Spoken Prayer: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
by Pr. Dave Mann
This passage is a window into an interesting aspect of the Israelite customs of that time. It is also fascinating how this practice, though strange to 21st century Americans, is used by God to communicate how he cares for his people.
In those days, Israelite society prescribed a way that widows and the estate of the deceased could be transferred and cared for by the next of kin. Yes, it sounds like the widow is almost considered as property. Remember that the society also had polygamy as an acceptable practice. A woman living on her own was vulnerable and would likely live in dire poverty. Also, if the deceased had not been able to father children prior to his demise, the honor of his memory into the next generation would suffer shame. So, for these reasons – the protection of vulnerable widows and to preserve the honorable legacy of the deceased – the next-of-kin was given the option (even the responsibility) of receiving the real estate property and the marriage rights with the surviving widow. If the immediate next-of-kin chose not to fulfill his option/responsibility, the rights would be forwarded on to the second-of-kin. Whoever performed this responsibility was called a redeemer-guardian.
You can see the principle is at work here. Vulnerable widows were in a situation where they could not, on their own and with their own resources, save themselves from extreme poverty and suffering. It was only through their redeemer-guardian that they could have a future and a hope. Boaz became Ruth’s redeemer-guardian. In this way, Boaz is a proto-type of what Christ would be for all believers – doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. We, who are locked in a situation that we cannot climb out of, no matter how much effort we make, need a Redeemer. We must be in relationship with Someone who has the standing, the position to redeem us from our fate. Aren’t you glad that Christ did not walk away from us when we were vulnerable to sin and condemnation?
Thank you, Lord Jesus, my Redeemer-Guardian for receiving me as your own, for loving me and pulling me out of my spiritual poverty. Amen