Obed is a minor but important biblical figure who appears in the Old Testament books of Ruth and 1 Chronicles. He was the grandfather of King David and played a vital role in the messianic lineage leading to Jesus Christ. Though little is said directly about Obed in Scripture, a close examination of the text reveals valuable insights into his character and actions. In this comprehensive 4000 word blog post, we will explore Obed’s background, the key events of his life, and the significance of his legacy for Evangelical and Charismatic Christians today.
- Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth, and the father of Jesse who was the father of King David
- He carried on the family line of Elimelech and Naomi into the next generation
- As the grandfather of David, Obed is a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ
- His birth restored Naomi’s family line and family property in Bethlehem
- Obed’s name means “servant” which reflects his godly character
- Though he lived in difficult times, Obed was faithful to continue the messianic family line
- Obed provides an example of living righteously even when times are hard
Obed’s Background and Family Line
To understand Obed’s story, we must first understand where he came from. According to the book of Ruth, Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth. He was born in Bethlehem during the time of the judges when there was famine in the land (Ruth 1:1).
Ruth was a Moabite woman who had married an Israelite named Mahlon. Mahlon and his brother Kilion were the sons of Elimelech and Naomi who had moved from Bethlehem to Moab to escape the famine. Tragically, Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion all died leaving Naomi widowed and without any family (Ruth 1:3-5). This left the women in a dire situation.
After her husband’s death, Ruth made the courageous decision to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Bethlehem even though she was a foreigner. As a Moabite woman, Ruth showed remarkable faithfulness to Naomi and devotion to the God of Israel. She pledged that “Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Ruth went to the fields to glean barley behind the harvesters. In a divinely ordained meeting, she caught the attention of a well-respected man named Boaz who was from the clan of Elimelech (Ruth 2:1). Boaz showed exceeding kindness to Ruth allowing her to glean generously in his fields. A deep respect and affection grew between them. Naomi realized that Boaz was a close family relative who could potentially marry Ruth and restore their family line. In faith, Ruth approached Boaz on the threshing floor and appealed to him to spread his protection over her as her family redeemer (Ruth 3:9). Boaz responded favorably, but shared that there was one relative closer in line who had the first right of redemption.
The next day, Boaz met with this closer relative at the town gates in front of the elders as legal witnesses. He offered the man the opportunity to purchase Elimelech’s property and take Ruth as his wife. The relative was unwilling to jeopardize his own inheritance and declined. Thus, Boaz was free to take Ruth as his wife himself (Ruth 4:1-10). Their marriage restored Naomi’s family property and rights according to the levirate law of redemption. Most importantly, it preserved Elimelech and Mahlon’s family line.
It was in this context that their son Obed was born in Bethlehem (Ruth 4:13). As Ruth’s son, Obed became the grandson of the Ephrathites Elimelech and Naomi and heir to their family property. As Boaz’s son, Obed was now part of a strong family clan of Judah (the tribe Jesus would later come from). From Obed would descend Israel’s greatest king – David.
Obed’s Name and Character
Obed’s name provides insight into his potential character. In Hebrew, the name Obed means “servant, worshipper, or one who works.” This indicates that his life was marked by faithful service and hard work for the Lord. Though Scripture does not record any words or actions of Obed directly, the meaning of his name reflects a godly, obedient spirit.
Obed was born into a family line of people of strong faith and character. His grandmother Naomi demonstrated resilience, wisdom and commitment to Yahweh. His mother Ruth showed remarkable love, loyalty, and tenacious work ethic as she labored humbly in the harvest fields. Boaz exhibited integrity, compassion, and generosity according to the law of God. Surely growing up in a household with such godly examples shaped Obed’s character for the better.
The commitment and care that Boaz showed to Ruth gives us a glimpse into the kind of father he likely was to Obed. Boaz worked to ensure Ruth was provided for and protected. It is reasonable to assume he took similar responsibility for Obed, raising him to honor God and walk in obedience. Obed most likely carried these same values into his own family life and taught them to his famous son Jesse.
Obed in the Line of Christ
One of the most significant facts about Obed is his place in the messianic family line leading to Jesus Christ. This lineage is recorded in Ruth 4:18-22:
Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David. (NKJV)
And also in 1 Chronicles 2:10-12:
Ram begot Amminadab, and Amminadab begot Nahshon, leader of the children of Judah; Nahshon begot Salma, and Salma begot Boaz; Boaz begot Obed, and Obed begot Jesse; and Jesse begot Eliab his firstborn, Abinadab the second, Shimea the third. (NKJV)
As these genealogies show, Obed stands out as the connecting link between his father Boaz and his son Jesse, the father of King David. While Obed’s life remains mostly an enigma, his strategic placement in Jesus’s ancestry speaks to God’s divine plan at work behind the scenes.
