A Study of Ruth Teaches Us to Seek to Care for the Poor and Vulnerable
Message Discussion

A Study of Ruth Teaches Us to Seek to Care for the Poor and Vulnerable

September 14, 2019 | Gregg Caruso
“Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another – that’s evil.”  — Zechariah 7:9-10 (MSG)

Sadly, we still live in an age of unprecedented exploitation of women. However, the situation may have been just as bad or even worse in the time of Ruth. Women were property, and if they couldn’t produce male offspring, they were often discarded or at least supplemented with other women who could.

Ruth was barren in her 10-year marriage to Mahlon. To make matters worse, when she arrived in Bethlehem with Naomi, she was also an emigrant and poor. In the ancient world, wealth and nationality were the primary contributors to quality of life.  In many ways, not much seems to have changed…

Ruth would have been an easy target for exploitation, but instead God showed His mercy through a godly, benevolent, and wealthy man named Boaz, who generously provides her with ample opportunity to work, guarantees protection, and ensures that her needs are met the same way the needs of his own workers are (Ruth 2:8–9).

When Boaz finally speaks to Ruth directly, he shows no indication of social superiority. He’s very kind and respectful, acknowledging her difficult transition and situation.  Even though Ruth is an emigrant, he comes alongside to arrange a pathway for her to succeed. This manifestation of God’s love and (hesed) kindness through Boaz serves as a model for us.  It seems that Boaz treated everyone with respect and fairness, bestowing a special measure of grace on one who needed it most.

We need to study Ruth because it shows us how to protect the weak and vulnerable who are image-bearers of God.  The book of Ruth reminds the Church of our call to engage in the lives of people at risk for exploitation.


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