Monday, April 19, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - April 19 - A Worthy Man

In a coincidence in our daily reading schedule, the story of Ruth in the OT reading falls right after the story of the Day of Pentecost in the NT reading. This is ironic because the Jews traditionally read the Book of Ruth during Pentecost, probably because it occurred during the same time of year as Pentecost - "at the beginning of the barley harvest" (Ruth 1:22).

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).
At this point in the story there is no evidence suggesting that Boaz had romantic affections for Ruth. He was simply doing what any worthy man should do to help someone as deserving as Ruth. And his kindness restored the faith of Ruth's demoralized mother-in-law, who went from deploring the catastrophe the Lord brought against her (Ruth 1:21) to praising God for His kindness (2:20).

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.

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