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Integrity in the Tapestry of History

August 21, 2022

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: Ruth 4:1-8

Integrity in the Tapestry of History

Ruth 4:1–22 – God’s Unexpected Kindness (Series in Ruth) – Aug 21, 2022


A reading of Ruth 4:1–8.

This week we took our son Daniel to Campbell University. For the freshman something called “Tartan at Campbell University.”

A “tartan” is a woolen cloth connected to Scotland. Campbell’s founder had Scottish roots—though born in Angier.

For tartans, families would have distinctive patterns to identify their clans. There was a “McLeod” (MacLeod) pattern—and likely McLawhorn and McClellan.

The tartan cloth idea fits our passage today. The way you create tartan is by taking yarn and dying it and then carefully weaving it into an artistic design.

When the ingredients are lying there on your floor, it’s not tartan but a mess.

But in the hands of a skilled weaver all those ingredients come together in a beautiful, intentional pattern.

In our passage this morning, it becomes clear that for Ruth and Boaz all the seemingly small decisions they make are actually part of this beautiful tapestry.

A tapestry that makes them a key part of a plan set in motion hundreds of years earlier—and one with ripple effects that extend into eternity.

Series on Ruth: The Unexpected Kindness of God. This morning, the unexpected kindness that makes us part of the richest of all heritages and the most glorious of all futures.

The plot of the passage: (1) The Transaction (4:1–8); (2) The Witness Statements (4:9–12); (3) The Results (4:13–22).


I. The Transaction (4:1–8)

Remember 3:18. Boaz will not rest. It seems like later that same day…

“The gate” — center of military protection. But also center of judicial and financial business. Where the citizens would gather to perform official functions. “The elders” of the city would be a part of it.

“Behold, the redeemer” — Unexpected he would happen to pass by

“Friend” — “Friend” here is just a fill-in word. The real sense of it is something like, “Mr. So-and-so.” He is presented as anonymous. And given that he’s painted in a negative light, this is intentional. Boaz’s name will be celebrated. This man’s name completely forgotten.

“Ten men of the elders of the city” – Likely this was the number needed to witness to an important business matter.

Then the negotiations begin.

First he tells the man Ruth is “selling” the land.

  • The land that belonged to Elimelech.
  • Likely it’s not quite “selling” but opening the door for the land to be redeemed.
  • This was done by the closest relative (Lev 25:25–28), Mr. So-and-so in this case.
  • Man thought he could take ownership of the land and increase his crops.

At this point the man is willing, “I will redeem it” (Ruth 4:4).

But then Boaz introduces the complete picture.

  • Well, actually, there’s more.
  • Not just land that’s involved.
  • Marrying Ruth to produce an heir for Mahlon (son of Elimelech) is also part of the deal.
  • Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5–10).
  • Produce an heir with Ruth and rest of her children are his.

Well, at that point “Mr. So-and-so” isn’t so sure he can do it.

  • Maybe he needs a male heir himself.
  • To have a son with Ruth would help Elimelech, but then maybe all of his fortune would go to this son and his own name would die out.
  • Maybe it’s the financial cost involved—buying the land, buying the bride, caring for Naomi.
  • Maybe he’s not willing to invest that much money.

The interesting thing here is that he’s not violating the letter of the law of Moses.

  • The letter of the law is that he’s not obligated to do this.
  • But the narrator presents Boaz as the hero and this man as not worth remembering.
  • That tells us Boaz was impressive because he was going above and beyond what was required of him.
  • He wasn’t acting in a legalistic, narrow way to check a box.
  • He was acting in a generous, lavish way to care of a family in need.
  • And this is especially generous because it meant great personal cost.

Well, once Mr. So-and-so steps aside, Boaz steps forward to redeem Naomi’s family.

  • And he does this by…taking off his sandal and giving it to the right person.
  • Even by the time Ruth was written down, this tradition had apparently died out (why it’s explained in Ruth 4:7–8).
  • But when the event happened this was the custom.


  • What’s noteworthy here is that Boaz goes through with what he said he would do.
  • He not only SAID he would redeem this family in need, he DID it.
  • A reminder of 1 John 3:18:

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

  • Biblical love always has sacrifice attached.
  • Integrity will have moments of great personal cost.
  • Elisabeth Elliot:

Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him, after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first?
Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty[1]

II. The Witness Statements (4:9–12)

Almost as soon as the act is complete, Boaz and Ruth are brought into a whole new storyline.

  • We thought it was a nice marriage story.
  • Now we see their marriage is connected to a much bigger story.
  • The rest of the chapter makes this clear.

Read Ruth 4:9–12.

Once the transaction happens, there are two dramatic statements made. The first is by Boaz, “You are witnesses” (Ruth 4:9–10). The second is by “all the people who were at the gate and the elders,” who begin, “We are witnesses” (Ruth 4:11–12).

The Statement by Boaz (“You are witnesses”) – Ruth 4:9–10

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”

  • Boaz was committing to redeem the land and redeem Elimelech’s name—by redeeming Mahlon’s name by marrying Ruth.
  • Boaz “perpetuate the name of the dead” and “the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place” (v. 10).
  • Boaz is setting aside his own name and looking to provide for the name of someone else.

The Statement by “all the people who were at the gate and the elders” (“We are witnesses”) – Ruth 4:11–12

11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

  • This is an amazing statement with layers of meaning.
  • A triple blessing.

First blessing, “May the LORD make the woman…like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.”

  • The patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel after he wrestled with God.
  • Why mention these two women? They are significant in Israel’s history because of the sons they had. Their twelve sons are the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • The basic idea of the blessing is this: May you have a significant son.
  • Little did they know!

Second blessing, “May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned [literally, “be named”] in Bethlehem.”

