If you’ve read Lord of the Flies, you know something about the people in the time of Ruth. William Golding in his 1954 novel weaves a tale about schoolboys wrecked on a deserted island, left to their own devices.
His point, like that in Judges, is that people without leadership descend into savagery.
If you’ll take a peak at Ruth 4:17 (this is not a plot spoiler because you’ve read the book, right?), you’ll see that part of the surprise ending in Ruth is that King David is a direct descendant of the marriage of Ruth and Boaz.
So our story begins in the time of chaos, with every man for himself, but ends with the great king of Israel. Ruth is the bridge from one time to another, from chaos to order, from savagery to Israel’s Golden Age.
It’s no accident that the book begins with a list of names – Elimelech, Naomi, Chilion and Mahlon – and ends with another list of names. The first list has largely faded from history but the second list links Ruth not only to King David, but we know even more than the first readers of Ruth. We know that King David links to Jesus.
Re-read Ruth 1:1-5. What problems do you see described in those verses?