Obed emerged at a pivotal transition point in history. His grandfather Boaz was a contemporary of Joshua’s during the conquest of Canaan. His father Jesse lived when Israel was transitioning from a loose tribal confederacy to an established monarchy under King Saul. Obed bridges the historical gap between the well-known figures of Joshua, the Judges, and Ruth at the start of Israel’s settlement in Canaan to the rise of the Israelite kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon.
Obed lived during the morally chaotic period of the Judges where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Yet he carried on his family line and passed the faith to his son Jesse. Jesse would become the father of David who God chose as a “man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) to lead Israel to its peak as a nation. Four generations later, Obed’s descendant Jesus Christ would arrive as the promised Messiah and Savior. Clearly, God had a special purpose in the life of Obed to advance His eternal plan.
Obed Restores Naomi’s Family Line
An important contribution of Obed was that his birth helped restore Naomi’s family line in Bethlehem. Due to the deaths of her husband Elimelech and sons Kilion and Mahlon, Naomi had returned from Moab empty and devastated. She cried, “I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty…The Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me” (Ruth 1:21).
But God was working beautifully behind the scenes. The marriage of Boaz and Ruth and subsequent birth of Obed revived Naomi’s family. The elders of Bethlehem affirmed this, proclaiming: “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative…May he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him” (Ruth 4:14-15).
The child Obed indeed restored hope and purpose to Naomi in her later years. Though Naomi once felt empty, forgotten, and distraught, God proved faithful to fill her emptiness through her grandson Obed. His arrival renewed her family legacy in Bethlehem for generations to come. In this, Obed powerfully represents God’s ability to redeem even the most broken or hopeless situations.
Lessons Christians Can Learn from Obed
Though he remains a somewhat mysterious figure, Obed’s life offers important lessons for Christians today:
1. God values faithful obedience, not fame or acclaim – Scripture records almost nothing directly about Obed. Yet his faithful service in obscurity was still vitally important in advancing God’s redemptive plan. He provides a powerful example that even if no one remembers us, what matters most is walking humbly with God.
2. Never underestimate your place in God’s plan – As the son of Boaz and Ruth, Obed may have thought his life unimportant. Yet his role in history proved incredibly vital and strategic. This reminds us that we all have a part to play in God’s divine narrative, no matter how small it may seem. We must be faithful in our particular place and time.
3. God works through ordinary people and often shows up in hidden ways – The circumstances surrounding Obed’s birth were quite ordinary. Yet through mundane events in the life of an everyday family, God’s extraordinary purposes shone through. Obed’s story reminds us of God’s remarkable ability to work through unremarkable people and quiet acts of faithfulness.
4. No situation is too difficult for God’s redemption – Naomi’s family experienced famine, death, and loss. Yet God redeemed her in the end through her grandson Obed. No matter the hardship, God delights to renew hope, revive legacy, and restore what was lost. As long as we maintain faith in Him, our story is never over.
Obed’s life offers encouragement that God is at work even when we do not perceive it. By quietly walking with God, our small lives can have ripples through history. May the lessons from Obed inspire us to fulfill our part in God’s story.
In summary, though Obed receives little direct mention in Scripture, he played a pivotal role in redemptive history as part of the messianic family line of Jesus Christ. As the son of Boaz and Ruth, Obed linked the era of the Judges to the emergence of Israel’s monarchy under King David. His birth revived the family legacy of Naomi in Bethlehem demonstrating God’s amazing ability to restore the brokenhearted.
The meaning of Obed’s name – “servant, worshipper” – suggests he lived a faithful life of humility and obedience to God. His grandfather Boaz provided a godly example that likely shaped Obed into a man of character who then passed on the faith to his son Jesse. Despite living in chaotic times, Obed trusted God and fulfilled his divinely ordained part in advancing God’s eternal plan.
Obed’s life reminds us that fame and renown are less important than quietly walking with God. Even when we don’t fully understand our purpose, we can trust the Lord is at work behind the scenes in ordinary events and people. May Obed’s example encourage us to serve God faithfully in our day, knowing that He delights to redeem and use the humble and steadfast.