Commentary: What’s happening in this passage? Ruth has pledged her support to Naomi, followed her back to Israel, and been responsible for taking care of them. Naomi has the connections in this place, her hometown. If she can find a righteous man to marry Ruth, Naomi will have the grandchildren for whom she has longed and she will know that Ruth will be taken care of as a wife. It will have to be just the right man for Ruth- because he will have to recognize the risks and efforts she has made with Naomi. He will also have to be willing to give Ruth children who will also be understood to be in the line of her dead husband. (Otherwise the grandchildren wouldn’t really be Naomi’s.)
Boaz is just such a man. He has seen Ruth’s care for Naomi. In the verses we just heard, Boaz acknowledges Ruth’s forethought and risk-taking. As a widow, Ruth could have chosen a different husband, possibly even a younger man. However, she honors Naomi and Naomi’s needs and goes to lie with a man who can provide for them. Boaz has already shown a willingness to do that.
Boaz is honored by Ruth’s actions and rewards them. He will make every effort to get someone to care for her and Naomi. He is also careful to be sure that Ruth’s reputation is protected. It is certainly arguable that Ruth is a little bit mercenary and Boaz is not turning away a pretty young thing that shows up in his bedroll. Be that as it may, the upshot of this passage is that righteousness and faithful action are rewarded by God and by people.
Of course, it doesn’t always seem like that’s the case. We certainly know many situations wherein it seems that evil is rewarded, that other people are a means for getting ahead, and that no one is willing to speak out for the widows, orphans, travelers, the unemployed, or the hungry. Isn’t anyone willing to be the Boaz to these people, to stand up, support, lift up, encourage, and redeem for life?
We understand salvation to have been achieved for all creation through Jesus. There is still on-going work- the spreading of that news, the building of God’s kin-dom, and the reconciliation of creation with the knowledge of God. In our culture, it is all too often that people who are in tight spots are not given the extra boost they need. Boaz does not tell Ruth that things will work out if she just keeps trying. He doesn’t take advantage of her vulnerability and then send her away. He doesn’t push off her request until he had more time.
As Naomi says, he does not rest until things are made right for Ruth (and for Naomi). We are also called to be “redeeming kinsmen”, to be the one who supports our brothers and sisters. We are to press on for the cause of our family, the family of God, and not to rest until all understand who has spoken for them, who has claimed them, and in whose hands their future rests. God's.
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