Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Ruth, Part 2: God Recognizes Ruth’s Heroism
Author’s Notes: This week, we’ll finish our series on Old Testament heroines. Along the way, we’ve met many great women who were full of faith, courage, and conviction. We’ve studied Deborah, Esther, Rahab, Abigail, and now Ruth; and discovered great examples of what God is looking for in His servants, even today. This week we’ll conclude our lesson on the courage and loyalty of Ruth, who was willing to go above and beyond the call of duty - putting aside her own comforts and desires to help another in need. Ruth’s heroism did not go unnoticed by God. And though we don’t always receive rewards here on earth, God chose to do so for Ruth. Ruth’s story is a great reminder of the promise of Jesus that when we are faithful in serving the Lord in secret, He will sometimes reward us openly.
Coloring Page for Young Visitors
You may remember that last week we talked about a reward for heroism called The Medal of Honor. It’s awarded to American servicemen who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect and save those around them. The Medal of Honor is an award given to them by the President of the United States, in appreciation for what the serviceman did to protect his fellow soldiers and country.
One recent award winner’s name is Leroy Petry.** He and his fellow marines were trapped in a courtyard. And the enemy began throwing grenades toward the place where they had taken cover. One of the grenades landed close enough that it could have killed or seriously injured several of them. So Leroy ran to pick up the grenade so he could throw it back toward the enemy. But just as he was about to do so, the grenade exploded in his hand, cutting his hand off. But his action likely saved his fellow marines from serious injury, or death.
After Leroy received medical treatment, which included removing Leroy’s injured arm, below his elbow, the President of the United States presented Leroy with The Medal of Honor, in recognition of his bravery in putting his own life in danger to save others. Leroy would probably say he didn’t stop at the time to consider how brave he was being, or wonder whether he would be rewarded for his heroics. He just did what needed to be done to help others.
And that’s just the way our heroine Ruth went about living her life, too. She simply did whatever needed to be done to help her mother-in-law, Naomi, survive through a very difficult time in her life. Ruth didn’t stop to wonder what she might get out of it, herself. She just lived to serve others.
Today we’re going to see that even though Ruth was not seeking to be rewarded for her kindness to Naomi, God knew what Ruth had done. He was pleased with her faithfulness and loyalty to Naomi. God has promised us that He will one day reward us, in Heaven, for living obedient lives for Him. But sometimes God chooses to reward us while still here on earth. And that’s what He did for our heroine, Ruth. We’re going to see, today, how God richly blessed Ruth’s life because of her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty as a daughter-in-law. She didn’t receive a medal to hang around her neck. But she did receive something even more precious. We’ll find out in a moment what that was.
But first, let’s learn today’s memory verse. It reminds us that God always sees what we are doing. And when we do things that are pleasing to Him, and not just to be recognized or rewarded by other people, but out of love for them and the Lord, then God will bless our lives to reward us for faithful service to Him.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:4b
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and Your plans for us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Ruth- Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (Ruth 2-4)
Let’s start right off today’s lesson with a review of last week’s lesson. We met our last Old Testament heroine, Ruth. She lived in the country of Moab, and married an Israelite who had come to live in her country. Does anyone remember the names of the family who left Bethlehem to go to Moab? The father was Elimelech; the mother, Naomi; and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.
And do you remember why Naomi and her family went to Moab? There was a famine in their hometown of Bethlehem. So they went to Moab to find food. They may have found food, but tragedy soon stuck the family, as Elimelech died. And within ten years, the two sons died, as well. But in those ten years, the sons had married Moabite girls. Do you remember their names? They were Ruth and Orpah.
After her sons died, Naomi decided to return back home. She had, after all, heard that the famine was over. So she had nothing keeping her in Moab, anymore. Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to go back to their families, rather than return with her to Bethlehem. She felt like she had nothing to offer them. So Orpah did as Naomi suggested, and returned to her Moabite family.
But Ruth refused to leave Naomi’s side. She knew that Naomi needed her. And Ruth wanted a change. Last week’s memory verse taught us that Ruth was ready for a new country, a new home, and a new God. She was ready to take Naomi’s God, the one true God, as her own.
So Naomi and Ruth packed up their belongings, and made the long trip back to Naomi’s home in Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi was quickly surrounded by friends and family, happy to see her home. But Naomi was not happy. She asked them to call her by a new name, Mara. It meant “bitter.”
But a bitter life was not what God had in mind for Ruth and Naomi. Let’s find out what happened once they settled back in at Bethlehem. God had some big plans in mind for them, and they centered around a man named Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.
