All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “[We are] witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.
The book of Ruth is primarily about the title woman—a Moabite who leaves the place she grew up and the people and religion she knew to go to her mother-in-law’s home and people and faith. Ruth is awesome.
But one of the other people in the book of Ruth is pretty darn awesome. Boaz. He sees Ruth working and makes sure she is not harassed by his workers and goes so far as to tell them to leave more grain out for her. He does the right and honest thing by giving the closer relative a chance to redeem and chooses to redeem himself even though the Law said that his son would be the heir to another man’s estate. If he only had the one son, then his property would pass to another man’s lineage. Pretty gutsy.
The men who were in the city gate; the men who witnessed to the redemption spoke the blessing in the verse quoted this morning. The first part of their blessing is the wish that Ruth would give Boaz many children. A common blessing in the ancient world and well-intentioned as Ruth had been married to Naomi’s son for ten years before he died and Ruth had no children. The book later records that Ruth did, in fact, have at least one child—a son who was named Obed. The second blessing was for prosperity. Most moderns would gladly take this blessing and run with it, but it was just another common well-wish in the ancient world. Wealth meant a lot of things back when and one of those was never going hungry. To a people who were just coming back from a famine, not going hungry is a great blessing.
The last part is the one that caught me today. They wished him famous in Bethlehem. Boaz may not be a household name. But Boaz’s great grandson, a singer and shepherd and warrior named David, absolutely is. Boaz unknowingly entered the lineage of the Messiah when he married Ruth. He entered into a royal line about which he had no idea. What he knew was to do the right and honorable and decent thing. And God blessed that immensely.
I may do nothing more than what God tells me is right. I may do nothing greater than what is honorable and decent. Yet still God is able to bless that and to magnify it. Boaz did not seek fame, but his descendants would certainly have it. The Bible says that those who humble themselves in the sight of God will be lifted up; that God gives grace to the humble—those who do not seek their own fame, but God’s. Today, let me seek God’s glory in all that I say and do. Let me not seek notoriety for myself, but glory for my King. Let Him then dispense blessings in the form and measure that pleases Him. To be famous in the sight of God, as Boaz is, is an honor to which I aspire. To be remembered as a man who sought to do the right and honorable and decent thing. Let all glory be to God and any accolades I receive be from Him.
One last thought. A descendant of Boaz would one day be the most famous person ever born in Bethlehem.