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?