In the midst of the heaviness of the historical narrative found in books such as Joshua and Judges we find refreshingly beautiful short stories such as the story of Ruth, which is described by one biblical commentator as "the classic love story of the bible." In addition to being a love story, the book of Ruth is someone unique in that it is told from a woman's point of view. The main protagonist in the story is Ruth, who is accompanied by an equally strong woman, namely her mother-in-law Naomi. These two women shared an intimate and abiding friendship which is expressed by Ruth's famous words spoken to Naomi, "For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God" (1:16).
The placement of Ruth within the biblical canon is significant. The book of Judges ends with "everyone doing what was right in their own eyes." Clearly the model of governance depicted in Judges would not be sustainable. However, before we reenter the historical narrative, which describes the rise of the monarchy in Israel, we have a "story of origins." The story of Ruth and Boaz (although written after the reign of David) has as its setting the time of the Judges and establishes the Davidic lineage. There are two significant theological points being made in the book of Ruth:
1. The Scope of Salvation: Ruth is described as a Moabite widow. As a Moabite, Ruth was a foreigner and therefore considered an "outsider." The term "Gentiles" would later be used to describe "outsiders" or non-Jews. The fact that Ruth, a Gentile, was the great grandmother of King David is a foreshadowing of the universal scope of salvation made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
2. The History of Salvation: The story of Ruth points to the future Davidic dynasty, the reign of King David and his ancestors over God's people. God promises to raise up a Savior through David's lineage. Therefore, in the gospel according to Matthew, we find Ruth and Boaz listed as ancestors of Jesus: "and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Oded by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the King" (Matthew 1:5-6).