Ruth returns to Israel with her mother-in-law out of love and devotion, out of the realization that without someone to care for her, Naomi would find it difficult to survive. This decision then places Ruth in peril.
Without a husband and without any land, Ruth must scavenge. Hebrew law required the owner of the field to let his oxen work without a muzzle and to leave the gleanings for the poor. This was Ruth's fate. While the owner of the land may respect Hebrew law, the laborers often abused and molested these women.
What a horrible situation!
But how different is Ruth's fate from so many in our society? Are not the poor left to dig their own way out of poverty or discover solutions to their plight? We talk of education, then structure the system in a way which continues to disadvantage the disadvantaged. News broke last week regarding the owner of an NFL Team soliciting sex - the story expanded to include the horror of human trafficking.
To be one of God's people is to see in those ancient Hebrew laws God's care and concern for all His children. To do the will of God is to recognize our excess and to make sure to leave some for those who have none. Our "Christian" culture has placed to much emphasis on "believe in your heart and confess with your lips" and not enough attention to "when you saw me naked you clothed me."
Things will work out okay for Ruth. Fortunately, there is another character in the book (Boaz) who follows the will and word of God. But the happy ending should not catch our attention too soon. Our celebration of her as one of the named ancestors of Jesus tells us something about his bloodline and about the story his life tells.