The story of Ruth and Boaz ends like any good love story should: happily ever after. But there is so much more in this last chapter than two love-birds riding off into the sunset. What we discover in the last few verses is that from Ruth and Boaz's bloodline would come King David . . . and from him would later come Jesus Christ!
And They Lived Happily Ever After
At the beginning of nearly every fairytale I used to read to my little girls were the words, “Once upon a time.” Just those opening words alone conjure up memories of damsels in distress, evil enemies, desperate time and some courageous prince saving the day and rescuing the princess.
“Once upon a time” really did happen! A damsel in distress was really and truly rescued by a prince of a man.
Not only would this prince and princess be given a part to play in the genealogy of the Messiah, they would become a model of virtue and purity and obedience to God for their generation . . . and beyond.
Even though we’re dealing with imperfect people who are sinners and in need of God’s grace throughout life, it’s obvious that Boaz and Ruth followed after God before and after they married.
They not only remained faithful to each other, they raised a godly son who continued on the legacy of faith; a legacy that stretched all the way down to their most famous descendant – their great-grandson, David, the poet-king of Israel.
Let’s watch as this wonderful true-to-life fairytale wraps up with some often-overlooked, yet wonderful scenes.
A Wedding Ceremony Consummated
So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son (Ruth 4:13).
You can’t help but notice how quickly this dramatic tale comes to a close. In 29 words – 2 sentences – you’ve have a wedding; a honeymoon; a home established; a marriage consummated, a baby conceived, nine months of anticipation and a healthy boy delivered.
If we slow it down and climb back into this scene, the wedding ceremony alone would have been an elaborate affair. The entire town would have been invited.
The Bride and Groom would be dressed as much like a king or queen as they could. If the groom was rich, which Boaz was, he wore a headpiece or crown made of gold. It was also the custom of the groom to have his garments scented with 2 special fragrances – frankincense and myrrh – which anticipated his future descendant, our Kinsman Redeemer, presented with gifts befitting someone who had come to redeem a bride.
For Boaz and Ruth, their marriage was consummated and a few brief words later we’re told she gives birth to a son.
If you look down at verse 17, we’re told that the neighbor women gave this boy a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
It’s certainly unusual for the women in the village to name the child; they may have very well come up with the name in their excitement and Ruth and Boaz agreed with it.
Perhaps you’ve had family members or friends provide names you agreed to use for your children. Perhaps family and friends have suggested names that you would never use.
You’ll notice in these closing verses that Boaz and Ruth effectively disappear and the focus of the divine author returns to Naomi.
A. Boyd Luter & Barry C. Davis, God Behind the Seen (Baker Books, 1995), p. 79
A Widowed Grandmother Invigorated
Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who (by the way) loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him (verses 14-15).
They are observing, “Naomi, because of Ruth and your grandson, you are now surrounded by care and protection and love . . . and this grandbaby boy is restoring your life and giving you energy and joy in your old age!”
Not only do we observe a wedding ceremony consummated we have a widowed grandmother invigorated.
What an incredible reversal. This Book opened with sorrow and ends with satisfaction.
Naomi had been taken by her husband with their two sons to Moab. It was an act of disobedience on the part of Elimelech, who died along with his two grown sons. Naomi found herself traveling back to Bethlehem with little hope of physically surviving, much less in finding happiness again.
What’s more, there is no heir to her husband’s estate. Everything she owned in Bethlehem will go to the highest bidder. She will spend the rest of her life alongside her daughter-in-law, scraping out a living.
She even changed her name to Bitterness and assumed that God had abandoned her too.
But now look at her – she’s in the home of a leading prince, the husband of her daughter-in-law and, if that isn’t good enough, she’s now holding in her lap a grandson. Samuel informs us that Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse (verse 16).
You could render that word nurse, guardian . . . caregiver.
No wonder the women are all saying to her, “This little boy is further proof that your life has been restored. This little grandson is going to put a bounce back in your step; he’s going to wind the clock back and reinvigorate your mind and heart.”
You’d better believe this is one invigorated grandmother!
What a thrill for her to dedicate her final years to the task of helping Ruth and Boaz raise this boy in a godly fashion.
Warren Wiersbe, commenting on Naomi’s joy in this text and writing as a proud grandparent himself noted, “Grandchildren are better than the Fountain of Youth, for we get young again when the grandchildren come to visit.”
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed (Victor Books, 1993), p. 58
I’m not a grandparent yet, but I look forward to that unique opportunity to grow young again.
I’m looking forward to enjoy children without being responsible for their actions!
Someone wrote that children and their grandparents are natural allies.
Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories (Thomas Nelson, 2000), p. 388
Isn’t that the truth?
