. Back in verse 4 he greets his workers with “The Lord be with you.” And in verse twelve he takes initiative to give Ruth a blessing and talk about Lord. His speech is filled with references to the God. Jesus said that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What a person enjoys talking about reveals the secret meditations of the heart. Boaz thought a lot about the Lord and looked at everything through a spiritual lens. Do your words reveal that you are focused on the things of God or something else?
4. Boaz is a gracious communicator – His words are seasoned with salt, giving grace to those who hear.
Take note specifically of verses eleven twelve. Boaz was likely a business man. As a farm owner, he had a lot to handle. He had many workers under him. By the account in Ruth, he appears to be rich, which normally goes hand in hand with busy. But he doesn’t cut his conversation with Ruth short by politely ending it. He instead extends a lovely blessing. Boaz is a very good encourager. While Ruth may have felt lonely, destitute, and discouraged, Boaz says many positive words in order to build her up. He first comments positively on her character before ending with the blessing. However, Ruth may have felt before the conversation with Boaz it is almost sure that she felt better afterward.
Application: We too should have the goal to always let people feel better (more encouraged) after we talk to them than before.
III. Ruth reports to Naomi (17-23)
- How long do you think Ruth may have worked that day?
- Why did Naomi think someone had taken notice of Ruth?
- How do we start to see Naomi’s attitude toward God changing in this passage?
- Why was she bitter before, but now she was recognizing God’s kindness?
- Had God changed? If God had not changed, then what changed between chapter 1 and chapter 2?
- What does this teach us about God’s character?
- If you feel that the hand of God is heavy on you in some way, what then should you do?
- If you could sum up Ruth 2 in one word, what word would you choose? How about in one sentence?
Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Psalms 34:8 – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 31:19 – Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Exodus 33:19 – And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
1. Ruth still serves Naomi after a long day out – Although Ruth had been doing hard back-breaking work all day she still makes a meal for Naomi. From this we can see Ruth’s selfless nature. She is truly a good daughter-in-law. If only every mother/daughter-in-law would treat each other so well!
2. Naomi observes that Ruth had someone show her special favor – From Naomi’s comment we can infer that a person would not normally gather so much from gleaning in one day. While Ruth may not have realized the special favor that Boaz was showing her, Naomi immediately did.
3. They decide that Ruth will keep gleaning from Boaz’s field for the rest of the harvest – Naomi rightly concluded that Ruth would be safe there. We will see in the coming chapters that Boaz is a type of Christ. In many ways he foreshadows some of the characteristics of Jesus. And here we see that Ruth is safe in his fields and in danger elsewhere. In much the same way, we are safe in Jesus’ arms.
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