Ruth 3:10–13a; 4:1–4a, 9–10, 13, 17comment (0)
August 23, 2012
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Ruth 3:10–13a; 4:1–4a, 9–10, 13, 17
Explore the Bible
Dean and Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Ruth 3:10–13a; 4:1–4a, 9–10, 13, 17
Last week’s lesson focused on expressed love, particularly Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law, Naomi. This lesson again features Ruth, but we also address Boaz and his commitment to responsibility as a kinsman redeemer.
Boaz is first introduced in 2:1 as a “prominent man of noble (Hebrew chayil) character,” not referring to aristocratic status but to his moral standing. This significant term describes Boaz (2:1), Boaz uses it to denote Ruth’s character in 3:11 and the term is the first descriptor of an ideal woman in the acrostic poem of Proverbs (31:10). Honorable believers embrace responsibilities entrusted to them.
Accepting Responsibility (3:10–13a)
At Naomi’s prompting Ruth visited Boaz one night, not as a sweaty laborer in his field but as a bathed, perfumed woman in need of a redeemer. She informed him that he was next of kin to her husband. Boaz had previously informed her that all her care for Naomi had been reported (likely among the elders, see 2:11; also Prov. 31:23, 31). In the passage from the heading Boaz speaks of her greater kindness shown to him. He counted it a privilege to be considered Ruth’s kinsman redeemer.
Responsibility has its privileges. When Christians are placed in positions of authority we must be careful to recognize several key factors. First the authority comes from God, to whom we are accountable. Second our responsibilities affect people first. We must be good stewards, and we must recognize that we are our brothers’ keepers. Individual believers, families and churches must demonstrate hospitality so that citizens do not become further dependent on government handouts. Finally we must walk with integrity, both in weighing our responsibilities and in claiming our privileges.
Acting with Integrity (4:1–4a)
Though Boaz was grateful for Ruth’s proposal, he maintained his integrity by informing her of a closer kinsman to Mahlon. If the unnamed kinsman found it impossible to redeem the Moabitess, Boaz would gladly become her redeemer.
Boaz called together a quorum of 10 elders in order to conduct business at the gate of the town (tribal business is still conducted this way in many parts of the world). He also requested the kinsman so Ruth’s future could be settled by the end of the day (3:18).
Jesus made it simple: let your yes be yes; let your no be no. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Some believers are as wise as serpents and just as venomous. Boaz knew how the world worked, and he followed Scripture as his guide for conducting this business with integrity (Deut. 25:7–10).
Embracing Future Security (4:9–10, 13, 17)
In the intervening passage the kinsman chose to retain his own inheritance rather than redeem Mahlon’s fields. His sandal was removed and, according to Deuteronomy 25, he was then known as the “unsandaled man.” Perhaps this is why he was never named.
Boaz redeemed Ruth, married her and in time fathered a child. Though officially their son Obed (servant) was the legal heir to Mahlon, the genealogies acknowledge Boaz as the father (Matt. 1:5).
Genealogies are significant to the Jews, as they delineate family history. Every name represents a life, full of stories and experiences, all witnessing God’s faithfulness in small and great ways. These name lists should be important to Christians as well, for they are the human records that point to God Incarnate, Jesus the Anointed One.
Matthew considered this family history so significant that he traced it back to Abraham (four generations further than in Ruth; see Matt. 1:1–17). Luke researched further, tracing the family line back another 20 generations all the way to Adam (Luke 3:23–38). For the village of Bethlehem, their future security would not rest on Obed, or Jesse, or even King David. Their hope would be in Christ alone.