The characteristics of Ruth in the Bible makes for an exciting study! If there was ever a Hallmark-worthy story in the Bible, this is it.
The story has three main characters: Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. I will not talk much about Naomi here as I have dedicated an entire post to her.
Background of Ruth in the Bible
The story of Ruth is set during the time of the judges. There was no king in Israel and leadership was dependent on the judges that God selected.
Two of the most popular judges in Scripture were Deborah and Samson.
At the time this story is unfolding, Israel had strayed from God’s will. They were being punished with a famine.
Summary of the story of Ruth
It is this famine that forces Elimelech to take his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chillion, to leave Bethlehem and live in Moab, a pagan community.
While in Moab, the boys get married. Mahlon was married to Ruth while Chillion was married to Orpah.
But tragedy struck the family. First, Elimelech dies then both Mahlon and Chillion die.
The men leave three grieving widows behind.
Naomi decided to move back to Bethlehem to be near family. She urges Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab and find new husbands. Orpah decided to stay but Ruth decided to go with Naomi and start over in a new place.
When Ruth gets to Bethlehem, he decided to go to the fields to pick up left over grains for them to grind into flour to use for good.
While working, Ruth catches Boaz’s eye. He immediately takes to her and starts to protect her. He also made sure she got a little bit more than everyone else.
Soon, Naomi becomes aware that Boaz has a thing for Ruth. Naomi organized a plan to let Boaz know that Ruth is open for marriage.
Because Ruth was a childless widow of a Hebrew male, she was entitled to remarriage from a member of Mahlon’s family.
Boaz was one such person but there was another who came before Boaz.
Boaz therefore went to a meeting in which he was able to win Ruth from that family member.
Ruth and Boaz got married and had a child they named Obed.
Characteristics of Ruth in the Bible
What are the characteristics of Ruth?
How would you describe Ruth in the Bible? Well, there is a lot to be said about her.
There were both positive and negative qualities about Ruth but more positive than negative.
Let’s look at a few strengths and weaknesses of Ruth in the Bible.
Meaning of Ruth in Bible
Ruth means friend or companion. And wasn’t she quite the friend to her mother-in-law Naomi? Ruth lived out her name for sure. Her name might have formed the core of the qualities she possessed.
Strengths of Ruth in the Bible
Ruth was courageous
It takes great courage to leave everything you know and love to start a whole new life.
Like Abraham, Ruth left her life of false worship, a life surrounded by a predictable routine and people she knew.
Ruth followed Naomi into the unknown. And she took on a religion that she knew very little about just like Abraham.
Ruth took initiative
This other characteristic of Ruth in the Bible often goes unnoticed. The opportunity was there for her to glean. There was a law that provided this opportunity.
And Ruth, without being asked by Naomi, saw the value and took advantage of the opportunity.
She didn’t just pray. She stepped out and took advantage of what was available to her. Ruth could have waited on the benevolence of stranger to come to her door but she did not. But she did not. She took action.
Ruth was industrious and diligent
When Ruth and Naomi got back to Bethlehem, they had to fend for themselves as they were both widows.
Naomi was too old to remarry or to work. So Ruth took on the responsibility of providing for them.
Ruth was willing to go harvest in the fields daily. This was backbreaking work. She was bending over all day long to pick up grain.
Then she had to do the work to make it into barley flour. Ruth worked from morning till night.
Ruth was thoughtful
As the kindness of Boaz increased, Ruth was invited by Boaz to eat at the table he prepared for his workers.
Ruth could have had her fill and left it there. But she didn’t.
Ruth kept some of the food to take home for Naomi.
Ruth had integrity and a morally sound character
This next characteristic of Ruth in the Bible has to do with who she was at heart.
As Boaz observed Ruth in the fields everyday, working and interacting with the others, he compared what he saw with what people in their tiny town had to say about her.
And guess what, Ruth was consistent. She was the same person wherever she went.
Boaz described Ruth as a “woman of noble character”. Boaz meant that she was a valiant woman of great moral integrity. Just like the Proverbs 31 woman.
Ruth was grateful
Boaz took notice of Ruth. We don’t know anything about her beauty but we know her character was admirable.
Boaz took interest in her and increased his kindness.
Ruth was taken and overwhelmed with his kindness that she bowed before Boaz.
This was a sign of her level of gratitude. Ruth was a stranger in the land.
She wasn’t expecting this level of kindness and she that as a stranger this was very much out of the ordinary.
