by Rev Joel Yong
Boaz replied, “May the LORD bless you, my daughter. This last kindness–that you didn’t go after the younger men, whether rich or poor–is better than the first. Don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do whatever you say. The whole town knows that you are a woman who has strength of character. It is true that I am a close relative of yours, but there is a relative closer than I. Stay here tonight. In the morning if he will agree to take care of you, that is good. He can take care of you. But if he does not wish to take care of you, then, I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives, I will take care of you myself. Lie down until morning.”
Ruth’s actions were culturally interpreted as a proposal of sorts and Boaz was flattered.
He who had shown her grace and mercy earlier on in the harvest field, now feels honored that she came to him instead of a younger man.
But here is what Boaz did:
- He did not attempt to take advantage of her. A lesser man may have taken advantage of her since she was ‘forward’. He did nothing to her and merely asked her to rest.
- He did not attempt to take advantage of the relative who had the 1st right of refusal to marry Ruth. There was a relative who was of a closer relation than Boaz and he had the right to marry her first. (It was customary that when women were widowed in the family and defenseless- male relatives of close relation could ‘rescue’ them from the plight by marrying them and taking them under their shelter).
This reveals the righteousness and generosity of Boaz.
He sees a needy person and seeks to help them not for what he could get out of the deal, but for the good of the one in need.
The next time you help or give to someone else:
- Don’t think how does this impact me?
- Think instead how can this help them?
- In giving, am I seeking their welfare or am I contributing to their detriment? Note that Boaz did not insist that he could take better care of Ruth than the other close relative, he did the right thing and would rather Ruth marry respectably and not sully her name.