A Women's Small Group Bible Study Guide on The Book of Ruth
I lead a small group of women each week in our community as we pursue growth in our relationships with Jesus and our faith, as well as fellowship and friendship with each other. We often do pre-created studies on books, videos, or podcasts that come with discussion questions, but this month we wanted to get into His word and study the Bible. So, we landed on the Book of Ruth for two main reasons - 1) it's the first book in the Bible named after a woman (out of only 2 - the other being Esther), and 2) it's 4 chapters which made it perfect for a 4-week study. If any of you ladies would like to study the Book of Ruth, I've shared our general study plan, notes, and discussion questions here for you!
The Book of Ruth: Bible Study Week 1
We started this study off with a quick video introduction - see below - covering the overall Book of Ruth, thanks to the Bible Project. [Side note: I love the Bible Project videos! They are so insightful and provide so much great context. I highly recommend them!]
After the video, we opened up the conversation to anything that may have stood out to the ladies in our group. As you study the Book of Ruth with your own group, or on your own individually, God may show you specific things that differ from our group, so I don't want to share our initial thoughts as to ensure you get the message you're supposed to from God in your studying. [I will, however, share a summary of general notes from our discussions at the bottom of this blog post.]
After the brief video and initial reactions and thoughts, we each read a few verses of Ruth 1 aloud until we read through the entire chapter which is 22 verses in total. [PS - A couple of things I love about doing a study like this is that we all get into the Word at the same time, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us as a group and each of us individually, AND it's "no-homework" bible study for us - in other words, we read in the group instead of prior to meeting together which is great because we are all moms of littles and finding the time to do "homework" can often be challenging!]
TIP: Some of our group ladies brought their bibles to read from, and others used their phones to read from the YouVersion Bible App (my go-to). There's really no right or wrong way to read the bible, as long as you get into it! I personally use both my physical bible and my phone app often.
Finally, after reading all of Ruth 1:1-22 as a group out loud, we jumped into some discussion questions (which I curated and prepared prior to the group meeting after I watched the video myself, read all of Ruth 1, and then read a number of other blog posts and articles about the Book of Ruth, which I'll link all at the bottom for reference).
Here are our discussion questions for Week 1 of studying The Book of Ruth (Ruth 1):
- How does today's world we are living in resemble the dark days of the Judges, if at all?
- How then should we as Christian women commit our lives regardless of cultural norms?
- Naomi's husband's choices led her to instability and suffering. Have you ever had a time when someone else's choices caused you instability and/or suffering? How did God show up in the midst of that time for you?
- Look at your family and friends and consider if any cross barriers of age, race, religion, political beliefs, etc.? How does this (having differences) impact your relationships? What changes can you make to be more open to differences and more selfless in those relationships? And in turn, how could making those changes bring others closer to God through you?
That was the end of our Week 1 Bible Study on the Book of Ruth, and honestly, our conversations were super in-depth and powerful!
The Book of Ruth: Bible Study Week 2
In our 2nd week of studying the Book of Ruth in the Bible, we didn't have another video to watch (since we only watched that in Week 1), so we began right in the Word by reading Ruth 2:1-23 out loud and then followed with discussion questions.
Here are our discussion questions for Week 2 of studying The Book of Ruth (Ruth 2):
- How is Boaz, as the Kinsman Redeemer of Naomi's family, a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ?
- What characteristics are we seeing in Boaz? Which of these are needed by men in our world today as they lead in the home, at work, in the community, and in the church?
- Boaz greeted people in an interesting way (see Ruth 2:4). How often. if at all, do we hear greetings like that in today's world? Why or why not?
- What characteristics are we seeing in Ruth? Which of these characteristics do we see in ourselves already, and which do we hope for more of and could apply in our own lives?
- Naomi and Ruth endured times of serious hardship. In circumstances like this, people often go one of two ways with their faith - 1) they blame God and fall away from their faith, or 2) they grow stronger in their faith and move closer to Him. How do Naomi and Ruth react in their times of hardship? How have you reacted in times of hardship in your life?
- Look back at Ruth 1:16-17. What part of her promise to Naomi has she kept so far?