This is an outstanding characteristic of Ruth in the Bible because this world has become so full of ungrateful people who are never satisfied and complain about everything.
She was so thankful, especially considering her status of widow which made her automatically become a part of the lowest class in society, right there with beggars, orphans and people with disabilities.
Ruth was teachable
Ruth had a whole lot to learn. She might have been married before but now she was practically starting her life over.
Naomi became a mentor to her, teaching her the ways of the Hebrew people and walking with her through the process of securing Boaz as her kinsman (more on this later).
Ruth soaked up everything Naomi taught her. And what a bountiful blessing she reaped!
Weakness of Ruth in the Bible
Were there negative characteristics of Ruth in the Bible? I’d say yes but they were definitely not in her control.
Ruth had little knowledge of Hebrew culture
This was completely not her fault. Ruth was a Moabite, a nation of pagans and idol worshippers. She was a convert to Judaism and she knew very little about Jewish rules.
For this reason, she was at a disadvantage. She did not know her rights as a young widow in the Jewish community.
Naomi therefore had no idea that the hardships she was preparing to endure did not have to be her reality.
Having this information made all the difference in the world. Ignorance isn’t always bliss. Thankfully, she had Naomi to help.
Ruth was oblivious to the meaning of Boaz’s behavior
Although she was married before, Naomi seemed not to realize that Boaz had taken to her.
To some extent, she might be considered naive.
Lessons from the book of Ruth
The book of Ruth is packed with so many lessons about, life, love and faithfulness.
If we were to explore them all, this post would never end. So we’ll only look at a few.
Spiritual lessons from the book of Ruth
We will start with some of the spiritual lessons we can learn from Ruth in the Bible.
Stay in God’s will, no matter what
At the beginning of the story, we meet Elimelech, the husband of Naomi.
Because of the famine in Bethlehem he decided to move his family to Moab.
Elimelech was trying to escape hard times by leaving Bethlehem to a pagan country. But life was actually worst. He was not in God’s will. Life is hard but when you’re when you’re outside of God’s will, it’s hard with a difference.
But when God is with you, whatever touches you has God’s permission and in those times, you also have God’s protection and provision.
Trust God’s promises, especially in the hard times
Elimelech left Bethlehem which means the house of bread, to Moab which means waste or nothing.
Bethlehem was where Jehovah was worshipped but Moab was a place where heathen, false gods were worshipped.
He died where there was plenty to feed his body but nothing to feed his soul. He died leaving his wife and sons among ungodly people.
He had the promise of Psalm 37:19:
They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough. (NLT)
It takes more than prayer
Ruth and Naomi were in a desperate situation. I imagine that they must have prayed for God’s favor.
But, that was only half the solution to the problem.
Ruth took advantage of what was available to her. She took action by going to the fields everyday day to glean.
If you intend to move from where you are in life, you have to put some skin in the game.
Life lessons from the book of Ruth
Decisions affect our destiny
Elimelech had intended to go back home. He made a decision that God didn’t approve.
Chances are that he thought he would have had time to go back.
He didn’t. He died.
Be careful of the decisions you make thinking you have time. Make the stories of your life good stories so that even if you die, you will leave a legacy of faith and obedience to God.
The decision is always yours
Early in the story we met Ruth and Orpah. Both women had the very same struggles and the same decision to make.
They were both young women who had both lost their husbands.
Do they stay in the land of their birth where the God of heaven wasn’t worshipped? Or do they follow Naomi into an unpredictable future where Jehovah would lead?
Ruth and Orpah made two different decisions. We don’t know what happened to Orpah but we know how God showed up for Ruth.
The choice is always yours. God will not necessarily stand in your way.
Mentors are great to have, especially in life transition
When Ruth made the decision to follow Naomi, this was a massive life transition.
New faith. New country. New people.
If she had to go it alone, it would be 10 times harder.
Ruth allowed herself to be loved and led by Naomi. Ruth allowed herself to be influenced by Naomi.
Do you have a mentor? If not, you should probably get one.
You will be surprised at how much growth will take place in your life and how much less the struggle to your next level will be.
Even if you have to pay for it, it’ll be worth it.
Be diligent, even when nobody’s watching
When Ruth went out in the fields to glean each day, she did so with consistency and diligence. She could not be accused of being idle.
The funny thing is, she was just minding her own business not realizing that she was being watched.
By Boaz, the man who could and would make her life a whole lot better.
