There’s a point in most great stories when it seems like all hope is lost! Just as the main character is about to achieve success, things appear to fall apart. Often, this comes with an element of surprise. While Ruth hurried to share the good news with Naomi, Boaz headed into town to sit at the gate. The way he gathered ten elders shows that he was ready to firm up his legal commitment.
The NIV translation introduces the next character like this: “just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along.” This is similar to the “just then” expression in Ruth 2:4. The word choice suggests the irony of the timing and God’s providence at work. One important way God shows His sovereignty is when He times all things, from large-scale, worldwide events down to the smallest details of our lives.
Ruth 4:3–4 records the “all hope is lost” point for Naomi and Ruth, even though they aren’t present in the scene. Boaz lets the closer kinsman know about Naomi’s land: “I thought I should bring the matter to your attention” (v. 4). This man was first in line.
Then, the guardian redeemer agrees to redeem it (v. 4). Wait— what?! That’s not how the story is supposed to go! But then Boaz calls his attention to the other part of the responsibility: Ruth. According to Deuteronomy 25:5–10, neither man was legally bound to marry her. This would be voluntary. But such a marriage would speak to the spirit of the law. It would represent a moral fulfillment—if not a legal one. Quickly, the true character of the nearer kinsman was revealed, and he withdrew his claim. There was no hesed here. Boaz was now free to act, and he legally committed to being the kinsman-redeemer (goel) for the family. All those present blessed the union.
>> Have you ever experienced God’s “just in time” providence? Seeing how God has worked in our past emboldens us to trust His provision for our future.
In the words of Robert Robinson, “Hitherto Thy love has blessed me / Thou hast brought me to this place / And I know Thy hand will bring me / Safely home by Thy good grace.” Thank You for Your unfailing faithfulness!