Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband--how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." "May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord," [Ruth] said. "You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant--though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls." - Ruth 2:11-13
It is important when reading any Old Testament story first to understand how the account fits into the redemptive plan of the living God. The Old Testament is not primarily given to us as a primer for morals and virtues, but rather as a record of God’s mighty acts in history to work salvation for everyone who calls on the name of Christ. Thus it is that, when coming to the little book of Ruth, it is good to set it in that context by asking, “What does this story have to do with God’s plan of salvation for all nations?”
The answer is not far in coming, for Boaz, the godly Jewish man in the story, and Ruth, the faith-filled convert from the land of Moab, are the great-grandparents of King David, whose greater son Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. This is, therefore, the story of how David came to be. But the overtones reach further than that, for Ruth was a Moabitess, and of that rejected people the Law of Moses decreed: No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation (Deut. 23:3). The curse was carried through the sons, however, and Ruth’s great-grandson David was most welcome in the assembly of the Lord. Also, it shouldn’t surprise us that Boaz was so kind to a foreign-born woman when we consider that his mother was Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, who had welcomed the spies and sent them off in a different direction (Matt. 1:5). Both Boaz’s mother and Boaz’s wife, then, were Gentile converts to the God of Israel, foreshadowing Christ’s worldwide Kingdom, when people from every tribe, language, people, and nation will find salvation in Him (Rev. 7:9).
This is the main story of the Book of Ruth. But yet a minor theme of Ruth is seen in the godly character, the humility and gentleness of these two ancestors of David. Ruth’s character is displayed in her determination not to leave Naomi, her mother-in-law, despite bleak prospects for her back in Israel. She said, “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16). It is also seen in the diligence and hard work she displayed in gleaning steadily all day long, in the heat of the fields, to provide for herself and her mother-in-law (2:7). It is displayed in her humility before Boaz, in which she prostrated herself before him and said she, a foreigner, did not have the standing of one of his slave girls (2:10, 13). Her obedience, chastity, and courage are on display in the way she followed Naomi’s advice and approached Boaz for the possibility of marriage with him (3:5, 9). More than anything, what shines through is her faith in the God of Israel, under whose wings she had taken refuge.
Meanwhile, in Boaz we see more gentleness and kindness than in any other man of the Old Testament. Boaz speaks kindly to her, provides water for her thirst, invites her to eat with him, and receives her advance at the threshing floor with graciousness and joy. He sees through the fact of her status as a Moabitess to realize she has become a true believer of the same God he worshipped as well. He rejoices in her interest in him with humility of his own when he says, “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier in that you did not run after one of the younger men, whether rich or poor” (3:10). He pursues her as a kinsman-redeemer with great diligence and love, beautifully picturing the salvation that Christ would work for His bride, the Church.
"Both Boaz’s mother and Boaz’s wife, then, were Gentile converts to the God of Israel, foreshadowing Christ’s worldwide Kingdom, when people from every tribe, language, people, and nation will find salvation in Him (Rev. 7:9)."
These two godly people fit into God’s overall plan of salvation in a remarkable way, yet it is how they lived that shines in the details of the account. If you are a woman, ask the Lord to give you a character like Ruth. If you are a man, ask the Lord for Boaz’s godly gentleness and kindness. May the same God who brought them together also enrich Christian marriages.