In these four little chapters of the book of Ruth, we would do well to take a step back and view the storyline of love and redemption in the whole of the Bible. Moses tells of God’s redeeming love for his people in Deuteronomy chapters four and seven. And then, in the New Testament, Paul says “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” – Rom 5:8. He tells the Ephesians, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” – Ephes 5:25. Ruth gives us a concrete example of the Lord’s personal and particular love for his Bride. It helps us to keep sight of the personal, intimate, familial nature of God’s love for his beloved.
“He loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power.” - Deut 4:37
At one time Ruth was a penniless, young Moabite widow with little or no hope for the future. Ruth proposed marriage to Boaz and he said yes, so it appears that the widow from Moab and the wealthy bachelor from Bethlehem are going to wed. However, a closer relative (kinsman) than Boaz has the first right of redemption and therefore can marry Ruth. Boaz is determined to settle the issue. These events set the stage for what is to come in chapter four.
The nearer relative has done nothing to help Naomi before this time but agrees to redeem the land. He knows that if he ignores his voluntary family responsibility, without a descendant of the line of Elimelech the field will simply become a part of his own family inheritance. The amount that he would pay to redeem it would be offset by the land value and harvest. With such self interest in mind, the closer redeemer quickly consents to redeem the field when Boaz draws his attention to it. However, the obligation of levirate marriage was linked to the redeemed estate and he backs out quickly so as not to marry Ruth. Boaz keeps his word first expressed in 3:11 and fulfills the role of the kinsman redeemer. He willingly pays to redeem the land, agrees to marry Ruth thereby honoring the principle of the Levirate marriage, and pledges to perpetuate the name of the dead. The elders and people at the gate bear witness to what has occurred and they proclaim a blessing on Boaz.
Boaz and Ruth marry, come together and immediately (that is the impression) she becomes pregnant and has a son. Ruth brings to Naomi a gift of hope, not out of her apron but out of her womb. Not wheat, but a child. The town’s women speak to Naomi as the focus of attention moves back to her. Their words are words of thanksgiving, celebration, and hope. Naomi is full again as she becomes a grandmother and is enjoying taking part in the care of her grandson. Naomi’s empty arms are now filled with the male child in whom is bound up the hope for the world. God sovereignly works in Ruth’s blessing as he works to further the kingdom. The grandson, Obed, will have a son named Jesse who will have a son named David. The genealogy of Jesus is established. In the legacy of Ruth, we can recognize God providentially working to accomplish his plan. The Christ connection is the line from Boaz to Jesus. The genealogy is what links our chronology together. The end of Ruth is a very clear line from Boaz to King David and from King David, the line to Jesus who is the greater Redeemer. Jesus is the greatest expression of God’s love.
The book of Ruth is indeed a love story of greater proportions than its own four chapters. It’s a beautiful picture of the love story Jesus is desiring to have with you and with me. Ruth is where we see God’s favor in a time of unfavorable circumstances. We see God using ordinary people for an extraordinary purpose. We read about God working in the details of an unexpected tragedy. It’s in Ruth we witness a bitter woman who once again finds joy. We read how God is more than able to bring light in the darkness of sorrow. It’s in this short book we find hope for the future of Naomi, Ruth, and ultimately ourselves. We live in light of the glorious birth of Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the saving grace of Jesus and we rest in the peace of Jesus, knowing God works for our good and his glory in all things.
For further study: Read Ruth chapter four, 2:1; 3:11-17; chapter two, 1 Sam 1:19-20, Genesis 25, Judges 21, Isaiah 52-53, Mark 10:45, Rev 22:16, Ezek 37:24-25, Matt 22:42, Psalm 132:12, Rom 1:3, Matt 1:1, Jer 23:5-6, Matt 1:12-16
Commentaries used in addition to the Scriptures themselves: Ruth, Hope for the Marginalized; Esther and Ruth by Ian Duguid; Ruth and Esther, Women of Faith; ESV Expository Commentary