The Meaning of "Obed" in the Bible
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The Meaning of “Obed” in the Bible


The name “Obed” appears several times in the Bible, referring to a few different people. The most well-known Obed is the son of Ruth and Boaz, the grandfather of King David, and an ancestor of Jesus Christ. But what does the name Obed actually mean? And what can we learn about obedience and faithfulness from the stories of the biblical Obeds?

In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the meaning and significance of the name Obed in the Bible. We’ll look at the key stories involving people named Obed, analyze the Hebrew meaning of the name, and see what lessons we as Christians can take away about hearing and obeying God’s voice. Get ready for a deep dive into this rich biblical name!

Key Takeaways:

  • The name Obed means “servant, worshipper” in Hebrew
  • Obed was the son of Ruth and Boaz, and the grandfather of King David
  • Obed’s story shows how God rewards faithfulness and obedience
  • Other Obeds in the Bible also demonstrated obedience to God
  • As Christians, we are called to obey God even when it’s difficult
  • Obeying God leads to blessing and fulfillment of His promises in our lives

The Meaning of the Name Obed

In Hebrew, the name Obed (or Oved) means “servant, worshipper.” It comes from the verb abad, meaning to serve, work, or worship. Several people in the Old Testament bore this name, which emphasized their role as diligent servants and worshippers of YHWH, the God of Israel.

Obedience and service are two themes that show up repeatedly around those named Obed in the Bible. These men were known for their submission to God’s will and heart to follow His commands.

The name Obed communicates an attitude of humility and faithful service. As we’ll explore further, the Obeds of the Bible modeled lives dedicated to honoring God above all else. As Christians today, we can look to their examples as inspirations to pursue obedient and worshipful lives before God.

Obed – Son of Ruth and Boaz

The most well-known Obed in the Bible is the son of Ruth and Boaz. His story is recorded in the book of Ruth in the Old Testament.

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel after both their husbands died. There, Ruth found work gleaning barley in the fields of a wealthy landowner named Boaz to support herself and Naomi. Over time, Ruth’s character and devotion won Boaz over, and he decided to marry her – thus providing much-needed stability for the two vulnerable widows.

Ruth and Boaz had a son together named Obed. His birth marked the beautiful completion of the story, filling Naomi with joy and renewed purpose after so much loss (Ruth 4:13-17). Obed would become the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David!

Obed’s birth fulfilled a greater purpose as well – he was an ancestor in the line of Christ. As a direct descendant of David, both Joseph and Jesus could trace their line back to Obed (Matthew 1, Luke 3). What an honor for this child born to a humble Moabite widow!

God used Ruth’s remarkable faith to preserve the messianic line and set the stage for the birth of Christ, the ultimate descendant of David. Obed’s existence was only possible because his mother chose to serve the true God. This service brought immense blessing not only to Ruth, but to all of Israel and mankind.

Key Takeaway: God honors faithfulness and obedience, using people like Ruth and Obed to advance His redemptive plans.

Lessons from Obed’s Story

Obed’s life reminds us that obedience often requires sacrifice but brings great reward. As a Moabite, Ruth had to leave behind her homeland and people to obey God. She worked tirelessly to care for Naomi, trusting God to provide for them.

Ruth didn’t know that her obedience would lead to marriage with Boaz and the birth of Obed. She simply acted in faith to serve God. In the end, she was blessed beyond measure for her faithfulness.

We may not see all the fruits of our obedience in our lifetime. Yet like Ruth, we are called to follow God’s voice even when it means inconvenience and suffering. Our lives can have far-reaching influence we may never realize.

When we honor God in humble service and devotion, He will use our lives powerfully for His glory. We can joyfully obey Him, even in difficult seasons, trusting that His plans and purposes will prevail. The story of Obed inspires us to live obediently, believing that God will work through us in spite of our human limitations.

Obed the Son of Shemaiah

Another Obed in the Old Testament was the son of Shemaiah, a prophet in the time of King Rehoboam of Judah (1 Kings 12:22-24, 2 Chronicles 11:14). Rehoboam rejected wise counsel and caused civil war to erupt between Judah and Israel.

