Summary: Ruth and Boaz are married. Ruth gives birth to Obed, who is the grandfather of David. Ordinary actions are used by God to accomplish God’s purpose.
Ruth 4:1-22 “Ordinary Actions”
We are coming to the end of the story. We have walked with Naomi, Ruth and Boaz through normal family life, periods of grief, and times of poverty and struggling to survive. We have seen the loyalty of Ruth, the hopelessness of Naomi and the generosity of Boaz. Now, life has come full circle. With the marriage of Boaz to Ruth the story returns to normal family life—and the continued evolving of God’s will.
Ruth’s story is much like ours. There are times when we are bold enough to say that our lives are “normal.” At other times we grieve and struggle through difficult and perhaps even dangerous times. Usually life evolves into a new normal. Through it all, God is present.
Boaz cannot rush to marry Ruth. There are a few things that must be done before that can happen. Though Boaz was Naomi’s relative, he evidently was not the closest relative. Under Jewish law, that nameless relative had first options on Naomi’s property and Ruth.
Boaz gathers the city officials together and tells the relative that Naomi has property. The relative is immediately interested. You can almost hear the “caching” sounding in his head. More land means more money. Off handedly, Boaz mentions that Ruth (in a sense) comes with the land. The nearest relative must marry Ruth in order to produce offspring and continue the name of her deceased husband.
The relative stops short. He’d like to get the land because it would increase his wealth. He doesn’t want to be encumbered with a wife, though. In fact taking Ruth as his wife might even cost him money. The reader can immediately tell what is number one is the relative’s life. He goes against the law and rejects relationships in order to acquire more money. Instead of participating in God’s plan, the man remains nameless and insignificant.
Boaz has different priorities. He is in love with Ruth and the land isn’t even a consideration as he determines his next move.
In the previous chapters of the story, Boaz has been generous. He has protected Ruth, and made sure that she was able to glean enough to provide for both her and Naomi. Now, Boaz makes a commitment to continue to provide for and protect both Ruth and Naomi.
Generosity is a blessing for those with whom gifts are shared and also for the person who shares the gift. Ruth and Naomi have been blessed, but Boaz’s life has been enriched, also. Not only is generosity a blessing, it is also a characteristic of people who follow the Lord. Generosity is an action through which God’s will can be expressed.
In the book of Lamentations the prophet writes, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and his mercies never come to an end. They are new each morning” (Lamentations 3:22).
Psalm 136 is an antiphonal psalm in which one half of the congregation repeats the phrase, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”
Throughout the book of Ruth we see glimpses of God’s steadfast love. Even in the first chapter when Naomi declares that her name should be “Bitter” because the Lord is treating her bitterly, the reader can see God’s steadfast love. No matter what state Naomi and Ruth find themselves, God is present and God’s steadfast love is part of their lives.
This love isn’t a mystical love. This love is expressed in the words and actions of people. We see this love in the loyalty of Ruth, and in the generosity of Boaz. We also see it in the birth of children that lead to King David and eventually to Jesus the Christ.
We come to the end of the story. As I do so, I take away a renewed sense of comfort, strength and hope. As God looked after Ruth, Naomi and Boaz, so God is looking after all of us. No matter where we are in life, God is with us and God’s love will never be separated from us. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end. They are new each morning.” Blessed be the name of the Lord.