Ruth 1–4

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 117–18


The story of Ruth took place during the period of the judges in Israel, at a time when there was peace between the Israelites and the Moabites (see Bible Dictionary, “Moab,” p. 733). The events happened in Moab and the area of Israel occupied by the tribe of Judah.

In contrast to the book of Judges, which contains many sad stories of apostasy in Israel, the story of Ruth is an account of faith, devotion, and Christlike charity. It reminds us that individual goodness can exist even in a wicked world.

The story of Ruth encourages us to make good decisions and face challenges with courage. If we do, all things will eventually work to our good. There is also an underlying theme of redemption in her story. Ruth was a foreigner. She was poor, a widow, and had no children. Through Boaz, who “redeemed” her (see Ruth 4:4–10), Ruth was fully accepted as an Israelite, became a woman of some wealth, entered the covenant of marriage again, and had children. Given this theme of redemption, it is interesting to note that Jesus Christ was one of her descendants (see Matthew 1:5–16).

Sister Aileen H. Clyde, who was then a counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, noted: “Ruth confidently met hardships not uncommon in our time—the death of a loved one, loneliness in a new place, and the need to work hard for her bread. Her small efforts, linked significantly to a later great event, tell me that each of us can take seriously the importance of our daily lives and decisions as we choose to follow God” (“Confidence through Conversion,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 89).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Ruth 1–2. Those who are committed to the Lord show their commitment by acting with humility, courage, and kindness to others. (15–25 minutes)

To help students become acquainted with the story in Ruth 1–2, write the following names on the board: Ruth, Elimelech, Mahlon, Chilion, Naomi, Orpah, and Boaz. Have the students quickly read Ruth 1–2 and tell who each person was. Write a brief description next to each name on the board. Use the commentary for Ruth 1–4 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (pp. 261–65) for help as needed.

Invite two students to role play the parts of Ruth and Orpah in front of the class. Ask them to act in character and have a conversation as they imagine it would have happened between these two sisters-in-law as they decided whether to go to a foreign land with their mother-in-law. Have the rest of the class think about what they would say if they were Ruth or Orpah. Ask:

  • What motivated Ruth to go with Naomi?

  • What was the real source of Ruth’s commitment?

Have the students show scriptural references that give evidence for their answers.

Ask students:

  • Why would it have been hard for Ruth to do what she did?

  • What was her life like in Israel? (She was poor and had to glean fields for food.)

  • In Ruth 2, what do we learn about Ruth from what she did to support herself and her mother-in-law?

  • What do we learn about the kind of man Boaz was?

  • What are some of the challenges that converts today have as they accept the gospel?

  • How can they use Ruth’s example as they make these changes in their lives?

  • How is Boaz an example of the already-converted Church member in the way he treated this “foreigner” to the gospel?

  • How can we apply his example with investigators and new converts to the Church?

Read with students the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:19, emphasizing the phrase “no more strangers and foreigners.”

Ask students:

  • Why do you think the story of Ruth was preserved for us in the Bible?

  • What qualities did Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz have that you would like to make a part of your lives?

Ruth 1–4. As we put God first in our lives and think of others before ourselves, we experience greater blessings and happiness. (25–30 minutes)

Draw two trees on the board. Label the trunk of one tree Selfish and the trunk of the other Selfless. Ask students what those two words mean. Discuss answers to the following questions:

  • What words would you use to describe the fruits of each of those trees?

  • Which tree would represent Samson’s life?

  • What were the fruits of his selfishness?

  • Which tree would represent Ruth’s life?

  • What were the fruits of her selflessness?

Explain to students that in contrast to many of the stories in Judges, the book of Ruth contains the story of people who were selfless—they thought of the needs of others before they thought of themselves.

Have students read Matthew 22:37–39 and identify how we are to love God and others. Ask: If we want to be truly selfless, whose needs should we consider before our own? Have them read Ruth 1:8–19 and find phrases and verses that show how Ruth applied those principles of love in her life.

Draw the following diagram on the board or make a handout for the students, leaving off the answers. Have the students read the verses and under each name write who that person was concerned about.

Who Were They Concerned About?






Ruth 1:11–13


Orpah and Ruth



Ruth 1:14–18





Ruth 2:1–10





Ruth 2:11–12





Ruth 2:13–17





Ruth 2:18





Ruth 3:1





Ruth 3:2–11

Naomi and Elimelech




Ruth 3:12–18



Ruth and Naomi


Ruth 4:6





Ruth 4:9–10





Ruth 4:13–17





Ask students what “fruits” came into the life of Ruth and others because they lived selfless lives. (For example, love, companionship, marriage, children, and having the necessities of life.)

Read Ruth 4:18–21 and note that King David was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz. Read Luke 3:23–32 and note that Jesus Christ was born through this line. Ask students: What events in Jesus’ life illustrate His selflessness? How appropriate it was for Him to be a descendant of this selfless couple!

Ruth 1–4. The story of Ruth and Boaz can be seen as a type of our receiving redemption through the Savior. (10–15 minutes)

After studying the story of Ruth, ask students to think about how Ruth can represent all of us and Boaz can be a type of Jesus Christ. Have them review Ruth 1–4 and look for and write down evidence of this in what Ruth and Boaz said and did. Invite a few students to share what they wrote.