All the Single Ladies
A few weeks ago, my mom gave me an article about single women. I’m sure that she meant to be encouraging, but I found the article so discouraging. The basic premise was that single women should spend their time helping married women, and caring for children while they are single. Now, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand, I think that helping others and spending time with children is great if that’s what God has called you to; however, I just didn’t believe that these activities were the primary things that single women should be focused on. The article just seemed to be saying that single women should be assistants to the married women until we are promoted to the role of wife. This idea did not sit well with me at all, so I decided to see what the Bible had to say.
I have a very investigative personality. I always want to find out as much as I possibly can about anything I’m curious about (You’d be amazed the information I can dig up about a guy before going on a first date!). I decided to do some research and see what the Bible actually says about single women. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting about the single women of the Bible. SPOILER ALERT- they’re not sitting home waiting to be promoted to wife. These women are courageous, fierce and were greatly used by God.
First up, Ruth. The book of Ruth is one of my all time favorite books of the Bible. If you’ve never read it before I’d encourage you to do so. It doesn’t have as much “old timey” language as some of the other books of the bible do so it’s a very easy read.
To start with, Ruth was not the person who you would’ve expected God to use. She didn’t grow up in Sunday school and she wasn’t part of God’s chosen nation of Israel. In fact she was a Moabite, a foreigner. Now, full disclosure, at the beginning of the book, Ruth does get married. However, Ruth does not have any children and her husband dies ten years later. The story of Ruth really begins after she becomes a widow. Keep in mind, in this day in age being a childless widow was worst case scenario. There was no feminism, no women’s empowerment and no boss babes in Israel. Women simply did not have all of the opportunities they do today. Ruth didn't have the option to pop up an Etsy shop or start promoting detox teas on Instagram to provide for herself. Ruth’s situation must’ve seemed hopeless to her.
After her husband’s death, Ruth accompanied her mother in law Naomi, on a journey from Moab to Judah. Naomi begs Ruth not to follow her on this journey; she asks her to return to her home in Moab, marry again and start a new life. This is when Ruth gives one of the most moving speeches in all of scripture. She tells Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Ruth understood commitment. She didn’t run from her commitments just because things looked bleak and weren’t going as she planned. Returning to her home would’ve been the easy choice, but Ruth chose to step out in faith and stay with Naomi, even though this choice meant she had little hope of getting married or having children.
Ruth did not allow all of the setbacks to discourage her. Instead she set to work to provide for herself and her mother in law. She was determined (Ruth 2:2), the King James Version uses the words, steadfastly minded, which I love. Ruth made a plan to go to work in the fields and she executed it, she didn’t throw a pity party, or look for a handout, she trusted God and she set to work. God did not forget her, he directed her. In his divine plan he sent her to just the right field to work in.
One of my other favorite parts of this story is that Ruth’s hard work was noticed by others and she developed a good reputation with the people that she interacted with (Ruth 2:7). I suspect that they saw God in her, and were impressed by her love for her mother in law and her work ethic. When the owner of the field returned from a trip he immediately asked who Ruth was (Ruth 2:5). The owners name was Boaz and he was apparently quite a catch. Boaz was so impressed with what he had heard about Ruth (Ruth 2:11), that he did everything he could to help her.
One important lesson from this story is how Ruth met Boaz. She was out working. She wasn’t sitting at home wishing she was married or waiting for her life to start. If Ruth had not been bold enough to venture out and work among women she didn’t know, in a land where she was a foreigner, she wouldn’t have met Boaz! While God is powerful enough to send us all a husband right to our front door, we shouldn’t expect that. We need to be open to trying new things, meeting new people and getting out of our comfort zone.
Ruth definitely was not a wallflower, she wasn’t afraid to take action. In chapter 3, Naomi tells Ruth that since there are no men left in the family to arrange a marriage, they would need to take matters into their own hands. Ruth takes a huge risk and basically tells Boaz she wants to marry him! Boaz tells her that he is impressed with her noble character and that he’s noticed that she wasn’t running around trying to find herself a younger man to marry (Ruth 3:10-13). Wow! Talk about taking a leap of faith!
Ruth must’ve wondered why she was childless for 10 years and then became a widow. She could not have imagined the amazing plan God had for her life. After Ruth’s marriage to Boaz they had a son whose name was Obed. When he grew up Obed had son named Jesse, and a grandson named David, as in King David! Ruth was King David’s great grandmother. She is one of only 5 women listed in the genealogy of Jesus in the Bible and one of only 2 women to have a book of the Bible named after them. What an honor! Ruth did not abandon her commitments to God and family when things got rough, she remained faithful. God will bless us and direct our path if we remain faithful to him even when circumstances are not what we expected.