1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
What do we find Ruth doing, so she and Naomi will have food to eat? She didn’t wait for Naomi to provide for her. Instead, Ruth went out to a field to “glean ears of corn.” That means she would follow along behind those who were picking the corn for the owner of the field. And if they happened to drop any corn, she picked it up. This was customary in Israel. God had told the Israelites, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22) This was God’s way of taking care of the poor. They had to work to get the food. But it was made available to them. This was not easy work for Ruth. But she did it gladly, to provide for Naomi.
And whose field did Ruth happen to go to? She was gleaning in a field belonging to Boaz. But it doesn’t appear that she knew who he was, at that time. Ruth may not have known who Boaz was; but we’re going to see that he had already heard about Ruth, before he even met her.
5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
Boaz noticed a new young woman gleaning in his field. And when he asked his servants, they told him it was Ruth, the Moabite woman who had come back to Bethlehem with Naomi. What else did the servants tell Boaz about Ruth? They noted that she was a hard worker, out in the field since early that morning. So Boaz took the opportunity to go and meet this young woman he had heard so much about.
8 Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:
9 Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
Ruth was stunned! The owner of the field had come to speak to her. Maybe she thought he was coming to chase her away, since she was a foreigner. But that wasn’t why he’d come, at all. He spoke kindly to Ruth, promising that if she remained in his fields, he would instruct his servants not to harm her. He also suggested that she glean right alongside of his own maidens. And if she was thirsty, she was invited to drink the water Boaz’ servants had drawn. What a generous invitation this was to Ruth! She wondered what she had done to deserve such kindness from such an important man.
11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Ruth had chosen to go with Naomi, and follow the God that she served. And God noticed! and chose to reward her for that choice, and for her faithful loyalty and hard work. So He led her straight to the field of the man He had chosen, Boaz. There is no indication that Ruth made her decisions hoping that she would be rewarded. She simply did what she felt needed to be done out of love and loyalty to Naomi. But remember our verse? God sometimes chooses to reward us openly for those things we do just because they’re the right thing.
And not only had God taken note of Ruth’s faithfulness and hard work; Boaz had too. He shared with Ruth how he had heard about her decision to stay with Naomi. And he had seen with his own eyes how hard she was willing to work to help Naomi. And because of those things, Boaz said he hoped that God would greatly bless Ruth as she continued to trust in Him.
God had rewarded Ruth with a safe place to find food, and with favor from a man of great importance in Bethlehem. But Ruth was not yet aware of the magnitude of this blessing. Though it would not be long before she would see how God had blessed her.
14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
17 So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
18 And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.
19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee…
Boaz continued to show favor to Ruth. He invited her to eat dinner with his servants. And he instructed them to leave a little extra behind for Ruth to pick up. What a generous man this was! Willing to reward this young woman for the good she was doing for her family.
And at the end of the harvest that day, Ruth didn’t just take her gleanings and head home. She worked even longer, taking her corn to where she could beat it out, so it would be ready to use as soon as she got back home to Naomi.
When she arrived home, Naomi was surprised to see how much Ruth had been able to glean. She recognized right away that someone had been showing special favor to her daughter-in-law. And when she learned who that someone was, she was especially thrilled. Let’s find out why.
… And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.
20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
Can you sense the joy in Naomi’s words? This woman, who now wanted to be called “bitter,” was beginning to see the hand of the Lord working once again in her family. What was so special about Boaz being the one who had shown favor to Ruth? Not only was he a “mighty man of wealth,” as we saw back in verse 1; Naomi also that this man was a close relative. And in Hebrew tradition, this meant a great deal for a widow. You see, if a husband died, it was the responsibility of his nearest surviving male relative to take care of his family and possessions. Since Elimelech and Naomi’s sons had both died, the responsibility to care for Naomi fell to Elimelech’s remaining family members. But to this point, no one had stepped up to take that responsibility, the part of the “kinsman redeemer.”
So Naomi had a plan in mind, no doubt given to her by the Lord.
21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.
22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.
23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.
The plan began simply with Ruth’s continued faithfulness to her mother-in-law through the remainder of the harvest season. But once the harvest was done, Naomi realized it was time to take some more direct action.
Chapter 3 of Ruth describes Naomi’s plan. It involved another Hebrew tradition that provided a way for a woman to approach a relative, to ask him to take on the responsibility of the kinsman redeemer. Naomi recognized that Boaz could fill that part for her and for Ruth. So she sent Ruth, as was the custom, to speak privately to Boaz. And Ruth obeyed Naomi’s instructions carefully.