Ruth’s diligence was being observed without her knowing it.
No matter what, work with excellence, even if the work is boring and you hate it.
You never know who’s watching you and has the power to fulfill God’s plans and blessings.
FAQs about the Love story of Ruth and Boaz
Where in the Bible does it talk about Ruth and Boaz?
The love story of Ruth and Boaz can be found in the book of Ruth.
What is the meaning of Boaz?
Boaz means strength.
Who were Boaz parents in the Bible?
Rahab, the prostitute who escaped Jericho was Boaz’s mother. His father was Salmon, an Israelite prince.
Matthew 1:5 says:
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse
How old was Boaz when he married Ruth?
We cannot say for sure how old either of them were but there was a notable age difference.
Boaz himself said it:
The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. Ruth 3:10
Note that he addressed her as daughter. It might mean he was old enough to be her father. But it could also mean a term of endearment.
Was Boaz married before Ruth?
There is no clear answer to this question in Scripture. But it is important to consider that at that time and in that society, it is very likely that he already had a wife.
He owned land and servants. Boaz would have needed to set up his inheritance which would include having sons to leave all his wealth to.
But, according to the practices of the time, Boaz was free to take another wife, especially since he was a kinsman.
We know that the other kinsman did not want to marry Ruth because he didn’t want to divide his inheritance even further among his existing children.
Boaz didn’t seem to have this concern. That’s not to say he didn’t already have a wife though.
Also, there was a considerable age difference between them. Boaz did say that Ruth chose not to marry a young man.
A man of Boaz’s age was expected to have already Wed and started producing children.
The point is, we can’t say for sure but it is likely that he had a wife.
Why did Boaz marry Ruth and not Naomi
In those days when men died before they had children, a male relative was responsible for taking his widow as wife and giving her children who would be considered the child of the deceased.
Naomi’s husband had died but he died leaving two sons. Plus, Naomi was too old to have any more children.
On the other hand, Ruth’s husband had died leaving her without children and she was still young.
Therefore, Boaz would need to marry her instead of Naomi.
What is a kinsman?
Boaz was a family member of Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband.
The title of kinsman had heavy responsibility. In that society, kinsmen had a duty to make sure that if a relative of theirs died without children, that relative’s name would live on.
This would mean marrying the widow of the deceased and making children.
Characteristics of Boaz in the Bible
The story of Ruth and Boaz in the Bible is one of the most romantic in Scripture.
It’s every girl’s wish to have such a happy ending.
Let’s talk a little about the man Boaz, what was so special about Boaz, and lessons we can learn from them.
What did Boaz in the Bible do?
Boaz was a godly leader and businessman
When Boaz is introduced in the story, the first thing he does is to greet his workers and servants.
He says The Lord be with you. And they respond with similar pleasantries.
This tells us that Boaz had a good relationship with his employees.
Later we see him ensuring that they have food to eat during their lunch break and he sits and eats with then.
When he tells them to allow more stalks to fall for Ruth to pick up, they do it.
All these little details in the story, gives us a glimpse of Boaz’s character and influence.
Boaz was a hard worker
Owning a field was not easy then. No machines existed. It was all manual labor.
So Boaz had to be out there in the rain and sunshine with his workers.
He was a wealthy landowner and he earned his keep with his own sweat.
Because thieves were commonly known to break in and steal grain, Boaz slept at the threshing floor to protect his property and his produce.
Boaz was kind and protective
Boaz recognized that Ruth was quite vulnerable. So he put plans in place to ensure no harm would come to her.
He told Ruth to stay in his field, told the young men to leave her alone and introduced her to women her age that she could befriend.
Boaz did this without any apparent expectation of getting anything from Ruth. It was later in the story that any signs of romantic love were expressed.
And what’s so amazing is that Ruth was a foreigner. Quite often foreigners are not treated well, not even today.
Just look at all the immigration issues globally. But Boaz was different.
Boaz was controlled
Boaz knew that he had every right to be Ruth’s kinsman, so he could have demanded her hand in marriage whether Ruth wanted to or not.
But he didn’t do that. Instead, he waited for her to choose him.
Granted, she needed some help from Naomi to see it but Ruth eventually gave Boaz permission to claim her as his wife.
Boaz was a man of integrity
When Boaz decided to act on Ruth’s interest in being married to him, he was not willing to break the law or conduct underhanded business.
