Updated: Mar 11, 2022
I was in my regular bible study group where we were covering many Old Testament books. We came to the book of Ruth and because of the fast pace of our study, we digested all of it in one session. When it came time to discuss, I glibly commented, “Gosh, I see a lot of baby boys named Joshua, Mark, Isaiah and even Ezra. Why do we never hear of parents naming their baby boys Boaz? He is totally amazing!” One of my solid and straightforward friends remarked, “Girl, there are no more Boazs out there.” And I thought, “Yeah, you are probably right.”
After studying Ruth, I gained such deep respect for Boaz. It was hard to describe. When I thought of Boaz, I thought of protection, generosity, gentleness and honor. As I spent some time with JustKindHumility thinking about how to talk about loving kindness, it all began to make sense. Boaz very clearly demonstrated lovingkindness, or hesed, toward both Ruth and Naomi. Hesed is the beautiful Hebrew word that means loyal love, faithful devotion and unfailing kindness. As I learned about hesed, I understood the book of Ruth more and I also more clearly understood my deep admiration for Boaz. Here are some of the ways in which Boaz touched my heart with his hesed:
1. He blessed others by openly carrying his faith into the workplace. In verse 2:4, we see Boaz coming to his fields with a hearty, “The LORD be with you!” He didn’t hide his beliefs for fear of offending anyone. As a matter of fact, he spoke his faith as a blessing to his laborers.
2. He was completely aware of what was happening in his areas of responsibility. He wasn’t preoccupied with a phone, TV or computer. He immediately sensed that there was a new person gleaning in his field and he inquired about her. (2:5)
3. His first instinct toward a helpless, foreign widow (refugee) was not fear or territorialism, but protection. He made sure to give instructions for Ruth to follow his female workers, where she would be protected as she gleaned the fields for food. (2:8)
4. He saw great value in Ruth’s noble character. When he was told the story of Ruth's devotion and sacrifice toward Naomi, he showed Ruth that he valued her character by rewarding her with provisions from his field. (2:11)
5. He made sure difficult family responsibilities were fulfilled. When he was made aware of his relationship to Naomi, he did not shrug his shoulders and walk away, leaving responsibility for someone else. He honored his duty as kinsman-redeemer. (3:11)
6. He had integrity in dealing with Ruth. As he promised Ruth, he immediately went to the elders of the community to have these defenseless widows taken care of by a kinsman-redeemer. (4:1)
7. His actions toward Ruth were honorable. When Ruth came to him on the threshing floor, she made herself vulnerable both in Boaz’s eyes and potentially in the eyes of the community. Boaz protected her reputation by asking her not to be seen by anyone on the threshing floor. (3:14)
8. He was respected in his community. Sitting at the city gate was not for just anyone. Only those who were respected elders of the community sat there. (2:1,4:1-2)
9. He made sure to follow through on his promises. As he promised Ruth, he made certain that either he or another kinsman-redeemer would take responsibility for Naomi and Ruth. He also made sure the agreement was finalized and legal. (thus, the sandal exchange in verse 4:7)
10. He demonstrated a soft heart as he dealt with Ruth. When he found Ruth on the threshing floor, he treated her with kindness and gentleness. In fact, he noted how kind she was to pursue him and not other young men. (3:10)
As you can see by my list, Boaz holds a high place in my eyes. His character exudes safety, importance, love and security. But wait, is this not what I have learned about my heavenly Father? That in his hands I am safe, in his eyes I am important, in his heart I am loved and for eternity I will be secure.
This makes perfect sense. Boaz has become a human representation for God’s lovingkindness toward those he loves so dearly-- his children. We were spiritually foreign to God, hopelessly destitute in our sin and only able to overcome our spiritual poverty with the LORD's help. And He provided everything we needed. Through his perfect plan, He provided for our spiritual rescue. He sent Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer, the one who is the author of all hesed.
Photo credits: Lisa Lee