Have you ever been to Cracker Barrel and seen one of those Grandmother Paddles for spanking grandchildren? It’s a long stick with a soft cushion at the other end . . . that says it all.
Mom and Dad are struggling through the daily chores of civilizing their little barbarians and grandma comes along and says, “Look at my little angels.”
You’re thinking fallen angels.
One guy asked a mother, “If you had it to do all over, would you have children again?” She said, “Yes, but not the same ones.”
Grandparent can’t understand that . . . they’re grandchildren are just about perfect little people . . . which is why Grandparents are blinded to the things their grandkids get away with.
Maybe that’s why they don’t see the torn curtains or muddy carpet . . . they don’t seem bothered that the kids ate dessert first – or the only thing they ate was dessert.
You know what I think? I think grandchildren need a dose of that every so often.
Granted, that’s my opinion. There’s no verse on that one. Grandparents probably have one but they’ve taken it out of context.
Here’s what’s really happening in Naomi’s life – she’s reveling in the grace of God; she’s basking in the goodness of God – revealed in a roof over her head, food in her stomach, an heir to her late husband’s property, a Kinsman redeemer and a grandbaby to receive all the love and affection she’s bottled up for years.
One medical doctor who authored a number of books on the subject of grand-parenting wrote that the bond between a child and a grandparent is the least complicated form of human love.
Dr. Arthur Kronhaber, quoted by Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories (Thomas Nelson, 2000), p. 388
Frankly, any child who has that relationship is blessed.
My grandmother, on my mother’s side, lived in my hometown. She also served in the Servicemen’s Center in Norfolk – the flagship center for Missions to Military which my parents began in 1958.
Every Friday night, my entire family went downtown to the Center for Bible study, food and – for us missionary kids, a lot of fun times playing games.
The Center was a large 3 story building with everything from bunk rooms, library, kitchen and study to game rooms with ping pong, shuffle board and table games galore; there was a counter topped with cookies and a soda fountain to which we had free access.
We looked forward to Friday night.
And just about every Friday night, one of us four boys went home with Granny – we called her – to spend the night at her home. She had been widowed for many years and had dedicated the rest of her life to serving as a missionary to these young navy boys docked in Norfolk.
Spending the night at her little house was always icing on the cake. For one thing, she had a television. We did too, when we were older, but we were rarely allowed to watch anything but football games and Daniel Boone. Our TV never operated with static/fuzz and we had the turn the channel with a pair of plyers.
But that once-a-month-sleep-over at Granny’s house meant staying in your pajamas and watching Saturday morning cartoons while eating our own box of cereal – your choice of cereal! None of those Bran Flakes, you know, the best value for your money; oh no, my choice was always Captain Crunch.
You might think Captain Crunch wasn’t around 1968. It was; in fact in 1967 the Berry version came out and then the Peanut Butter Crunch came out in 1969.
I know what I’m talking about . . . Captain Crunch has been ruining kid’s teeth for over 50 years.
But there’s more to this unbridled tale; Granny let us have a cup of coffee!
Shocking, I know!
And my parents knew it too. But they wisely figured that once a month away from chores and homework and the normal disciplines of a frugal life were not going to ruin us for good.
Granny certainly bent a digestive rule or two – and we loved it. But be careful with this story Granddad; there’s a fine line between cartoons and captain crunch and compromising moral standards, or ignoring disobedience to Christ in your response to their behavior.
Frankly, what I remember most about those sleepovers was that after breakfast time was finished and the coffee cup was drained, Granny would come over and sit next to me and open her Bible. She’d read a chapter and then preach a little sermon to me about how I needed to follow Christ and give him my life. And then she would pray. The longest prayers you can imagine.
She prayed around the world; she prayed for lost people she was witnessing to and new sailors she had led to Christ; she prayed for other missionaries we supported and the churches that supported us all; and then . . . she prayed for me.
She did nothing but compliment my parents desire to see me grow up to follow Christ. My grandmother prayed for me until she finally lost her mental capacities and eventually went home to be with the Lord.
So when I read this little phrase about Obed being taken into the care of Naomi, don’t miss what it probably meant to him – and to her.
A grandparent has the ability to impact their grandchildren in so many ways. Let me suggest several:
- A grandparent can offer an emotional and perhaps physical safety net when parents fail or falter;
- A grandparent can teach their grandchildren the plan of salvation – Timothy learned the gospel from his mother andgrandmother (2 Timothy 1:5);
- A grandparent can be a unique witness of how God has been faithful to their family over the years; the memorial stones on the banks of the Jordan served as a storybook for grandparents to retell the story of God’s faithfulness to the children of Israel (Joshua 4);
- A grandparent can be a wise counselor with years of experience and biblical knowledge;
- A grandparent can come across more easily at times as a non-judgmental counselor to their grandchildren as they share difficult questions and experiences;
- A grandparent can be a place of refuge and comfort for grandchildren who feel that beyond mom and dad there’s no one else they can confide in with trust and confidence;
- A grandparent understands uniquely the passing of life and the significance of milestones in a child’s life; they don’t worry with the details so much as cheer their grandchildren along.
