Ruth is one of the few women in the Bible whose story permeates many conversations, because there
are so many interesting facets to her journey; and even though the Bible says very little about her as a
mother, we know she was the mother of Obed, who sired Jessie, the father of David. This seemingly
non-descript foreign woman, from the Moab people, became the great-grandmother of David, a
renowned king, favoured by God and through whose line Jesus Christ came to the earth. She must have
done something right for God to favour her bloodline so much, in spite of all the odds stacked against
Ruth was a Moabite woman. From what we know of the Moabites, they were a people who believed in
taking matters into their own hands and helping themselves. They were not about sitting around waiting
for things to happen; even when it was sometimes against God’s divine plan, they acted for their own
perceived benefit. Moabites descended from Moab, who was the son born to Lot and Lot’s daughter
after they escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah to the hills. Lot’s daughters decided they had no chance
to get married and have children in the isolated hills and the only man around was their father. So they
took matters into their own hands, got Lot drunk, and slept with him. One daughter birthed Moab
(father of the Moabites) and the other Ben-Ammi, the father of the Ammonites [Gen 19: 30 – 38].
So, Ruth had incest and rebellion against God amongst other things, in her bloodline.
We all know what it means to fight against traits that pass down our bloodline, as well as dealing with
the consequences they bring. This is why Ruth’s story is so amazing. She did everything diametrically
opposite to what her bloodline would dictate and demonstrated positive traits like being dutiful, kind,
persistent and dedicated.
Ruth’s Character Traits and their relation to motherhood
Loyalty – Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi was astounding. She literally had no remaining ties
with Naomi. She was a young beautiful woman in her homeland, her young husband had passed and
they had no children. Almost anyone would assume that once her mother-in-law returned to Judah,
back to her people, Ruth would look to start her life over with someone new. In fact, Naomi tried to
convince her to return to “her people and her gods”, and although Orpah, her sister in law was
convinced to do so, Ruth would have none of it. She made her case with the famous words in [Ruth 1:
16-17]. She expressed her devotion to Naomi, Naomi’s people that she had never met, (aside from her
husband and in laws), Naomi’s God etc. She professed to die and be buried where Naomi died and was
buried, after announcing that only death would part them. Even better, she kept her word! This is very
similar to embarking on the journey to motherhood. The loyalty and dedication to a human being you
have never met, but will be bonded with for the rest of your life is similar to Ruth’s commitment.
Mothers commit to their children unconditionally, and through thick and thin, that never wavers. From
the moment you meet your child, ideally, that connection and dedication is formed forever. God saw
Ruth’s heart for Naomi and Naomi’s God, and from that moment on, His favour rested heavily on Ruth.
Obedience – When they arrived in Judah, Ruth and Naomi had to fend for themselves to survive. Ruth’s
obedience to Naomi’s counsel and guidance was pivotal to their livelihood and survival. She could easily
have ignored Naomi as being too old and out of fashion, but she followed every little piece of advice,
even when in her heart, she may have doubted how helpful it would prove to be. Her typical response
was “all that you say to me, I will do [Ruth 3:5]. Ruth and Naomi looked out for each other, like in a
perfect mother-daughter relationship. Naomi called her “daughter” and sought security for her, just like
any mother would want to do for an obedient child. “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you that
it may be well with you?” [Ruth 3:1]. Naomi was willing to stick her neck out for Ruth, because she was
confident in Ruth’s cooperation and obedience, based on how their relationship had played out, and at
every step of the way, God blessed their plans and surprised them beyond their expectations. Ruth had
to have instilled the importance of obedience into her son Obed as well, which in turn passed down all
the way to David.
Humility – Ruth accepted her low social position in Judah so easily because she had a humble heart. In
her fist conversation with Boaz, she asked “Why have I found favour in your eyes, that you should take
notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” [Ruth 2: 10] She was not even expecting to be physically noticed.
All she wanted to do was to collect after the harvesters, perform her duty by her mother-in-law and not
bother anyone. Instead, she found favour with one of the richest men in the land. Motherhood calls for
many things, but one of the first traits a mother has to learn is humility. Accepting that you don’t know it
all – consider dealing with an inconsolable colicky baby – and finding yourself readily blamed by others
for the actions of your child – like getting judging looks from strangers because your child is throwing a
tantrum in a store. Whether you like it or not, being humble is essential to being a good mother. If you
want to be the centre of attention, motherhood would be a challenge for you. It’s about the child, not
about you. At birth and for a while after, everyone focuses on the newborn child, the mother fades into
the background. Ruth’s humble heart prepared her well to be Obed’s mother, considering how Naomi
all but claimed the child as her own and was probably very involved in raising him. [Ruth 4:14-17]
Hard Worker – What a hard worker Ruth was! “So she came and has continued from morning till now,
though she rested a little in the house”. [Ruth 2:7b] Since they arrived at the beginning of the barley
harvest, Ruth went out right away to gather food. Imagine arriving in a foreign land and assuming the
mindset of doing whatever hard work was needed, in order to survive. Many of us can relate to this!