During this time of upheaval, Shemaiah warned Rehoboam not to fight against Israel. The king listened to Shemaiah’s words and called off the attack. Obed’s name is significant here – he was the son of a prophet faithfully speaking God’s words to a wayward leader.

Shemaiah’s obedience prevented further violence and calamity. As his son, Obed likely followed in the footsteps of faithful service to God. His name points to a household known for heeding God’s voice.

Key Takeaway: God uses the obedient words of His prophets to set leaders and nations on the right path.

Obed-Edom the Gittite

Obed-Edom was a man from Gath who housed the Ark of the Covenant for three months during King David’s reign. When David first tried to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, a man named Uzzah touched the ark to stabilize it and was immediately struck dead (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

This caused David to fear moving the Ark. So he left it at the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. During this three month period, Scripture records that God blessed Obed-Edom’s household because of the Ark’s presence (2 Samuel 6:11-12).

Later, David successfully moved the Ark to Jerusalem amidst great celebration. But God remembered the faithfulness of Obed-Edom and his family – David appointed Obed-Edom as a doorkeeper for the Ark and a musician in the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:18; 16:5, 38).

Obed-Edom’s obedience and reverence for God’s holiness brought both blessing and honor. His example reminds us of the importance of approaching God with humility, awe, and obedience.

Key Takeaway: Handling holy things like God’s Word and presence with care brings great reward.

Principles of Obedience from the Obeds

What can we learn overall from the lives of the Obeds in Scripture? Here are some key principles on obedience that emerge:

  • Obedience often requires personal sacrifice – For Ruth, it meant leaving her home. For Obed-Edom, it meant radical hospitality toward the Ark. Real obedience costs us something.
  • Obey God even when you don’t see the full purpose – Ruth simply acted in faith. She didn’t know Obed would be born and her story commemorated.
  • God fulfills His promises through obedience – The messianic line remained intact because Ruth obeyed. Her obedience led to fulfillment of Israel’s hopes.
  • Obedience brings blessing and honor – Obed-Edom received both because of His reverence toward the Ark. God is faithful to bless obedience.
  • Our obedience can influence generations – One act of obedience can have ripple effects for our families and people for generations to come.

As Christians, the examples of the biblical Obeds give us courage to walk in faithful obedience to God, knowing He sees and will reward our faithfulness. Even small acts of service have the potential for great impact when done in obedience to God’s leading.

Living as Obeds Today

How should the biblical Obeds inspire us to live today? Here are some key applications:

  • Submit yourselves joyfully to God on a daily basis. Seek to cultivate a heart of humble service to Him.
  • Be ready to obey God even when it demands sacrifice or seems inconvenient. Trust that He knows what He’s doing.
  • Approach God and His Word with awe, reverence and care. Handle holy things cautiously and obediently.
  • Look beyond your circumstances to see the bigger picture of what God might be doing through your obedience.
  • Believe that your faithful service matters, even if you don’t see all the results. God will use your obedience for His glory.
  • Find encouragement that obedience brings great blessings despite trials we face along the way. God is faithful to reward obedience.

No matter what our circumstances may be, you and I are called to live as Obeds – as faithful servants who worship God in every aspect of life. Our obedience, however small it may seem, has the power to impact lives for eternity.

Will you choose today to obey God with fresh devotion and trust? Will you embrace the name Obed as your identity in Christ – one whose purpose is to serve and worship the King?

As Obeds, we have the incredible privilege of participating in God’s redemptive plan. By His grace, may we respond in worshipful obedience all our days.


Obed was a significant name in the Bible – emphasizing faithful service and wholehearted devotion to God. The key Obeds in Scripture inspire us to obedience despite personal cost and human limitations. When we walk in reverent obedience to God as His servants, He will use our lives powerfully for His glory and fulfillment of His promises.

May the stories of Ruth, Obed, Shemaiah, and Obed-Edom compel us to deeper obedience as Christians. Let’s embrace the name “Obed” by pursuing lives marked by humility, worship, and devotion to our great God. By obeying God’s voice daily, even when it’s difficult, we can trust Him to work through us to impact generations to come and advance His Kingdom purposes.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.