At last in chapter 4 we get the happy ending we are hoping for – and are shown the Happy Ending towards which God has been working. What seemed a merely domestic story is shown to be a part of salvation history. God was working on a bigger canvas than just the lives of Naomi and Ruth. See also Ferguson quote on back page.
Boaz shows himself to be a canny negotiator. A K-R’s duty was to ensure that neither the family member’s line died out nor their land was lost. So if a relative was forced through poverty to sell their land, the K-R was to buy it that it might be kept for the family, or if it had been sold already then he was to buy it back.
At first, Naomi’s K-R is happy to oblige, since it seems it might well be assumed that the land would eventually become his permanently given the lack of an heir on Naomi’s side. But then Boaz makes clear (and public) the added responsibility of a K-R – to marry Ruth and seek to provide an heir for Naomi. Suddenly, what had looked like an attractive business proposition seems rather costly – the responsibility for two widows and no likely long term benefit – so he waives his right.
Boaz shows himself to be a faithful redeemer, prepared to pay the cost and glad to publicly claim Ruth as his own. As in ch.1, where Orpah serves as a foil to Ruth, showing up Ruth’s faith, so here the other relative acts as a foil to Boaz to show up his faith and kindness.
Prayers have been a notable feature of the whole book – look back and see how each of them is answered. In a book which sees God working not through great signs and wonders but in the ordinary events of life (even tragedies), one lesson is surely that he works in answer to prayer. The two prayers here are significant.
The elders’ prayer (vv.11,12) speaks of the blessing Ruth is to be, not just in the present, but long into the future, starting a family that would prove to be of lasting significance and a blessing to Israel.
The women’s prayer (vv.14,15) again honours Ruth and all that God has done. Her child is now called the K-R, who will renew her life, but the final genealogy shows that through him will come one who will bring blessing to all God’s People – King David, and as Matt.1 will show, through him God’s Promised Redeemer-King.
Look back over the book and marvel at all he did for Ruth and Naomi – and all he was accomplishing for us.