The law of Moses was careful to strengthen the importance of family ties and unity among the clans of Israel. To this end, it was prescribed that if a man died childless and left a widow, his nearest living male relative had the responsibility to become what was called the goel – that is, the “redeemer.” He would redeem the deceased man’s family inheritance and marry his widow so that the name of the dead would not be “put out of Israel.”
Naomi was anxious to find security for Ruth. She endeavored to seek, on her behalf, that “rest” which she had earnestly desired for Ruth and Orpah when she left Moab. And in light of the ordinance of the Mosaic law (mentioned above), a Jewish widow had the right to expect the closest relative of her deceased husband to play the part of the goel – the kinsman-redeemer. However, it is probable that since Ruth was a foreigner, she herself would never have made such a claim if Naomi had not urged her to do so.
Supposing that the rich and kind-hearted landowner – whose bounty they had been enjoying – was the nearest relation of Ruth’s deceased husband Mahlon, Naomi directed her daughter-in-law to take advantage of the harvest-festivities (which had now begun) to claim her kinsman’s protection. She told Ruth to go down to the threshing-floor of Boaz and present her claim upon his protection, after he had feasted to his heart’s content and laid down to sleep for the night. He would tell her what she should do next, and what methods would need to be taken in order to accomplish her marriage. It is our duty to follow the dictates of the Lord’s Word, and to leave Him to accomplish His will by whatever means He may choose.
For the defense of the harvested crops from thefts and losses at night, it was common for the master and his servants to sleep in or near the threshing-floor – the open space where the threshing and winnowing were carried on, with the evening breeze being made use of to assist in the latter of the two operations. Boaz, notwithstanding his wealth and position, followed the simple customs of the times – joining in the rustic mirth and enjoyment of his dependents. He feasted that evening, rejoicing in the abundance of bread wherewith the Lord had blessed Bethlehem – the “house of bread” – once again. And then he retired to rest near his threshing-floor. But in the middle of the night, Boaz awoke to find someone lying at his feet! With some alarm – natural enough outside the city walls – he inquired who had disturbed him. But the voice of Ruth reassured him as she replied, “I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” Boaz praised her for not chasing after young men – whether rich or poor – and for seeking to claim the privilege of redemption by the nearest kinsman, which was according to the will of the Lord. He acknowledged Ruth’s claim and told her that everyone in town knew that she was a virtuous woman. And then he made a promise: he would not let Elimelech’s family go extinct! However, he told her that he was going to go about this the right way. He was not going to use just any means to accomplish that glorious end. There was actually a closer relative to Ruth’s deceased husband than Boaz, and that man had the first right to be the kinsman-redeemer; but if he passed up that privilege, then Boaz promised that he would surely fulfill that office to Ruth. And he sealed this promise to her with the words, “as the Lord liveth.” But he was going to go about this in the righteous way – not in the secrecy of the darkness of night. In the same way, Christ our Redeemer did not work out our redemption secretly in the darkness; but rather, in the open light of day! These things were “not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). He performed our redemption in the righteous way!
Boaz told Ruth to stay where she was until the early morning. And as she went to sleep, her heart would surely have been cheered by the promise that she would never again be unprovided for! Whether it was by Boaz or by that other near relative, she would have security and provision for the rest of her life.
In the early hours of the morning, before it was light, Boaz sent Ruth home to Naomi. And he dismissed her with a generous gift of barley, which he poured into her ample veil. The kinsman-redeemer sent her home with six large measures of barley as provisions for Naomi – which would have been a gracious reminder to her of the goodness of the Lord, after she had so recently said that He had made her empty!
The chapter closes with Ruth waiting patiently for the outcome of all these things. Boaz, having undertaken the matter, would be sure to manage it well. And true believers have much more reason to cast their care upon the Lord, for He has promised to care for them! Our strength is to sit still (Isa. 30:7). Let us lay ourselves, by faith, at the feet of Christ; for He is our near Kinsman. Having taken our nature upon Himself, He has the right to redeem us! And let us earnestly desire and seek the same rest for our children, our relatives, and our friends – so that it may be well with them also!
Lord, we thank You that Jesus will not rest until He has brought our redemption – which He has begun in righteousness – to its ultimate completion! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Pearl | Lightstock.com