The Book of Ruth


The Book of Ruth

July 19th, 1964 @ 8:15 AM


Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens. And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz. And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field. So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law. Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning. And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day. Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell


7-19-64    8:00 a.m.



To you who listen on the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the morning message, the early morning message on The Book of Ruth.  The Book of Ruth is actually a part of the Book of Judges.  The Book of Judges closes with three incidents:  one about the idolatry of Dan, one concerning the tragedy that overwhelmed Benjamin, and the third this beautiful pastoral poem entitled "Ruth."

Goethe, the incomparable German poet, said that the story of Ruth as it is here in the Bible is the most beautiful poem in human language.  Several times in the course of my studies, several times I have run across an incident that happened in England when a great literary figure took the Book of Ruth and to a little select group in a drawing room, omitting some of the identifying marks and characteristics and changing the name, but following the story through, very much as you have it here in the Bible, read it to the group; and they were overwhelmed and said, "Where did you find that marvelous gem of literature?"  It is really one of the beautiful pastoral productions in all time and in all literature.

Now of course those things interest us, the beauty of it and the sublimity of its telling, the artistry of its presentation.  But to us of course as children of God and as fellow members of the church, to us we are interested in the holy manifestation of the providence and love and care of God, and then also, as in all the Holy Scriptures, those overtones of truth and revelation that touch us and our children and children’s children, and speak of the ultimate consummation of all the providences of God as they move in the history of this world.  Now we could not begin of course this morning to follow them all; so we shall do just a beginning.  Now if you would like to turn to the Book of Ruth, you can easily follow the message.  First we are going to follow the story. 

"It came to pass, when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land of Judah" [Ruth 1:1].  And this family of Elimelech and Naomi his wife and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, that family, falling prey to the terrible scourge of the famine, migrated across the Jordan River and into the land of Moab.  Now to us that’s not very far, but of course to them it represented a journey into a foreign country and into a strange land.  So these Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah, the man, his wife, and his two sons, are now living in a strange, foreign country, Moab.  While they were there, and they lived there ten years, the boys grew to manhood, and they married two Moabite girls.  One boy married Orpah, and the other boy married Ruth.  Now it came to pass in those years, in that decade, that Elimelech died, the father of the two boys and the husband of Naomi, Elimelech died; and the two sons died, Mahlon and Chilion.  So there in the land of Moab is the widow from Bethlehem, Naomi, and then the two daughters-in law, the wives of Mahlon and Chilion; the three widows are there in Moab. 

In those days, word came to Naomi how that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread, so she resolved to leave the country and the land in which she was a stranger and to go back to her native land to Bethlehem in Judah.  So as she prepared to go her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, proposed to go with her.  "No," says Naomi, "you go back home, for this is your land and your people and your country.  You turn back, my daughters, and find husbands in the land of Moab; for you’re young, and I’ll return back to Bethlehem alone."  So Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and turned back, but Ruth clave unto her.  And when Naomi impressed upon her that she return, Ruth said – and this is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry in this earth, and one of the finest sentiments, and one of the noblest dedications.  I have never read in any literature, not in Greek, not in Latin, not in English, nor I suppose others could have read in any other language anything more beautiful than this commitment of Ruth:

Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:  thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:  the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.


                                                                                                [Ruth 1:16-17]


Just to read it, if you didn’t know anything of its background or its meaning, would be to pause before so sublime a devotion.  So when Naomi saw that Ruth was so dedicated, the two go on together.  And Naomi comes after this decade into Bethlehem, and the city was moved to see her and this strange girl from a foreign country.  And they said, "Is not this Naomi?"  And Naomi said, "Call me no longer Naomi, but call me Mara."  Naomi means "sugar-pie," that’s what we’d say; it means "honey, honeybunch."  Naomi means actually, the Hebrew word means "sweetness."  That’s a beautiful thing.  "Call me not sweetness, call me Mara, bitterness; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me" [Ruth 1:20].  So the two come to Bethlehem.

Now the second chapter:  in Bethlehem, of course the two who have nothing, no property, all of that’s been lost, the two are faced with the problem of bread.  So "Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn" [Ruth 2:2].  And Ruth goes into the field to glean ears of corn, to gather the leavings.  You know according to the law, you could not harvest the whole field; but in the corners, according to the law, there was left for the poor, and in the hedgerows; and then of course as they gleaned, naturally some was dropped.  As they harvested, naturally some was dropped, so a gleaner could come behind.  And that was for the poor.  A man by the law could not harvest his field clean; but what was left behind, the poor could pick up.

