Prepare to Listen. Light the four colored candles as these words prepare your heart to listen: I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Prayerfully Read Ruth 4:13-17
13So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ 16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
As a teenager I assumed Ruth was a romance story about Ruth and Boaz. But in the climax (these verses), both Ruth and Boaz appear as incidental, not main characters. The story is about Naomi, her pain and suffering and its reversal in the birth of Ruth’s son, the ‘next-of-kin’ to protect Naomi. The bitterness she felt when she returned to Bethlehem after years of exile in Moab was gone, as the neighborhood women recognized. They attribute the transformation to Yahweh and give thanks (the meaning of ‘blessed be the LORD’). They also see Ruth’s part, as the daughter-in-law who loved her and was “more to you than seven sons.” Naomi claimed Ruth’s son as her own, naming and nursing him. Ruth’s son is no longer her’s but Naomi’s.
The neighborhood women, with great insight, declare that the infant will restore Naomi’s life and nourish her in old age. Ruth isn’t considered and the story ends with a brief genealogy, one Matthew uses. But his genealogy of Jesus gives Obed back to Ruth. He writes, “…Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David” (Matthew 1:5-6). Ruth is one of four women named in Jesus’ genealogy. All four women are outcasts in some way and yet included in God’s expansive salvation. Ruth was a poor, homeless alien who became a direct ancestor of Jesus. God gave Obed, the restorer of life, back to Ruth and she, no Naomi, now lives on in Jesus’ genealogy.
Where do you see God doing a new thing in this story? How can you be a restorer of life to others today?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus you came as a restorer of life so that I might live. Use me today to be a restorer of life to others. Amen.
Live obediently. Be a restorer of life to others today.