Summary: 1) The Salutation (Ruth 4:11-12) 2) The Son (Ruth 4:13-17) & 3) the Summary (Ruth 4:18-22).
Weddings are a fascinating custom. With my wife owning a flower shop we know all about weddings. Center pieces, corsages, bouquets, and decorations mean a lot of work and expense. With hall rentals, food, drink, tuxedo, gowns, relatives and gifts, a wedding is probably the most elaborate event any one of us will be involved with.
For my marriage to Lisa, her father performed the marriage ceremony. Although it had a very personal touch, the lead up to it was frustrating. He father liked teasing me that since he legally had the right to perform marriages, how about just signing the paper and be done with it. He is a very frugal and practical man, so for us guys it seemed reasonable. For Lisa and her mother, the concept was a joke on several levels.
The book of Ruth started with a funeral and now closes with the wedding of Ruth and Boaz. It is no accident that it follows the public legal issue of settling her estate. The necessity of public agreements and witnesses, provided an appropriate legally binding agreement. Likewise for the wedding. Until it is affirmed in the presence of a witness, either partner has a right to question how deep the other’s love truly is. (Jackman, David ; Ogilvie, Lloyd J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 7 : Judges, Ruth. Nashville, Tennessee : Thomas Nelson Inc, 1991 (The Preacher’s Commentary Series 7), S. 347)
The wedding preceded the precious news of a new born son. The story of Ruth went from bareness to fruitfulness, through the blessing of God. The offspring produced and the generations that followed are personally significant to everyone who enjoys eternal life. Believers are the generation that follows this Boaz generation. We have seen in this book the hand of God orchestrating events to produce His desired end. When the characters could only see death, despair and hopelessness, the godly faith of Ruth and Boaz’s covenantal faithfulness are rewarded.
Every believer, the Boaz generation, can look to the conclusion to this story and see themselves. When everything about us is death, despair and hopelessness, we can trust God and know that He is working out His divine plan and He will sustain and bless. With these final verses in the Book of Ruth we see 1) The Salutation (Ruth 4:11-12) 2) The Son (Ruth 4:13-17) and finally, 3) the Summary (Ruth 4:18-22).
1) The Salutation (Ruth 4:11-12)
Ruth 4:11-12 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, "We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman." (ESV)
The response to Boaz’s appeal by (lit.) “all the people who were at the gate” and “the elders” was positive in the extreme. First, they answer Boaz’s twofold challenge at the beginning and end of his speech and accept their official role in the legal proceedings.
They declare their response by repeating Boaz’s last word and affirming unanimously, ʿēdîm, “Witnesses!” With this speech-act they have indeed fulfilled their present legal obligations, but this does not mean they are finished. On the contrary, they break out in an effusive pronouncement of blessing upon Boaz.
The benediction consists of three parts. Although the people’s attention was focused primarily on Boaz, they expressed their concern for him with a prayer for Ruth’s fertility. They did not mention her by name but referred to her as “the woman who is coming into your house.” The expression “who is coming/about to come to your home” (expressing expresses present or imminent action) derives from the ancient customary practice of the wedding party proceeding to the home of the groom after the marriage ceremony and him formally ushering the bride into his house (Gen 24:67; Deut 20:7.).
The witnesses’ request concerning Ruth is extraordinary inasmuch as they pray that Yahweh would grant (appoint a place/role) this foreign woman a place among the matriarchs of Israel along with Rachel and Leah. As is well known, Rachel and Leah were the daughters of Laban the Aramean, whom Jacob married and who became the ancestresses of the twelve tribes of Israel recounted in Genesis 30. The order of the names, with Rachel before Leah, is striking not only because Leah was the senior and dominant wife but especially because Bethlehem belonged to the tribe of Judah, whose eponymous ancestor was one of Leah’s sons.
By invoking the intervention of Yahweh on Ruth’s behalf, the townsfolk are thinking specifically of the matriarchs’ fertility. Just as Rachel and Leah had built up the house of Israel, so, they pray, may Ruth build up the house of Boaz. The idiom “built up the house or to build a house,” means “to have progeny, descendants, to establish a family,” which derives from the Mosaic Torah concerning the levirate marriage (Deut 25:9). In essence, it is a metaphor to describe perpetuating or establishing a family line (Waard, Jan de ; Nida, Eugene Albert: A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Ruth. 2nd ed. New York : United Bible Societies, 1992, S. 71).