Ruth 1:1-5

Things Aren’t Always The Way We See Them


Characters of the story:

I.        Boaz

A.     The son of Rahab the harlot, Matt. 1:5, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;”

B.     He is a member of the first generation after Israel inhabits Canaan, during the period of the Judges.

C.     His name means “strength.”

D.     He stayed in Canaan during the famine and was very wealthy when Naomi returned.  Why?

1.       His family background.  His mother was in Jericho when the walls fell down, and she had all the security she needed, even if there was a famine in the land.

2.       Elimelech also saw the walls of Jericho fall down, but he saw it from a different point of view.  When the famine comes he was willing leave Israel in hopes of something better.  Rahab knew there was no where else to go.

a.       I believe Elimelech saw the walls of Jericho fall (although he might have been a small child) because he is probably a contemporary of Salmon, who married Rahab, who was the harlot.

b.       According to Ruth 4:20, 21, “…Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed.”

c.       Numbers 10:14 reveals that Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, led the tribe of Judah to victory over the city of Jericho.

d.       Nahshon’s son, Salmon, married Rahab, and she bore Boaz.

3.       Lessons learned:

a.       This teaches us that some people stay true to God’s Word because they have seen what life is like without Him and they know it is much better with Him.

b.       Some people do not stay true because they have always had Him and do not know what it is like to not have Him.

c.       This difference can clearly be seen in a person saved as an adult and a person saved as a child.

II.     Ruth - A Moabite woman used of God in the lineage of Christ.  Matt. 1:5.

A.     This is something the Jews would have trouble understanding.

B.     Her name means “friend.”

III.   Elimelech - His name means “My God is King.”  He didn’t live up to his name.

IV.  Naomi - Her name means “Pleasant.”

V.     Mahlon - His name means “sickness.”

VI.  Chilion - His name means “consumption.”


Verse 1  Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

I.        “When the judges ruled” - Compare with Judges 17:6, In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  Apparently the story takes place during a period of peace when there was a judge ruling in Bethlehem, as compared with a time when there was no judge.  (I say this because Elimelech was allowed to leave the country.  During a time when Israel was in captivity, no citizen of the country would have the freedom to leave the country.)


II.     “Famine” - In the land flowing with milk and honey?

A.     Numbers 13:22-27 - When Israel sent 12 spies into the promised land, two men carried out a cluster of grapes.

B.     Lev. 26

1.       Verse 3-13 - God tells Israel all the good things He will do for them if they will follow His commandments.

2.       Verse 14-33 - God tells Israel all the bad things He will do to them if they refuse to follow His commandments.  One of the things He will do is, “your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” Verse 20.

C.     How does a church come under the judgment of God?  By leaving its first love (the love of God), Rev. 2:4.

1.       Matthew 28:18-20 – God has promised His kind of church perpetuity until He returns.

2.       Does this mean His kind of churches can do whatever they want to do and God will bless them, and take care of them?

3.       No.

4.       God’s churches must remain faithful to Him.

D.     How does a saved person come under the judgment of God? By putting their own desires ahead of the desires of God.

1.       Every saved person will be saved eternally, but some will be saved, yet so as by fire.

2.       Every saved person will have to pay the physical consequences of sin in this life.


Verse 2,  And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

I.    Leaving Israel - Compare with leaving the worship of the Lord in the true church.

A.  Note that Elimelech was the leader of the family.

1.   This is as it should be.

2.   When the leader tries to serve God, God will bless that family.

3.   When the leader stops serving God, the family will pay the consequences.

B.   They went to Moab.  Moab is not very far away from Israel, but it is a long way from true worship.

1.   There is a “believing,” but remaining lost.

2.   There is a “faith,” without a scripture to back it up.

3.   There is a “service” without love.

4.   There is an “eternity” without God.

C.   Elimelech thought he had a “good reason” for leaving Israel.  I Tim. 5:8 - He’s not an infidel, therefore he desires to provide for his family.

1.   The misuse of scripture will lead to wrong actions, and the chastening of God.

2.   He’s wrong to leave Israel even if there is a famine in the land.

3.   Note the word “sojourn,” which means to “turn from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose), to gather for fear.

a.   “continued there,” in verse 2 - to exist there.

b.   In James “continue” means to make or do.