We all need to pay attention to this subject of grand parenting and its growing potential and influence in the world. I’ve read that half of the adult population over the age of 45 is now occupying the role of a grandparent.
83% of people aged 60 and older are grandparents; we now have more than 75 million grandparents in America. In fact, by the year 2000 at least 4 million children were already living in their grandparent’s home.
Ibid, p. 389
I can’t help but wonder, out of the myriad of books on parenting – where are the books providing advice for godly grand-parenting?
Well, here’s a great text and context for providing some excellent advice.
Naomi could offer her grandson something that Ruth could not. As a new convert, Ruth knew nothing of Jewish customs and traditions in the home. Ruth had so much to learn from the Law of Moses and the history of God’s people; she barely had time to learn herself before Obed began asking questions.
What a wonderful asset Naomi provided Boaz and Ruth in raising their son to follow after God.
Don’t ever forget that parents and grandparents can play different, but essential roles.
A Wonderful Kinsman Redeemer Anticipated
The Book of Ruth ends as quickly as it began.
You have the genealogical record of descendants – in verse 18 and following; you have Perez, the father of Hezron and Hezron is the father of Ram and Ram the father of Amminadab and Amminadab is the father of Nahshon and Nahshon fathers Salmon and Salmon fathers Boaz and Boaz is the father of Obed and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David (paraphrased).
If you read that slowly enough, you’re struck by the fact that Ruth, the Moabitess widow, the once impoverished gleaner in the fields of Bethlehem has become the great-grandmother of King David!
And it is quite possible that she lived long enough to see him born.
But that’s not really the end of the story.
Wouldn’t you like to know a little more about them? I would.
So what’s the rest of the story?
Paul Harvey was a news commentary and for 50 years enthralled people with the inside scoop on current events and historical events. For decades he narrated a radio piece called, “The Rest of the Story.”
I remember, many years ago, hearing him on the radio telling the story of Dick and Allen who worked together repairing watches in the early 1900’s. But they soon discovered that they could make more money by selling them to friends and relatives. Before long their business expanded and they ventured into selling other items. They eventually began printing a booklet – a catalog they called it – so their clients could order items without ever having to leave home. Dick and Allen even opened a few stores and began to sell a variety of items. Their business quickly flourished.
But then the Great Depression hit hard. Allen sold his share of the business to Dick and headed for Europe to spend his money. Dick slugged through the Depression and kept the business intact – in fact, he’d never even bothered changing the name of their business. Dick eventually died a multi-millionaire and Allen, over in Europe, read about his death and decided to return home.
He walked into a stunned board room and announced who he was and then asked for a job in the company he had co-created. Poor Allen had no idea how the thriving corporation was managed and their really wasn’t a spot available that he could handle. But out of respect for his legacy, they gave him a job opening mail in the mailroom and responding to certain customers. At special occasions he was brought out and introduced as the cofounder. Eventually he led tours for visitors who’d come to the corporate headquarters.
And until he finally retired, he was able to tell the stories of those early years – the beginning years of Dick Sears and Allen Roebuck.
And now you know the rest of the story.
Personally, I’d like to know more about this eternally significant story between Boaz and Ruth. I’d love to know a little more about the rest of their story.
With that in mind, I’ll begin reading chapter 5 at verse 1. And so it came to pass that Boaz and Ruth were married in the presence of many witnesses. The wedding guests came from all around Judea to add their blessings to the union and future home of Boaz and Ruth.
The morning after all the guests had departed, Boaz awakened while it was still early. He searched throughout the house and could not find Ruth anywhere. He began to search diligently for her outside and upon entering his fields, he saw his bride gleaning in the fields.
Once again, she was dressed in rough clothing and her sack for grain was about her shoulders.
“Ruth!” he called as he ran to her. “Ruth, why are you gleaning in the fields today?” She bowed low to the ground and said, “My husband, surely I must find something to satisfy the hunger I will have today.”
Upon hearing this, Boaz embraced Ruth in his arms and said, “Ruth, do you not understand that since you have become my bride, all that belongs to me, belongs to you.”
Okay, I made all that up! I hope you weren’t thumbing through Ruth looking for chapter 5.
It occurred to me – and I paraphrased it above – isn’t this the point of their story?
Boaz, a picture of our Kinsman Redeemer has taken us into the family of God – and everything that belongs to Him now belongs to His beloved Bride.
