Bad things happen in life, but Ruth teaches us to put our full trust in God even when we’ve suffered loss. Through her loving devotion to Naomi, we learn that God puts people in our lives to help us grow closer to him. Also, Ruth’s life shows the amazing, redemptive power of God – the same power that would one day raise Jesus from the dead! Her story of loss, obedience, and blessings show us that God had a special plan for Ruth, and he also has a special plan for us.
TARGET AGES: 9 – 13 Older Elementary. You may need to simplify this lesson when working with younger children.
CURRICULUM UNIT: This lesson is part of the Who was …. ? series on major Bible characters.
OBJECTIVE: To help the children understand that God had a special plan for Ruth’s family and he has a special plan for our families too!
MAIN IDEA: Ruth deliberately chose to trust God even though she faced loss and hardships. God protected and provided for Ruth, and she even became a part of the family God would one day use to provide salvation through Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Ruth 1:1-5, 1:16-18, 2:8-12, 3:1-4, 3:10-13, 4:13-17, 4:5-9
MATERIAL(S): Christian magazines and children’s books, “Abraham to Ruth” matching game cards (attachment), plastic sandwich bags, small prize (optional)
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, thank you for having a special plan for each of us! Help us learn from Ruth by choosing obedience to your specific will for each of our lives. Amen.”
ICEBREAKER ACTIVITY: Continue discussing how God uses families by looking through Christian magazines and children’s books. Ask the class to find pictures of families and be able to explain what each family is doing or what the picture/book may represent. Especially talk about the examples that closely match God’s desire to use faithful, obedient families to show others his love. Remind the children that God is pleased to use families who desire to serve him (just like he used the people/families we have been learning about in the bible).
Lesson (15 minutes)
- Say, “Today we will learn about a woman named Ruth who was used by God in amazing ways even though she was a foreigner and faced many hard circumstances.” Read Ruth 1:1-5 and discuss the ramifications for a woman in her day, and of her status, to face such difficulties (such as the difficulty of providing for herself and no longer being under the legal protection of a husband). Go on to explain that Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, encouraged her to stay in Moab after the death of their husbands. Read Ruth’s response in Ruth 1:16-18. Ask, “What is special about Ruth’s desire to return with Naomi (it showed her love and commitment to Naomi)? Do you think Naomi had been a good example for Ruth?” Help the class understand that Naomi and Ruth’s relationship shows us how important it is to love, serve, and help one another. Also, announce that God had some special blessings in store because of Ruth’s faithfulness.
- Next, ask the children to brainstorm how Naomi and Ruth might have felt when they returned to Judah (e.g. scared, sad, or worried). Comment, “God had a special plan for the women and provided Ruth an opportunity to glean grain (gather the leftovers after the crops had been harvested) in a field owned by one of Naomi’s relatives.” Read Ruth 2:8-12. Ask, “What protection did Boaz offer to Ruth (to stay in his field, drink water, and not be harmed by the other men)? What reasons did he give Ruth for these privileges (her good reputation and the sacrifice she made by leaving her home)?” Help the children understand that it was a rare thing for someone of Boaz’s stature to even notice a woman like Ruth, let alone offer his protection!
- Lastly, describe Naomi’s plan for Ruth and Boaz by reading Ruth 3:1-4. Explain that by lying at Boaz’s feet, Ruth was implying that she wanted to be his wife! Also, exposing his feet was very risky – it meant she could have been physically harmed. However, Boaz knew the implications of Ruth’s actions, and he responded in Ruth 3:10-13. Read the verses and ask, “How did Boaz praise Ruth? What was the only thing standing in the way of him being the guardian redeemer (and taking claim to Ruth and Naomi’s care)?” Read the outcome in Ruth 4:5-9. Ask the children to name aspects of the story of Ruth and Boaz that show God’s protection and provision. Say, “Remember that the same God who protected Naomi and Ruth, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses also protects us! Be faithful, and call on him when you are in need.” Finally, read the climatic result of Ruth’s obedience in Ruth 4:13-17 (she was the great-grandmother of King David). Reiterate that God used Ruth’s family and he also wants to use our families!
Abraham to Ruth: Matching Game (15 minutes) *Attachment
Print a copy of the matching game (attached) for each child. Cut out the pieces ahead of time and place each set in a plastic sandwich bag. During class, pass out the bags and explain to the children that they will match every card with black text to a card with green text. Then see who can correctly match all the pairs the fastest! You may consider bringing a small prize for the winner.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Ruth was a foreigner who chose to be faithful to God even when she faced incredible difficulties. Her family was blessed by God because of her personal obedience, and our families will also be blessed when we make a personal effort to follow Christ.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for Ruth’s example of faithfulness and obedience. Help us become more obedient and faithful to you. Amen.”
Who was …. A Study on Bible Characters
This lesson is part of a 14 unit curriculum for older children (age 9 – 13) that introduces major characters in the Bible.