Ruth | 1 | 2 | 34 | PDF |


These free online Bible study guides of Ruth 3 contain cross-references, commentary, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth practical Bible studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Ruth 3 Inductive Bible Study – A Lesson on Mentoring and Courtship

Ruth 3 Video Bible Study

Ruth 3 Audio Bible Study

Outline

I. Naomi’s plan to help Ruth get married (1-6)
II. Boaz and Ruth’s conversation in the dark (7-15)
III. Ruth reports back to Naomi (16-18)

I. Naomi’s plan to help Ruth get married (1-6)

Discussion Questions

  • How has Naomi’s attitude changed since chapter one when she despaired of Ruth ever getting married again? Why do you think her attitude has changed?
  • What character qualities can we see in Naomi in this passage?
  • What plan does she come up with?
  • What do you think about her plan?
  • Why should Ruth approach Boaz in the dark?
  • Is this plan appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Should a young lady today do the same to show her interest in a man? What possible dangers are there in such a plan?
  • What do we learn about Ruth from this passage?

Cross-References

Verses on Hope

Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Verses on Mentoring

Titus 2:3-5 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Peter 5:5 – Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Naomi’s attitude had changed from despair to hope. – In chapter 1 Naomi concluded that if Ruth returned with her she would no chance of ever getting married. Her entire outlook was gloomy and full of despair. Naomi even changed her name from “pleasant” to “bitter.” There didn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. But what a difference a few chapters make. Now Naomi starts to take initiative. Instead of sitting around and despairing, she makes a plan to do something about the predicament they are in.

2. Naomi takes the role of a mentor and adviser. – 

Titus 2:3-4 Bible Verse

Naomi sometimes gets a bad rap. Surely she had weaknesses. In the beginning, she didn’t react well to the trials she was facing and became depressed and bitter. However, she still maintains faith in the Lord. And in some way, Ruth’s good character can be attributed to Naomi. Ruth knew about the Lord and committed to following Him because of Naomi and her influence. For all of Naomi’s faults, she was a good mentor. Her concern for Ruth’s well-being is evident throughout the entire book.

Young people in the world pridefully declare themselves to be masters of their destiny and are quick to dismiss the opinion of others while elevating their own opinions. Simply put, many young couples are unwilling to listen to counsel. Most likely they are afraid that counsel will not agree with what they want. But the importance of receiving and following godly counsel is seen throughout Scripture and most notably in Proverbs (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15.)

Application: If you are interested in beginning a relationship, then seek counsel. Even people who are objective in most things are not very objective when it comes to romantic relationships. Often we see what we want to see. God wants us to humbly seek wise counsel. It is through this way you will have success.

If you are older and more experienced, then open up your life and be willing to share with and help those who are just getting started. Jesus mentored His disciples. Paul mentored Timothy and many others. Who are you mentoring?

3. Naomi comes up with a very odd and potentially dangerous plan. –

A. Her plan shows implicit trust in Boaz’s character, believing him to be chaste and full of self-control. If Naomi had any doubts about Boaz’s honor, it is unlikely she would have suggested such an encounter. The fact that she knew he was a man of honor gave her confidence that she was not putting Ruth at risk.

B. Her plan seeks to avoid potential rumors and gossip. Rumors and gossip can be very destructive to relationships. By approaching Boaz in private, Naomi cuts off any potential problems created by prying eyes and nosy neighbors.

C. Her plan was bold and straightforward. Naomi didn’t mess around trying to drop hints which may or may not be picked up on. She had Ruth go straight to the point.

D. Her plan seeks to put as little pressure on Boaz as possible. It is not manipulative. Naomi could have had Ruth approach Boaz at the city gate while he was on an errand and force him to do the “honorable” thing and redeem her through marriage. But a relationship where one feels coerced or backed into a corner is built on a faulty and fragile foundation. Boaz showed only kindness to Ruth and Naomi and try to manipulate him or use public opinion against him would have been cruel. Naomi’s plan leaves an easy “out” for Boaz if his kind actions toward Ruth had potentially been misinterpreted as something more than simply an act of kindness toward the poor. In the New Testament, Joseph sought to quietly divorce Mary when he discovered she was with child, in order not to disgrace her. This plan of Naomi’s is similar. Boaz can quietly say “no” without losing face publicly.

