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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Ruth: a woman of noble character

I haven’t always been keen on being a woman. It has meant so very many things to me that I really did not like. I didn’t like that it meant I was second best, or third or fourth or fifth best either. I didn’t like that it meant I couldn’t do anything I wanted. I didn’t like that it meant I was supposed to submit to arrogant and selfish men. Honestly, I disliked being a woman so much that I found myself wanting to be an arrogant and selfish man myself.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I stumble upon things in life that are entirely different than I thought they were before I stumbled upon them. It has been no different in my recent pondering of what God’s view of a woman of noble character is.

Over the course of the last dozen years or so, I have begun to dislike being a woman less and less. Largely because I learned the truth about what God created woman to be. At this point in my life, given the opportunity of being a man or even playing the role of a man, “Um, no thanks. I like being a woman.”

So many people have told me really screwed up things that are in the Bible, or rather that they imagine are in the Bible. I often wonder why they twist it so badly. What personal gain do they get from it?

One of the things I have been taught is that the reason it was okay for Ruth, David’s gramma, to take risks was because she was simply listening to an older woman. See, she was a nice and submissive woman, and that is what made her noble.

Well, I won’t argue that she was submissive because I would hate to discredit her character, but I would like to submit to you that she was no more submissive than Boaz. Both simply being submitted to the Mosaic law.

Recently I began studying the book of Ruth. One of the first things that stood out to me was how Ruth did not take the advice of others. Had she always listened to Naomi, she would not have become David’s grandmother. No, she would have returned to idol worship and died a heathen in a heathen country. The God of Israel would have remained unknown to her.

This has had me considering that while a woman of noble character does most definitely seek advice and remain submitted to authority, as does a man of noble character; yet she also takes the instruction she is given with a grain of salt. If it conflicts with what God has asked her to do, she must toss it out and follow God instead – no matter who the earthly authority is or what they have to say about her decision to follow God.

Another part of Ruth’s character captured my attention. Her willingness to commit is phenomenal. The commitment she makes to her mother-in-law is stronger than today’s wedding vows. No, I am not talking about the divorce rate; but the words we utter on the wedding day. Consider:

Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me be it ever so severely if even death separates you and me.

Now I am not advocating we ought to change our wedding vows. I very much believe per Jesus’ words that marriage does not exist in heaven. That being said, it did make me contemplate how willing I am to have a relationship cost me. When I love someone, how much pain am I willing to go through before I throw in the towel?

I know Ruth likely knew Naomi for somewhere in between two and ten years when she made this vow to her; but let’s fact it, according to the details of the story she was making the vow to an old, bitter woman. Someone who felt sorry for herself and saw no hope in the future. Someone who blamed God for the troubles in her life and seemed to have no interest in counting her blessings. (In fact, one of her greatest blessings was her daughter-in-law who was better to her than seven sons, yet she initially tried to get rid of her!) Ruth must have experienced some pain from this relationship.

I have been told that in the Hebrew Bible, Ruth follows the book of Proverbs. This simple story answers the closing question of Proverbs, “A wife of noble character who can find?”

I admire Ruth’s tenacity and her willingness to love what was unlovely, but overall the story reminds me of God’s faithfulness. Our unfaithfulness does not change His faithfulness. He took a heathen and a bitter old woman and put their stories in the lineage of Christ – right along side those rebellious Israelite kings who burnt their children alive in sacrifice to foreign idols.

A God who has more grace who can find?

When was the last time you realized you had previously entirely misunderstood a Scripture passage? How do you interact with commitment and sacrifice in your relationships?

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