1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.
8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
How did Boaz react at first to seeing Ruth there, at his feet? It says he was afraid. He certainly didn’t expect to wake up and see someone laying at his feet. But he quickly understood why she was there. And again Boaz was very gracious in showing great favor to Ruth.
10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
How did Boaz feel about Ruth and her request? He knew that Ruth had a spotless reputation in Bethlehem. Everyone considered her a woman of great character. And he was happy to consider taking on the role as her kinsman redeemer, the one who would take Naomi and Ruth, both, into his own family.
That must have been music to Ruth’s ears. God had brought her to a new country, and had granted her favor in the eyes of this wonderful man who had the right and the desire to take her as his own wife, to redeem (literally buy back) the family of Elimelech.
But there was one little detail that would need to be worked out.
12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
It turned out that there was someone else who had the right to take on that role ahead of Boaz. He would have to be given the opportunity, first. So after giving her more food to take back to Naomi, Boaz sent Ruth back home. And told her that he would go and talk with the other kinsman, to see if wanted to exercise his right as the redeemer. Boaz assured Ruth that if the other kinsman didn’t wish to do so, that he would then happily take on that role.
When Ruth returned to Naomi with the report of all that Boaz had said, Naomi told Ruth it wouldn’t be long till she heard back from Boaz. She recognized Boaz’ eagerness to take Ruth for his wife. And she couldn’t have been any happier.
So Boaz set off toward the city gate, to learn whether he would, indeed, be able to take Ruth as his wife.
1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.
3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:
4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.
Boaz started off his conversation with the other kinsman talking about land that Elimelech had left behind. Remember, everything that belonged to Elimelech (possessions and family) was available to be redeemed (or bought back into the family) by the closest kinsman. And the other kinsman said he was interested in redeeming Elimelech’s land… until Boaz mentioned what else went along with the land – Ruth and Naomi.
5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.
6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.
8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee…
9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
What was the other kinsman’s final decision? He was not in a position to marry Ruth, so he told Boaz to go ahead and redeem Elimelech’s inheritance for himself. And that’s just what Boaz wanted to hear! He immediately told Ruth what had been said. And in no time, Ruth and Boaz were married. God had richly rewarded Ruth, once again. But there was one more great reward coming, for both Ruth and Boaz.
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and … the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.
17 …and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Our heroine, Ruth, had found a hero of her own in Boaz. God sent him to Ruth and Naomi to rescue them from what could have been a very difficult life of trying to make it on their own. And God was so pleased with the selfless faithfulness of Ruth and Boaz that soon after they were married, He gave them a son named Obed. And did you hear who was listed as Obed’s grandson? King David! Ruth and Boaz were the great-grandparents of the best-loved king of Israel. And that means they were also in the line of Jesus Christ. What an incredible blessing for two great heroes of the Old Testament.
Did you know that you have a Kinsman Redeemer, too? Just like Ruth, each of us has Someone who is able to redeem us, and is longing to do so; just like Boaz was for Ruth. But our Kinsman Redeemer isn’t looking to buy back property or possessions. He wants to redeem our souls… to buy them back from the penalty of sin. Do you know who that Kinsman Redeemer might be?
Jesus Christ wants to be your Kinsman Redeemer and mine. He lived as a perfect human being, shed His blood on the cross, and rose again so He would have the right to redeem us. And He loves each and every one of us, and wants us to accept His offer of redemption. Ruth and Naomi could have refused Boaz’ offer and kept trying to make it on their own. But they would have missed out on great blessings from God.
We, too, can choose whether or not to accept the offer of our Redeemer. We can refuse His offer, and keep trying to make it to Heaven on our own. But the Bible clearly tells us that we “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) But we don’t have to try and make it ourselves. God made the way, through His Son, Jesus.
Have you asked Him to be your Redeemer? If not, you can do that today…
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Ruth and Boaz. And for the example we found of a Kinsman Redeemer. If there’s anyone here today who does not know Jesus as their Redeemer, help them to open their hearts to You, today. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Ruth went to glean in the corn fields to get food for Naomi and herself. (true)
2. Boaz’ servants noticed that Ruth was a hard worker. (true)
3. Naomi had never heard of the man named Boaz. (false – she recognized him as one of Elimelech’s relatives)
4. Boaz told his servants not to allow Ruth to glean in his fields. (false – he told them to drop extra food for her to pick up)
5. The nearer kinsman chose not to exercise his right and responsibility as kinsman redeemer. (true)