Ancestry is important in the scriptures, and the book of Ruth is especially explicit about the fact that Ruth was not an Israelite, but is counted among the ancestors of King David. She was his great-grandmother. Ruth’s story isn’t about first love, and the youthful infatuations stemming from hormones and good looks. Hers is a story of recovery from anguished loss of her first love, and choices she made to move toward healing, while not forgetting she was not the only one in pain. When she uttered her famous phrase, “Whither thou goest I will go,” commonly used in weddings, she was making two choices at once. She chose to show a remarkable kind of love, by giving herself to care for her bereaved mother-in-law, who was old and discouraged now that her sons had died. And, she chose the God of her deceased husband and his mother to be her God.
Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Ruth 1:16.
The couple today, is of course, Ruth and Boaz. When Boaz first noticed Ruth in his fields, nothing is said about his loving her. A good bit of time passes, while she gleans with his maidens, following the young men who harvested in his fields. The only thing we know of his interest is that he forbids the young men to approach her, and tells the harvesters to leave some extra to be gleaned on purpose. But his kindness caused her to wonder if Boaz might care for her. When she asked him why he took notice of her, he said he had heard of her dedication to Naomi. Then he said this:
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Ruth 2:12
Ruth's testimony preceded her and Boaz saw the hand of God on her life.
I wonder if Boaz had any clue what God was about to do in his life? Of one thing I am sure. God is a God who turns tragedy and heart ache into greatness. Ruth chose to serve God, and God paired her with someone who also chose to serve God. So many things could have happened differently in this story. But Boaz behaved in a respectful manner and gave Ruth a great deal of credit, and honor. He also wisely gave her time to heal from her loss. He also brought hope into Naomi’s life and a new reason to live and love, when he allowed that the son he and Ruth brought into the world, be known as Naomi’s grandchild.
Chapter 2, verse 15 tells us what Naomi’s neighbors and friends thought about this baby:
And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age, for thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
The elders of the city who witnessed the purchase of the rights to Naomi’s family inheritance, made this comment to Boaz about his decision to marry Ruth, knowing she was a Moabite:
“The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel, and do thou worthily in Ephratah and be famous in Bethlehem.” Ruth 4:11
And so it came to be, for Boaz and Ruth are listed among the ancestors of both lines of Jesus’ heritage, in Matthew and in Luke.
Love that arises from pain, and is first founded in our gracious God, will be blessed. He is the healer of the broken hearted and faithful. He makes great things come from small goodness. He is able to use anyone who will accept him, and yield to his leading. Ruth was able to move on in life because she continued to love, and she chose to serve God.
Lord, bless someone who has had loss, to chose to move on, and continue seeking love. May the example of Ruth and Boaz give courage and inspiration to someone who is needing an unusual solution to having a family and a future to look forward to. Strengthen the hearts of the discouraged and lonely. Help us all to be more like the encouraging neighbors of Ruth and Boaz. Put the people in our paths who will be as responsible and honorable as Boaz, and help us trust that when we have done the best right thing we are able to do, that You are able to stir the hearts of your people, to provide the support we will need to do your will. Lord work in the hearts of Christians...open their eyes to the opportunities to be used for something bigger than our understanding. Amen