Provider, Protector, Redeemer
And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” Ruth 3:12-18
Now the story hits a crisis when Boaz reveals to Ruth that as a law-abiding man, he must find a way to marry her legally. Because Naomi had chosen to welcome Ruth as a full daughter, the women had the legal right to their family land. And closer to the women than Boaz was another family member who had the first right to redeem the women and obtain their land.
With such a quick answer, it appears that perhaps Boaz had been thinking about marrying Ruth and considered the obstacles in his way. But Boaz’s mind was already racing to devise a plan by which he could obey the law and still marry Ruth. In this we see that Boaz was a man of action who was highly motivated to act quickly and decisively. Furthermore, Boaz trusted the providence of God to work through the legal system—and in not sexually sinning with Ruth or breaking the law, Boaz showed a determination to act in holiness and in faith that God would bless them. Boaz then invited Ruth to lie at his feet for the evening. In doing this, he didn’t engage in any sexual activity. Rather, knowing that a single woman trying to walk home in the dark of night would be in grave danger, he kept an eye on her as her defender and protector.
Early the next morning before anyone else awoke, Ruth and Boaz arose, and he sent her home before they were seen to safeguard her character from scandalous gossip and rumor. Before sending Ruth home, Boaz asked her to open her shawl and filled it with an unspecified amount of grain, which was likely very valuable—showing himself yet again to be a generous and gracious man. Furthermore, Ruth received his kindness in the same way that God asks us to humbly and gladly receive His grace and provision in our lives. Upon arriving home to what was likely an anxious Naomi, Ruth explained her evening with Boaz, and then gave Naomi the generous gift Boaz had given her. Earlier in the story, Naomi remarked that she was bitter because her life was empty (1:21). But, in his generosity, Boaz filled her hands and helped alleviate her bitterness, as God reached out His hand to Ruth through the hand of His faithful servant Boaz.
Naomi then demonstrated full faith in both God and Boaz by counseling Ruth to do nothing but wait patiently in faith. Whereas Naomi had previously counseled Ruth to act boldly, she here conversely counsels her to wait patiently. She was certain that Boaz loved Ruth and was a worthy man who got things done, and he would have everything taken care of that very day so they could be married. In this we see that it’s good for a woman to make her heart known and for a man to do his job of protecting her reputation and overcoming any obstacles to marriage in a godly and honorable way so that the woman is assured of his intentions and manly ability to lovingly lead and provide for her.
Principally we learn four things for singles from this scene:
- Don’t overlook the person in front of you. Boaz was single, but somehow overlooked Ruth who God placed in front of him.
- Feel free to get in someone’s way. This is precisely what Ruth did, which allowed their relationship to move forward.
- Every relationship has obstacles to overcome, which reveals how committed one person is to one another. In this case, it was the legal and financial hurdle that blocked the path to marriage for Boaz with Ruth.
- Every relationship has character tests that show us and the one we are with who we truly are. These tests, if passed, become part of our testimony, as was the case with Ruth and Boaz.
In conclusion, the story of Ruth and Boaz is one of the greatest love stories in Scripture. As such, it’s a little love story that’s a part and reflection of the big love story of Scripture (e.g., Ezekiel 16:8) where Jesus is “our glorious Boaz” who redeems His bride, the church. Jesus does this by grace, without any obligation, by doing all the work to redeem those who come to Him in faith—just as Ruth came to Boaz seeking redemption and then waited patiently as he alone redeemed her by grace.
- Our true character is often exposed when no one is around and/or when we’re caught off guard. How can you pray for yourself to have integrity like Boaz?
- How can you grow in being a person who gives and receives wise counsel?