WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday August 28, 2011
DOING WHAT IS HONORABLE
(GOD expects HIS people to do the honorable thing)
The Book of Ruth paints a beautiful portrait of a woman of Moabite origin who becomes the ancestress of King David himself. In the “days of the Judges”, this sweet and simple story clearly raises the earliest questions as to whether or not the exclusiveness of Judaism had been carried too far.
Boaz was a wealthy and honorable man who lived outside the town of Bethlehem, and was a member of the tribe of Judah. He was a close relative of Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech, and this qualified him as a “Kinsman Redeemer” of Elimelech’s surviving family (Lev. 25:25-26). However, he was only second in the line of responsibility to fulfill this “redeemer right” to Naomi. There was a man who lived in Bethlehem who was even a closer relative than Boaz was (Ruth 3:12). In Ruth chapter 4, Boaz sets out to town to talk to this family redeemer. He sat down at the city gates, which was a place where business transactions were completed on a daily basis, and, where elders often met to judge civil and criminal matters that were brought before them. Boaz waited on the relative to pass by, and when he did, he summoned him over for a meeting.
Here we see the honor of Boaz being put on display, as he plans to hold his discussion with the family redeemer in an open environment, in front of ten witnesses that also happened to be community leaders in Bethlehem. And while written records were also kept in those days, there too, was a great dependence on the eyewitness, who would be able to attest to any agreements that might be reached there at the gates.
Boaz wished to do the honorable thing by making it clear publicly, that he was acting in regards to the whole heritage of Elimelech, including his sons, Mahlon and Kilion. He correctly realized that, ongoing ownership of land and property, and continuing on, the family bloodline of a deceased relative, were intimately and divinely related. Sure he wanted to acquire the land, but by acquiring Ruth also, he showed that he was not only acting on behalf of himself, or Elimelech, but also on behalf of Mahlon, Ruth’s deceased husband.
Boaz clearly informs the other Family Redeemer of all the particulars of his concerns, and after he lays it all out to him regarding the land and property, the man tells Boaz that he wants to buy the land from Naomi. However, when he hears that marrying Ruth, and giving her a child, was also a part of the deal (Deut. 25:5-10), he changed his mind and decided to give up his right of “first choice”. He stated that he did not want to jeopardize his own existing inheritance and estate (Ruth 4:3-6).
In those days, it was customary for anyone who was transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it over to the other party. This act served to publicly validate the transaction. And so the man took off his sandal and handed it to Boaz, and he says to him, “You buy the land”. All the witnesses who were standing about confirmed, and blessed, both the deal, and, Boaz’s upcoming marriage to Ruth (Vs. 7-12).
And so the way was now cleared for Boaz to fulfill his role as Naomi’s Family Redeemer. Boaz married Ruth and took her home to live with him, and when GOD allowed her to become pregnant, she gave birth to a son, whom they named, Obed. Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, took care of Obed as if he were her own son.
When Obed grew up and married, he begat Jesse, who would become the father of David, who became the second and greatest king of Israel, in the direct bloodline of CHRIST JESUS, all because Boaz was first, willing to do the “honorable thing”.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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