Given how dark and depraved the time of the Judges was, it is almost impossible that a story so sweet and gracious as Ruth's took place during that period, but it did. It is encouraging to know that even in the darkest periods of a society it is still possible for love and virtue to survive.
As I read the first two chapters of Ruth, I couldn't help but think how different Boaz is from the last of the judges in the previous book - Samson. Samson was a captive to his own lusts, and every woman he saw was someone to exploit for his own passions. Boaz is much different. He is a "worthy man" (Ruth 2:1), a term that can refer to a wide range of strengths, such as military prowess (see Judges 11:1) to moral excellence (as in Ruth 3:11).
When Boaz noticed the young Moabite girl gleaning in his fields for the first time, he did not see her as an object to exploit for his own gratification as Samson would have. Instead, he saw:
- A woman who needed to be protected (2:8-9a).
- A women who needed to be taken care of (2:9b).
- A woman who was loyal and hardworking (2:10-11).
- A woman who had committed herself to the Lord (2:12).
Samson was mighty in some limited respects, but so weak in others. If we want to see what a true mighty man is like, we need to think about Boaz.