  • Remember, above we noted that Boaz was setting aside his own name for the sake of the name of the dead.
  • And now the blessing is that “he would be named in Bethlehem.”
  • Double-meaning to this.
  • On one hand it means, “may your family line continue in Bethlehem.” It does.
  • But also, his name is NAMED. His history is preserved.
  • Something like what Shakespeare does in Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate….

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
William Shakespear, Sonnet 18

  • In the book of Ruth, Boaz’s history is preserved.
  • But we’ll see that even more happens to make this true.

Third blessing, “May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

  • One reason Perez is mentioned is that Boaz is from the line of Perez.
  • But the blessing mentions Tamar specifically.
  • In fact, mentions Tamar and Judah having the child Perez.
  • This story from Genesis 38 isn’t a great moment in Israel’s history.
  • Tamar’s husband Er died, and then Onan his brother wouldn’t perform the obligation of levirate marriage and God put him to death, too.
  • Through deception, Tamar ended up having her son Perez with her father-in-law Judah.
  • The blessing is really saying: May your levirate marriage have a future like this levirate marriage of the past had a future.


  • In thinking about the application of this to us, we want to consider this from the perspective of Ruth.
  • For Ruth, embracing a life of faith has tied her to the richest of all heritages.
  • Her dyed thread is woven into the tartan of the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Boaz is a descendent of Perez the son of Judah the son of Jacob the son of Isaac the son of Abraham.
  • There is no greater earthly heritage than that.
  • For us? Embracing Christ is embracing the richest of all earthly heritages as well.
  • Our dyed thread is woven into the tartan of the people of God, the church, the body of Christ.

III. The Results (4:13–22)

Read Ruth 4:13–22.

As soon as the marriage occurs, the ripple effects begin.

First there’s Boaz and Ruth: “She became his wife.”

  • She goes from being “Ruth the Moabitess,” who is “a foreigner” (2:10).
  • To being a maidservant who is below even Boaz’s servants (2:13).
  • To being a servant (3:9).
  • To “his wife” (4:13), the wife of a well-respected man of means in Bethlehem.

Second, “the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son” (4:13).

  • So much in this story depends on Ruth having a son, and the LORD makes it happen.

Third, Naomi becomes a “nurse” to her grandson, the woman who came back to Bethlehem “empty” and in her mind forsaken by the LORD (Ruth 1:21), is now holding in her lap her future provision.

  • The child will be to her “a restorer of life”—same phrase as “restores my soul” from Ps 23.
  • “Nourisher of your old age”—provision into her later years.

We’ll read that they name him OBED (“servant”)—The story could have ended here.

  • If it ended here, a beautiful marriage story.
  • A beautiful story of God providing in such personal ways.
  • A story that ended with Naomi the empty and forsaken one holding in her lap God’s provision for her.

But the story doesn’t end there.

  • This son is not only connected to Judah in the past, but in the future this son will be the grandfather of King David.
  • The most important family line in all Israel.
  • That family line is recorded in verses 17–22.
  • Let’s look at those verses—Ruth 4:17–22.

Genealogies in the Bible are usually a lot of names we can’t do much with sprinkled with fascinating discoveries.

  • Here there’s Perez…
  • Nahshon…
  • Salmon…
  • Interracial marriages here: Salmon and Rahab the harlot from Jericho. How do we know it’s Rahab? Because Matthew makes it clear: “and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse” (Matt 1:5).
  • And then Boaz and Ruth the Moabitess.

If all you knew was David’s family history back four generations, you might think it compromised his claim to the throne.

  • But what we learn in this genealogy is that David’s line goes back to Perez.
  • And because Perez, it goes back to Judah.
  • David is from the tribe of Judah.
  • And that is a big deal.

The reason it’s a big deal is because of a prophecy spoken by Jacob to his son Judah as Jacob was dying.

  • Back in Genesis 49:8–10.
  • Each of the 12 sons is given a blessing, but the one to Judah stands out:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Gen 49:8–10)

  • Do you see the significance here when you think of King David? Especially in vv. 8 and 10.
  • David’s line of Judah would be on the throne for almost 400 years.
  • In Israel’s history there’s no rival to the dominance of this line.

But the prophecy doesn’t say it would be a long reign. It says, “the scepter shall not depart.”

  • A king from the line of Judah would reign forever.
  • The fulfillment of this prophecy is Jesus.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king….and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matt 1:1­–6, 15–16)

But Jesus the King is not qualified just because he’s in the line of Judah—and David.

He’s qualified because of the sacrifice he made—Revelation 5:

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:1–10)


As we think back over the book of Ruth:

In the time of the judges even this faith and kindness can be lived out.

  • Even in the time of the judges God will use this faith and kindness to accomplish his great purposes.
  • The time of the judges shall not destroy the purposes of God.
  • Just like our day, in many ways “the time of the judges” when there is no king and everyone does right in his own eyes.
  • Integrity will have a cost in our day.
  • But integrity will reap the greater reward.

Boaz: laying down his name he finds an even greater name.

Ruth: embracing the life of faith connects her to the richest of all heritages and the most glorious of all futures.

  • She was a Moabite foreigner who had to glean for food.
  • Suddenly she’s personally connected to a prophecy given to Jacob centuries before.
  • And she’s part of the fulfillment of that prophecy in King David, Israel’s greatest king.
  • And for us?
  • Becoming a Christian is becoming like Ruth herself.
  • Suddenly you’re part of the richest of all heritages and the most glorious of all futures.
  • This is God’s unexpected kindness to us.
  • We came to him needing forgiveness and new life.
  • But then we realize we’ve become part of something far bigger than we imagined.
  • You become part of it not by physical descent but by faith.

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:26–29)

Let’s pray.

[1] Elisabeth Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty (HarperCollins, 1979), 9.

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