OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 20
Ruth & 1 Samuel 1
- Ruth leaves her home to go to Bethlehem with Naomi.
- Ruth and Boaz marry and have a child.
- Hannah is blessed with a son, whom she lends to the Lord as she promised.
A thoughtful study of this lesson should encourage us to emulate the
righteous qualities of Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah.
Ruth & Naomi
- Historical Background:
Due to a famine Elimelech left his home in Bethlemhem for Moab with
his wife, Naomi, and their two sons (Ruth 1:1-2).
- The story of Ruth occurred during the period of the judges - about
- According to Jewish tradition, the story was originally recorded by
Samuel. It was not written in its present form until centuries later (about
Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem hearing that there was once again
bread in the land. Both Ruth & Orpah express a desire to return with
- "And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and
her two sons" (1:3).
- The two sons of Elimelech and Naomi married Moabite women, Ruth and
Orpah. These two sons died (1:4-5).
Ruth 1:22: "So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her
daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and
they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest."
- Ruth 1:8-9: "And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law,
Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as
ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The LORD grant you that ye may
find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them;
and they lifted up their voice, and wept."
- Orpah returned to her family.
- READ RUTH 1:16-17. Ruth expresses her desire to
stay with Naomi.
- WHAT POSITIVE QUALITIES DID NAOMI AND RUTH DISPLAY?
- Selfless: Each displayed more concern for the other than for themselves.
- Naomi was an aging woman, who had suffered the loss of her husband
and two sons. Certainly she longed for the companionship of these two women.
But her love for them was so great that she felt they would be happier
in the home of their families.
- Ruth displayed the same compassionate attitude. She carried more for
her mother-in-law than her own wants and desires.
- Sacrifice: Naomi was willing to give up the comfort of companionship.
In addition to giving up her family, Ruth was even willing to go to a strange
land and convert to the faith of Naomi.
- Loyalty: Ruth displayed this attitude in her dealings with Naomi.
- WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD THE EXERCISE OF THESE QUALITIES MAKE IN OUR FAMILIES?
- HOW CAN WE SHOW THESE QUALITIES IN OUR FAMILY LIFE?
- Neal A. Maxwell: "It is fashionable to blame systems and institutions,
not individuals, for our ills, but individuals impact on our institutions—not
just the other way. Whether or not we are takers or givers, therefore,
does matter, for we transmit that tilt to the tasks that are ours. To warn
of inordinate selfishness may be to strike a simplistic theme, and yet
the immediacy and the relevancy of this theme cannot be overstated. You
and I will not go to sleep tonight without having confronted specific,
if only minor, situations in which we can choose either to be selfish or
selfless. Who will get his car out of the crowded parking lot first? Who
will wait for whom at the busy doorway out of an auditorium? Which partner
in a marriage (where there may have been a few harsh words today) will
be selfless enough to take the verbal initiative necessary for reconciliation?
Who will put out the light? Who will get up with a crying baby?"
(That My Family Should Partake, pp35-36)
- Neal A. Maxwell: "Thomas C. Schelling has used a powerful,
but simple, illustration of our society's ultimate interdependency and
its reliance on cooperation, selflessness, and sacrifice. Schelling notes
how cars can line up for miles on a busy highway because a mattress has
fallen onto the highway; in spite of the inconvenience of hundreds of waiting
motorists, each driver, once he is safely past the obstructing mattress,
does not stop to remove the mattress, because now that he is past that
point, the act of removal would not benefit him. The capacity to act for
the good of community similarly requires us to abstain from actions that
hurt others and also to inconvenience ourselves in order to help future
generations." (That My Family Should Partake, p37-38)
- Neal A. Maxwell: "Selflessness requires some surgery in each
of our lives; some willingness to do without, that others may have; some
self-denial, that our joy in other things may be more full." (That
My Family Should Partake, p40)
Since Naomi and Ruth were poor Ruth went to the fields of Boaz to glean
the field for grain (2:1-3).
- When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, they greeted Naomi by saying,
"Is this Naomi?" (1:19). Naomi responded by saying, "Call
me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with
- In Hebrew, Naomi means "sweet or pleasant" and Mara
means "bitter". This was Naomi's way of saying that she
had endured much tragedy while in Moab. (See Old Testament Student Manual,
Boaz came out from Jerusalem to visit his fields and observed Ruth
busily gleaning. He learned from his servant the identity of Ruth.
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GLEAN?