So Ruth goes into the field to glean after the harvesters.  And in the providence of God, she came to the field of a kinsmen of Naomi, a kinsmen of Elimelech; and his name is Boaz.  He’s described here in the second chapter in the first verse, "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz."  So in the providence of life and of God, Ruth gleans in the field of Boaz.  And he sees her. 

Now the thing that he noticed about her was – and this is the thing where most girls, no let me say, this is the thing where a worldly girl will never be persuaded – you know a worldly girl thinks, "I have to drink in order to call attention to myself, and I have to smoke in order to call attention to myself, and I have to be loose in my moral life in order to entice the interest of boys and men"; so she goes out and she lives that way.  She smells like, well, I can’t describe what cigarette smoke and perfume smell like, but it has a odor all of its own.  She smells that way, and she has the look of a barfly and her voice falls into that category; and she has the demeanor and the attitude of somebody who is loose.  So she thinks by these worldlinesses to attract the attention of the opposite sex.  Well, now I don’t deny that you do that.  I do not deny it at all.  All I have to do is just open my eyes and look down any street in the evening or on any Saturday night, just look and you’ll see.  But I do say this.  The kind of a man that you attract will be of a certain kind; the kind of a fellow that you draw to you will be of a certain type.

There is also another type of a man in this world beside that kind of a man, and it is wonderful for a girl to learn that and to know that and to realize that.  It’s not every kind of a boy that’s looking for a girl who’s promiscuous.  It’s not every kind of a boy that’s looking for a girl that smokes and drinks.  Nor is it every kind of a boy that looks for a girl who likes to laugh at lewd and off-colored stories and likes to be loose in her moral life.  There are lots of boys who would like to go with a girl who’s clean, and pure, and virtuous, and given to God.  And there are lots of boys who would like to build a home with that kind of a girl, and make a living for her, and protect her, and love her, and cherish her until death do them part.  There are lots of young men like that.

Now the thing that drew the attention of Boaz to Ruth was this:  that she, though a widow and young and apparently very beautiful and attractive, she was not after the young men; she was not turned that way, but she stayed with the maidens, and was modest and humble, and in all things attractive, clean, and beautiful.  And Boaz noticed her.

Well, as the story goes, she is invited by Boaz to glean in his field alone.  Then Boaz instructs his harvesters to leave "handfuls of purpose," Ruth 2:16.  And that’s one of the most beautiful phrases in the Bible:  "Let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her."  Handfuls of purpose; that is apparently they just dropped, but really Boaz was telling the harvesters to leave it there, drop it there for Ruth to pick up, handfuls of purpose.  Ah, that great preacher, oh, Joseph Parker, that great preacher, has many, many presentations that he calls "handfuls of purpose"; a beautiful term.  So Ruth gleans, and Boaz notices her so very much. 

Now in the third chapter, Naomi, her mother-in-law, knowing of the law of the Levirate marriage, instructs Ruth how to lay her case before Boaz – we’ll speak of that in a moment – and Ruth obeys her mother-in-law, and Boaz resolves to do the part of the goël, the kinsman-redeemer.

And in the fourth chapter you have the story of the kinsman-redeemer, which is something I hope we have time for that you can see this morning.  It has in it a marvelous, marvelous spiritual truth for us.  And Boaz does the part of the kinsman- redeemer, and in that of course, must take the widow of the son of Elimelech to be his own wife, which widow of course is Ruth.  And they are married.  And there was a son born to Ruth, and they called his name Obed.  And he is the father of Jesse, and Jesse is the father of David [Ruth 4:17].  And that’s the story.

Now this morning until I have to stop, let us look at what happened as these people shared in it.  Now this girl Ruth is a marvelous creature.  She was truly one of the finest, sweetest girls that ever lived.  Two or three or four things about her:  one, her filial loyalty is amazing; it’s overwhelming.  All of us hear jokes about mothers-in-law.  That’s one of the sources of constant, constant ridicule and laughter is the mother-in-law.  Now if I were of a disposition just to name that, there’s a whole bunch of stories that flock into my mind; mothers-in-law, as though they were, you know, not to be really considered in the circle of the family, but they’re objects of joke, and scorn, and laughter.  Well, it’s not true and how we ever got that way is somewhat of a mystery.

