Readings

  • 1 Samuel 7
  • 1 Samuel 8
  • Hosea 13:9-11

Prayer

Pray… that you will continue to be inspired and encouraged as you read God’s word and come to understand it better.

Day 120 – Israel Wants a King

Israel rejects God as their king

 

  • Today’s readings (the 1 Samuel ones, I mean) mark the end of one story (Samuel leading the people in a similar way that the judges did) and the beginning of a new story where the people demand a king. You might wonder why we’re reading both chapters together when they have seemingly quite different focuses. That would be a fair question, but I think it really helps us to see the sinful minds of the Israelites in 1 Samuel 8. The author of the book has put these chapters together and written the book to highlight that even in the face of God’s goodness and deliverance in 1 Samuel 7, the people still turn away from him just one chapter later. That said, there was probably many years between the end of chapter 7 and the start of chapter 8, as Samuel is by then an old man.
  • How would you sum up 1 Samuel 7? What is Samuel encouraging the people to do? Who have you heard make similar calls in the past?
  • At the start of chapter 7, the people re-commit themselves to God. In verse 7, however, they come under attack again. People who have recently committed themselves to God often come under attack, or have hardships to deal with in their lives. Why do you think this might be?
  • Look at 1 Samuel 7:12. “Till now, the Lord has helped us”, reflects the wise Samuel. Is that true in your life?
  • How did God show love and mercy to His people in chapter 7 when the people turned to Him in prayer and fasting?
  • Chapter 8 marks a clear turn in the mindset of the Israelite people. It shows them starting to ask for a king, knowing that Samuel is about to die, and not having any faith in his sinful sons. Why did the people want a king? This is an important question. Take time thinking about a few possible answers. Take care not to just see the initial answers the Israelites give (i.e. that Samuel is old). What are the real reasons?
  • Why did the Israelites, in reality, not need a king? They said that they wanted to be like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5), but they were not. What was special about them in comparison to all the other nations?
  • 1 Samuel 8:7 is an important verse. What is God saying?
  • Samuel’s warning the people about what it will be like with a king is clear in chapter 8. How do the people respond? What does the passage in Hosea add, in a form of a retrospective look back?
  • What does God decide to do, as 1 Samuel 8 closes?

 

 

People are always looking for a king – either someone to lead them, or to gain acceptance with, or to unify towards. Or maybe it’s something, rather than someone. God is our one true King though, isn’t He? This passage warns us to remember that in Christ we already have everything. Putting our trust in governments, bank accounts, relationships, or whatever, is fine for the reasons that they exist for, but no more. They will, in time, all pass away. True security is, of course, only found in Christ.

 

The Israelites knew in their minds that God had provided for them time and time again. Their lives were the living proof – as was the land around them. Why then did they desire to be like all the other nations? It didn’t make sense, does it?

 

Well, maybe a little. What is understandable is the temptation to sin and stray, even when we know in our hearts what we’re straying from. Every time we mess up and sin, we know we shouldn’t have done it. We also all know the temptations to have the things that our friends have which we’re challenged to avoid.

 

Israel’s desire for a king – as we’ll read over the next few months as we work through them all – will bring the nation to its knees, battered, bloodied and scattered. But it didn’t stop God’s salvation plan and His fulfilment of His promises to Abraham.

 

It’s the same for you and I. You will have to deal with the human consequences of your sin, and poor choices, and your submission to temptation, in whatever form that takes. But God never – ever – stops loving you. And nor will your parents, or your youth leaders, for we all know what it is to deal with – and fail with – those challenges too.

 

I hope you’re excited to read about this next stage in the history of God’s great story!

 

Readings

  • 1 Samuel 5
  • 1 Samuel 6
  • Psalm 115:3-8

Prayer

Pray… that in today’s amusing stories you’ll see an absolute truth – that no idol will ever take the place of God in the grand scheme of history.