One of the first things she said to Naomi was “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain
after him in whose sight I may find favour”. [Ruth 2:2] Ruth felt responsible for Naomi and immediately
set about providing for her. Ruth is like the template of the woman in Proverbs 31. Specifically,
[Proverbs 31:31] says “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates”.
Ruth’s work ethic was immediately noticed by Boaz, and by his field workers. Her hard work caused her
to stand out among the other women collecting grains. Similarly, motherhood is hard work, but the
rewards are infinite. Like Ruth, may we strive to receive the fruit of our hands, so that our works will
praise us in the gates.
Empathetic – Ruth showed empathy for Naomi even from before the moment she decided to
accompany her back home. She never changed her attitude toward her, and even allowed Naomi to
claim her position as grandmother to Obed, even though he was not directly her descendant. Indeed,
Naomi became more like a mother to Obed, than grandmother. [Ruth 4:16] Ruth showed that same
empathy to Boaz, who blessed her, saying “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have
shown more kindness at the end, than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether
poor or rich.” [Ruth 3:10] The ability to empathize allows us to be mother figures even to those we did
not give birth to. Empathy teaches a new mother the signs to watch for to interpret her baby’s needs. It
is the innate ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, to feel like they do and thus act kindly toward
them as a result, while not expecting anything in return.
Good Reputation – Boaz asked his workmen, “Whose young woman is this?” Even though we are not
told that Ruth interacted much with anyone apart from asking if she could gather among the reapers,
the whole community knew who she was [Ruth 2:6]. More importantly, her reputation had gone before
her: that she was kind and dutiful and treated Naomi well [Ruth 2:6-11]. Society expects women to
behave a certain way, and mothers are held to an even higher standard because we have children
ostensibly copying our every word and action. More importantly, people are watching us and assessing
our character based on our behaviour. What we say, do, support and associate with reflect on our
children, just as much as their behaviour reflects on us. Imagine if Ruth had been known for
disrespecting her mother-in-law or treating her unkindly. Many doors that opened up to her would have
been solidly shut and the blessings God showered on her would not have happened.
Learning from Ruth’s Challenges
Unbeliever to Dedicated Follower – Ruth did not grow up having a relationship with the God of Israel.
She was a Moabite, a people who served other gods and were more about self-help than relying on God.
From being introduced to the one true God through Naomi, Elimilech and their sons, she became a
believer and adopted Naomi’s family’s God. She said: “Your God will be my God”. This is the heart of a
warrior for God and we can see how this dedicated heart found favour with God. He blessed her and her
generations yet unborn. Little did Ruth know that her faithful pursuit of the God of Israel would result in
her great-grandson being king! As mothers, we have to believe that the changes we are making today
are not only for us, they are for our children and our children’s children. We will be the great-
grandmothers of men and women blessed and favoured by God because of our dedication and
obedience today. We will be their witnesses in generations to come, because our God does not forget
faithful and dedicated hearts.
Immigrant Woman in a Foreign Land – Ruth left her home, family, friends and everything she knew and
loved behind. She started afresh in a strange land, where she had a child, raised a family and became
great grandmother to a king. It really does not matter where we come from. It is what we do with the
opportunities we are blessed with. Like many mothers here, we strive to establish a better life for our
children, to give them opportunities we did not have. The challenge is to keep our eyes on God, like Ruth
did, while working hard to improve the future generation. Like Ruth, we must never compromise our
renewed beliefs and commitment to our Father, just to find shortcuts to make it in our adopted home.
God sees our struggles and knows we must provide for our children. When we seek him first, all other
things will be added to us.
Sandwich Generation – Many of us are part of what is referred to as a sandwich generation, where we
care for parents/in-laws/elders as well as for our children. Ruth was caring for Naomi, then became
married and had a child. She now had to provide care for two generations of family, but we already had
a pretty good idea of how she treated Naomi. Her reputation went ahead of her and from that, we can
extrapolate that she was a kind, caring, thoughtful and loving mother. How we treat our parents and
elders is a very good indicator for the kind of mother we will be. For some of us, we did not have the
best experience with our parents/elders but God has granted us the ability to improve on those years to
the benefit of our children.
Mother of an only child – We do not know much about the interaction between Ruth and Obed. We can
only guess from looking at the lives of Obed’s descendants. Was Obed a spoilt only child? Was Obed
allowed to act like the pampered child of wealthy parents? Did Ruth, now suddenly rich, abandon all her
previous positive traits and raise a self-centered, disobedient child, who did not fear God? This is very
unlikely, considering multiple kings (starting with David, Solomon etc) came from this line. Looking at
some of the actions of some of Ruth’s descendants though (e.g. Jessie abandoning his wife in favour of
her maidservant, David killing Uriah, so as to claim his wife), we can see some of the rebellion and
relationship issues typical of the Moabites manifest when sin is given a foothold. This makes it all the
more commendable that Ruth was able to break the pattern, choose to follow the God of Israel and find
favour for herself and generations to come.
I pray that our Father blesses us with an overflowing Ruth anointing, so that we can start the story
anew, for our children and their descendants. God bless us all.