** Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies** Proverbs 31:10
We started our discussion about virtue yesterday asking the question, what does virtuous mean to you? I hope you all had some time to think about that and now have a good idea in your minds of what a virtuous woman looks like.
I’ve thought about it as well. I have several things running through my mind but I’d like to talk a little about Ruth from the Old Testament. Ruth’s future husband calls her virtuous in Ruth 3:11. **..for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. **
Everyone knew. …**all the city of my people**….everyone was talking about Ruth.
First of all, it is great that she was known for her virtue. When people talked about Ruth, they had good things to say about her.
In Spain, we live in the city, but our main focus has been to work in the villages. The thing about villages and small towns is that everyone knows your business. Everyone knows the good and the bad about you. Gossip, peer pressure, and social acceptance are all powerful forces in the villages of Spain or anywhere else. It can work for you or against you.
The thing is, that everyone knows one another, and if a stranger shows up, EVERYONE knows about it. The word goes out quickly that an outsider is in town and everyone is on the watch to see if this person is a threat or a new friend. It is HARD to be accepted somewhere that one has no history.
So, Ruth had her work cut out for her. She was not Jewish. I imagine she looked very different, she dressed different, talked different and culturally thought different. She was also from Moab, an enemy of Israel.
It is clear that Boaz’s people kept a close eye on her.
So, what do we know about her?
Ruth honored her mother-in-law. That alone is unique, right? Most women honor their own moms, but her mother-in-law? Many jokes are written about the in-laws. I, personally, have an amazing mother-in-law. I respect her a lot and she is a great example to me in many ways.
So, Ruth shows up in Bethlehem with Naomi and causes some whispering, no? But once they find a place to stay, she gets to work. She quietly finds a place to scoop up the scraps and leftovers of the field workers so she and Naomi can eat. She works all day, comes home with what she has found, a few seed and kernels and then helps with meal preparation and clean up and then goes back the next day and does it again.
People begin to notice. She is not out carousing with the men, on the hunt for a new husband. She is not gossiping with the other young women. She just gets to work, determined to take care of Naomi.
In addition, her and Naomi are probably showing up at the synagogue and people are seeing her worship with them. They see her devotion to Naomi, her quiet behavior, and her desire to learn all she can about this new faith.
She is not a trouble maker or a flirt or a busybody. She is building a good name and a new life.
In the fields among the workers, she is gaining favor and acceptance. Boaz notices her and hears only good things about her. She is a hard worker, doesn’t complain, but, accepts what she gleans everyday as sufficient for her needs.
Then, once Naomi instructs her as to how to present herself to Boaz, he is flattered and honored to have her approach him for marriage.
Ruth is virtuous for all these reasons. She didn’t allow her circumstances to defeat her. Just like Bathsheba didn’t. Ruth could have stayed with her people and found a new young husband. But she wanted more out of life and she wanted to know more about the God of her new family.
I wonder if Bathsheba thought of Ruth’s story growing up.
So, Ruth is a great example of a virtuous woman. As is Bathsheba. Neither let their difficult, even heartbreaking situation keep them from being the women that God wanted them to be. Honest, hardworking, looking to the future, caring of others, growing in their faith, kind, accepting, industrious.
Tomorrow we will get into the virtuous woman’s marriage relationship. Both Ruth and Bathsheba give us some great insight. I hope you will join us.