Ruth was a girl of wonderful filial devotion; and that is the virtue in anybody.  I love to see any daughter love her mother, and if she’s married her mother-in-law.  And I love to see that in a son.  I love to see a son love his mother and honor his mother and love and honor his mother-in-law.  It is a beautiful thing to look upon.  It is commendable and fine in any house and in any home.  And that is the first thing in the life of Ruth, her devotion to her mother-in-law.

Now the second thing in the life of Ruth is her industry and her energy.  No small part of the story of delinquency in our time is that our children don’t have anything to do.  Now I never grew up on a farm.  I grew up in a city.  It had a population of three hundred people.  So I don’t know much about the farm.  I lived on the farm when I was just a little boy.  I remember a whole lot of things about it.  I worked on it, but the little town in which I grew up of course was a rural establishment, and for a boy to work and for a girl to work was good.  I think it was good in God’s sight.  The boy helped his daddy plow.  He helped his daddy mend the harness.  He helped his daddy with the crops.  He helped his daddy with the milking.  And the girl helped her mother.  She helped her mother sweep.  She helped her mother sew.  She helped her mother cook.  She helped her mother around the house to spin and to weave.  And you never had delinquency, juvenile delinquency.  They never heard the word.  That was good.  It was good in God’s sight.

Now, our children, it is a problem, a national problem what to do with these boys and girls.  The law says they can’t work, so they have to be employed in some other way.  So they’ve got the yellow-bellied drag strip – I don’t know where or what that is, but I hear it on the radio.  And they’ve got the hot rods a’goin’, and they’ve got all kinds of things, the jukes and the jives and the joints, which are patronized by these youngsters.  Well, there are sociological and psychological problems involved in that that are sometimes overwhelming to me.  If I were going by the Book, I would say the best thing for a boy is that he work.  I would think it’d be good for the boy to work.  And it would be a wonderful thing for the girl to be taught how to cook, and how to sweep, and how to sew, and how to make her clothes, and how to be a marvelous helper.  I don’t see anything wrong with that, for the life of me I don’t.  Well, this girl Ruth, that’s the second thing about her.  She said, "Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn, that we might have bread to eat" [Ruth 2:2].  And she was industrious and energetic and gave herself to those fine domestic devotions.  Helpfulness, it’s wonderful.

Now the third thing about Ruth:  she was very devout.  She was a pious girl.  We don’t use that word "pious" much anymore, but it’s a good word, a good word.  Now look at Boaz as he looked at her.  As Boaz met her and watched her work in the field, Boaz said, "The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust" [Ruth 2:12].  The girl became a Christian in Bethlehem.  Isn’t that what she said in her devotion to Naomi?  "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" [Ruth 1:16].  She became a Christian; though she was a heathen girl, a pagan child.  And when Boaz watched her, he said, "The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust," no longer worshiping pagan gods, and sinful gods, and worldly gods, and idols of gold and silver and wood and stone; but "the Lord God of Israel under whose wings thou art come to trust."  Now you can preach a sermon on that beautiful phrase:  "under whose wings," the wings of the Almighty.

Now a fourth thing, the last thing about Ruth; her personal character, what she was like; when Naomi spoke to her and told her how to present her case to Boaz, it took faith to do it.  Well, what she did was this.  She laid herself at Boaz’s feet [Ruth 3:7], and Boaz could receive her or refuse her.  He could accept her or reject her.  He could take her or spurn her.  Now it takes faith and humility to do a thing like that.  That’s the same kind of a thing that Mary answered when the angel said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee," when Mary had observed, "But I do not know a man, I have no husband as yet" [Luke 1:34-35].  Now it takes devotion and faith for a girl to say like Mary did, "Be it unto me as thou hast spoken; behold the handmaid of thy Lord" [Luke 1:38]; same kind of a thing here.  So she lays herself at Boaz’s feet; and Boaz took the challenge as of God and did for the dead, for Elimelech and for Ruth’s husband who’s dead, and for Naomi, the part of the kinsman [Ruth 3:9-13].