He has given us an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away. (1 Peter 1:4)
The rest of their story is told in the New Testament description of the final Kinsman Redeemer.
So before we wrap up the love story of Ruth and Boaz, let’s compare Ruth’s Kinsman redeemer with Christ our Redeemer.
Let me highlight four similarities between Boaz and Christ:
- First, kinship with the bride was required
In other words, in order to meet the conditions of the law and qualify to redeem the bride, the kinsman redeemer had to be biologically related to the bride – a member of her kin or clan.
Likewise, Jesus Christ became our relative – a member of the human race. In order to redeem us, He wore the sandals of humanity and walked among us.
John writes, And the word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
Jesus became a member of the human family so that He could make us members of His royal family.
- Secondly, a kinsman’s desire to redeem his bride was voluntary
The kinsman couldn’t be forced – he had to be willing to redeem the bride; which means Boaz could have walked away.
The other potential redeemer did.
Boaz didn’t. Why? Because He loved Ruth.
The Bible says, And this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the satisfaction for our sins (I John 4:10)
He was willing! For the joy set before Him – that joy included winning His bride – He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
He became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)
That’s how willing Christ was to redeem us.
Boaz was related to Ruth and he was willing to redeem her.
Jesus Christ, related to us by flesh and blood – fully God, yet fully man – was also willing to redeem us, His bride.
Thirdly, not only must the redeemer be related and willing;
- The Kinsman Redeemer had to be capable of paying the redemption price.
No matter how much Boaz loved Ruth – he had to be capable of buying Elimelech’s land, settling her estate and paying off the family debts.
Redeeming the bride wasn’t free . . . it cost!
That other near kinsman redeemer might have only needed to give Boaz his worn out sandal to seal the covenant, but Boaz had to give him silver to settle the deal.
There was no IOU and I’ll see what I can do later on. Oh no. Boaz had to have enough money to pay the debts of the widow he wanted and buy the family property.
Fortunately Boaz was wealthy enough to take care of everything.
Listen, bride of Christ – you have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ who is infinitely wealthy was able to pay the price; the purchase price was not currency either. The legal tender for our redemption was the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, In Him we have redemption through His blood (Ephesian 1:7).
I found it interesting to discover in my study that according to Jewish custom, it was the responsibility of the kinsman redeemer to also buy out of slavery any member of the bride’s family who had been forced to sell themselves to pay off their debts.
Robert L. Hubbard, The Book of Ruth (Eerdmans, 1988), p. 188
A kinsman redeemer literally stepped in and settled any and all debt against his beloved. He just wiped the books clean.
So also our Lord hung on the cross and then said, “It is finished” – tetelestai was the Greek word He used – which literally meant,paid in full.
The debt of sin has been paid in full!
Every single legal claim of the law – every debt of sin attached to his beloved’s name was completely paid off.
The debt has been wiped off the ledger.
Paul wrote, Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:14).
Jesus Christ is both willing and able to pay the redemption price.
- His provision for the bride was comprehensive
Boaz lifted Ruth to his high estate. She was no longer the Moabite widow, she was the bride of Boaz. She was made a legal partaker of his name – her status was altered from alien to accepted.
So also, Christ has comprehensively raised our status –
- from sinner to saint;
- from stranger to friend;
- from outcast to child;
- from lost to redeemed;
- from beggar to bride.
Most fairytales I read to my girls when they were little began with those words, “Once upon a time” and nearly all of them that I can remember ended with those same words – “And they lived happily ever after.”
I occurred to me that those words are an absolutely appropriate ending for every member of the bride of Christ.
Everyone one of us will live happily ever after; no matter how difficult your biography has been; no matter how muddled or challenged or painful.
At the end of your biography – after you take your last breath – your story will close with those same words – “and they lived happily ever after”.
Taken away by our Prince . . . swept away by our bridegroom . . . kept eternally in the joy of our Lord forever and ever.
But there’s one more thing to note; the only difference between your story and those fairytales of old is that after the words, “And they lived happily ever after” there were always those final two words on the last page, “The end.”
Not for you.
For the bride of Christ, there will never be The End to your Happily Ever After.
Imagine that. Okay, we can’t. But we can believe by faith in our Kinsman Redeemer – our Lord Jesus – and cling to His promise of grace and mercy and love and purpose and know that one day we will enter the glory of heaven, forever.
- Because He was related to us;
- Because He was willing to redeem us
- Because He was able to redeem us
- Because He was capable of comprehensively setting our debt of sin
The last words on the biography of the church – the Bride of Christ – and every individual member of the Bridal party – are neverthe words, The End.
Instead, they will always be . . . and we lived happily ever after!