Day 119 – The Ark Is Returned

God judges the Philistines, their idol Dagon & all false idols

 

  • Today we read about the exploits of the unfortunate Philistines who stole the Ark in our last readings, and their rather hapless attempts to rid themselves of it again. Did you enjoy reading about it?
  • Dagon was a false Canaanite god, the “father” of another god, Baal. Classically he has been considered to be a fish god, and there are many representations of how it must have looked. Just for interest, I’ve added one such picture of him below.
  • Why do you think the Ark was placed at the feet of Dagon in 1 Samuel 5:2? What do you think the Philistines were trying to say by putting it there?
  • What did God do (twice) to reverse this and show His power and position? What is your reaction to this? What was the reaction of the people who saw it?
  • What does it mean that the “Lord’s hand was heavy upon the people”, in 1 Samuel 5:6? What did the people do with the Ark to try and rid themselves of the plagues the Lord sent upon them? What happened wherever the Ark went?
  • What verse in chapter 5 shows us that the cause of the plagues was the Ark and God’s power (rather than just random chance)?
  • Chapter 6 recounts the way the Philistines decided to send back the Ark to remove their troubles. They tied the Ark to a cart which was pulled by some cows. Read the text, and your study notes if you’d like, to try and work out what the Philistines were trying to do.
  • When the cart was set off, which town (in Israel) did the cows pull it to?
  • Some of the people in this town died (1 Samuel 6:19). Why was this?
  • The linking verses in Psalm 115 are great verses and very clear to us about false idols. Anything made by human hands is blind and worthless in comparison to God. What’s especially interesting is Psalm 115:8, which warns against the people who make these idols putting all their trust in them, and in turn become more and more like the idols (rather than more like Jesus, which is what we are called to be). Based on this, how can we tell whether we are genuine followers of Christ?

 

The victory of the Philistines in yesterday’s story has turned into defeat today, hasn’t it? As the Ark moved around from city to city bringing destruction to the Philistine people, it was rather like a victory march for the Israelites. Christ’s death and resurrection is similar. It was the greatest reversal in all of human history. It turned what seemed like lowly defeat (Jesus’ death) to a resounding victory in his victory over death in the act of the Resurrection. It shows us that we can’t look at one specific thing to understand God (because humanly speaking there will always be ups and downs) – we have to look at the bigger picture. That, in the end, is found in Jesus and the gospel. False gods – or any idols in our life, whatever they may be – will, in the end, be judged and found to be worthless. Only in Jesus is ultimate authority and salvation found.

Readings

  • 1 Samuel 2:22-36
  • 1 Samuel 4
  • 1 Kings 2:26-27

Prayer

Pray… for encouragement when things are tough, and for those working in the NHS at the moment.

Day 118 – God’s Judgement

Israel is defeated, Eli & his sons die & the Ark is lost

 

  • Have you ever played Capture the Flag, perhaps on an online game? Today’s rather sad story in Israel’s history feels a little bit like that, with the Philistine army capturing an important symbol of Israel’s special connection with God, the Ark. Have a flick through your notes to help remind yourself of what the Ark of the Covenant was.
  • Today we find out more about the sin of the two sons of Eli. What were they doing? How did God feel about their disobedience? What about Eli?
  • Do you think Eli was a good father? When you see someone doing wrong things, what’s the most loving thing you can do – let them do it, or challenge them on it?
  • Look carefully at 1 Samuel 2:25. Eli asks his sons a question. How can we as Christians answer his question with confidence?
  • Looking towards the end of 1 Samuel 2, What kind of person did God find to replace Eli’s sons? Do you have Samuel-like attributes, based on what you have read about him so far?
  • What were the elders of Israel doing with the Ark when they were being attacked by the Philistines, in 1 Samuel 4:3-4? Why do you think they used the Ark in this way, and do you using the Ark as some sort of good luck charm was the right thing to do? Do you remember what was stored inside the Ark?
  • Did moving the Ark work? Why not? Picture the scene and the battle. How must you have felt being an Israelite warrior and seeing the devastation around you, compounded by the fact that the Ark’s presence didn’t save them?
  • What happened to Eli’s sons during the battle?
  • How did Eli react to the news about his sons and the Ark?
  • Look at the passage in 1 Kings. It makes reference to the passage in 1 Samuel 2:30 onward. Who did God use to fulfil His prophecy about Eli’s family no longer being priests? Are there any other promises in the Bible that you have read about that show people having to have patience to work in God’s timing?

 

You might like to dig a little deeper today with the following thoughts:

 

  • Think a little more about the life of Eli. A period of time started by Joshua and continued through the Judges is now coming to the end with Eli’s death, starting the transition from a time of judges to a time of kings which is coming. What did Eli, his role and his mistakes represent in the larger picture of Israel?
  • Was God’s glory found in the Ark alone? Did loosing the Ark mean that God was no longer with the Israelites? If God was still with them, did the loss of the Ark still have important consequences? What do you think this shows about the relationship between God and His chosen people?

