Ruth: Loving-Kindness in Action
by Will Murphy.


Meditating all day on your Law, how I have come to love it!” Psalm 119. 97.

The season of Lent gives each one of us the opportunity to meditate on that precious word of God that is able to lead us “to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”. I have chosen the book of Ruth as the basis for a daily, in-depth study and meditation through Lent. It is good to let the words of Holy Scripture speak directly to us. It is also beneficial to take on the discipline of a daily reading that will challenge us, provoke us to serious thought, and make us more aware of the riches and depths of ‘God-breathed’ writing.

The hook of Ruth has been described in many different ways and the following quotations are but a flavour of them.

Literacy art and theological insight at its finest ... a hook of timeless beauty and amazing intricacy.’’

“No prophetic oracles, no priestly torah, no psalmic lyric can match the short story for subtlety. ambiguity, and memorability.”

“A beautiful story of the love, covenant loyalty, and daring initiative of two inipoverished widows,”

“An island of tranquillity in which people generally act well toward one another and the community celebrate a happy ending for all concerned.”

“The work is not a charming trifle ... but rather, we are impressed by its great resonances, It is indeed a gem, but gem in the sense of a gathered and concentrated power, a bright clarity beneath a somewhat deceptive setting of lyric grace and simplicity.’’

The last referenec to a “somewhat deceptive setting” provides, I believe, a clue to our understanding of the hook, and this is highlighted in one final quotation.

“The adicetivcs one does find applied to this book — pretty, sentimental, idyllic, charming, beautiful, and delightful, to name the most common betray a view of the narrative as fundamentally facile —‘ it is exceedingly complex and ambiguous.”

It is payer that as we read a few verses of’ the book every day, and as we meditate on them, that we will begin to unravel some of the complexity and ambiguity of the book.
May we be as enriched in our spiritual journey as Ruth and Naomi were enriched in their physical journey.

I base used my own translation of the Hebrew text, and I have also structured the book as
a drama, inasmuch as of all the Old Testament books “Ruth has the highest ratio of dialogue to narrative text.” As loving-kindness (hesed) is the golden thread that runs through the book of Ruth I have concluded each day’s reading and meditation with a text about loving—knidness from the hook of Psalms.

Will Murphy, December 2003

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