We are picking up the story found in the book of Ruth part way through the story. Let me bring you up to date. Naomi and her husband had moved from their home land of Judah (where there was famine) to Moab in hopes that life would be easier their. But Naomi’s husband died, leaving her a widow with two sons. Sadness yes, but her sons would look out for her. Her sons married Moabite women, and it seemed that this would be where Naomi lived out her life. But her two sons died, and she was utterly alone. So she decided to return to Bethlehem in Judah. Her two daughters in law were ready to go with her, but she told them there was no future for them with her. Her one daughter in law eventually agreed, but her other daughter in law, Ruth, would not be dissuaded but insisted on returning with Naomi.
There was little to return to, and while Naomi had family in Bethlehem, they did not do very much to help support Naomi and Ruth. The exception was Boaz, who had much; but while a kinsman, was not a close kinsman and traditions of family relations had to be abided by.
Boaz did all that he could to watch out for Naomi and Ruth; for Naomi, because she was kin. For Ruth, well, that would be getting ahead of the story.
“Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.” (Ruth 3:1-5)
Boaz was quite surprised to find Ruth laying at his feet. And he understood completely what Naomi was trying to arrange. He was quite agreeable to the plan; but again, formalities had to be abided by. Boaz called to account Ruth’s closer relatives, and presented to him Naomi’s need and Ruth being part of the deal. Naomi’s kin turned down her need, and turned down Ruth. This allowed Boaz to move forward in what had come to be his and Naomi’s joint plan.
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Chapter 4:13-17)
A lovely story of devotion between relatives related only through marriage; a story of loyalty and devotion, of strong women looking after each other, and God’s blessing and grace being bestowed after many years of waiting. It is, much like the book of Esther, a story for teaching about such things. Do not pass off its lessons lightly, beloved reader.
As we go through this world we meet many people who start out as strangers but become close friends and sometimes kin to us. Do not assume that the stranger among you will not turn out to be exactly what you need, and that you can give life-bestowing blessings to one who was formerly a stranger. And finally, do NOT underestimate the determination of a woman! Shalom!