 

Well now. Things are a little bleak, aren’t they? From the high point of the conquest of the land, the people’s sin has now brought them misery time and time again during the time of the judges, and today we see Eli and his sons dying amidst the capture of the precious Ark. Things are looking pretty miserable.

 

Tomorrow we’ll find out what happens to the Ark, but the bigger story at the moment is what the people of Israel will choose to do. Will they return to putting God as their king, trusting in Him for goodness and protection, or will they demand more human-devised plans for their safety and salvation?

 

We’ll find out as we keep reading this week!

Readings

  • 1 Samuel 2:12-21
  • 1 Samuel 3
  • Psalm 99:6-7

Prayer

Pray… that your Christian life will be more than just ceremony – that it will be based on a love of Jesus.

Day 117 – Samuel’s Call

the wickedness of Eli’s sons & Samuel’s call from God

 

  • What did you make of the blunt summary of Eli’s sons in today’s first verse?!
  • Do you remember the rules for the priests getting a specific portion of the tithes given by the people? Leviticus gave specific rules about how this was to be done. We read about it about a month or so ago. What is described in 1 Samuel 2:13-14 that doesn’t seem to be following God’s law? Are you shocked that we’re reading about wrong actions of two priests, the people who were set aside to do God’s work?
  • Eli’s sons did many religious ceremonies but did not know God or follow God. How do you think that made others feel? How would you have felt if you knew about their lives whilst they were taking and dealing with your sin offerings?
  • How do the actions of Eli’s son contrast to the actions we’ve seen of Hannah so far?
  • What did Hannah bring Samuel each year? What happened to Hannah later in life? Hannah hadn’t had any children for a very long time and gave her first born son to God’s work. For that dedication to God she was given many more blessings afterwards.
  • The story in Samuel 3 is the beginning of Samuel’s role as a prophet. A prophet was someone who brought God’s message to the people around them. In this passage, Eli shows wisdom in helping Samuel understand what is happening.
  • Who kept talking to Samuel, between verses 2 and 10? Who did Samuel think was talking? How did Samuel learn who was really talking to him?
  • Samuel’s first job was to faithfully tell Eli what God had said to him. Why was this a difficult thing to do? Did Samuel do it well?
  • How do you think Eli might have reacted to the difficult news Samuel shared with him? You’ll have to wait to find out! We’ll read tomorrow about how Eli reacts to this message and what happens to him.
  • When God called Samuel, he used his name twice. God did the same with Abraham, Jacob and Moses at the start of their ministry too. What did Samuel do to be compared with Moses and Aaron in Psalm 99? How can you do these things in your life (look at verse 7)?

 

On Saturday and today we have focused in on the life of the young Samuel. Eli and his sons have their part to play, and we’ll find out what happens to them tomorrow, but Samuel is the focal point. God called him early in his life, and we can see how he seems to be proving himself a good listener and a obedient servant to God, all under the careful watch of Eli.

 

Over the next couple of days, our camera is going to pull out slowly as the picture moves from the lives of these specific men, looking instead to the situation in the country as a whole, and we’ll see how the actions of Eli, his sons and Samuel have on the nation as a whole.

 

Today’s passages remind me that our leaders and teachers are not infallible. Eli showed wisdom today as he advised the young Samuel, but he’s flawed, as we found out yesterday and as we’ll find out tomorrow too.

 

Around us we have many teachers – at school, at home and at church, to name just three. We should be thankful for those who guide and teach us, especially when they try and do so faithfully. But they – like you – are also sinful human beings with many failings and weaknesses. I should know! I help to guide and teach you, but when I say the confession every week, my heart is heavy as I look back on the the poor choices I’ve made, and the wrong thoughts, words and deeds that I recall throughout my life.

 

Be thankful for your teachers, and learn from them. Support them and encourage them back! But don’t be surprised when they mess up, say the wrong thing, teach poorly or act hypocritically. We’re all fallen sinners, saved by grace.

 

Instead – look to Jesus. He is the greatest teacher, the ultimate example and, even more importantly – our saviour and king.

Readings

  • None… unless you need to catch up!