D.  He’s not supposed to leave the inheritance God gave him.

1.   Abraham and Isaac sojourned in the land of Canaan, but the land was not given to Israel yet.

2.      Jacob left the land of Canaan to go to Egypt during a famine, but God instructed him to go, and prepared a way for him to leave.

a.      It should be remembered that the land of Canaan wasn’t given to Israel as yet.

b.      Also remember all the trouble they had because they wouldn’t leave when the famine was over.

3.   I Kings 21 - Remember Naboth?  He lost his life rather than give up the land God gave him.

4.   II Sam 23:11 - Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite fought the Philistines in his pea (lentiles) patch.

E.   Elimelech didn’t leave Israel because he had to.

1.   Verse 21 - They went out full.  They didn’t leave because they were poor, but because they didn’t have as much as they wanted.

a.   Note there is only four in the family.  They wanted to keep what they had.  Verse 19.  The city - They must have been well known for people to remember them and be surprised at how Naomi looked.  Note the change in her appearance.  It is true that hard times make a difference in our appearance.

b.   The Bible didn’t mention a large Exodus from Israel, so there must have been enough for his neighbors.  Sometimes people say, “I don’t get anything out of church or Bible study.”  But why do their neighbors get much out of the Word of God?  Maybe the problem is not somebody else, maybe it’s us who is the problem.

c.   Ruth 2:1 - Boaz is a near kinsman of Naomi and when she returns after a 10 year absence, he is very wealthy.  If Boaz is wealthy and he is trusting the Lord, wouldn’t Elimelech be wealthy if he trusted the Lord and all other circumstances were equal?

2.   Matt. 6:24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

3.   I Tim. 6:8,  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

F.   If the famine is the result of God’s judgment, trying to escape it only brings more severe judgment.

1.   Verse 20,21 - Naomi declares that they received the chastening of God because they tried to escape the judgment of God upon their nation.

2.   Don’t try to escape the judgment of God, when it rightly comes upon you.

3.   James 4:13-17 - Pray about where you are going to earn a living.  Then follow what God tells you!!

G.   They actually did this thing and it is not the will of God.

1.   Everything that happens is not the perfect will of God.

2.   The perfect will of God will be done, but God will allow us to disobey him, then use that disobedience against us, for Him, and still get His will done!

H.  If everybody acted like Elimelech - Israel would be empty.  How would our church be if everybody acted like me?


Verse 3, And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

The death of Elimelech is apparently the judgment of God - See verse 20,21.


Verse 4, And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

I.    Marriage of the two boys (they were wrong - compare Deut. 7:1-4, and Ezra 9:1,2.  The book of Ruth is well within the time frame for the law against interfaith marriages.)


II.   After their dads death.

A.  Parents don’t know what their children are going to do.

1.   Parents assume their children know right from wrong when they really don’t.

2.   If we put our children into bad company and take them out of public worship services, thinking they understand, we are ill informed.


III. Why did Naomi allow this?

A.  Parents can’t always control their children, especially grown up ones.

B.   When parents go a little way off, children sometimes go a long way off.

1.   Parents sometimes don’t understand that their actions affect their children differently at different ages.

2.   For example, the actions of parents when the children are married and moved away from home, will affect the child one way, but that same action when the child is small and at home, will affect the child another way.


Verse 5, And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

I.    There is little doubt in my mind that Naomi learned the lesson that she was very wealthy when she had her husband and two boys at home, and she could worship God in Israel.  It’s too bad we learn what real riches are only after we lose them!



1.   We cannot escape death, or the judgment of God.

2.   Matt. 16:25 - If we attempt to save our lives, we shall lose it, if we attempt to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, even undergoing the judgment of God when necessary, we shall save our lives.

3.   If we don’t listen to God, we’re in for severe and greater difficulties.

a.   Elimelech should have stayed in Israel, but he didn’t.

b.   He died.

c.   His sons married out of the will of God.

d.   His two sons died.

  1. Naomi is now left alone in a strange country away from family, home and friends, but God took care of her in spite of her sins.
  2. Even though Satan was working to destroy the Christ line, it didn’t work.  God will fulfill all his precious promises – one way or another.