Even with scientific advances, many women endure the pain of infertility. Failed relationships, failed attempts to conceive, failed pregnancies, and even failed adoptions leave women childless. Infertility threatens to define a woman by failure and what she lacks.
In the ancient world, the lack of children—whether through infertility, the death of children, or lack of marriage— brought both emotional and social wounds. Without a son, a woman was vulnerable to poverty in the event that her husband’s family refused her kindness after his death. Scripture pays particular attention to the plight of barren women: Abraham’s wife, Sarah; Isaac’s wife, Rebekah; Jacob’s wife, Rachel; Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson; and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. In each of these cases, failure is not the concluding word over their lives, for God reverses the curse and opens their wombs. The text doesn’t tell us whether Ruth was barren; we know she had no children, though we’re not told why. But Scripture is absolutely clear that after her marriage to Boaz, “the LORD enabled her to conceive” (v. 13). For Ruth as well as for Naomi, the son Ruth bears is a blessing from God and a guarantee of a more certain future (vv. 14–15).
This son, Obed, is more than the consolation of Ruth and Naomi’s hopes—he inherits the hopes of Israel. Indeed, he is the ancestor of the great King David, who will unify the nation and establish peace. And both he and Ruth will be cited in the genealogy of David’s greatest descendant: Jesus (see Matt. 1:5–6). Jesus is humanity’s final guardian-redeemer. He is the true King of Israel and the only Savior upon whom we can rely. The books of Judges and Ruth point forward to our living hope in Christ.
Apply the Word
This month has reminded us to look for Jesus in the Old Testament. As our key verse says, a salvation narrative runs like a thread through the weave of the entire Bible. We can find Jesus in the pages of both Judges and Ruth. What have you learned about Jesus through this study? What have you learned about the ways that God works?