Prayer

A day off from reading is not a day off from praying or living as a Christian. Pray for something that’s on your heart today.

Day 116 – Day Off

 

 

I’ve no particular words of wisdom to try and share today, but as we’re just starting a new book – and quite a big book at that – I thought I’d post the video for 1 Samuel.

 

If you read this before you go to bed tonight, stick it on your phone or tablet and enjoy watching it before you go to sleep so you can dream all about Samuel, Saul and David and the adventures we’ll be reading about over the next month!

 

Today, try making God part of your whole day by thanking Him for every good thing you enjoy. It’s a GREAT habit to start forming!

 

Readings

  • 1 Samuel 1
  • 1 Samuel 2:1-11
  • Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer

Pray… for all the good things we have.

Day 115 – Hannah’s Prayer

Hannah’s problem, prayer, peace & thankfulness for baby Samuel

 

  • This sunny weather that we have been enjoying reminds me of a holiday I took a few years ago to Barcelona…. back in the day when we could go on holiday! On the way back from that trip, I remember looking out of the window and enjoying the view of the snow-capped mountains below. I could see for miles and miles, undoubtedly on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, all of whom were going through their everyday lives below, with the happiness, heartbreak, challenges and opportunities that life brings to us all. In today’s passage, as we see the birth of Samuel, we’ll be reading about his mother; a lady who had great sadness in her life who brought her difficulties to God. We’ll see how God answers her prayer, and how she responds.
  • You might not have known anything about Hannah before you started reading today. What have you learned about her?
  • Why was Hannah very sad? How did Elkanah’s other wife make her sadness worse?
  • What did Hannah tell God she would do if God would answer her prayers for a child? What does her vow remind you of?
  • What did Eli think of Hannah when he first saw her in 1 Samuel 1:12-14? Are first impressions always right? Do you sometimes jump to conclusions, like Eli did, and later regret them?
  • Was Hannah’s prayer answered? What kinds of things did Hannah say to God after He answered her prayer, and did she keep her earlier promise?
  • Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 is wonderful, and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. In it she thanks God for His answer to prayer, and puts Him first in her life. What other themes can you find in the poem? For example, what can you see in her words about God caring for the weak and the outcast?
  • What does God say each one of us should do when we feel worried or anxious? What does God promise to do if we cast our cares on Him through prayer? The passage in Philippians will help you, as will our time thinking about prayer in Cells a few weeks ago when we finished our time in the book of James.
  • You might recognise Philippians 4:7. We often say it at the end of a service. Why do you think we say it so often?
  • Samuel is an important figure in the Old Testament story, which is why we’re reading carefully about his birth. He was a prophet. Do you know anything else about him from memory already?

 

If you have a few more moments, you might like to delve deeper today. If so, think about the following questions:

 

  • Do you think Hannah thought that she could only find an identity as a woman if she had a baby? If you (or your future wife, Jonah and Harry) wanted a baby and found you couldn’t, could you come closer to God through your sadness like Hannah did?
  • Read Mary’s song in Luke 1. Mary sings this after being told that she would give birth to Jesus. What similarities can you find between her song and Hannah’s?

 

Once again we read today of God working through a seemingly empty situation to bring about not just happiness for one family, but also, as we’ll be reading over the next couple of weeks, great things for the nation of Israel (Samuel brought God’s wisdom to the people and the kings of the time). We’ve read of many women who, through faith, saw good out of seemingly hopeless situations (Sarah, Rachel, Rahab and Ruth come to mind) and it’s happening again now with Hannah as we see God answer her quiet, determined faithfulness.

 

Today’s passage can be interesting on a theological level if you dig into it as such, but it’s also just a good story. It’s one you probably didn’t know, but I hope it’s one you’ll quietly remember. As you write your notes, think about how you’re going to be using these notes in the future to encourage and remind yourself about this. How will you remember about Hannah, and Eli, and the birth of Samuel? What can you do, or write about, or consider, that will help make this not just another study, but another brick built into your understanding of how God worked in this part of history?

 

Don’t forget the pages at the front of your journal, which are there for you to write down any encouragements, favourite verses or struggles. There may not be any particularly from today, but do continue to use these pages if you would like to do so.

Readings

  • Ruth 4
  • Matthew 22:23-33
  • Matthew 1:1-6

Prayer

Pray… for clear understanding about the technicalities of this passage.

