Ruth 4: 13-22; Prayers Answered and Faithfulness Rewarded
November 29th, 2020

So Boaz took Ruth as his wife.  It’s interesting to see the blessings of God on Ruth’s life, as she has come so far, so fast.  Only a little while ago, she was called a foreigner in Ruth 2:10, then she is called a lower-class servant “sipha” in chapter 2 vs. 13, then, in chapter 3 vs. 9, during her proposal, she is called “mateka (Maytekay)–which is a class of servant eligible for marriage to an Israelite.  Then, at last, here in chapter 4 vs. 13, she is called Boaz’ wife (Issa). 

God grants Ruth’s petition, back in chapter 3 verse 9 when she asked Boaz to “spread your garment over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”-when she’d proposed marriage to Boaz.  Security and reward have been provided for Ruth, just as Naomi had prayed in chapter 1 verse 9 May the Lord grant that you may find a place of rest, each one in the house of her husband.”  and as she had set out to find in verse 3:1 when she said “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may go well for you?  Boaz had also prayed for Ruth in chapter 2 verse12 12 May the Lord reward your work, and may your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” acknowledging that her refuge is in the Lord, the God of Israel). And so God has been a refuge for her, just as He is a refuge for us. 

And more than that, we are told in verse 13 that God enabled Ruth to conceive.  Some of the most important work that God does in our lives is the work that He works out behind the scenes, through the circumstances in our lives, unseen much of the time.  We see that the Lord does reward hesed—that caring, compassion and lovingkindness that had characterized Ruth’s love toward Naomi her mother-in-law. And if He will reward caring and compassion and lovingkindness in Ruth’s life, then how much more in our lives. 

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today,

And here in verse 14, the action shifts away from Boaz and Ruth, and back to Naomi.  This kind of makes sense, since the book of Ruth started with her, and in many ways has been her story as much as Ruth’s.

The women of Bethlehem blessing God for how he has provided for Naomi.  Naomi’s return to Bethlehem, her going directly to the field of Boaz, the only one who would be her kinsman-redeemer, her accepted marriage proposal, God’s provision of legal victory in the hearing before the elders, and Ruth’s conception have all been according to God’s plan, and the women Bless God for His provision. 

and may his name [k]become famous in Israel. 

The blessing that all the people of Bethlehem back in verse 11 gave to Boaz, that “he may achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem” is echoed for his son, except that they pray for this little boy’s name to be famous not only in Bethlehem, but throughout the entire land of Israel. 

15 May he also be to you one who restores life and sustains your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you [l]and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

Their blessing is that this little boy is the one who revives her spirit, cause life to return to her, giving her joy, comfort and consolation to sustain her in her old age.  Notice the reason why they are confident in this blessing—because of the love that Ruth has shown to Naomi in keeping her promise to always be with her and love and care for her.  As they say, she has been better to Naomi than seven sons—the “ideal” social security system of the day. 

And the women tie all of this to Ruth’s son because all the women know that Ruth will teach her son to love and be kind to Naomi as well.  God has made sure that there will always be someone to care for Naomi, and that’s what the women are celebrating here.  

16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. 

So, Naomi who has longed for children during almost the entire book of Ruth, gets to take this little boy into her lap.  Naomi became more like a second-mother to this little boy.  This little one has already given her a new vocation, and new purpose in life to fulfill.  And in fact, their relationship was so obvious from the beginning, that the neighbor women, as we read in verse 17:

17 And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!”

So, it was just as if Naomi was this little boy’s mother as well—and all that she had prayed for and anguished over has now been fulfilled in this little boy.  And the neighbor women shout out “A son has been born to Naomi”—which is exactly what they would have said to Ruth and more specifically Boaz, when the little baby was first born.  They’re echoing it here for Naomi as well. 

So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

It’s the only Old Testament example of someone other than the parents naming the child.  Now, it could be that everyone was gathered at the house of Naomi for the circumcision and naming of the baby.   They named him Obed, which means one who serves, and of course just by being born, this baby is playing his part in fulfilling the need for a kinsman-redeemer that Naomi had, and the blessing that this little one will take care of Naomi even in her old It’s also likely that Obed was a shortened form of Obadya or Obediah, which means “one who serves Yahweh”, or one who serves God.  And this also makes sense in context, because we immediately read that Obed was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David.  So little Obed served God’s purpose in bringing forth Israel’s King, and of course, ultimately, down through the generations, the King of Kings, Jesus.  And so the prayer of the women that Obed would be famous in Israel is fulfilled as well.

The guiding hand of God is shown to be mighty, as he cares for these two defenseless widows, one of whom is a foreigner, who seemingly had nothing to offer anyone at this point.  God demonstrates that he can use faithfulness and kindness and love to do amazing things.  And in this case, provided the entire nation of Israel with King David, and ultimately their Messiah Jesus.  All of this happened because of God’s providence, and it demonstrated a pattern through which God would continue to work through this family.  One of the purposes of the book is likely to demonstrate to everyone that David was God’s choice for King of Israel.  But David didn’t remain king because he was clever and shrewd, or because he “played the game” of politics.  He was there because he was God’s man, and willing to be used by Him.  And, we can be sure that when we, as His servants demonstrate the same love for Him, and we demonstrate that same (c)hesed, that same loving-kindness and compassion for His people that Ruth did, and that David did, God will use that faithfulness do extraordinary things.