Integrity and Taking Risks - Ruth 4:1-12

Now Boaz went up to the village gate and sat there. Then along came the guardian whom Boaz had mentioned to Ruth! Boaz said, "Come here and sit down, 'John Doe'!" So he came and sat down. Boaz chose ten of the village leaders and said, "Sit down here!" So they sat down. Then Boaz said to the guardian, "Naomi, who has returned from the region of Moab, is selling the portion of land that belongs to our relative Elimelech. So I am legally informing you: Acquire it before those sitting here and before the leaders of my people! If you want to exercise your right to redeem it, then do so. But if not, then tell me so I will know. For you possess the first option to redeem it; I am next in line after you." He replied, "I will redeem it." Then Boaz said, "When you acquire the field from Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the wife of our deceased relative, in order to preserve his family name by raising up a descendant who will inherit his property." The guardian said, "Then I am unable to redeem it, for I would ruin my own inheritance in that case. You may exercise my redemption option, for I am unable to redeem it." (Now this used to be the customary way to finalize a transaction involving redemption in Isarel: A man would remove his sandal and give it to the other party. This was a legally binding act in Israel.) So the guardian said to Boaz, "You may acquire it," and he removed his sandal. Then Boaz said to the leaders and all the people, "You are witnesses today that I have acquired from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, as my wife to raise up a descendant who will inherit his property so the name of the deceased might not disappear from among his relatives and from his village. You are witnesses today." All the people who were at the gate and the elders replied, "We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom build up the house of Israel! May you prosper in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. May your family become like the family of Perez -- whom Tamar bore to Judah -- through the descendants the Lord gives you by this young woman." Ruth 4:1-12

Last week we left Ruth wondering what was going to happen. She had, for all practical purposes, stepped out on a limb and proposed to Boaz. She had taken a leap of faith because of her love for Naomi and her faith in God. However, what we find happens is that Boaz says that, while he is willing, he must first go to a man that is a closer relative than he... a man that has first rights to marry Ruth. A man that Ruth has never even met.

I think this is where we really see what a Godly man that Boaz is in ALL his dealings. We have already seen how he has cared for Ruth and Naomi as Ruth has worked in his fields. But, here we see it for not just Ruth and Naomi but also in how he is with other people.

We do, first, see how kind he is to Ruth as she has made this proposal. He shares his willingness to accept her proposal. But, he shows great integrity and kindness towards others in that he also says that first he must go to this other man, this person that is a closer family member than himself. And, because he knows that Ruth is waiting he moves quickly. He knew that Ruth and Naomi would be anxious so he did not keep them waiting any longer than necessary. As soon as morning came he started out to make the necessary contact with this other man.

Since there were no computers or courthouses during this time, many transactions were done in the presence of witnesses. Because of the number of people that would always be there, the city gates were where many business type transactions took place. The elders of the city would gather at the gates to conduct business. So, this is where Boaz went. At that city gates he could discuss with this family member and have present all the city elders as witnesses.

Here is where we see how kind Boaz is in his dealings with others. He is respectful of this man's position in the family and respectful of his "rights" that come with being in this position. He approaches the man kindly and offers him the "rights" to the land and to marrying Ruth. He willingly will accept whatever the outcome. I wonder if Boaz was a bit nervous at this point as to how this would play out? Do you think maybe he was worried that this man would want to marry Ruth? The Bible doesn't tell us any of this, but I can't help but wonder how Boaz felt at this point.

Another point that struck me as I read thru this passage was the risk that Boaz was willing to take.. actually some might view it as two risks. One, he was willing to risk losing the right to marry Ruth by going to the closer relative. He knew there was a chance that this relative might want to marry Ruth. And, two, some might feel that being willing to marry Ruth in the first place was a risk. He really didn't know her well, she was from a foriegn country and until recently had worshipped a foreign idol.

This also brings me to look at the relative that Boaz approached and look at what he wasn't willing to risk. If he married Ruth he stated that he would lose his own inheritance. But, as we look forward in scriptures, we find out what lay ahead for Ruth. She fell into the direct lineage of David and of Jesus. Look what this man gave up when he decided to take the "safe" option and not risk his own inheritance!

In closing, I'd like to share some of the questions I have asked myself as I have studied these passages....

* When I know someone is relying on me and awaiting an answer, do I move quickly?

* Do I keep my promises as Boaz kept his promises to Ruth and Naomi that he would do the honorable thing?

* Am I willing to take risks for God?

* Am I willing to risk only the "small things" or am I willing to risk it all for God and His calling on my life?

6 Thoughts Shared:

Sab said...

I always loved this part of the story... it's romantic to me! The guy goes out on a limb and risks it all, so to speak. It does make me wonder how I do things for the ones I love as well... maybe we all need to take a hint from Boaz, and from Ruth.

I love the point you make about Ruth being the direct lineage of David and of Jesus. I remember reading that years ago and thinking how marvelous it was that God used this woman who wasn't even of His people originally to be directly linked to Jesus! It's incredible!

Laurie Ann said...

Awesome questions at the end, Melanie. Thank you so much for the commentary you gave along with these verses! I love it. Congrats on your win on Tracy's blog, too!

Anonymous said...

This caught my attention and it really brought up a lot of what if? questions just realizing how much Boaz was willing to take a chance when Ruth proposed to him.

It really brings up a lot of question as you had pointed out...are we willing to take a huge risk to follow God's calling or do we prefer things nice and package and small?

In today's time and places, it seems that there is often a sense of fear to just step out in faith and trust God sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Just stopping by to wish you a week filled with blessings!


Meredith said...

I'm really enjoying reading along with you in Ruth and I love your commentary. What destiny do we sometimes miss out on because we are not willing to "go to the gates" to conduct business? I love how Boaz took that risk and did things the right way!

Tricia said...

A great post Melanie, and I really like the questions you left us with at the end...

I have never really thought much about the "other" man, but it is amazing now to look back and see what he missed out on because he did not want to take a risk... really makes you think doesn't it?