Day 114 – Ruth’s Redemption

the law of the Kinsman Redeemer & the genealogy of Jesus

 

  • Today is the final day looking at the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. It opens with Boaz preparing to converse with the person who is most entitled to “redeem” Elimelech’s property, which includes his land.
  • Can you remember why Boaz had to give the other man first choice to take the land? Boaz first tells the other man about the property he’s entitled to buy, and later tells him that this means he’ll also be “buying” Ruth as his wife. This sounds odd, but it means he’ll be taking responsibility to look after her (and Naomi), which of course is what they needed.
  • Why did the man initially accept the offer, and later refuse it? Have a think for yourself first, as it’s good if you can try and work it out from the passage. I’ve put some ideas below to help if you need it.
  • How did Boaz and the other man indicate that they had agreed that Boaz would be the “kinsman redeemer” and marry Ruth? What do we do nowadays instead of giving each other our sandals?
  • Which three famous women of Israel did the ladies wish Ruth to be blessed like? They are listed in Ruth 4:11-12. Can you remember any of the stories? How did God bless these women? What are the hoping for Ruth by saying these words?
  • Boaz and Ruth got married and had a child. What was the name of their great-grandson? From what you know of him, how does this show that Ruth was indeed blessed like Rachel and Leah?
  • On the topic of families, do you remember the name of Boaz’s mother? You should be able to recall her name from stories in the book of Joshua.
  • Ruth put God as her first priority and God led her down an unexpected path of blessing. Are you are obeying God and keeping Him your number one priority? How have you seen God bless you in unexpected ways because of it?
  • Many people think that genealogies are very dull, and you may be wondering why we read Matthew 1:1-6 today when we read Matthew 1:1-5 only a few weeks ago. Now you know lots about the people in the genealogy though, so is it more interesting to read the words in Matthew? I hope so! Don’t forget, of course, who this genealogy ultimately leads to!
  • What did Naomi change her name to in chapter 1? Do you think she’ll change it back now?

 

In my notes, I posed the question about the man who had the first choice to redeem the estate. Why did the man change his mind and refuse to marry Ruth? What did he mean he would “endanger my own estate”? A few possibilities exist. First, the man might not have wanted to spend the money to buy the land when he knew he would have to then provide for a marriage, along with having to care for Naomi. More likely, it might also mean the man felt that having another wife would mean he would have to divide his property between more people, and there would be less for his current family members. If he already had children that he was planning on leaving his property to, he might not want to share that with any future children he would have with Ruth. Thirdly, it’s possible that the man just wasn’t as wealthy as Boaz and did not have the ability to buy the land and a spouse, and take the responsibility of Naomi. Perhaps you thought of other ideas too.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Ruth this week. As it is set among the days of the otherwise turbulent time of the Judges, it’s a great story of God’s providence (this means that He’s in control). Whilst Ruth might not have known it at the time, God looked after both her and His people in this story, and all Ruth had to do was to be faithful to Him and trust in His plans for her. A challenge for us all to do likewise!

 

Tomorrow we start in 1 Samuel, which tells the exciting stories of Saul and David, amongst others. It’s a wonderful book of history and kicks off a whole new section of Old Testament history – the fascinating time of the Kings. See you tomorrow for that!

Readings

  • Ruth 3
  • Deuteronomy 25:5-10
  • Proverbs 31:10-31

Prayer

Pray… that you will act with integrity and honesty like Boaz, in the small things as well as the big.

Day 113 – Ruth’s Virtue

the law of the kinsman redeemer & Ruth the virtuous woman

 

 

