Ok, here we go. I’ve teased my Men of the Bible series, and I started with the obvious first choice… Boaz? Truthfully, I don’t know why, it’s just what happened. I hope this will be enlightening and fun. I hope we’ll all learn a little. The goal of the series is to look at the men in the Bible and see attributes they display, their ups and downs, and how their stories intertwine. I expect this to last this full year, and even expect to do some refreshers in 2017. So, hopefully this is what the people want… because it’s happening either way. I’d love to hear feedback on it! Now without further delay, Boaz.
Summary of the book of Ruth
Since all of Boaz’s story takes place in Ruth, I’m going to summarize the book of Ruth to start out.
The book of Ruth is a very powerful book with an intriguing story.
It starts with tragedy: Naomi and her husband have two adult, married sons. Naomi’s husband dies, then shortly after both her sons die. The two daughter-in-laws are Orpah and Ruth. Naomi feels like she’s cursed and tells Orpah and Ruth to go on their way because she doesn’t want them to be sucked up in her vortex of negativity. Ruth refuses:
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.”
Naomi and Ruth went to Bethlehem to find a new home. As customary of women of her station, Ruth went into the fields during barley harvest to glean the excess barley. Gleanings were the stalks left after the first cutting, which the law of the day required be left for those in need (widows, orphans, etc.). This is where Boaz comes into the story. Boaz is known as a man of great character, and Boaz not only allows the gleaning, but goes the extra mile in what he allows those who are less fortunate to take.
Boaz heard the story of Ruth and how she was so loyal to Naomi, and wanted to make sure she was blessed for her heart. So in 2:12, he says
12May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
13“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
Turns out Boaz is related to Naomi, and Naomi hatches a plan. The law allowed a male relative to take a widowed woman as their wife as a way to protect and provide for bereaved women. Naomi wants to bless Ruth, and tells Ruth to essentially present herself to Boaz to be his wife. Boaz responds honorably, and in the end Ruth and Boaz get married.
When Ruth and Boaz had their first child, they gave the child to Naomi to take as her own. This child, the child that could only happen through these crazy set of circumstances, was a part of the lineage of David. David, the lineage of Jesus. AMAZING.
This is a beautiful story in which you can see God’s hand through it all. God worked through all the small details and decisions of their life for good.
The Attributes of Boaz
So, going back to the Men of the Bible theme, let’s look at Boaz.
Boaz showed generosity
Boaz didn’t have to offer more of his barley to the widows or orphans, but he chose to because he had a big heart. Not only that, but he then heard Ruth’s story and offered her some of the first cutting. Boaz went out of his way to bless others.
Boaz showed loyalty
Boaz showed loyalty in a couple ways. First, he responded to Ruth’s loyalty and made it his duty to become a part of their story. If Ruth had not showed loyalty, she wouldn’t have received Boaz’s blessings.
Second, he agreed to marry Ruth. But during the process, he made sure to go about it the right way, showing loyalty to the family as a whole.
Boaz showed restraint
Boaz showed restraint in a few ways. He chose to respect Ruth and wanted to make sure everything was done the right way. First, he wanted to assure no one thought he had acted unhonorably. When Ruth presented herself to him for marriage, it could have looked like they were together before marriage. Boaz did everything he could to remain blameless, showing a significant amount of restraint.
Second, he followed the ancient customs. The custom meant relatives had the opportunity to take a widow as their wife, as a way to protect and provide for the widow. What this meant is that Ruth could be taken as a wife by the closest relative. But Boaz wasn’t the closest relative. Instead of Boaz just taking Ruth as his wife, he went through the proper procedures. He offered Ruth to the correct relative, who decided against marrying her. This freed her up to marry Boaz.
Boaz showed restraint, as he could have taken Ruth as his wife without doing it the honorable way. He showed his character by his response, and was blessed by it.
It’s amazing to see God move in every situation of this story. God brought all the circumstances together, even though he didn’t explicitly tell the players in the story what to do. Circumstances that were horrible were brought together for a beautiful story in the end. It’s a great testament to us, as we get discouraged day-to-day, to know that God can weave whatever he needs together.
God is working, even where and when you don’t see him. This is also a great story: we don’t always need to hear God’s voice to act. The actions of the players appear to be independent of God’s words, because they’re actions that come natural to the players. They’re actions that come from the traits of the individuals involved display. Ruth and her loyalty, Boaz and his generosity, and Naomi and her tragedy.