- "Harvesting was difficult work and demanded long hours. Young
men moved through the fields grasping handfuls of the grain and cutting
through the stalks with sickles. These small bunches of grain were then
bound into bundles called sheaves. As the men worked rapidly, a number
of stalks fell to the ground. If the men were careful and took the time,
these too could be gathered up. However, any stalks that dropped were allowed
to remain where they fell. Poor people, following the reapers, were permitted
to 'glean,' or gather, the random stalks--possibly all that stood between
them and starvation. In addition, the edges of the field, where the sickle
was not as easily wielded, were left unharvested. The poor were welcome
to that portion, as well." (Old Testament Student Manual, pp262-263)
Once again we see how the selfless acts of Ruth bless the life of Naomi.
Ruth could have remained with her kindred in Moab and would not have been
subjected to the tedious labor of gleaning for the grain in order for her
and Naomi to survive. We see no complaint from Ruth. She is absolutely
dedicated to Naomi and her care.
- Boaz approaches Ruth and invites her to remain in his fields to glean.
- "Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,
and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest
take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?" (2:10).
- WHY DID BOAZ SHOW THIS KINDNESS TO RUTH?
- It seems that Boaz was a good hearted man with a desire to reward another's
generous acts, for he said to Ruth, "It hath fully been shewed
me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine
husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land
of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore"
- Boaz instructed the field hands to leave Ruth alone and even to let
extra handfulls of the sheaves to fall to the ground for her benefit.
- Ruth continued to glean with the maidens of Boaz until the end of the
- HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED BY OTHER PEOPLE'S SELFLESS ACTS?
Ruth & Boaz Marry
- READ RUTH 3:1-5.
Ruth did as Naomi instructed.
- WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?
- By lying at the feet of Boaz, Ruth would be, in effect, proposing marriage
- Again we see the devotion Naomi and Ruth have for each other. Although
Naomi was an older woman, somewhat dependent on Ruth, she remained concerned
about Ruth's life and happiness.
HOW DID BOAZ RESPOND?
- READ RUTH 3:7-9.
- When Ruth said, "spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid"
she meant "guard me, protect me, care for me".
President Monson stated: "In our selection of heroes, let us
nominate also heroines. First, that noble example of fidelity--even Ruth.
Sensing the grief-stricken heart of her mother-in-law, who suffered the
loss of each of her two fine sons,and feeling perhaps the pangs of despair
and loneliness which plagued the very soul of Naomi, Ruth uttered what
has became that classic statement of loyalty: 'Intreat me not to leave
thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I
will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people,
and they God my God.' Ruth's actions demonstrated the sincerity of her
words. There is place for her name in the Hall of Fame." (Ensign,
Nov. 1974, p108)
- READ RUTH 3:11-13.
- Under the custom of that time, when Ruth's husband died, his nearest
male relative was supposed to marry Ruth. Boaz was not the nearest male
relative, but he agreed to marry Ruth if the nearest male relative did
not wish to do so.
- Consider Boaz's opinion of Ruth as found in verse 11: "I will
do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth
know that thou art a virtuous woman."
- DID THIS REPUTATION BENEFIT HER RELATIONSHIP WITH BOAZ?
- Boaz knew of the high esteem that the people had for Ruth. Obviously,
it influenced his desire to have such a woman as his wife.
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT OUR FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS
KNOW WHAT WE BELIEVE IN AND WHAT VALUES WE STRIVE TO UPHOLD?
- That example can influence their lives for good. Boaz would probably
not have had the interest in Ruth had it not been for her selfless and
upright character. Consider the long term effects of their noble relationship:
King David and Jesus Christ were born through their lineage.
- We do not know the long term affects our example may have. By living
a Christlike life, we may influence a friend or neighbor to investigate
the Church. Our example may become the catalyst for a conversion. That
one conversion may affect the eternal destiny of generations. Do we dare
take our role lightly?
- Apostle George F. Richards: "Are we fainting by the way? Or
are we living our religion, and by so doing setting an example to the world
worthy of their emulation, such as will cause them to glorify our Father
in heaven by an investigation of that which has made us what we are, that
is commendable, and perchance, by their embracing the Gospel and engaging
with us in the furtherance of the Lord's work?" (CR, Oct. 1930)
Hannah Is Blessed With A Son - 1 Samuel 1
- Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah. Hannah had been childless
READ SAMUEL 1:9-15. Hannah prays and makes a covenant with the Lord.
- When Elkanah went up to make sacrifice, he gave Hannah a choice portion
because of his great love for her (1:4-5).
- Part of the sacrificial animal was returned to the offerer to be eaten
in a special feast.
- Hannah either received more or a more choice portion than the others.
- Peninnah, Elkanah's other wife gave Hannah a difficult time because
Hannah was without child (1:6-7).
"Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel
grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him" (1:17).
- WHAT PROMISE DID HANNAH MAKE TO THE LORD?