  • Today’s third reading in the book of Ruth opens with a passage showing Naomi and Ruth planning a marriage proposal.
  • How did Ruth, in actions that seem rather unusual to us nowadays, ask Boaz to marry her? How did Boaz respond to her marriage proposal?
  • What do you make of her actions? They will have seemed rather odd! I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. You might be wondering why she was anywhere near his bed at all. But don’t be confused – there is no sexual sin occurring here. Ruth’s actions are humble and good, as you should be able to tell from Boaz’s response, especially in Ruth 3:10. Note that Boaz would have been quite a bit older than her.
  • Why don’t you think they “dated” before Ruth asked Boaz to marry her? Did you know that there wasn’t a concept of dating in the Bible?
  • Ruth picked Boaz because he was a potential “redeemer” for her, as he was a close relative to Noami’s previous husband. That said, what potential stumbling block is described in Ruth 3:12-13? What qualities does Boaz show by acting in the way he does in these verses?
  • Why did Ruth leave early and out of sight, in verse 14?
  • The Old Testament provided a unique way for people to help widows. This was called the “law of the kinsman redeemer.” Try and do a bit of study, particularly in today’s passage in Deuteronomy, and explain how Boaz ended up being the kinsman redeemer for Ruth. I’ll probably ask you about this when we meet up so try to understand what’s going on! It’s important to note that Christians are not bound by these marital laws any more; passages like 1 Corinthians 7:39, and others, talk about this.
  • How does God describe a godly woman in Proverbs 31? How does Ruth fit the description of a Proverbs 31 woman? Do you or anyone in the family share any of the same character qualities (ie your mum, sister or gran)? The image in these verses paint an idealistic picture; i.e. something to strive for, as no woman could match up to the standard, just like no man could if such a list was made for him! You might be interested to note that the whole of Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic poem; each new sentence starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
  • Boys, what godly attributes do you look for in a woman with whom you might consider starting a relationship? Girls, what do you make of the list of virtues in Proverbs? Are they the same as the world suggests to you?

 

 

I love this book. It’s such a gentle story of love, honour and godliness; a stage upon which the actors and actresses are acting their parts with godly wisdom and integrity. Don’t forget the bigger picture though! This seemingly innocuous story will, unbeknown to Boaz and Ruth, affect human history as we know it. You’ll find out what that is tomorrow. And yet, at the time, they would never have known that their story had any consequence… let alone be part of the Bible.

 

You have no idea how your actions or choices will affect you or those around you too. Can I encourage you to act in love, integrity and godliness in all your little decisions, just like Boaz and Ruth? Practise making these virtues a habit. You just never know – maybe someone will see you living for God in that small way and come to faith in Christ through your quiet display of faith.

 

And in the 999/1000 times when nobody sees it, you’ll still know about it. And so will God.

Readings

  • Ruth 2
  • Deuteronomy 15:7-11
  • Deuteronomy 24:17-22

Prayer

Pray… that you will have a Boaz-like heart.

Day 112 – Ruth Meets Boaz

Caring for the poor & allowing the poor to collect food after harvest

 

 

  • Onward we go with the simple story of Ruth, and in today’s second chapter we meet the kindly Boaz. What did you know about Boaz before you read (or re-read) Ruth 2?
  • Throughout most of Ruth 2, Ruth is “gleaning” in the harvest fields. It isn’t a common term anymore, but the job has its roots in the third passage we read today. From what you read in all three passages, what does “gleaning” mean? How do you think Ruth might have felt about going out to glean for food?
  • What dangers might she have faced, being a foreigner, a woman and a widow? The words of both Boaz and Naomi will help.
  • Who was Boaz? How did he and Ruth meet?
  • What instructions did Boaz give Ruth, and why – in Ruth 2:10-13 – does Boaz show her this kindness? What was it about Ruth’s character that drew Boaz to help her?
  • How did God’s Law in Deuteronomy help provide for people like Ruth and her mother-in-law? Does it help you to see, in practise, how some of God’s very detailed laws helped His people?
  • How did Boaz live out God’s commandments in Deuteronomy to care for the needy? Look at both passages as there is lots of information.
  • When Ruth returned home, carrying two week’s worth of food, and explained the events of the day to Naomi, why did her mother-in-law get excited?
  • Verse 20 gives us a clue to that question. Boaz is a close relative, but more importantly, a redeemer (often called a “kinsman redeemer”). We’ll find out more about what a redeemer is tomorrow, but for now you need only know that such a person offered the potential of hope, help and security and provision for the otherwise destitute Ruth and Naomi.
  • Do you think Naomi already has a plan forming in her mind about a possible marriage?
  • What signs can you spot that God is at work in today’s story? To start you off, you may like to investigate Ruth 2:1-3, where there are at least two hidden indications of God at work. What other examples can you find?

