I signed up for this elective expecting some good teaching- but as I sat in that third row, second seat on the left, notebook and fuchsia pen in hand, I experienced awesome preaching.
We had two hours to go through the book of Ruth- beginning to end. (Maybe that's why my pen was smoking...) Pastor Smith divided it up into four "Acts" and proceeded to point out the lessons, themes, character qualities and changes- he showed us what a true literary masterpiece this tiny book of the Bible is!
I am not going to make a full dissertation on the talk (though I have enough notes that I probably could) but
I would like to share one of the points that really spoke to my heart- just giving me unspeakable joy and inspiration.
Ruth was a "woman of excellence". Boaz calls her such much later in the story, but she exemplifies the qualities that makes up a woman of excellence much earlier...
Ruth was a Moabitess, she would have grown up with her own gods, laws, and customs. But yet when she came with Naomi to the land of Israel she learned the law of the God of Israel- enough to
ask Naomi if she could go out and glean among the fields.(Deuteronomy 24:19)
Another thing to note-why did Ruth ask Naomi if she could go glean? Why wouldn't she just go out and do it? She was probably at least 23 or 24 years old at that point- she was an adult- why didn't she just go? I believe she was trying to show Naomi, as a mother-in-law, honor by making sure that her actions would be pleasing before she committed them. (Which would go with the law of the ten commandments, "Honor your father and mother...")
This goes hand in hand with the fact that she, through her actions, had clearly made the God of Israel her God, and it was not mere repetition. If it was, Boaz would not have said, "May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have some to seek refuge." (Ruth 2:12- emphasis added) Ruth clearly demonstrated her love of the Lord, and her trust in Him- her abandonment of the worthless gods of her heritage, and full embrace of the one true God.
When Boaz later calls her a "woman of excellence" it is in the context of "for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence." (Ruth 3:11- emphasis added) A reputation of excellence...
Oh, may I be that- a woman of excellence whose reputation glows with the love of Christ and His word!
...to be continued.