Bible Study

Ruth: Proverbs 31 Woman

As a teenager, I was required to memorize Proverbs 31. I remember thinking, “That is so hard. Who could do that?” Ruth is a great example of a Proverbs 31 woman.

As a teenager, I was required to memorize Proverbs 31. I remember thinking, “That is so hard. Who could do that?” Ruth is a great example of a Proverbs 31 woman. To be honest, this part of the Book of Ruth has always made me a bit nervous. Am I the only one who cringes at the thought of Ruth going to the threshing floor that night and following Naomi’s orders? Ahhh, talk about awkward! My heart begins to beat faster, and I get anxious just thinking about how nervous Ruth must have been!

Ruth 3:11-18 New International Version (NIV)

11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”

15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.

16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”

It wasn’t until I began to study and read more of the background behind Naomi’s instructions to Ruth that I began to understand the parallel to Christ’s redemption of our lives.

Look at Naomi’s advice to Ruth instructing her to change from her clothes of mourning and widowhood to new, clean and fresh clothes signifying that her time of mourning her husband’s death is over and she should move on with her life. How beautiful that Naomi would be the one to suggest this to Ruth and lovingly give her the freedom and blessing to move on! Much like Ruth, I feel I may have needed a “Naomi” in my life to give me permission to exchange my clothes of mourning and get on with my new life in God. Removing the garments of shame, anger, unforgiveness, betrayal, bitterness and pain and putting on new garments of hope, redemption, and love.

In the Hebrew Bible, Proverbs comes just before the book of Ruth. With Proverbs 31 being the last chapter, You would Read of the virtuous woman and start reading book of Ruth. Proverbs provides the description and Ruth, the example.

What we see in Ruth 3:11 is the same description we see of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” in verse 31:31. Just like the “Proverbs 31 Woman”, Ruth was also praised at the city gates…a woman mind you who was born in an enemy country, who was an alien in the country she was living in…this broken, widowed woman was actually a Proverbs 31 woman!.

Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.- Proverbs 31:31

Ruth is praised at the city gates because of how she has loved Naomi, worked hard to provide food for her mother-n-law and sought to honor her. A woman who could have turned away and started a new life in her homeland chose to leave all that she knew and walk forward in faith, not knowing what the road to Bethlehem would hold for her.

I am learning so many lessons to apply to my life as I’m inspired by Ruth’s story. We can never dismiss the power of a life lived out in love for God and others. We see this in Ruth’s life, as we see it in the life of the “Proverbs 31 Woman”, too. Both women lived with their focus on God and serving those around them. Both women lived for more than themselves and because of that, both women’s every day, step-by-step obedience is still encouraging generations of women thousands of years later!

As I’ve been reading through Ruth, I’ve been challenged through this powerful book to live more boldly for Christ. To walk my life out in greater faith and greater obedience…even if I’m not sure what is waiting for me in my “Bethlehem.” It’s not easy to humble ourselves and lay our lives down at the feet of our Redeemer. But just like Boaz, Jesus doesn’t reject us. He sees us and loves us.

What about Ruth’s life encourages you so far in our study? Is there something new that you’ve learned?