 

Boaz is welcoming and kind and generous to Ruth – more than she could have dared to hope for. There would have been many factors of course. Boaz’s own generous spirit was one. The fact that he knew Ruth to be a close relative (through her marriage to Elimelech’s son) and so he was a potential redeemer, was another, and of course God’s orchestration of events as the true Director of the story. Ruth had a glimpse at the end of today’s readings of being in the care of a man who not only honours God (such as his willingness to obey the Law), but of a kinsman redeemer who could bring salvation and a hope for the future. Her actions towards Boaz, which we’ll enjoy reading about tomorrow, could change her entire outlook.

 

Needless to say – it’s the same for us! Sometimes we can be blasé about the wonderful promises of Jesus for us, and the life-transforming gift we have received through his act of love for us on the cross. I pray that you have a heart like Ruth today about the good news of Jesus – a wonderful, life-changing joy at the promises we trust in as Christians. Never forget the blessings that we have been given, and never stop being thankful that we, who were once destitute in our sin, have been found, loved, and redeemed in the most awesome way.

Readings

  • Ruth 1
  • Deuteronomy 23:3-6
  • Deuteronomy 10:17-19

Prayer

Pray… that you’ll remember the teaching of Ruth you’ve had before, and build on that this week.

Day 111 – Ruth Follows Naomi

Delilah’s nagging, Samson’s foolishness & Samson’s death

 

 

  • Welcome to another new book – the beautiful tale of Ruth. During the turmoil of the ups and downs of the people in the time of the Judges, as we begin to think about moving on from that period of the Israelite history, the Bible is suddenly punctuated by this short, moving love story. We’re going to be enjoying looking through that story in depth for four days.
  • Just as a precursor to the tale, flick back a couple of pages in your Bible and find the very last verse of the book of Judges. We’ve read it before but I want to remind you of it. Think about what the problems that Israel may have been facing at the time, based on this verse. Think too about all the things that they had to do – remember that they had all been given the Law from the time in the wilderness to follow, including the priestly offerings and tithing. Hew faithful do you think the people were likely have been to God’s commands?
  • I’m sure you know this story of Ruth, or at least the basics. What new things hit you on this reading as you enjoyed chapter 1?
  • Should Elimelech have taken his wife and family to Moab in the first place? Why did he?
  • As Naomi prepared to head back to her homeland of Judah (i.e. Israel), she encourages her two widowed daughters-in-law to stay at home. Ruth 1:11 might sound odd, as she encourages the women to find new husbands rather than wait for Naomi herself to have more sons for them to marry. What were the different responses of Roth and Orpah to Naomi’s request?
  • Read what Ruth said to Naomi again in Ruth 1:16. They are powerful. Why did Ruth make the decision she made? What specific things that she said stick out for you?
  • Naomi was a widow without brothers or children. She would have been very vulnerable, as there was very little support she could have called on to survive on. Naomi might have selflessly encouraged Ruth to stay at home, but in her heart, she may have been singing for joy at Ruth’s choice to stand by her mother-in-law.
  • Think whether you are more like Naomi, Orpah or Ruth. Imagine what it would be like to leave all your friends and your family and know you might never come back home again; a challenge that faced all three women at some point in their lives. Do you have the trusting heart that Ruth seems to have?
  • What did Ruth’s people, the Moabites, do to the nation of Israel several years before this story? You might remember a famous story from the wilderness years, or one from the last book we read, Judges. How does this affect the way Ruth may have been perceived as she came home with Naomi?
  • How were the Israelites supposed to treat needy people like widows, orphans and foreigners? Today’s supplementary readings will help you with this.
  • How have you cared for the needy recently? I don’t just mean putting a pound in a collection plate! For example, do you have a loving heart for the people around you, like the outsiders at school?

 

 

Think about the upper/lower story today, such as the ungodly actions that have happened to make this story come about so far, and Naomi’s new name and sadness. God is at work in this story already, even if it might not seem obvious to them yet!

 

Some encouragement for you. The passages we’ll be reading in Ruth are short, easy to read and packed with the gospel. That gives you more time to think over the questions and comments. You may have got into a habit of not reading every day, but doing blocks of catch-up sessions, and that’s a habit I hope you can kick. This week is a great week to get back up to speed! If you’re reading these notes late, get on with tomorrow’s passages straight away and get caught up. The passages this week are clear and accessible, so use this chance!

 

Oh, and despite forgetting to post the video for Judges, I’m going to persevere and include the one for Ruth. Bonus points for anyone who watches it and tells me something interesting you learned from it via WhatsApp!