The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday is from the Book of Ruth. The text is Ruth 1:1-19a and begins by setting the time frame for this well-known story. The Book of Ruth begins, “And it was in the days when the judges were judging…” Historically, the story of Ruth belongs during the period of the Judges which has the appearance of the wild west in American history. Every man did what was right in his own eyes.

Elimelech, Naomi and their sons leave Bethlehem during a famine and journey to Moab. Note how often this kind of movement occurs in the earlier history of the Old Testament. Each patriarch made a similar journey by reason of famine. This journey, the death of Elimelech, the marriage of his two sons and their subsequent deaths, set up the story of Ruth which begins in verse 6.

The difficulty faced by the preacher with these types of texts is looking for a preachable theme amid a historical narrative. In the case of this pericope, one needs to look toward the end of the text (vs. 16-17) and Ruth’s commitment to her mother-in-law. This is much more than clinging to her out of love and devotion—this is actually a confession of faith on the part of Ruth. By staying with Naomi, Ruth is agreeing to live and do as she does, to worship and believe as she believes. Thus, Ruth agrees to dwell in the Promised Land, agrees to be a part of the covenantal people, and confesses she believes in the same God. “Your God will be my God.” In the story of Ruth there is a strong focus on faithfulness, but not just to Naomi and later Boaz, rather her faithfulness is directed toward the LORD God.

Another thing to consider when preaching Ruth is the purpose of the entire book. This is more than a nice, heart-warming story. This is a narrative which helps define the Messianic line from Judah to David. Ruth has a place in the preservation of this line. Indeed, the Book of Ruth is ALL ABOUT DAVID! Thus, the book ends in a very unique way—the last word of the book is a proper name. This is the only text in Scripture to end this way, and that proper name is David!

In the narrative of Ruth there is a strong focus on faithfulness, but not just to Naomi and later Boaz. Rather, her faithfulness is directed toward the LORD God.

1:1 שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים (she-Fot hash-sho-fe-Tim) “Judges were judging”

וַיֵּלֶךְ (vai-Ye-lech) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, imperfect: “to go; to walk; to journey”

לָגוּר (la-Gur) root: גור (goor) Qal, infinitive: “to sojourn; to dwell as an alien”

1:2 וַיָּבֹאוּ (vai-ya-Vo-u) root: בוא (bo) Qal: “to come; to arrive”

1:3 וַיָּמָת: (vai-Ya-mot) root: מות (mooth) Qal: “to die”

וַתִּשָּׁאֵר (vat-tish-sha-Er) root: שׁאר (shaw-ar) Qal: “to remain; to be left”

1:4 וַיֵּשְׁבוּ: (vai-Ye-she-vu) root: ישׁב (yaw-shab) Qal: “to dwell; to live”

1:5 יְלָדֶיהָ> (ye-la-Dei-ha) Plural with suffix: “her sons”

1:6 וַתָּקָם (vat-Ta-kom) root: קום (koom) Qal: “to arise; to rise up”

וְכַלֹּתֶיהָ (ve-chal-lo-Tei-ha) from: כלה (kal-law) “daughter-in-law”

פָקַד (fa-Kad) “to visit”

לָתֵת (la-Tet) root: נתֵן (naw-than) Qal, infinitive: “to give”

1:7 וַתֵּצֵא: (vat-te-Tze) root: יצא (yaw-tsaw) Qal: “to go out”

לָשׁוּב (la-Shuv) root: שׁוב (shoob) Qal, infinitive: “to return”

1:8 לֵכְנָה (Le-che-nah) root: הלך (haw-lak) Qal, imperative: “to go” Go!

וְעִמָּדִי (ve-im-ma-Di) from: עִמּI (eem) “with” “with me”

1:9 וּמְצֶאןָ (u-me-Tze-na) root: מצא (maw-tsaw) Qal: “to find”

מְנוּחָה. (me-nu-Chah) “a place of rest; a place of quiet; a place of protection”

וַתִּשַּׁק (vat-tish-Shak) root: נשׁק (naw-shak) Qal: “to kiss”

1:11 בְּמֵעַי. (be-me-Ai) from: מעה (may-aw) “womb; place of procreation”

1:12 זָקַנְתִּי (za-Kan-ti) root: זקן (zaw-kane) Qal: “to be old”

תִקְוָה (tik-Vah) “hope”

1:13 הֲלָהֵן] (ha-la-Hen) “therefore (with an interrogative)”

תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה (te-sab-Be-re-nah) root: שׂבר (saw-bar) Piel: “hope; wait”

תֵּעָגֵנָה (te-a-Ge-nah) root: עגן (aw-gan) Niphal: “to hinder; to refrain; to shut oneself off”

מַר; (mar) root: מרר (maw-rar) Qal: “to be bitter; it is bitter”

1:14 לַחֲמוֹתָהּ (la-cha-mo-Tah) from: חמוֹת (kham-oth) “mother-in-law; husband’s mother”

דָּבְקָה (Da-ve-kah) root: דבק (daw-bak) Qal: “to cling to; to cleave to; to stick to”

1:15 יְבִמְתֵּךְ (ye-vim-Tech) “sister-in-law; widow of the brother of one’s husband”

1:16 תִּפְגְּעִי (tif-ge-i) root: פגע (paw-gah) Qal: “to go pleading; to entreat; to urge; to press someone”

תָּלִינִי אָלִין (ta-Li-ni a-Lin) root: לִין (loon) Qal: “to lodge; to spend the night” “(Where) you lodge, I will lodge”

1:17 אֶקָּבֵר (ek-ka-Ver) root: קבר (kaw-bar) “to bury”

יַפְרִיד (yaf-Rid) root: פרד (paw-rad) Hiphil: “to separate; to make/cause a division”

1:18 מִתְאַמֶּצֶת (mit-am-Me-tzet) root: אמץ (aw-mats) Hithpael: “to be determined; to persist”

וַתֶּחְדַּל: (vat-tech-Dal) root: חדל (khaw-dal) Qal: “to refrain; to cease doing; to leave off”

1:19 וַתֵּהֹם: (vat-te-Hom) root: הום (hoom) Niphal: “to be stirred up; to go wild; to be in a stir”


Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Ruth 1:1-19a

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Ruth 1:1-19a.