Ruth perfectly expressed her humble character throughout the entire story.

  1. She was willing to humble herself as a foreigner in the land of Judah, though she might be despised by the Jews.

  2. After arriving in the new land, she took the initiative to go to the field of a stranger and glean ears of corn for a living.

  3. When Boaz treated her kindly, she “fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground” and humbly responded, "Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” (Ruth 2:10) She further said, “Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord, for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.” (Ruth 2:13) She simply thought that she did not deserve to be so kindly treated by Boaz because she was only a foreigner and she was even lower than his maidens.

Esther, as a queen, expressed her humility by following Mordecai’s instruction to rescue her Jewish people.

By a sharp contrast, in the Book of Esther, Haman’s haughtiness is expressly displayed throughout the entire book.

  1. After he was promoted and was set above all the princes, all the king’s servants had to bow before him as the king commanded. When Mordecai refused to bow before him, he devised to kill all the Jews and spoil their properties out of his personal hatred for Mordecai. This triggered the God of Israel to insult him to the fullest.

  2. Haman showed his wife and friends “the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.” He also proudly boasted that he was the only one to be invited by the queen to join the royal banquet specifically prepared for him and the king. (Esth 5:11-12)

  3. When the king asked him how to honour the person whom the king delighted to honour, he dared to suggest taking the pride of wearing the king’s royal apparel, riding the king’s royal horse, putting on the royal crown, and being served by one of the king’s most noble princes to take him through the street of the city to show off how glorious he might look before everyone as the prince at his side proclaimed, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour." (Esth 6:7-9)

God rewarded the humility of Ruth by raising her social status in the city of Bethlehem, as reconfirmed by Boaz, “all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous (賢德) woman.” (Ruth 3:11) What’s more, God placed Ruth, a Moabitess woman, among the most reputable women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Matt 1:5)

As a Jewish virgin born in Persia, Esther was raised by God to become the Persian queen out of all the country’s fair young virgins. She was even a successful queen and favoured by the king Ahasuerus. Since she had saved the Jewish race all over the country, her heroic act is remembered by her own people in every generation as the Jews continue to keep the days of Purim even up to nowadays.

On the contrary, Haman, the proud and haughty Agagite (亞甲族人), was humiliated by doing what he hated to do—serving Mordecai and giving him the highest honour before his people who, while watching, ought to be surprised by his “humility”. His death was also a sign of humiliation—being hanged on a gallows (木架) that he prepared for Mordecai. (Esth 7:10) Moreover, as he wrote to destroy “all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day…and to take the spoil of them for a prey” (Esth 3:13), his 10 sons were also hanged on the gallows (Esth 9:14) and his properties were managed by his enemy Mordecai (Esth 8:2).

Proverbs 18:12 said, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” James 4:6 also said, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Haman is a concrete example of a haughty man. He was brought from the highest to the lowest even at his destruction. On the other hand, Mordecai was a lowly Jewish citizen in Shushan. He was raised to the highest from the lowest. His greatness in the kingdom of Persia—how the king Ahasuerus advanced him--was written in the book of the chronicles (歷史上) of the kings of Media and Persia. (Esth 10:2) His honour is brilliantly recorded at the end of the Book of Esther, “For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” (Esth 10:3)

God hates haughty people like Haman and loves humble person like Ruth. They were both non-Jewish people but received totally different results. We should learn the humility of Ruth and avoid the haughtiness of Haman. Humility is to debase yourself as if you do not deserve to possess, as Ruth said, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger (我既是外邦人,怎麼蒙你的恩,這樣憐恤我呢)?” (Ruth 2:10) Paul reminds us in Rom 11:11, “through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles.” Paul further says in Rom 11:17-19, “If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee (不是你托著根,乃是根托著你). Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” Paul concludes in Rom 11:22, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” God’s goodness and severity are perfectly expressed in the Books of Ruth and Esther—His goodness to the humble and severity to the haughty. We must remember that everything we receive is the grace of God and we do not deserve it.


Ruth had been obedient to her mother-in-law. She stayed to glean in Boaz’s field as told by Naomi until the harvest period was over. She also stayed with Boaz at night as instructed by Naomi. She kept the Jewish culture of letting herself be purchased by Boaz in order to keep the name of her deceased husband on his inheritance.

