The story of how Ruth and Boaz came to be married shows the power of living a virtuous life. Ruth’s love and care for Naomi impressed Boaz and the people of Bethlehem and showed her qualities of compassion and virtue. Boaz showed compassion on Ruth by taking her as his wife and creating a covenant family.
Ask the students:
What qualities will you look for in the person you want to marry someday?
You may want to ask students to write these qualities on the board. Ask follow-up questions to students to help them explain why they think these qualities are important.
Invite students, as they study Ruth 3–4, to look for qualities that they hope to find in a future spouse, as well as qualities they would like to cultivate in themselves.
Remind students that Ruth was a widow who chose to travel to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. There, Ruth and Naomi were struggling to gather enough food to live when they were assisted by Boaz, a relative of Ruth’s deceased husband.
Invite a student to read Ruth 3:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Naomi wanted for Ruth.
What did Naomi want for Ruth?
What quality did Naomi demonstrate through her concern for her daughter-in-law?
Explain that under the custom and cultural laws of the Israelites, if a husband died childless, it was the duty of the husband’s brother or nearest male relative to marry the widow and raise up children to the dead man’s name (see Deuteronomy 25:5–10; see also Bible Dictionary, “Levirate marriage”). Naomi was suggesting that Ruth marry Boaz.
Invite a student to read Ruth 3:3–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Ruth was to let Boaz know she was interested in marrying him. (You may need to explain that the threshing floor was where the grain was separated from the rest of the stem and the chaff after the harvest.)
How might you have felt if you had been in Ruth’s situation?
Summarize Ruth 3:6–8 by explaining that Ruth did as Naomi suggested. While Boaz slept next to the grain, Ruth lay down at his feet.
Invite a young man and a young woman to come to the front of the class and read aloud the conversation between Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 3:9–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Boaz reacted to Ruth’s request for marriage. (After they read verse 9, you might want to explain that the phrase “spread thy skirt over thine handmaid” means that Ruth was asking him to take her under his protection and provide for her. It was Ruth’s way of proposing marriage to Boaz.)
What admirable characteristic did Boaz and the people notice in Ruth? (Ruth was virtuous.)
Have the two students at the front of the class return to their seats. Write the word virtuous on the board.
What do you think it means to be virtuous?
How will others view us if we live virtuously, as Ruth did?
What blessings did Ruth receive because she chose to live virtuously?
What principle can we learn from Ruth’s example of living virtuously? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we live virtuously, then we can have faith the Lord will bless us.)
What are some decisions you can make and actions you can take that can help you be virtuous?
Why is it important to look for virtue in the people you date and may one day marry?
Invite a student to read Ruth 3:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Boaz could not immediately promise to marry Ruth.
What did Boaz need to do before he could marry Ruth? (According to the law of Moses, Boaz needed to give the nearest kinsman the option of marrying Ruth.)
Summarize Ruth 4:1–10 by explaining that when the kinsman, the nearest living relative of Ruth’s deceased husband, arrived the next day, he told Boaz that he did not want to marry Ruth because he was not willing to raise up children with her and “mar [his] own inheritance” (Ruth 4:6). After the kinsman declined, Boaz agreed to marry Ruth.
What qualities do you see in Boaz?
Summarize Ruth 4:11–16 by explaining that Ruth and Boaz married and had a child named Obed, who was the grandfather of King David.
Explain that one of the prominent themes of the account of Ruth is that of redemption, which relates to all of us. Ruth was a foreigner and a poor and childless widow, which left her in poverty with no source of support. Nevertheless, Ruth faithfully accepted the gospel and joined the Lord’s covenant people. Though she could not deliver herself from her destitute condition, she was ultimately “redeemed” by her kinsman Boaz. Because of Ruth’s faith-driven actions and the kindness of her redeemer, Ruth married again, received an inheritance, and was blessed with children. Given this theme of redemption, it is interesting to note that Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel and of all mankind, was one of Ruth’s descendants (see Matthew 1:5–16).
In what ways is Ruth’s redemption symbolic of our redemption? (Ruth faced complete poverty and had no source of support. Nevertheless, she faithfully accepted the gospel. Though she could not deliver herself, she was ultimately “redeemed” by her kinsman Boaz. Like Ruth, we cannot save ourselves but must rely on a Redeemer who is able to lift us from our fallen state.)
You may want to conclude by sharing your feelings about the power of redemption and the good that comes from living a virtuous and unselfish life.
Ask students if they have ever wondered why the Lord does not always immediately answer our prayers. Explain that in 1 Samuel, students will learn about Hannah, a righteous woman whose diligent prayers to the Lord led her to become the mother of one of the most influential prophets of the Old Testament. Ask students if they can discern when God is speaking to them. (His “voice” often comes to us as a feeling.) Explain that Samuel, at the young age of 10, heard a voice and was unsure of its origin. He then learned to recognize and obey the Lord’s voice, and he became a mighty prophet in Israel.