When we left yesterday, Ruth had returned to Israel with her widowed mother-in-law Naomi, promising “where you go, I will go.” Ruth joined the gleaners in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi, and Boaz, knowing how she’s looked after her mother-in-law, treats Ruth kindly.
Today, Naomi launches a plan: Ruth should go down to the threshing floor at night, find Boaz, and…well, you can read the rest. Boaz is called on to be a “redeemer” – to marry Ruth and give her children so that Naomi’s family line may continue. This follows the laws of the “kinsman redeemer” set out in the Books of Moses, to ensure that a family’s line should not die out and to protect against the consolidation of property and wealth. There is one hitch in the plan, and Boaz is left to sort that out in chapter 4.
Listen for a recurrence of certain words and ideas from yesterday. Naomi repeats her desire that Ruth should “find rest.” Listen for how Ruth turns Boaz’s “wings of refuge” around on him. Find the varied uses of the word “redeemer” throughout the conversations today. And listen for references to how God’s law is being lived out in Israel: allowing the poor to glean after the field had been picked over; the role of the kinsman redeemer; and how foreigners – even a person from Moab, which did not treat Israel kindly during the Exodus – was treated.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the book of Judges serves as a bridge between Joshua and Samuel – between the eras of conquest and kingdom. Ruth fulfills a similar connecting role, but where Judges left us with desperate hunger, Ruth is driven by a determined hopefulness…right up to the end, where the author reaches back – all the way to Genesis 38 – to remind us that the story of God’s people – and especially of the sons of Judah – is just beginning.
Finally, take note that for the first time in a while you’re not engaged in some big political drama. No external or internal threats emerge. No militias are called to arms. It’s a reminder that while great national dramas are unfolding people are still giving birth, dying, and figuring out how to eat today and prepare for tomorrow. The Ruth story is quaint and refreshing. It’s also life.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Ruth chapters 3 and 4. Now let’s read it!
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.