E. Her plan was not sensual and did not use Ruth to try to seduce Boaz. – Some liberal scholars may today say that this was a sensual encounter. Where do they get it? They simply get it from their own minds and modern culture. Sure, in Hollywood you cannot imagine a midnight encounter that ends innocently. Our culture is so twisted and vile and open when it comes to sexual things, that that is where most people’s minds will immediately jump. A person who believes that this encounter is sexual is reading something into the text that is simply not there.

There is no mention of sex and no euphemism for sex. Ruth’s character is praised by Boaz as being noble. Boaz himself continually is talking about the Lord, hardly a name someone whose mind is bent on evil will invoke. Verse 14 clearly says that she lay at his feet, the same place he found her.

It should be noted that Biblical authors are not shy about mentioning the sexual sins of the subjects they write about, even famous heroes of the faith. The Bible does not gloss over it when people stumble sexually, sometimes describing it in great detail. Judah’s sin with Tamar, Abraham’s sin with Hagar, Lot’s sin with his daughters, David’s sin with Bathsheba, and Eli’s sons’ sins with the ladies who came to the tabernacle are just a few examples of sexual sins that are written about in great detail. No, the authors are not shy and do not candy-coat sin. The writer of Ruth mentioned nothing sexual because there was nothing sexual.

F. Her plan should not be copied. – Although there was nothing sexual in Naomi’s plan, neither would it be advisable for young people today to emulate it. The passage here is a narrative. The author tells a story by recording what happened. He does not say, “go and do likewise.” Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his daughter Isaac. David killed two hundred Philistines to win his wife Michael. Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel. Each of these stories has certain principles that we can learn from, but they are not prescriptions for courting.

From the story of Abraham’s servant, we can learn about the importance of prayer and clear communication. From the story of David, we can learn about resolve and “doing anything” for the one we love. From the story of Jacob, we can learn about the importance of hard work and perseverance to win the heart and hand of our beloved.

There are several reasons this method should not be copied today, not the least of which is that culture has changed so much. While at that time Ruth could find Boaz in the field and it was in the open with other workers nearby (thus lessening the chance of temptation), to do the same nowadays locks would have to be broken and security systems deactivated. And in our highly sexualized cultures today, such an action would certainly be misunderstood whereas Boaz seemed to know immediately Ruth’s intention.

What do you learn from this story?

  • Having a mentor is very important.
  • A mentor can potentially help two people get together who may not always act on their own.
  • Communication should be clear.
  • Neither side should seek to manipulate.
  • Rumors and gossip should be avoided.

II. Boaz and Ruth’s conversation in the dark (7-15)

Discussion Questions

  • What can we learn about the culture at that time from verse 7?
  • What specific request does Ruth make of Boaz in verse 9? Did Naomi tell her to say that?
  • What observations do you have about Boaz’s communication in verses 10-13?
  • Do you think Boaz loved Ruth? Why or why not?
  • Was he happy that she expressed an interest in him? How do you know?
  • Are there any indications in the text about the possible age difference between Boaz and Ruth? Is this a problem?
  • What impressed Boaz about Ruth?
  • What decision did Boaz make?
  • What does the word “redeem” mean? How is this similar to Christ redeeming us?

Cross-References

Verses on Christian character

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Colossians 3:12-15 – Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all that you do be done in love.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Sleeping outdoors was normal in this agrarian society. – Naomi knew that Boaz would sleep in the fields. Likely the reason was so that he and the workers could guard the crops which had been harvested but weren’t yet sold.

2. Boaz continues to invoke the name of the Lord (even in the middle of the night). – Matthew 12:34 says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If you want to know if a perso