Ruth and Boaz
I am sure you have heard of Ruth and Boaz? Relationships are incredibly complex. Being single also comes with its own issues, with increasing pressure as well as you grow older. There is a wonderful story in scripture that we can all learn from as we meander through the complexity of being single, and wait on the Lord to give us a spouse to marry. This is the story of Ruth and Boaz.
Who are Ruth, Naomi and Boaz?
Naomi was the Elimelek’s wife. Elimelek and Naomi had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. They all lived in Moab. Their sons were married to Ruth and Orpah, who were Moabites.
Prior to their sons marrying Ruth and Orpah, Elimelek passed away. Their sons were married for 10 years to Ruth and Orpah, then died as well. Naomi was left with neither husband nor child. Her two daughters in law were still young, so they could still remarry and have a life of their own. Ruth 1:11
Naomi set off back to her own people, with her Ruth and Orpah. Orpah heeded to her mother in law’s plea to remain in Moab, and returned to her people, BUT, Ruth wouldn’t have it. There was an eternal loyalty in Ruth that refused to break away from her mother in law.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realised that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
With Ruth’s insistence, Naomi finally accepted. What we ought to recognise is that she tied herself to Naomi, and committed to the God of Abraham and Isaac! There are some allegiances that will alter the course of your life, may God guide you into these, in Jesus’ name!
The key issue here would have been a willingness to put her loyalty and faith ahead of certainty and security. There was security in remaining with her own people in Moab. There was some form of certainty to be found in returning to be with her own family.
There was uncertainty in going to a land she had never been to.
The story Ruth and Boaz
Who is Boaz?
We are introduced to Boaz in Ruth 2. Boaz was Naomi’s relative on her husband’s side. He was described as a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek. Standing in this context would have been in reference to how he was regarded within the community. He was a wealthy man, but a generous one. Boaz cared for the poor in his community.
Ruth meets Boaz: Story of Boaz
- Ruth was very enterprising. She did not wait for a man to care for her. She did not wait for her mother in law to make a way for the two of them to be fed. Even in a foreign land, she sought ways to put food on the table. She was the ultimate example of a proverbs 31 woman.
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
When you place yourself in a place to work, you give God a way to bless you. We find that God led Ruth to the field of Boaz.
3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
Naomi’s hard work put her in a place for Boaz to notice her. It was not intentional on her part, she was simply going about her way. He, in turn, extended kindness to her.
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
We also find out that Boaz extended this kindness because of what he had heard that Ruth had done for her mother in law after the passing of her husband. Ruth had no obligation to Naomi, yet she had stood by her side.
Boaz made sure that Ruth was fed and had food to drink while she worked, throughout the day.
Ruth 2:14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
We also find that Boaz went out of his way to make things as easy as possible for Ruth while she gleaned. He even instructed his workers to leave some stalks for her to gather. His way was not for her to have crumbs off the table, but to eat from his table. That is the grace from the Lord above!
15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
When Ruth returned and related to her mother in law what had happened she explained the relationship that the family already had with Boaz
20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”
In his field, Boaz had offered the security that Naomi had left behind in Moab. When you place your trust in God, and not in your own wisdom, he shows up for you. He shows you favour in every place where you set your foot. Let this be your testimony!
Naomi Sets Ruth Up The Threshing Floor
Ruth 3 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.
We find that Naomi felt responsible for her daughter in law, so wanted to make sure that she was catered for even after she passed on. Seeing as Ruth had already found favour in the eyes of Boaz and that Boaz was not married, it made sense.
- Ruth was obedient to her mother in law. We know that when she was instructed to head to the threshing floor to meet Boaz.
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
As a guardian-redeemer, Boaz could have taken Ruth as his wife, but there was another guardian-redeemer who was closer to the family than Boaz was.
Ruth 3:14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”
Boaz protected Naomi’s honour, as shown above. Had she been seen on the threshing floor, her statue in society would have been ruined. Boaz showed himself to be a man of great integrity. He sent Ruth back to her mother in law with barley.
- Waiting is always key to allowing God to do his will. Ruth was more than willing to wait. She was willing to follow her mother in law with no prospects of marriage. She was then asked to wait again!
Ruth 3:18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
We find that Boaz followed through on his word as recorded in Ruth 4. He met with the other guardian-redeemer to speak on the matter of the land. Whoever would buy the land that belonged to Elimelek would also marry Ruth.
Ruth married Boaz! She was younger and could have chosen to do things differently, but she was prudent. May the Lord give you prudence!
To sum it up: Lessons for single men and women
- Ruth was loyal.
- Ruth was very enterprising.
- Ruth was obedient.
- Ruth was patient.
- Boaz was honourable.
- Boaz was generous.