Few things are as lovely as kindness. Kindness is an attribute of the LORD, and one that cannot and does not cease to be part of him. This is true even when we find ourselves in the unkindest circumstances.
Kindness is love’s handmaiden—it is the living form of that mysterious goodness called love. Because it finds its origin in God, when we see kindness in human relationships it often makes us marvel.
The book of Ruth is all about kindness—Ruth’s kindness, Boaz’s kindness, and the Kindness of which they are only shadows.
Ruth is also, therefore, about love—sisterly love, laboring love, generous love, courageous love, costly love, romantic love, and, above all, God’s love.
Ruth is also all about providence—how God works joy out of our pain, how God places us in just the right circumstances at just the right time, how God plans generations, and plants pleasant surprises even in our sorrows.
In sum, the book of Ruth is all about God. When we open this book, we find a story that illustrates how God is kind, how God is love, and how God governs all things, down to the smallest details.
In the book of Ruth, Israel was at an all-time low. Ruth lived during the time of the judges—think of the “worst-case-scenario” social situation and you’ve got the time of the judges. Women weren’t safe, society had thrown out their laws, and priests had turned murderous. Although Israel was God’s chosen people, set apart to live according to his Word, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”—God was functionally forgotten (Judges 17:6; Ruth 1:1).
But God never forgets; he’s always faithful. He had promised an heir who would rescue Israel and the rest of humanity from sin. He promised to be Israel’s God forever. Ruth is the story of how at Israel’s rock-bottom, God kept his promise.
Naomi, one of the main characters in the book of Ruth, was also at an all-time low. Her husband and two sons died within ten years—leaving her unprotected and unprovided for in this terribly hostile society. Vulnerable and hurting, she thinks life is essentially over.
But somehow in the middle of her distress, she finds herself holding the hand of her daughter-in-law Ruth, who promises her an immense kindness—to never leave her side. Ruth somehow finds kindness at the hand of Boaz, a wealthy landowner. And somehow, Boaz offers Ruth his hand in marriage. Then the story ends with Naomi holding her baby grandson, with Boaz beside her to protect and care for her, and Ruth—though a foreigner—now her family twice over.
That baby, Obed, grew to be the grandfather of King David. Little Obed was the precious means of God keeping his promise to Israel—he was next in line in the lineage that would lead to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Obed was proof that God had not forgotten or forsaken his promises to Israel.
Because God is kind, his plans do not unfold irrespective of our griefs and needs. Our lives are the very fabric of his story. He weaves his grand scheme with threads of kindness.
And though God was working out his plans at a grand level, little Obed was also the precious means of God keeping his personal promises to comfort the afflicted—he was the balm for Naomi’s wounds. God had not forgotten about Naomi, either.
Do you see how personal God’s providence is? Because God is kind, his plans do not unfold irrespective of our griefs and needs. Our lives are the very fabric of his story. He weaves his grand scheme with threads of kindness.
He delights to bring about his purposes through kind providences in our personal lives. And he delights to wrap the details of our personal lives into his great big world-scale design.
Ruth is worthy of a lights-out, fully engaged, read aloud before bed. Love in its best and purest form shines from this little book. Open the book of Ruth and meet Kindness himself.