Today’s reading: Ruth, Psalm 35
“. . .the book of Judges bears witness that, even when people are running amuck, God can still be at work in the background.”
Remember that sentence from yesterday’s blog? Today’s reading brings us perhaps the most important story of exactly what God was up to during this period in Israel’s history. Its characters are not flashy. They are not valiant warriors or charismatic leaders. They are not egotistical or psychotic. They are humble, ordinary folk who demonstrate integrity, understanding, and compassion–characteristics we haven’t seen very often in recent days.
The book of Ruth begins this way: “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. . .” The story then whisks us away to Moab, where one Israelite man and his family have fled in search of food and shelter. Don’t forget that earlier in Judges, the Moabites were identified as enemies of Israel (Judges 3:28). It is of no small consequence that God chooses to employ Ruth, a Moabite woman, as a central character in this story. We are getting an early sign here that God’s plan will not be limited just to the Israelites–God is free to work through anyone who will place themselves in God’s hands. Ruth’s response in the opening chapter to her mother-in-law Naomi states her resolve clearly: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16)
The way that Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz all demonstrate care for one another is both uplifting and refreshing, especially after the tales of violence we have recently endured. Then, at the end of the story, we are let in on the surprise produced by the union of a humble Israelite man and a trustworthy Moabite woman:
“They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.”