- She dedicated her son to the work of the Lord (1:11).
- The promise that "no razor come upon his head" is
Hannah's promise to raise her son as a Nazarite.
- A Nazarite was one who professed an extraordinary purity of life and
devotion. He was under vow to abstain from wine, from any cutting of the
hair, and any contact with the dead.
- WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU ABOUT HANNAH?
- She was a woman of great faith.
- She was willing to make a commitment to raise her son as a servant
of the Lord. As any parent knows, this is a commitment that requires many
years of dedication.
- After watching Hannah in the temple, Eli misjudged her, thinking had
- HOW CAN WE BE SURE TO JUDGE CORRECTLY?
- President Hugh B. Brown said: "If I make errors in [judging
people,] I want them to be on the side of mercy."
- Hannah explained that she was not drunk, but that she had "poured"
out her soul before the Lord (1:15).
- DO WE POUR OUT OUR SOULS TO THE LORD? HOW CAN WE MAKE OUR PRAYERS MORE
SINCERE AND MEANINGFUL?
"And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before
the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew
Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass,
when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare
a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of
the LORD." (1 Samuel 1:19-20)
- Hannah responded to Eli's words, " Let thine handmaid find
grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance
was no more sad" (1:18).
- WHERE DID HANNAH MAKE HER PROMISE TO THE LORD?
- HOW CAN GOING TO THE TEMPLE HELP US WITH OUR WORRIES AND TROUBLES?
- John A. Widtsoe: "I believe that the busy person...who has
his worries and troubles, can solve his problems better and more quickly
in the house of the Lord than anywhere else. If he will [do] the temple
work for himself and his dead, he will confer a mighty blessing upon those
who have gone before, and...a blessing will come to him, for at the most
unexpected moments, in or out of the temple will come to him, as a revelation,
the solution of the problems that vex his life. That is the gift that comes
to those who enter the temple properly." (Quoted by David B. Haight,
Ensign, Nov. 1990)
- Hannah was distraught over being childless. She prayerfully went to
the temple in search of answers and came away with peace. Many of us have
gone to the temple when upset over circumstances or while searching for
answers. Service in the House of the Lord brings peace to the soul, helps
one put things in proper perspective, and we often find answers to perplexing
problems in our lives. Just last Sunday I was contemplating a particular
problem in my life and wondering what I would do to resolve it. The impression
that came over me is that I should take my wife and go to the temple. I
don't know what the answers are to my problem, but I do know that going
to the temple is something I should do.
- HOW DID HANNAH KEEP HER PROMISE AFTER SAMUEL WAS BORN?
- "When Samuel was old enough, Hannah took him up to the temple
and presented him to Eli, "For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath
given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him
to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he
worshipped the LORD there." (1 Samuel 1:27-28)
- Verse 24 says that Hannah took Samuel up to the temple after she weaned
him. Evidently among the Israelites, weaning took place very late. The
mothers were in the habit of nursing their children until age three. Samuel
probably did not go up to the temple with his mother until this age.
- HOW DO YOU THINK HANNAH FELT ABOUT GIVING SAMUEL TO THE SERVICE OF
- It must have been difficult to part with this precious child that she
had grown to love with all her heart. Did she contemplate not presenting
Samuel to Eli? I think not. There is no evidence of that in the scripture.
She was committed to the Lord and would fulfill her covenant with him.
- WHAT DOES THE LORD ASK US TO GIVE HIM?
- WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDE ABOUT GIVING TO HIM?
While preparing this lesson I came across the following poem, read by
Eldred G. Smith at the 1953 October General Conference:
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord;
Real service is what I desire.
I'll say what you want me to say,
But don't ask me to join the choir.
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
I like to see things come to pass;
But don't ask me to teach anywhere;
I would much rather stay in my class.
I'll give what you want me to give, dear Lord
I yearn for the kingdom to thrive.
I'll give you some pennies and nickels,
But don't ask me to pay a full tithe.
I'll read what you want me to read, dear Lord,
If genealogy is not implied.
I never did like to search books
For the names of people who've died.
I'll give what you want me to give, dear Lord,
And I'm sure I'll not begrudge it,
But I haven't the money to spare
To pay on welfare or budget.
Yes, I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
I'll serve you with all my might,
But don't ask me to go to the temple
Because I'm much too busy each night.
What are we willing to give for the kingdom? What are we willing to
do for the sake of righteousness? Naomi, Ruth, and Hannah were not royalty.
They were not prophets. They were simple women who were committed to righteousness
and doing the will of the Lord. They were willing to sacrifice their time,
their homes, their family to do the right thing. Are we willing to follow
their example or are we like the above poem?
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