And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. — Ruth 4:14
Some years ago, while spending time with some close friends, I heard the father ask his teenage daughter a question before she left with friends for the evening. “What is your name?” She dutifully responded with a wide smile and the word “Olson,” which was their family surname. As she turned to leave, the father cheerfully reminded her, “Don’t forget.” What was this father’s point? He wanted his daughter to remember that what she did reflected on their whole family. My spouse and I were so impressed with this exchange that we began to ask the same question of our growing children whenever they were going somewhere beyond our direct influence.
Our name often defines our past and affects our future. Sometimes film stars adopt new names. Businesses spend millions to find and then promote just the right name for a new product. Consider the child in our text, Obed, whose name means “serving.” Why did his name become important?
Obed’s name was known in the land of Israel because of the faithfulness of his father Boaz to redeem Ruth. Obed’s birth restored a name for his mother Ruth and grandmother Naomi. He was the one who became the continuing link between his ancestral father Judah and Israel’s King David. Perhaps his parents and grandmother at times reminded him that his actions would reflect on the family’s reputation.
God offers us a name as one of His children through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, redemption has been made available to all humanity. It was through His faithfulness that we have been called into the “family of God” and have been included as a part of His lineage. We should remember each day that our actions will reflect on His Name and family.
The city gate was the business center. Merchants sold near the gate, and official business was transacted. Since those entering or exiting the city came through the city gate, it was easy to find ten witnesses. On this particular day, the other kinsman himself came by, and Boaz called him to discuss the redemption business before the elders, thus opening the way for his own offer of redemption to Ruth and Naomi.
The Hebrew word ga’al is translated as kinsman in most of the account. Some translators have used the phrase “kinsman-redeemer” to show the fullness of the Hebrew meaning. Others have simply used the word redeemer in places. This act of redemption took on several forms: marrying a kinsman’s widow, freeing family members from bondage, purchasing a mortgaged piece of family property, and avenging the loss of family. It is interesting to note in this chapter that the nearest kinsman is not named, while Boaz, Ruth, Naomi, and Obed are all named, thus giving them honor for their faithfulness in following God’s plan.
The elders’ blessing equating Ruth with Rachel and Leah, alludes to her inclusion in the lineage of Jacob/Israel. Their mention of the children of Tamar (who was also a Gentile) shows their understanding of the ridicule and curse which followed the failure to raise children to maintain the inheritance within a family unit within Israel.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Ruth’s reward (4:1-22)
A. The redemption of Ruth by Boaz (4:1-12)
1. The option of the nearest kinsman (4:1-5)
2. The refusal of the nearest kinsman (4:6-8)
3. The redemption by Boaz (4:9-12)
B. The marriage and prodigy of Ruth and Boaz (4:13-17)
C. The genealogy of David (4:18-22)
When someone asks you, “What is your name?” will your answer include the family name, “Christian?” Will your life support the claim that you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and are now living a life by His power and for His glory?