During this time in the Bible, it was part of the culture that each family had a goel. I know, I know... what does that mean? The word literally translates as "guardian" or "close relative". This guardian was responsible for family property, but also a bit more than just property. He was also responsible to care for the widow of his deceased relative.
In the story of Ruth, Boaz is the goel for Ruth and Naomi. He is the closest living male relative to Elimilech, Naomi's deceased husband. Therefore, as Ruth tells him in Ruth 3:9, "You are the guardian of the family interests."
We quickly find that Boaz takes his position in the family seriously. He quickly responds that he will do everything that Ruth has requested. He also quickly shows himself as the kind and godly man that he is when he recognizes what it took for Ruth to come to him. In verse 10, Boaz tells her, ;">"May you be rewarded by the Lord, my dear! This act of devotion is great than what you did before. For you have not sought to marry one of the young men, whether rich or poor." Boaz recognizes that she is acting more out of care and respect for Naomi than for her own needs. He also expresses to her once again that she is "a worthy woman".
The word used for "worthy" in this scripture is hayil. This is the same word from which comes the words "excellent" and "noble". This is also the word used in Proverbs 31. It is used in these contexts to describe a woman of great prowess, bravery, strength, might, or valor in battle. Wow! Ruth is truly a godly woman, don't you think?
Something else of interest here is that this is the same word used to describe Boas in Ruth 2:1. There we read "Boaz was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech". The word prominent here also comes from the word hayil.
Regardless of how kind a man Boaz was, can you imagine stepping out and making such a proposal to a man that is so many years older and probably not your "first choice" for a husband? What devotion Ruth shows to Naomi (once again). She once again shows that it is not her own interests she seeks. She is so deveoted to Naomi that she seeks out a man that is much older so that she can marry and provide Naomi with a grandson to carry out the family name.
Isn't there so much we can learn as we continue to see again and again the devotion of Ruth to Naomi? As our culture is so different than it was during the lives of Ruth and Naomi, I feel safe saying that God would not expect us to marry a man we did not love in order to show devotion. However, I do think he expects us to show such devotion to our loved ones.... just in different ways.
Is it always easy to do so? NO! Many times it can very quickly pull us outside of our comfort zones. It takes up time where we may wish we were doing something else. What a witness we can be to others, though, if we are willing to show such love and devotion!
Dear Lord, I pray today that as Ruth was so devoted to Naomi, that I would show such devotion to my loved ones. I pray, Lord, that I would be willing to step out and give of my time and my talents to care for them and to show them of the love I have for each one of them. I pray that when I am not comfortable or when I am selfish in the giving of my time that you would turn my heart and my mind in the direction you would have them to go and that you would give me a willing heart. Amen.