That concluded our Week 2 study on The Book of Ruth, and again, the conversations were wonderful. It's amazing how reading scripture out loud and with others can really stimulate discussion and allow the Holy Spirit to show up!
The Book of Ruth: Bible Study Week 3
In our 3rd week of studying the Book of Ruth in the Bible, we again began by reading Ruth 3:1-18 aloud and then followed with discussion questions (like Week 2).
Here are our discussion questions for Week 3 of studying The Book of Ruth (Ruth 3):
- Like Ruth trusted and obeyed Naomi, are you open to and willing to take Godly, Biblical instruction or advice from others? Why or why not?
- Why was marriage such a desired state for a woman, especially in this time and culture?
- How have courting and marriage proposals changed since this time? Can we learn any Godly principles from their examples and customs?
- How did both Ruth and Boaz act morally upright in this situation?
- At the end of this chapter, Naomi says to "wait" (and to trust). Are there times that God is urging you to (or maybe, making you) "wait/trust" on something? How did you, or do you, handle that?
We ended our Week 3 study of the Book of Ruth talking a lot about that last question... how it's challenging to wait for and trust that some of our prayers will be answered if God even chooses to do so. Thy will be done, right?
The Book of Ruth: Bible Study Week 4
In our 4th and final week of studying the Book of Ruth in the Bible, we started with reading Ruth 41:22 out loud (just as we did in Week 2 and Week 3) and then followed with discussion questions and a final review of the study.
Here are our discussion questions for Week 4 of studying The Book of Ruth (Ruth 4):
- The witnesses mentioned (of the redeemer transaction) gave two prayers or blessings to Boaz - one for Ruth to be fruitful like Rachel and Leah and one for Boaz to be well-known in Bethlehem. How are both fulfilled?
- When Ruth and Boaz conceive, the text says "the Lord enabled" it - a clear blessing from God. [Because our group is all moms] In your pregnancy or pregnancies, was your first thought after finding out that you were pregnant that "God enabled this" or "God gave me this child" or was it something else?
- What are some ways that Ruth was a blessing to Naomi?
- How did Naomi's attitude and situation change from the beginning of the Book of Ruth to the end?
- What are some ways that the Book of Ruth points to (or foreshadows) better things to come through Jesus?
- What lessons can we learn and apply in our own lives after reading the Book of Ruth? After reading, did you learn anything about God and/or did you learn anything about your own life?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I'm sharing below some notes on the Book of Ruth that came up in our discussions, but I didn't want to share these at the front end of this post because I didn't want to sway what YOU (on your own or with your group) discovered as you studied Ruth for yourself. Maybe the Holy Spirit revealed some of these points to you in your studying, and maybe some are new to you!
Additional Notes & Resources on the Book of Ruth
- The Main Characters:
Naomi - an Israelite widow, Ruth's mother-in-law
Ruth - a Moabite, described by her loyalty and boldness, a woman of noble character (like the woman of Proverbs 31)
Boaz - an Israelite farmer related to Naomi, described by his loyalty and generosity, a man of noble character and the family's kinsman redeemer
- The Time:
The Bible Project video sheds some light on the context of the time in history of the Judges which was a time of chaos, crisis, lawlessness, and utter selfishness.
That is what makes the loyalty and selflessness of both Ruth and Boaz and their story stand out as it was completely counter-cultural to behave this way during this time.
- Ruth "died to herself" when she gave up everything to follow her mother-in-law Naomi and Naomi's God, just as we should "die to ourselves" and follow Jesus Christ.
- Even in the tragedy and death in the lives of Naomi and Ruth, God saw their faith in and loyalty to Him and brought them joy and birth - a beautiful symmetry.
- Even though God is barely mentioned in the Book of Ruth, it shows how He is involved in the day-to-day joys and hardships of our lives, whether we can see Him at work or not.
- Look up the genealogy in Matthew 1, which women are listed? Not only do we see that all the women listed had some sort of bad reputation and God still chose to use them for good, showing his love and grace, but we also see that Ruth has a son who becomes the grandfather of King David, which makes Ruth the great grandmother of King David, and therefore Ruth is a relative in the bloodline of Jesus. God used a non-Israelite woman in the story of Jesus!
- Additional Resources: