To Trust or Not to Trust

  • Steve Hatter
Trust tattoo

Do you ever wonder if God is really in control of everything? Does He really possess and manifest attributes like omniscience (He knows everything), omnipresence (He is everywhere at once), and omnipotence (He has power and authority over everything in the universe)? I think if we are honest, we easily start to doubt God’s capabilities to help us when life gets rough. Worse, even, we can be tempted to doubt God’s intentions in allowing pain to touch our existence. We put Him on trial. We start to wonder about His character.

Scripture gives us ammunition to push back on such doubt. And it is all of Scripture that does so, not just the warm and fuzzy parts of the New Testament. One great Old Testament story that points to God’s sovereign rule over every detail of each individual life that He created is the Book of Ruth. Let me take you through a short summary of this obscure little narrative found in the Old Testament wedged between Judges and First Samuel.

Ruth recounted a poignant individual family story that took place in the time of the Judges. In this intimate narrative, Yahweh advanced His salvific plans for all mankind through the actions of seemingly unremarkable people. As the sovereign of the universe, God’s will ultimately and always prevails. There is no sharing of His total ownership and control of His creation.

Providence then is how the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God directs all things—both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil—toward His worthy purposes. In Ruth, Yahweh, in a hidden way, directed the paths of three faithful individuals—Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz—to bless the whole world through King David. Ruth, a Moabitess, formed a link in the chain of events that would bring the answer to Israel’s problem of Judges—a king after God’s own heart, King David (4:18–21). Furthermore, David’s future son, King Jesus, would ultimately solve the problem of the abject failure of Israel and Judah’s post-Davidic human kingships through His promised eternal reign. Through Jesus, God fulfilled the unconditional covenant promises of universal blessing and an eternal kingdom made to Abraham and David (Gen 12:1–3; 2 Sam 7). All that ties together here within the overarching redemption promise God made in the Garden of Eden is simply extraordinary! Let’s look at how God directed Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.


Israel’s corporate disobedience during Judges brought famine to the land driving the family of Elimelech to Moab in search of relief (1:1–2; Duet 28:48; 32:24). Tragedy met them there with the death of Elimelech and later, the deaths of his two sons who had married Moabite women during their sojourning (1:3–5). Upon hearing the LORD had ended the famine in Judah, Elimelech’s widow, Naomi determined to go home while encouraging her two daughters-in-law to return to their Moabite families (1:8). One daughter-in-law, Ruth, chose to stay with Naomi, proving a loyal, self-sacrificial decision that would lead her to Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Naomi’s late husband (1:15–22).  

Boaz proved the right man, with the right heart, at the right time to bring temporal salvation to Naomi and Ruth through Hebrew laws regarding family responsibilities (Deut 25: 5–6), and the machinations of the Levitical statutes relating to inheritance of land (Lev 25:25). All of this was a foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect and utterly unique positioning to redeem sinful humanity!

Through a progressive series of decisions and outcomes beautifully unfolded by the author, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz demonstrated character that brought legal and fiscal redemption for Naomi, romance and marriage for Ruth and Boaz, and a male heir in the bloodline of Boaz that would prove royal (2, 3, 4). God’s hand was seen in the famine and the relationships in Moab that brought Naomi and Ruth together. He was in the suffering and loss in Moab resulting in the timing of Naomi’s return with Ruth to Judah. He orchestrated opportunities presented and taken by the three main characters in the context of Judah’s barley harvest and life under the Law in Judah.

Faith Under Fire

Naomi and Ruth faced choices in dire circumstances. Naomi, despite bitter despair, chose to accept her suffering in sadness, but without indicting Yahweh or rejecting her faith (1:19–21). In prayer, she trusted in God’s character through extreme duress. Ruth chose loyalty to Naomi in sympathy to Naomi’s bitter grief: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God”   (1:15–19). Ruth proved a woman of true faith despite her Gentile blood. Boaz later proved exemplary in awareness and compassion, always seeking to honorably do right by the law and his family responsibilities (2, 3, 4). Yahweh used obedience emanating from rightly oriented hearts to accomplish astonishing outcomes, both in the historical moment, and eternally (4:18). 


Several theological realities emerged in the book. Ruth, along with Tamar (Gen 38), Rahab (Jos 2), and Bathsheba (2 Sam 11, 12), stands in the genealogy of the messianic line (4:17, 22). Of these women, Ruth the Moabitess illustrated that God’s redemptive plan would extend beyond the Jews to Gentiles (2:12). Moreover, Boaz, as a type of Christ, became Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer (4:1–12). Finally, David’s right—and therefore Christ’s right—to the throne of Israel was traced back to Judah (4:18–22; Gen 49:8–12).

When we look carefully at how God worked all of this out through flawed, hurting, unremarkable people we can only step back in awe. We can and must marvel and see a huge God work through the faith of small people. Yahweh directed the paths of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz to bless the world. Providence, the means by which God directs all things toward His worthy purposes was majestically on display in Ruth.

Scripture is replete with utterly improbable outcomes within countless small story plotlines. Yet, every improbable outcome fits perfectly within the claim that a great God is behind the scenes orchestrating a plan we can only marvel at in its graciousness and perfection. The more we dig into Scripture—the whole of it—the more we must face this basic reality: either all of it is true….or none of it is true. As you ponder whatever circumstance you may find yourself in this week leading to Christmas 2020, consider what faith in God looks like in response versus where putting God on trial may lead. Be Ruth in your heart. Believe all of it is true, and God will not disappoint!