IV. Redemption (Ruth 4:1-22)

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IV. Redemption (4:1-22)

4:1-2 Boaz went to the gate of the town, where business and civic activities were conducted. Soon the family redeemer Boaz has spoken about came by (4:1). Thus, the stage was set for the climax of the story. Boaz invited the man to sit down with him and asked ten of the town’s elders to join them. These men would serve as witnesses of the legal proceedings that were about to transpire.

4:3-5 Boaz informed the nameless man that the widow Naomi, who had recently returned from Moab, needed money and would be selling a portion of the field that belonged to (their close relative) Elime-lech (4:3). Thus, because he was the closest relation, the man had first rights to buy the land. If you want to redeem it, do it, Boaz pressed. Otherwise, Boaz himself intended to do so, because he was next in line (4:4).

When the man jumped at the chance to acquire some new land (4:4), Boaz dropped the other—less appealing—piece of information. If the man redeemed the land, he would also be redeeming the widow Ruth for a wife to perpetuate the man’s name on his property (4:5). That meant that with the economic acquisition came a social acquisition.

4:6-9 The man’s eagerness began to fade once he realized he’d have to take someone else’s bride along with the property. Gaining land was one thing; gaining a wife was another. By seeking to preserve his relative’s name, he would jeopardize his own inheritance. So, he refused his right of redemption (4:6).

At that time in Israel, you couldn’t sign some legal documents and have them notarized. So, a legally binding transaction of this nature was ratified by the custom of a man giving his sandal to another party with whom he was doing business (4:7). In front of ten witnesses, the man gave Boaz his sandal, symbolically granting Boaz the legal right to redeem the property and Ruth (4:8-9).

4:10 Whereas the man was concerned about ruining his own inheritance (4:6), Boaz’s motives were more selfless. He acquired Ruth and the property out of concern for others—to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name [would] not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his hometown. This sacrifice brings to mind this New Testament principle: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matt 16:25). Often, blessings follow when we lay down our priorities for the sake of God’s kingdom; selfishness tends to turn off the blessing faucet.

4:11-12 The elders served as witnesses of the proceedings and pronounced blessings on Boaz and his wife-to-be. They prayed that God would bless Ruth as he had blessed Rachel and Leah, who gave birth to many of the fathers of the tribes of Israel (4:11). They also prayed that Boaz’s name and house would become famous in Israel because of the offspring the Lord [would] give [him] by this young woman (4:11-12; see also 4:14). Little did they know how famous Boaz would become or how great his offspring would be (see Matt 1:5-17)!

4:13-15 Boaz and Ruth married, and God gave them a son whom they named Obed (4:13, 17). The women of the town rejoiced with Naomi and blessed the Lord for how he had provided for this poor woman who had endured great bitterness such a short time ago (4:14-15). In fact, they told Naomi that Ruth was better to her than seven sons (4:15). Because seven was the biblical number of perfection or completion, seven sons would have been a supreme blessing. Yet, by God’s grace, Ruth had proved herself to be an even better gift. That’s high praise for this noble woman.

For her faithfulness, God had blessed Ruth with a child—even as he would bless Mary many years later with the Son of God (see Luke 1:26-33).

4:16-22 The final verses of the book reveal a genealogy, beginning with Judah’s son Perez and ending with David (4:18-22). It tells us that Ruth and Boaz’s son Obed would be grandfather to David, the great king of Israel. The ancient Israelites to whom the author was writing knew of this amazing heritage.

But, what they didn’t know was that there was an even greater descendant to come from this bloodline. The kingly line of David would ultimately lead to the Messiah, Jesus Christ (see Matt 1:1-16), who would be born in his ancestral home: Bethlehem. Though Boaz and Ruth were unaware of it, their lives and decisions were part of God’s kingdom program. By submitting yourself to the Lord’s agenda, you open yourself to his sovereign purposes—not only for your own benefit but potentially for the benefit of generations after you.