Narrative follows a set structure. “A setting in history, which gives rise to a specific situation, in which a problem or crisis arises, leading to a turning point in the drama, which then brings it to a resolution.”
The last time we were in Ruth we saw the setting, situation, and problem.
- Setting (Ruth 1:1). The opening events take place in the days of the Judges while there was a famine in the land. One family from Bethlehem went to Moab to sojourn there.
- Situation (Ruth 1:2). Here we learn the name of the family members and that they eventually remained in Moab, they took up permanent residence there.
- Problem (Ruth 1:3-5). Elimelech, Naomi’s husband dies. Her two sons take Moabite wives named Orpah and Ruth. After a time, sadly, Naomi’s sons die and she was left without her husband and sons.
The Turning Point (Ruth 1:6-18)
Throughout this section there are a few items to bear in mind.
First, examine verses 6-22 and find the word that is repeated often. Take a moment and do this before you continue reading.
The word is return. There are three additional phrases in the passage that are synonyms to return: gone back, turned back, and brought me back. These repeated words and phrases are a cue from the author that this is a part of the theme for this portion.
Another thing to note in this passage is what we might call God’s quiet sovereignty. We see it first in 1:6 when Naomi hears in the fields of Moab that God had visited His people and there was food in the land again. We also see this in how Naomi talks about the situations that she has faced in life. She credits them as coming to her from the hand of the Lord (1:13).
God’s quiet sovereignty is a key theme throughout Ruth that we want to keep in the back of our minds.
The Center of the Passage
The crescendo of the passage is Ruth’s confession of faith (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth, the Moabite, is returning to her creator. She lived in a foreign land and served a false god, but now she is following Naomi to the Promised Land and says she will serve her God and Naomi’s people will be her people.
Again, we see God’s quiet sovereignty at work. God used the events of Naomi’s life so she would meet Ruth and that ultimately Ruth would come to faith in the Lord.
Ruth uses highly covenantal language in this passage. See Exodus 6:1-7 for more context.
Resolution (Ruth 1:19-22)
Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem at the time of the barley harvest. When they arrived the whole town was buzzing with excitement.
Naomi retells, in a round about way, the events of her life since they left and went to Moab (1:20-22).
The resolution then leads to the new setting. They returned during the barley harvest and we will learn more about it during our next time together.
Tying Everything Together
To help us interpret this section we need to ask how do we see God’s fingerprints throughout this? How is His quiet sovereignty showing up?
Once you understand that we need to ask how we see God’s quiet sovereignty in our own lives.
Additionally, we can learn from Ruth what faithful love looks like. She loves Naomi. We will see later that her deep love is shown by her actions. What can you apply to your own life based on Ruth’s faithful love?
- How can you keep the structure of narrative in mind as you read and study?
- As you observe the text, what applications can you make to your life?
- What observations do you have about the center of this passage? (Ruth 1:16-17)