These small group studies of Ruth contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Ruth 4 Inductive Bible Study – A Lesson on Redemption
Ruth 4 Video Bible Study
Ruth 4 Audio Bible Study
Ruth 4 – Redemption: Five People (Character studies) of Ruth 4
II. Unnamed relative
I. Selfless Boaz
- What character qualities do you notice of Boaz in this passage?
- Where did Boaz meet his relative? Why did he meet him in at the town gate instead of privately?
- Although this relative was in some way Boaz’s rival, how did Boaz treat him? What did he call him?
- Why do you think Boas called the elders of the town over?
- What lessons can we learn from this?
- What lessons can guys learn from Boaz which could be applied to modern day relationships?
- Are there any important principles about communication found here?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Character Trait #1 – Boaz was proactive.
In verse 18 of chapter 3, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz would not rest until he has settled it today. She knew what kind of a person Boaz was. And we see that her observations about Boaz were true. In verse 1, Boaz went up to the gate. The city gate is where important transactions would take place. And Boaz immediately started the ball rolling. First he notified his relative whom he wanted to talk to. Next he got a group of the elders together.
Notice that throughout the passage Boaz is taking initiative. He knows what needs to be done and he does it without wasting time. Boaz is a man of action. When there is important things to be done, he doesn’t procrastinate and wait around until the last possible moment.
Some more wishy-washy men might drag their heels. They might want to wait a little while first. Some may want to wait to enjoy their last days of freedom as a bachelor. Some may want to wait in case a better offer comes up. After all, Ruth was a Moabite; this opportunity could have made Boaz reconsider the nice Jewish girls. But Boaz knew that Ruth and Naomi were waiting for his decision. Every minute of waiting would be agonizing for them, not knowing what the future would hold. To prolong this time of uncertainty for them, would be cruel and selfish.
Application: Throughout the passage we see that Boaz is an honorable man. And I emphasize man! Men, you need to learn from Boaz here. Be men of action. Be proactive. When it is clear that a course of action is from God, then do it and don’t waste time. Also, don’t be wishy washy toward girls. Are you interested in a girl? Is the girl a believer? Have you prayed about it and received wise counsel? Are you ready for marriage? Then go forward! Take the next step! Be men of action! And if you are not ready for marriage, then stop playing around and pretending. Stop wasting the girl’s time!
2. Character Trait #2 – Boaz was open and transparent (sin hates the dark)
Besides being proactive, we also see that Boaz is open and transparent. He is not going to a dark room in a bar to make this deal. He is not doing anything underhanded or under the table. His actions are open and public for all to see because he has nothing to hide.
He conducts this business at the city gate. Anybody could observe the proceedings and say something relevant if necessary. Thus it was much like the modern question we sometimes ask at weddings, “If anyone knows any reason why these two should not be joined, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.” Nobody could later accuse Boaz of dealing less than honorably.
We are to walk in the light. Boaz pursued this relationship in the full light of day.
He also invites ten of the city elders to join him. He was very willing for there to be witnesses to this conversation. But these were not only witnesses. As the city leaders, they were spiritual authorities. They had the authority to step in and correct Boaz if he got out of line. So Boaz was humble enough that he was willing to submit himself to the wise counsel of his elders. He realized this was a very important decision and he wanted to make sure it was done properly and in agreement with Scriptural principles.
Application: Although I am not teaching a marriage seminar, the more I studied this passage the more I realized that many points are very applicable to singles looking to get married. Singles, your relationship should be open and transparent, completely in the light. God has established the principle asking counsel as a safeguard to us against our own pride and subjectivity.
Cross-Reference – Proverbs 11:14, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but with many counselors there is victory.”
Here we learn that you should conduct your courtship among God’s people. Don’t get away from the church when dating so that you can feel free with fewer eyes watching you. Instead get together “in the church.” And I don’t mean only in the church building on Sundays. The church is God’s people wherever they are. Spend time with each other together with other believers. Be open with each other and open with the believers around you. Be humble enough to ask for help and listen to counsel. If you do, you will have a much healthier relationship and since it is on a strong foundation, it will last.
