Connections 11.07.2021: Ruth and Boaz

Ruth 3:1-6, 11-13; 4:13-17

Most of us enjoy love stories. Some of my favorite television shows have the best love stories I’ve ever experienced: Pam and Jim on The Office, Ben and Leslie on Parks and Recreation, and David and Patrick on Schitt’s Creek. In each of these stories, the relationships begin as friendships. The characters know each other and even work together for months or years. They witness each other live in the world and learn how the other person handles conflict, supports other people, interacts with family, and thinks about the big issues of life. Then, as time passes, we notice a change in their relationship. It might be a special laugh, smile, or expression. Maybe they speak more tenderly or seem to be around the other person a lot more than normal. And finally, one of them asks the other on a date…or proposes marriage! We enjoy the swirl of emotions and romantic feelings as we watch these depictions of healthy relationships. There’s conflict, arguing, uncertainty, and disagreement, but ultimately these relationships last because they’re healthy.

In the Bible, we can find some love stories with at least some elements that we would consider healthy today: Adam and Eve, Jacob and Rachel, Mary and Joseph. Ruth and Boaz fall into this category too. The two of them managed to use the social and cultural constraints of their society to lift each other up. Naomi, who knows all too well the suffering of a widow in her time, comes up with a plan to care for her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth (vv. 3-4). Ruth follows Naomi’s curious instructions to woo Boaz (v. 6). Boaz, surely flattered by the attentions of this young woman, uses restraint and follows the law of his day, making sure that no one else is legally bound to Ruth before him (vv. 12-13). When the issue of kinsman redeemer is cleared up, Boaz follows through on his promise and marries Ruth. The two of them are greatly blessed with a child, Obed, who is like a son to Naomi and who falls into the lineage of David. (vv. 13-17)

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Of course, modern readers like us may find stumbling blocks in some elements of the story. We like to think that today, women are capable of self-care and protection without a man’s leadership. That there’s no longer the necessity of carrying on a male lineage down through the centuries. That widows can find fulfillment without remarrying. But within the parameters of the period of this story, we can sense that Ruth and Boaz did care for each other. They truly seemed to love one another. That’s why they followed the cultural expectations and did things “the right way” with a sense of mutual respect.

Maybe theirs isn’t a love story that melts our hearts, sweeps us off our feet, or makes us long for a similar relationship. But theirs is definitely a godly love that leads to many blessings and helps fulfill the story of Jesus Christ. Just look at Matthew 1:5, and you’ll find both Ruth and Boaz in Jesus’ genealogy. It is a love story with the best ending of all.

Discussion

• What are some of your favorite love stories in film, television, books, or some other media? What makes them so special to you?
• How often do such love stories happen in real life?
• Have you ever been part of a healthy real-life love story? If so, what elements made it healthy?
• What are the healthy elements of Ruth and Boaz’s love story?
• How can your relationships support the mission of Jesus Christ?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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