Text: Ruth 2:1-23
Introduction: Once in a while I hear the expression, “It’s a marriage made in heaven.” I think what’s meant by those words is that the couple seems compatible and looks like a good match. But when I search in the Bible for a good model of marriage, I always come up short! There’s always a flaw:
- Abraham and Sarah—There’s the Hagar episode
- Isaac and Rebekah—Favoritism over the children spoils the match
- Jacob—How could he deal with two wives and their servant girls, all under the roof of one tent!
But when I read the story of Ruth and Boaz, I feel differently. This seems to be a match made in heaven. “And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:3). Later I read this comment from her mother-in-law, Naomi. “Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, ‘Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!’ And Naomi said to her, ‘This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives’ ” (2:20). Naomi saw the hand of God right away.
Here are the qualities in Boaz and Ruth that make them good role models for marriages today:
- Godly leader—Boaz can handle adversity. He stayed in Bethlehem through the days of famine. And now his crops are plentiful, so he can support Ruth and Naomi. He shows his faith in God, not just in the temple and in the home, but also in the marketplace. The dialog between Boaz and his workers is refreshing (Ruth 2:4). Many centuries later, Paul will be writing letters explaining what a Christian boss looks like (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1). Boaz was already living this way and modeling leadership in the marketplace.
- Courageous protector—Ruth has gone to work in the fields of Boaz. She gleaned in the harvest field knowing that Boaz was looking out for her safety and protection (2:9). Boaz had never heard the expression “sexual harassment,” but Ruth knew, even before she married this man, that he was her protector. Not only would the God of Israel be a place of refuge (2:12), but Boaz would also protect her.
- Generous provider—At the lunch break, Boaz invites Ruth to sit with him. That impresses a woman. Essentially, in their first meeting, he takes her to lunch! When this quality shows up today, it is in the sensitive husband who sees the stress his wife is under and says, “Let’s go out to dinner tonight,” or “I’ll fix the meal tonight.” At the close of the day, Boaz displays generosity (2:15-17). An ephah of barley is equal to 20 quarts dry measure. The big harvest was due to a generous boss, who told his workers to purposely drop grain for this widow (v.16).
- Excellent communicator—Ruth wants to know why Boaz is showing such favor to a foreigner (2:10). Boaz gives his answer, and Ruth has found a man who knows something that a woman is searching for…a good communicator. “You have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant” (2:13). What he said touched not just her ears but her heart as well!
- Sacrificial—The unselfish spirit of Ruth shows up right away when she offers to go to work in the barley fields while her aged mother-in-law stays home (2:2). Boaz is impressed with her treatment of Naomi (2:11). It is the opposite of the selfish spirit that has ruined many marriages. In the dating season of a relationship, we hear “All I want to do is to make you happy for the rest of your life.” After the honeymoon is over, reality sets in and there is a paradigm shift. What we really meant was “I want you to make me happy”!
Ruth’s unselfish attitude has been the talk of the town. It has been fully reported to the town’s most eligible bachelor, Boaz.
- Woman of grace—She has received grace from the God of Israel and has come to Him for refuge (2:12). The law said a “Moabite shall not enter the assembly of Israel” (Deut. 23:3). But grace has invited Ruth into God’s family. But there is more grace! This Moabite’s name is found in the family tree of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). That’s grace.
- Virtuous—Boaz pays the highest compliment to Ruth’s character. In Ruth 3, when Ruth asks Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer, he responds by saying, “all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman” (vv.11). To guard Ruth’s reputation from any misunderstanding or gossip. Boaz rewards her with a shawl full of barley and sends her home before sunup. What an acknowledgement from her future husband of her chaste conduct. What Peter commended (1 Peter 3:1-2), Ruth modeled.
- Respectful—If there are two words that express the deepest longings of a bride and groom, they are “cherished and respected.” There is a deep-seated desire for the wife to be cherished, and there is a need expressed by a husband to be respected. The dialog recorded in the story of Ruth is filled with words of respect for Boaz (2:10, 13; 3:16-18)
Conclusion: Where shall the “Ruths and Boazes” of today learn about cherishing and respecting? One hopes from their family of origin. But, for so many, this is not what they heard and saw while growing up. Instead they heard sarcasm and constant arguing. The story of Ruth and Boaz can become a primer for the engaged. In addition, mentoring by a couple who have modeled respect and cherishing in their marriage can be a wonderful preparation for marriage.