Introducing the Book of Ruth: Its Placement, Structure, and Relevance

Introducing the Book of Ruth: Its Placement, Structure, and Relevance

Main idea: The book of Ruth has been situated and structured to remind us that God often unfolds his redemptive plan and demonstrates his providential care in and through the everyday faithfulness of ordinary believers.


  1. Where has the book of Ruth been situated?
    • Ruth’s placement between Judges and Samuel.
    • Ruth’s placement before the Psalms.
    • Ruth’s placement after the Proverbs.
  2. How has the book of Ruth been structured?
    • A departure from Bethlehem (Ruth 1:1-5)
    • A return to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:6-22)
    • Refuge in Bethlehem (Ruth 2:1-23)
    • Rest in Bethlehem (Ruth 3:1-18)
    • Redemption in Bethlehem (Ruth 4:1-17)
    • A king from Bethlehem (Ruth 4:18-22)
  3. What relevance does the book of Ruth have for us today?
    • Ruth teaches us not to despise the ordinary.
    • Ruth summons us to kiss the hand of providence.
    • Ruth helps us to behold our Redeemer.

Secondary sources cited:

  • (Movie screenplay) Greta Gerwig, Little Women, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott (2019).
  • Stephen Dempster, “A Wandering Moabite: Ruth—A Book in Search of a Canonical Home,” in The Shape of the Writings, Siphrut 16, edited by Julius Steinberg and Timothy J. Stone (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2015).
  • (Section headings) Adapted with permission from Ryan B. King, “Back to Bethlehem” sermon series, preached at Grace Baptist Church Green Wood from November 12, 2023 to December 31, 2023.
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch (New York: Penguin Classics, 2003).
  • (Hymn) William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

**Preacher’s note** After further study of the text of Ruth 4, the preacher has divided Ruth 4:1-17 into two separate sections: (1) Redemption in Bethlehem (vv. 1-11a); and (2) A birth in Bethlehem (vv. 11b-17).

Order of Service (Jan 7, 2024)