Lesson 20: “All the City … Doth Know That Thou Art a Virtuous Woman”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 92–95


Purpose

To encourage class members to emulate the righteous qualities of Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Ruth 1–2. After her husband dies, Ruth leaves her home to go to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. In Bethlehem, Ruth works in the fields of Boaz, who treats her kindly.

    2. b.

      Ruth 3–4. Ruth lies at the feet of Boaz, and he promises to marry her. They marry and have a child. Their descendants include King David and Jesus Christ.

    3. c.

      1 Samuel 1; 2:1–2, 20–21. Hannah is blessed with a son, whom she lends to the Lord as she promised. She is later blessed with more children.

  2. 2.

    If you use the attention activity, bring a piece of paper and a pen or pencil for each class member.

  3. 3.

    If Old Testament Video Presentations (53224) is available, you may want to show “Hannah’s Faith,” a three-minute segment, as part of the lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Give each class member a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.

Explain that although the book of Ruth is brief, it shows clearly that Ruth was a righteous woman. Then ask the following questions and have each class member write the answers on his or her piece of paper:

  • If your character were to be described in just a few words, what would you want those words to be? What is one thing you can do this week to come closer to matching that desired description?

Explain that this lesson will discuss the righteous qualities of Ruth and two other women, Naomi and Hannah.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Ruth leaves her home to go to Bethlehem with Naomi.

Teach and discuss Ruth 1–2.

  • Why did Naomi and her family go to Moab to live? (See Ruth 1:1–2.) Why did Naomi return to Bethlehem after the deaths of her husband and sons? (See Ruth 1:6. Bethlehem was her home, and the famine there was over.)

  • While living in Moab, Naomi’s sons had married Orpah and Ruth, who were women of Moab (Ruth 1:4). How did Naomi show love and concern for her daughters-in-law when they offered to return to Bethlehem with her? (See Ruth 1:7–13.) What can we learn from Naomi’s concern for her daughters-in-law that can help us in our family relationships?

  • One of Naomi’s daughters-in-law, Orpah, returned to her family, but the other, Ruth, insisted on going to Bethlehem with Naomi. What can we learn about Ruth from her promise to Naomi in Ruth 1:16–17? (She was loving, loyal, and willing to sacrifice.) How can we show greater loyalty in our families? How can we show greater selflessness, as Ruth did?

  • What did Ruth give up by going to Bethlehem with Naomi? (Answers may include her homeland, family, friends, and religion.) What did Ruth gain by going with Naomi? (The gospel of Jesus Christ; see the first additional teaching idea.) What can we learn from Ruth about making sacrifices for the gospel?

  • After going to Bethlehem, what did Ruth do to provide food for herself and Naomi? (See Ruth 2:2. You may need to explain that a gleaner was a person who was allowed to gather and keep the grain that was left in the fields after the harvest.) Whose fields did Ruth glean in? (See Ruth 2:1, 3.) Why was Boaz impressed by Ruth? (See Ruth 2:5–7, 11. Boaz saw that Ruth was a hard worker. He also knew of all that Ruth had done for Naomi.) How did Boaz show kindness to Ruth? (See Ruth 2:8–9, 14–16.)

  • How did Ruth show her selflessness when she returned from gleaning? (See Ruth 2:14, 17–18. Ruth brought the grain that she had gleaned home to Naomi, and she also brought Naomi some food she had saved from her noon meal.) How have you been blessed by other people’s selfless acts?

2. Ruth and Boaz marry and have a child.

Teach and discuss Ruth 3–4.

  • Naomi counseled Ruth to perform a ritual that she hoped would result in the marriage of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 3:1–5). By lying at the feet of Boaz, Ruth would be, in effect, proposing marriage to him. What did Ruth’s obedience to Naomi’s counsel reveal about her feelings toward Naomi?

  • How did Boaz respond when he woke up and found Ruth lying at his feet? (See Ruth 3:8–15. Note that when Ruth said, “Spread … thy skirt over thine handmaid,” she meant “guard me, protect me, care for me.”) Under what condition did Boaz agree to marry Ruth? (See Ruth 3:11–13. Explain that when Ruth’s husband died, his nearest male relative was supposed to marry Ruth. Boaz was not the nearest male relative, but he agreed to marry Ruth if the nearest male relative did not wish to do so.)

  • What was Ruth’s reputation among the people of Bethlehem? (See Ruth 3:11.) How did this reputation benefit her in her relationship with Boaz? Why is it important that our family members, friends, and neighbors know what we believe in and what values we strive to uphold?