There was another kinsman who had more right than Boaz to claim Ruth. The truth is that this other kinsman should have already come forward to claim Ruth and help to get settled. He should have already taken her in to provide for her.
He had not done what he was supposed to do. But Boaz was willing to follow the proper civil procedures to have Ruth.
He wanted to conduct things in such a way that it was above board and unquestionable.
Boaz was a shrewd and assertive man
The meeting with the other kinsman was held in the presence of Ruth, Naomi and elders in the community.
Boaz firstly asks the kinsman if he would be willing to purchase Naomi’s land. He was all too willing to do so.
But that was only until Boaz told him he would also have to marry Ruth as well.
He knew this man well enough to know how he would respond to each part of the proposition.
Well played Boaz.
Now the way was clear for him to marry Ruth.
Lessons from the story of Ruth and Boaz
There are really so many lessons we could draw from this epic true love story.
But we explore just a few that specifically have to do with dating.
What does waiting for my Boaz mean?
It’s a popular saying: I’m waiting for my Boaz.
It is true that dating can be quite a drama-filled journey. Finding someone to spend the rest of your life with is serious business.
Waiting for your Boaz means to wait for the one with specific characteristics. It means to refuse to rush or settle with someone who does not meet God’s approval.
Now, what are some of these characteristics that you should be looking for in your Boaz?
5 Dating tips from the story of Ruth and Boaz
Look for a man who will wait for you patiently
Although Boaz was in love with Ruth, he never pushed or pressured her to commit to him. He made kind gestures to reveal his heart to her and left it there.
Look out for a man who is willing to wait for you without pressure.
Look for a man who wants more than just eye candy for his arm
Scripture does not comment on Ruth’s beauty. But one thing is clear: Boaz was extremely attracted to her characteristics of being hardworking and morally sound.
Boaz was considerably older than Ruth. At that stage of his life some things were of little consequence to him.
Look for a man who is attracted to your heart and character just as much as he is attracted to your body and beauty.
Look for a man who is kind because that’s his nature
Boaz invited Ruth to eat with his employees. She wasn’t hired but he invited her to partake of those provisions. This was the first romantic move he made.
The second is that he set her up to get more than just what had fallen by the way as the employees worked. He asked them to allow some to fall purposely for her. She was allowed to take from the gathered ones also.
And again, after the night at the threshing floor, he gave barley to take home. He wanted to make sure she was ok. Look for a giving, unselfish man.
Boaz was always ensuring Ruth had food. He was wealthy but he gave more than grains and barley. He also gave compliments, protection, and respect. A selfish man will give you headaches.
Look for a man who is proud of you, in both public and private
Boaz was willing to claim Ruth publicly. He went to meet with the kinsman who was before him in line as well as the elders.
When the meeting was done, Boaz publicly declared and celebrated his relationship with Ruth. Look out for a man who is proud to call you his own. Be wary of men who are uncomfortable with your relationship being public knowledge.
Who only wants to go out at night even when there are opportunities to go out during the day. A secret relationship is a red flag.
Look for a man with whom you feel at peace
When Boaz showed up, Ruth was having a pretty rough season in her life. She was freshly widowed and scrounging for food.
I don’t imagine that he solved all her problems nor did they have a perfect relationship. But one thing is sure: Boaz didn’t add to Ruth’s stress. Instead, Boaz brought relief to her life. He brought well-needed solutions.
He brought something to the table that marched Ruth’s hardworking and virtuous nature. Look out for a man who brings freshness to your life.
Good, godly relationships should not produce more problems and stress than you bargained for.
6 Relationship lessons from the book of Ruth
Now that we have dealt with what it means to wait for your Boaz, there are some other relationship nuggets buried in the story.
There are many but I will only go over 6 of them.
Here we go.
Are you what your Boaz is looking for?
We just talked about some of the qualities of Boaz that makes him a great biblical example of the kind of man to date and marry.
But there is a question for you to ponder: Are you the kind of woman who Boaz would be drawn to?
Boaz was attracted to Ruth’s character. He called her virtuous. He also added that she stood out in the community for this quality.
Can the same be said of you? The Hebrew word Boaz used to describe Ruth means some one of moral strength, sound integrity and courage.
Be honest with yourself.
As you watch Ruth going to field to work daily and keep her integrity even I’m poverty, does that describe you?
The good thing is that Boaz wasn’t concerned about Ruth’s past. He found who she was in the present to be what he was looking for.
It’s OK if you have some work to do in preparation for the man God has for you.
