Key People


Ruth / Naomi

The stories of several people in the Bible are woven together so closely that they are almost inseparable. We know more about their relationship than we know about them as individuals. And in an age that worships individualism, their stories become helpful models of good relationship. Naomi and Ruth are beautiful examples of this blending of lives. Their cultures, family backgrounds, and ages were very different. As mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, they probably has as many opportunities for tension as for tenderness. And yet they were bound to each other.

They shared deep sorrow, great affection for each other, and an overriding commitment to the God of Israel. And yet, as much as they depended on each other, they also gave each other freedom in their commitment to one another. Naomi was willing to let Ruth return to her family. Ruth was willing to leave her homeland to go to Israel. Naomi even helped arrange Ruth’s marriage to Boaz although it would change their relationship.

God was at the center of their intimate communication. Ruth came to know the God of Israel through Naomi. The older woman allowed Ruth to see, hear, and feel all the joy and anguish of her relationship to God. How often do you feel that your thoughts and questions about God should be left out of a close relationship? How often do you share your unedited thoughts about God with your spouse or friends? Sharing openly about our relationship with God can bring depth and intimacy to our relationship with others.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • A relationship where the greatest bond was faith in God

    • A relationship of strong mutual commitment

    • A relationship in which each person tried to do what was best for the other

Lesson from their life

    • God’s living presence in a relationship overcomes differences that might otherwise create division and disharmony.

Vital statistics

    • Where: Moab, Bethlehem

    • Occupation: Wives, widows

    • Relatives: Naomi’s husband: Elimelech. Ruth’s mother-in-law: Naomi. Naomi’s son: Mahlon, Kilion. Naomi’s other daughter-in-law: Orpah. Ruth’s second husband: Boaz. Ruth’s son: Obed.

Key verses

    • “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’ ” (Ruth 1:16, 17).

Their story is told in the book of Ruth. Ruth is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5.


Heroes are easier to admire than to define. They are seldom conscious of their moments of heroism, and others may not recognize their acts as heroic. Herodes simply do the right thing at the right time, whether or not they realize the impact their action will have. Perhaps the one quality they share is a tendency to think of others before they think of themselves. Boaz was a hero.

In this dealings with other people, he was always sensitive to their needs. His words to his employee, relatives, and others were colored with kindness. He offered help openly, not grudgingly. When he discovered who Ruth was, he took several steps to help her because she had been faithful to his relative Naomi. When Naomi advised Ruth to request his protection, he was ready to marry her if the legal complication could be worked out.

Boaz not only did what was right; he also did it right away. Of course he could not foresee all that his actions would accomplish. He could not have know that the child he would have by Ruth would be an ancestor of both David and Jesus. He only met the challenge of taking the right action in the situation facing him.

We are faced with this challenge in our daily choices. Like Naomi’s nearer relative, we are often more concerned with making the easy choice than with making the right one. Yet more often than not, the right choice is clear. Ask God to give you as special awareness in your choices today as well as renewed commitment to make the right ones.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • A man of his word

    • Sensitive to those in need, caring for his workes

    • A keen sense of responsibility, integrity

    • A successful and shrewd businessman

Lessons from his life

    • It can be heroic to do what must be done and to do it right

    • God often uses little decisions to carry out his big plan

Vital statistics

    • Where: Bethlehem

    • Occupation: Wealthy farmer

    • Relatives: Distant cousins: Elimelech, Naomi. Wife: Ruth. Son: Obed.

Key verse

    • “I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she con have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today” (Ruth 4:10).

His story is told in the book of Ruth. He is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5.