  • What did Boaz do after promising to marry Ruth? (See Ruth 3:15; 4:1–8.) How did Boaz show that he was a man of integrity? (See Ruth 4:9–10, 13. He carried out his promise to Ruth and honored his social obligation to her late husband.)

  • What famous king of Israel was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz? (King David was one of their great-grandsons; see Ruth 4:17, 21–22.) Who else was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz? (Jesus Christ; see Matthew 1:5–16; John 7:42.)

  • Elder Thomas S. Monson called Ruth a heroine (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 156; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 108). In what ways do you think Ruth is a heroine? (Elder Monson said Ruth is an example of fidelity and loyalty. Class members may suggest additional ways Ruth is a heroine.)

3. Hannah is blessed with a son, whom she lends to the Lord as she promised.

Teach and discuss 1 Samuel 1.

  • Hannah, wife of Elkanah, was childless. Each year at the temple she wept and prayed for a son (1 Samuel 1:1–7). What promise did Hannah make to the Lord in 1 Samuel 1:11? What can we learn about Hannah from this promise? (She was a woman of great faith; class members may suggest additional answers.)

  • Who witnessed Hannah praying in the temple? (See 1 Samuel 1:9–12.) What did Eli tell Hannah about her promise to the Lord? (See 1 Samuel 1:17.) How did Hannah feel after hearing Eli’s words? (See 1 Samuel 1:18.) How can Church leaders help us when we are troubled?

  • Hannah told Eli that she had “poured out [her] soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15). How can we make our personal prayers more sincere and meaningful?

  • What happened in response to Hannah’s promise to the Lord? (See 1 Samuel 1:19–20.) How did Hannah keep her promise after Samuel was born? (See 1 Samuel 1:21–28.) What promises do we make to the Lord? (Answers may include the covenants we make with him at baptism and in the temple.) What can we learn from Hannah to help us be diligent in keeping these promises?

  • How do you think Hannah felt about giving Samuel to the service of the Lord? What does the Lord ask us to give him? What should be our attitude about giving to him? (We should give willingly, remembering that everything we have comes from the Lord.)

  • When Hannah brought Samuel to the temple, she made offerings and sang praises to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24–25, 28; 2:1–2). Why is it important to remember to thank the Lord for the blessings he gives us?

  • Hannah waited many years before being blessed with children (1 Samuel 1:2; 2:21). What other Biblical characters were blessed for patiently waiting on the Lord? What does the world say regarding when we should receive the things we want? What does the Lord say? How can we learn to wait patiently for blessings that will come in the Lord’s time?

Conclusion

  • What righteous qualities have been exemplified by Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah? (List these qualities on the chalkboard.)

Encourage class members to emulate the righteous qualities demonstrated by Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah. Testify that developing these qualities will bring us closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Acceptance of converted Gentiles into the covenant of Abraham

Explain that Ruth was not an Israelite by birth. When she left Moab to go to Bethlehem with Naomi, she also left her religion and followed the God of Israel, telling Naomi, “Thy God [shall be] my God” (Ruth 1:16). By marrying Boaz, Ruth became part of the royal line of Israel, an ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ.

  • How does Ruth’s conversion and acceptance into the house of Israel reflect Christ’s attitude toward those who wish to join his Church? (See 2 Nephi 26:33; Alma 19:36; 3 Nephi 21:6.) How can we help new converts feel welcome in the Church?

2. Judging appropriately

  • As Eli the priest watched Hannah praying in the temple, he misjudged her, thinking “she had been drunken” (1 Samuel 1:13). What are the dangers of judging people solely on the basis of appearance? How can we avoid this kind of judgment?

  • President Hugh B. Brown said, “If I make errors [in judging people,] I want them to be on the side of mercy” (in Eugene E. Campbell and Richard D. Poll, Hugh B. Brown: His Life and Thought [1975], 225). How can we apply this principle?

3. Resolving worries and troubles by going to the temple

  • Where did Hannah make her promise to the Lord? (See 1 Samuel 1:9–11.) How can going to the temple help us with our worries and troubles?

    Elder John A. Widtsoe said: “I believe that the busy person … who has his worries and troubles, can solve his problems better and more quickly in the house of the Lord than anywhere else. If he will [do] the temple work for himself and for his dead, he will confer a mighty blessing upon those who have gone before, and … a blessing will come to him, for at the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple will come to him, as a revelation, the solution of the problems that vex his life. That is the gift that comes to those who enter the temple properly” (quoted by David B. Haight, in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 76; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 61).