Esther had been obedient to her “father” even though she had the choice of not doing it owing to the danger of risking her life.

Our Lord Jesus had been obedient to the Father. God exalted him on high after he ended his short life on earth. As children of God, we must learn to be an obedient child of God and do what He commands us to do. Disobedience could end up with tragic consequence. Queen Vashti was discarded along with her royal estate simply because she disobeyed the king for a minor request of showing her beauty before all the guests of the king's royal feast. Had Esther been disobedient to Mordecai and refused to petition for the Jews, she might have ended up losing her queen estate like Queen Vashti. She might even lose her life, as warned by Mordecai. The Jews could have been delivered by someone else.

If we do not obey and perform the task that God assigns us to do, He can let someone else take the job. We then may have to bear all the consequences for our disobedience. To consider it more positively, we should view it as a golden opportunity to serve God by making good use of the spiritual gifts He has granted us. In the parable of sowing seed and bearing fruit to various effect, Jesus concluded the parable with such saying, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matt 13:12) The same principle applies to the use of our spiritual gifts for bearing fruit. If we use them, we will bear fruit. And then we will receive more spiritual gifts so that we can use them to bear more fruit. If we do not use them, God can take away our spiritual gifts at any time and give to someone else to bear the fruit as necessary.

Love and care

Ruth all the time cared only for her family and not for herself. As said, she could have chosen to rebuild another family after the death of her husband. Anyhow, she was willing to stay with her mother-in-law and share her suffering. She was willing to take care of the old and miserable Naomi. She was willing to follow her back to another country and adapt herself to the Jewish culture. No wonder the women in Bethlehem said to Naomi, “thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons.” (Ruth 4:15) In return, Boaz showed his kindness to Ruth by taking care of her family all along.

Esther was born and grown up in Persia. Supposedly she was deeply civilized in Persian culture. Yet she had not forgotten her Jewish race and people; she cared for their safety. She was even willing to sacrifice for them. She had shown her love of her own people by taking the sacrificial action of seeing the king without his calling.

God will not forget all who care for the poor and needy. He will repay them by giving them high reward and honour. Even for Mordecai who had been good to the king by disclosing the conspiracy against him, his kindness to the king was not forgotten. Out of his expectation, his achievement was eventually remembered and he was rewarded with the highest honour by the king. If we keep on practicing love and care for the people around us, we are rest assured that we shall receive reward from God who has bountiful grace waiting to give us.


Ruth entrusted her whole life to the God of Israel as she migrated from Moab to Judah. She firmly said, “thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) She forsook her Moab gods but trusted the God of Israel. Boaz testified her trust of God by saying on behalf of God, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12)

As soon as Esther made up her mind to see the king at the risk of being executed, she entrusted her life in God’s hand by telling Mordecai to “gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day.” She and her maidens would also fast for 3 days before going in to see the king.(Esth 4:16) This is a very special move for Esther in that she still remembered to hold fasting prayer of seeking God’s help. The Jews that had been captured to the foreign land for decades might have forgotten to do fasting prayer in their daily lives. In this critical moment, it is quite amazing to see that Esther still held strong faith in the God of Israel and urged her people to do fasting prayer together.

Both Ruth and Esther entrusted themselves to the guidance of their guardians who loved them and cared for their best. Naomi cared for Ruth and hoped that she be married to a happy family, as she said, “My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?” (Ruth 3:1) She seemed to have owed her “daughter” a lot by her joining such an unblessed family. She sought every opportunity to bring her a happy ending. Likewise, Mordecai wanted to give Esther the best by taking the opportunity of sending her in for the queen status.

As church goers, we should entrust our spiritual lives to the guidance of our church ministers, who always care for our spiritual growth and condition. 


Both Ruth and Esther sacrificed themselves and accomplished the will of God without their own knowledge. Boaz also sacrificed himself by first doing his utmost to help Ruth’s family maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, and then fulfilling his promise of redeeming the land and taking Ruth by himself.

Since the Lord has sacrificed himself for us, we should do the same to accomplish the will of God, as Paul says in Rom 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Ruth and Esther think and act on behalf of others rather than themselves. We should also renew our minds and think not for ourselves only but more for others. Phil 2:4 says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Sacrifice is when you do not care about yourself but care for others even at your own loss. When you do so, you will receive far more than your loss. Ruth and Esther received far more blessings unexpectedly.