This is the third installment in the Jezebel vs. the Proverbs 31 Woman series.
If you’re new here at beautyforherashes and haven’t read the first Jezebel post, the one that started it all, click here.
There are a few new words introduced in this post that you may or may not be familiar with! Those words/names/terms will be marked in blue.
In previous posts, we examined Jezebels from the Old Testament (the original Jez and Lady Potiphar). We’re going to switch gears a bit and focus on the Proverbs 31 woman this time around.
Our highlighted P31 in this post is named Ruth. This girl is so cool that she has her very own book in the Bible that tells her story and is named after her! It’s only four chapters; you can give it a read here.
Ruth was a young woman who lived in Moab. The text doesn’t tell us much else about her background, but we do know that she married a Hebrew (Jewish) man named Mahlon. He and his family had moved to Moab to avoid famine in their homeland. Ruth’s father and mother in law were named Elimelech and Naomi and her sister in law’s name was Orpah. After some time, Elimelech died, making Naomi a widow. Within a few more years, Mahlon and his brother Kilion (sometimes spelled Chilion) passed away as well.
I can only imagine how crushed Ruth was at the passing of her husband. The text does not say exactly what happened to the men, maybe because the specifics aren’t important.
Ruth’s mother in law, Naomi, was even more devastated than Ruth at the loss of her husband and sons. During this time period it was very important that women had males in their lives to protect them. No longer wanting to stay in Moab, Naomi set our on the road with her daughters in law to travel back to her homeland Bethlehem. She had heard that the famine was over and she wished to return to her people. After traveling a short ways, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, “Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me. May God give each of you a new home and a new husband!” (Ruth 1:8-9 MSG)
This is the first place that we see evidence of Ruth’s P31 qualities. Naomi basically thanked her for being a faithful wife to her son (Orpah included of course). We know from previous readings, that the Proverbs 31woman is a good wife and carries out her duties faithfully. Even though Naomi gave both Ruth and Orpah a chance to return home to their families, they both refused to leave their mother in law, saying, “No, we’re going on with you to your people.” (Ruth 1:10 MSG)
After reminding the girls that she was too old to have any more sons for them to marry, Orpah finally relented and headed back home. Ruth, however, was very adamant about staying at Naomi’s side. She told her,”….where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 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.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)
I can only imagine how much faith and courage it took for Ruth to leave her own family and homeland and travel to an unknown place. Yet, she was willing to do so out of love and respect for Naomi. I’m sure that Naomi was a great example of a wife and mother to Ruth, and they must have grown quite attached to one another. It’s important that when striving to be a P31, you have godly women around you who will build you up, push you to be better, and hold you accountable (meaning they will tell you when you’re wrong and encourage you).
Now, Ruth was not a lazy person by any stretch of the imagination. In true P31 fashion, she decided that she would get a job to help support herself and Naomi. With her mother in law’s blessing, Ruth headed to the fields to “glean among the sheaves”.
Gleaning is the process of collecting/gathering grain left behind by reapers.
During harvest time in biblical days, farmers were required to drop some of their grains and intentionally leave them behind for the poor to come and collect. Many women did this and often times it was unsafe for them as some men would take advantage of these widowers.
Women who were widows and had no male relatives were seen as having no real legal protection. Often times they also had no financial support. Fortunately for Ruth, Naomi had a relative named Boaz (pronounced Bow-Azz), who was seen as the family’s “redeemer”. A redeemer was a male relative who had the privilege/responsibility of acting on behalf of a family member when they were in trouble or in need.
It just so happened that Ruth ended up working in Boaz’ fields! I can imagine her showing up prepared for her first day on the job, ready to get to work and not even realizing that her life was about to change forever. As Ruth gleaned, Boaz came and greeted his workers in the fields. She must have caught his eye because he asked his foreman, “Who is this young woman? Where did she come from? (Ruth 2:5 MSG) The foreman told Boaz all about Ruth, how she and Naomi had just recently gotten into town, how she was helping her mother in law, and how she had asked if she could glean from the leftovers earlier that day.
The foreman also told his boss about how hard and how diligently Ruth had been working. Like a true P31, Ruth’s reputation preceded her. She wasn’t sashaying in front of Boaz or trying to catch any of the eyes of the men there. She went in focused on her task and didn’t get distracted.
Boaz must have been impressed with Ruth’s willingness to help and serve Naomi as well as her work ethic. He approached her and said, “Listen, my daughter. From now on don’t go to any other field to glean—stay right here in this one. And stay close to my young women. Watch where they are harvesting and follow them. And don’t worry about a thing; I’ve given orders to my servants not to harass you. When you get thirsty, feel free to go and drink from the water buckets that the servants have filled.” (Ruth 2:8-9 MSG)
Ruth was of course very thankful. She didn’t understand why Boaz was being so kind to her, since she was a foreigner after all. He assured her, saying, “I’ve heard all about you—heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you’ve done—and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings.” (Ruth 2:11-12 MSG)
Again, Ruth was overcome with gratitude. “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!” (Ruth 2:13 MSG)
At lunchtime, Boaz invited her to join he and a few others. He shared some of his food with her and made sure she got her fill. After she returned to her work, Boaz instructed his servants to give Ruth special treatment by intentionally leaving more grain for her to gather. Whoa! He wanted to be a blessing to her because he saw how much of a blessing she was to Naomi.
Ruth worked all evening and when she finally made it home she was overjoyed as she told her mother in law about how wonderful her day was. She told Naomi about Boaz and his kindness and the older woman revealed that Boaz was the family redeemer. She came up with a plan for her daughter in law that would signify her availability for marriage.
You can read all the details of that exchange here: Ruth 3:1-18 !
Boaz then set up a business meeting with the town elders and another man who had superiority over him. This guy was the family’s first redeemer, meaning he had some rank over Boaz and technically could take Ruth’s hand in marriage.
Boaz informed the men gathered that Naomi was selling her late husband’s land and that whoever bought it would in turn be responsible of taking Ruth as their wife and having children with her to continue the family name.
The first redeemer encouraged Boaz to buy the land and marry Ruth because he didn’t want to jeopardize his own family’s inheritance. The two men sealed the deal when Boaz removed his sandal from his foot.
Boaz then announced in the town square that he was going to take Ruth’s hand in marriage and buy everything that had belonged to Elimelech, Mahlon and Kilion. The townspeople in turn blessed Boaz.
Ruth and Boaz then got married. They also had a baby boy named Obed.
In biblical times, it was very important to be related to the right people and be from the right family. That’s why so often in the bible you will see lineages listed. In this case,
Boaz had Obed,
Obed had Jesse,
and Jesse had David.
King David is apart of the lineage of Jesus Christ, which means that Ruth is too. How cool is that? I can’t help but think about how differently Ruth’s life could have turned out if she had stayed in Moab and gotten remarried there. She would have never met and married Boaz and she wouldn’t be one of Jesus’ ancestors! Wow!
As a P31, it is important to remember that being a servant and help to others is a priority. Let this scripture be one of your guides:
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45 ESV)
Since we call ourselves “Christians”, which means “followers of Christ”, it is vital that we apply his teachings to our lives. If Christ himself came to this earth to help others, how can we expect not to and be pleasing in God’s sight?
Let us all strive to be women of great faith and character, who are supportive of our loved ones and our husbands and who above all else serve others.
That is the mission statement of a Proverbs 31 woman in a nutshell 🙂
I know this particular post has been a long time coming, so I’m glad that I was able to finally share it with you today.
It is my prayer that you will grow a little closer to the Father today than you did yesterday. I also pray that the message of servant leadership resonates with you.
Be Blessed Beauties