The furniture store IKEA recently completed a 12,000-person survey in twelve global cities. They asked people about their relationship to space and place, material things, and social networks. One surprising finding of the study is people’s waning desire for social interaction at home. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they would prefer decent Wi-Fi in their homes to so-called social spaces.
In our modern world, social media allows us to be alone and still retain a semblance of human connection. But in the ancient world, the city gates were the buzzing social hub of the city. Social, commercial, and legal affairs were tended to, and when Boaz needed to resolve the legal matters regarding Ruth’s future and Elimelek’s land, he did so at the city gates (v. 1). With ten elders as his witnesses, he engaged in a shrewd negotiation strategy: he proposed the most lucrative part of the deal first (the land holdings) before introducing the financial liability (Ruth).
The man who had the closer claim to being the guardian-redeemer rejected the terms proposed by Boaz (v. 6). Upon hearing that a Moabite widow—and her mother-in-law—was part of the obligation, the man decided not to take the offer. Most likely the man already had a wife and children, since he noted that marrying Ruth would endanger his estate.
Boaz then had full right to redeem Elimelek’s land and marry Ruth, which he did with the hearty blessing of the community (v. 11). To be clear, Boaz’s kindness extends from Ruth and Naomi to include Elimelek and Mahlon. His willingness to be the guardian- redeemer would ensure their land holdings and, should Ruth give birth, preserve their name (v. 10).
Apply the Word
Boaz was willing to take on the obligations that came with loving Ruth, and through these obligations, God brought great blessings. God uses our relationships with others—even the ways that they obligate and constrain us—as a source for some of His richest blessings in our lives. Thank Him for your relationships today.