There are amazing truths found in the life stories of this little book called Ruth. These fantastic stories can be expounded upon in many ways, but I want to just look at a few thoughts from the life of Ruth. So lets set the stage a bit. In chapter two, Ruth (a widow trying to support herself and her mother-in-law) had met Boaz. Boaz, having noticed this young lady made sure to meet certain needs of safety, food, and water for this young woman as she gleaned from his fields after harvest. In chapter three, Naomi sends Ruth to Boaz to let him know of the duty he had as the closest relative to her deceased husband. He was to redeem the land of Elimelech and to take Ruth as a wife having a child in honor of the dead. Ruth had done what she was told, and Boaz, being an honorable man, informs her there was a relative closer but that if he would not perform the duty, then he would. I love how chapter three ends as Naomi is telling Ruth to be calm and to wait. Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz would not rest until the matter was tended to. An amazing bit of being a person of responsibility and character.
That brings us to chapter four. We see Boaz go to the town gate and find this close relative. He asks him to sit down. He then gets 10 of the city elders to sit with them as witnesses, though he does not officially ask them to witness the occasion till afterward. Boaz explains the situation of Ruth and Naomi to this man. At first, he accepts to perform the duty, but as Boaz explains, the details involved he backs out as he shows fear over his inheritance. It seems to me that the financial burden of redeeming Elimelech’s land was too great for the man. As the custom was on that day, the man takes off his sandal and gives it to Boaz as a symbol of allowing Boaz to take the duty. Boaz asks the elders and all the people to be witnesses, and they agreed to be witness to the occasion.
Boaz redeems the land and takes Ruth’s hand in marriage. The scriptures record that Ruth was blessed with a child. The people of Bethlehem pronounce great blessings on Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi as well. It is here the testimony of all the deeds of Ruth (at least in Bethlehem) is made known by the people as they tell Naomi how Ruth was better to her than seven sons.
It seems a beautiful but maybe a simple story at first glance. Yet what we find is a lot more than the simplistic. We find women who in their most profound hurt, where most would not blame them if they gave up, refusing to give up and pushing forward. We see a family amid national uncertainty, religious immorality, and constant em-battlement of war able to present themselves as decent God-fearing individuals. I believe we find a young lady praised in a day where women usually were in the background of society and rarely acknowledged in such an open and profound way. We see the courage of a young Ruth to sacrifice, what may have seemed at the time to be a better life back in her mother’s home, to follow Naomi to a place of uncertainty. We see, most importantly, a God rich in mercy and ever involved bringing reality through even the deeds of men His grand purpose.