And a wonderful thing that I want to speak of now; let’s look for a moment, until the time is passed, at one of the marvelous spiritual, spiritual meanings of this pastoral poem.  What does Ruth represent in truth?  Ruth represents us, us.  Ruth was a Gentile.  Ruth was a pagan.  Ruth was a stranger, outside of the covenant.  The law said, "No Moabite shall ever stand in the congregation of the Lord" [Deuteronomy 23:3].  Ruth represents us.  She was outside of the covenant, outside of the fold; she was a pagan and a heathen.  Ruth belonged to that family that was produced by the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter [Genesis 19:30-37].

And Ruth not only was a stranger, and a heathen, and a pagan, and a sojourner, she was a widow.  She had nobody to protect her and to see her through.  And the nearest of kin to the husband she had married refused to do it [Ruth 4:6].  [Ruth] is we, in our lostness; shut out from God, born in trespasses and in sins, a Gentile, a pagan, outside the fold of God.  Ruth is the church, Ruth is the Gentile, Ruth is you and I. 

Who is Boaz?  Now let’s look at this Levirate marriage and the goël, the kinsman-redeemer.  In order that a name not perish from a tribe in Israel, the law said if a man dies and he has no offspring, no seed – he’s childless – of course when the man dies and he’s childless, his name perishes and the family line stops.  In order for the family name not to die in Israel, and in order that the family not perish among the tribes of the Lord, the Levirate marriage was this.  The law said that the man’s brother is to take the widow and the inheritance and raise up children to the man that died [Deuteronomy 25:5-6].  But in order to do that, the brother has to renounce his own name and his own inheritance, and the family that he raises does not bear his name, nor does it bear his inheritance.  But the family that he raises is the family of the brother that died, and he’s raising up seed to his brother.  The man that does that, the kinsman-redeemer, renounces everything of himself, gives it up; and he becomes, having been divested of all things himself, he becomes the servant and the minister and the substitute for that one in whose name he is bringing up the family and taking care of the inheritance.

So when this thing was brought to the closest of kin of Naomi here in the fourth chapter and the sixth verse, "And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance," I have my own name and my own family and my own destiny, and I am not going to give it up.  You do it, Boaz, "redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it."  So Boaz gives up everything in order that he might be the kinsman-redeemer of Elimelech and raise up children to Elimelech in the name of his kinsman [Ruth 4:10].

Well, just exactly what does that bring to your mind, this goël, this kinsman- redeemer?  What did our Lord do for us?  In the second chapter of the Book of Philippians, it says that our blessed Lord, though He was equal with God, in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be held on to, to remain in that form of equality with God; but He emptied Himself, poured Himself out, became obedient unto death in the form of a servant [Philippians 2:6-8].  That’s what Jesus did for us.  All of those prerogatives that He Himself possessed, He gave them up, all of them, in order that He might be our Kinsman-Redeemer.  He was rich; for our sakes He became poor.  He was a prince of heaven; for our sakes He became a servant of men.  All majesty and glory were His in heaven; He was despised and spit upon and rejected for us [Matthew 27:28-31].  He gave up everything, the Book says, that He might be our Kinsman-Redeemer.  Oh, it’s a beautiful thing and a meaningful thing and a blessed thing.  And how God sanctified what Boaz did, the kinsman-redeemer:  gave him a son; and the son of that son was David the king of Israel [Ruth 4:21-22].  And better still, upon a day, God gave him the Son of God [John 7:42]; that’s the line.  He never fails us.  He never lets us down.  And any commitment we make to Him and any providence of God that we follow is infinitely blessed and hallowed and sanctified of the Lord’s Holy Spirit Himself.

Now in this moment that we sing, somebody you, give his heart to Jesus; somebody you, put his life in the fellowship of the church.  In this balcony round, on this lower floor, as the Spirit of the Lord shall speak to your heart, shall lead the way, would you come and stand by me?  Is there a family this morning to put your lives with us in the fellowship of the church?  As God shall say the word and lead the way, would you make it now, while we stand and while we sing?


Dr. W. A. Criswell




The Story

A.   Naomi, Orpah, Ruth in

B.   Ruth returns to
Bethlehemjudah with Naomi

C.   Boaz

Beautiful story of divine providence

A type of redemption


A.   Loyalty

B.   Industry and energy

C.   Devout

D.   Personal character


A.   Kinsman-redeemer

B.   Line of King David