The word that Boaz used to describe Ruth is the same word used to describe the Proverbs 31 woman.
Start with a deep study of that chapter.
Get a knowledge of prospective spouse from various points of view
When Boaz commented on Ruth’s character, he did so based on more than just his observation of her.
Ruth had no family in Bethlehem so Boaz did not have the opportunity to know about her through their eyes.
So he did the next best thing. Boaz listened to the voices of those who also observed and interacted with her.
His conclusion about Ruth was a combination of what he saw plus what people around Bethlehem had to say about her.
As much as is possible, try to get to know your significant other through the people he or she interacts with outside of your presence.
This is especially important when family isn’t available.
People can be great pretenders. What you are looking for is consistency.
Are they the same with you as they are with everyone else?
Every man, no matter how spiritual, is just a man.
Naomi told Ruth to bathe, put on her best clothes, and splash on some perfume. This was to appeal to Boaz’s nature.
Which man is going to ignore a beautiful, well-dressed sweet smelling damsel, especially one who has already caught his attention with her character?
I guess no man.
Don’t over spiritualize your relationship. Whether you’re dating or married, your man is flesh and bones.
The same things that turn on a worldly man are the same things which will excite your man of God.
And that’s why when you’re dating you should probably spend lots of time outdoors or around other people.
It will preserve you both.
Be direct, specific, and clear about what you want from each other
Communication is one of the hardest things for human beings to accomplish.
But when it comes to relationships, it’s even harder. But there is a lesson in the book of Ruth.
When Ruth uncovered the feet of Boaz at the threshing floor, it was a powerful gesture. Her actions told Boaz that she was there to claim her right to be redeemed by him.
This means she was ready to be taken as his wife and to enter into a relationship of mutual submission and trust.
She was letting him know she was ready for the next stage. And Boaz did not delay in calling a meeting to secure his rights to marry her.
Be clear about what you want for and in your relationship. Things will go faster and will be much better.
When it comes to having certain conversations, timing is everything.
Some conversations require perfect timing because of the issue that needs to be discussed.
Naomi knew this and so she cautioned Ruth to wait until Boaz’s stomach was full and he was pretty much at rest
Issues that require mental and emotional effort should probably happen when people are not tired and hungry.
Life changing conversations should probably happen when both parties are fully present and engaged.
When the timing is right, the outcome of the conversation is likely to be more favorable.
Trust that God is interested in your love life
Ruth gave up everything in Moab to follow Naomi and the God she barely knew.
The odds of being taken into marriage were low because she was a stranger among the Hebrews.
But she was following God.
If you read the story carefully you will notice the divine appointment.
Let me explain.
On the day that Ruth decided to go gleaning, on that very day, Boaz chose to visit his field. The passage suggests that he wasn’t always there.
He was wealthy. He hired people to help him manage his assets.
But God had him turn up on the perfect day so he could meet Ruth. God orchestrated the events of both their lives to make finding love again possible for Ruth.
Ruth’s faith was rewarded with a wonderful husband. Her best days were not behind. Her best days were ahead.
In case you have been frustrated and despondent with finding your Boaz, know that God is interested in giving you the companionship you desire.
Just ensure that like Ruth, you are showing up in faith and doing your work with excellence. In short, do your part to make yourself a Ruth, ready for a Boaz.
The Moral of the Story of Ruth in the Bible
What is the main message of Ruth?
The entire Bible is about how God orchestrated history in an effort to save us. It is HIS story.
The book of Ruth focuses on this romantic story that represents Jesus and what He did for us.
Boaz is a type of Christ, meaning, he had many characteristics of Christ and foreshadowed what Jesus was going to do for humanity.
- Boaz redeemed Ruth like Jesus redeemed us.
- Boaz rescued Ruth from the brink of poverty and enslavement like Jesus did for us.
- Boaz was driven by authentic love for Ruth just like Jesus’s love for us caused him to give up heaven for our sake
- Boaz was ready to call Ruth his bride and wife just like Jesus calls us his bride.
In Boaz, Jesus shows up to redeem, cover, protect, rescue, and restore.
Final words on the characteristics of Ruth in the Bible
The whole story of Ruth began on a heavy sad note but as God’s purpose is worked out, good things begin to happen.
Ruth was no Hebrew but God used her to continue the family line through which Jesus would be born.
God is always in the business of rewarding the faithful.
Be sure to check out The Story of Naomi in the Bible and lessons you can learn.
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