What a pleasant surprise! A book in the Bible that is short and sweet and has a happy ending. The Book of Ruth is only four chapters long, and it tells a simple, touching story.
There is a famine in Israel. A woman named Naomi travels east from her home in Beth-lehem with her husband Elimelech and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to find food. When they get to a new town, Elimelech dies and everyone's sad. And then Naomi is extra sad because 10 years later her two sons die, too. They had gotten married, however, and she tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their parents' families, and she plans to go back to her own home town. The one, Orpah, goes, but the other, Ruth, says she wants to go with her mother-in-law:
"And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; Where thou diest, will I die; and there will I be buried; the Lord do so unto me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me." (1:16-17)
So Naomi and Ruth head west to Beth-lehem, where they're poor and pick up bits of barley left over from the farmers threshing in their fields, until Ruth catches the eye of a guy named Boaz who falls in love with her. They want to get married, but another man lays claim to Ruth (because he's more closely related to her dead husband, Mahlon). Thing is, the rule back then said this guy would get Mahlon's land and his widow, Ruth, but would also be responsible for his mother, Naomi. When Boaz reminds the guy of this, he cops out. So Boaz and Ruth get to be married happily ever after, with Naomi as part of the family. She even helps raise their son, Obed. Love wins in the end.
And they lived happily ever after.
**NEXT: I & II Samuel