3. Character Trait #3 – Boaz practice clear and respectful communication
We also see that Boaz was clear and respectful in his communication. In verse 1, he called to his “friend” to turn aside. After this he clearly lays out the case. He does this in a factual and concise way and without any bias. He does not beat around the bush. He does not first waste time talking about the harvest or the weather or the World Cup. He has a task. He has a mission. He wants to finish it. He is not embarrassed or shy. Instead he is bold and confident. He can communicate in this way because he has nothing to hide.
Ephesians 4:25 says, “Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor.”
Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Once again, it seems that the application fits singles!
Men, if you want to start a relationship with a girl, be clear. Don’t say something vague like “So you wanna go with me?” Or even, “will you be my girlfriend?” What in the world does that mean? What is the purpose of this relationship? How long will this last? A long time ago, fathers used to ask guys interested in their daughters, “What is your intention toward my daughter?” Guys, do you even know what your intention is? If your intention is to have a good time, girls what are you gonna say “get lost!” You should be able to write down or express in clear words what your intention is an what the expectations are. Eleven years ago, I asked Christy to court me. Then I said something like, “I believe that courtship is a time when two people intentionally get to know each other for the purpose of considering marriage.”
Clear communication will help your relationship get started off on the right foot. Once married, you and your spouse will never have any problems with poor communication again…..
Married couples, is that true? Ok, maybe its not quite 100% true. Clear communication is something you will need to work at throughout your life in every area, but especially with your spouse. Here are just a few simple tips for a husband and wife:
A. This one is really complicated so get out your notepad and pen to take note. Talk. Very simple. But very important. You need to have quality time talking to each other. About everything.
B. Do not make assumptions. Do not guess what is in the other person’s mind. Ask more questions. You can ask a question such as “I understand that you are saying such and such, is that what you are saying?” Through this way you can eliminate misunderstandings.
C. Practice fair fighting. Probably you never fight together. You only discuss things loudly. But if you do fight, then try to keep it limited to the facts. Discuss the facts of the case clearly without reverting to attacks against the other person like “you always” or “you never.”
4. Character Trait #4 – Boaz was a selfless redeemer
Now we come to Boaz’s most significant character trait. If you were to read through chapter four looking for a key word, you would probably notice that a form of the word redeem is mentioned twelve times. And the concept of redemption is mentioned several more times. Let’s read:
Cross-Reference – Deuteronomy 25:5-10 – “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. “It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. “But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’“Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’“In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.”
God instituted what is often called Levirate marriage as a way to protect and take care of widows and also keep alive the deceased’s name and inheritance. In the text, we see that a brother is the first one responsible in this. By the time of Ruth, the Jews had expanded that to members of the extended family. As we see in this passage, this was optional. A man could decide he didn’t want to to do this. Then what? In Ruth we see that then they went to the next in line.
Boaz was the second in line. He was not the only person able to this by the law, but he was the only one willing to do it. When the first said, “I cannot redeem it,” then Boaz happily agreed to. This passage is the culmination of a beautiful story of redemption. Boaz is what we often call a type of Christ. He is a figure in the Old Testament which clearly portrays some aspect of Christ and His relationship to us. The aspect that Boaz portrays is Christ as our redeemer.
What parallels can we find in the story?
There is only one redeemer. They could not both redeem Ruth. Jesus is the only one who is qualified to redeem us. He is the only one who can save us.
A. Redemption is an act of grace – Boaz was not required to redeem Ruth. He chose to. Jesus’ sacrifice for us a willing choice.
B. Redemption is public – Boaz redeemed Ruth publicly in the sight of all. Jesus redeemed us publicly on the cross.
C. Redemption is an act of love – Boaz clearly loved Ruth. He cared for her. He wanted the best for her. Being a Moabite, she was not someone that most men would have chosen to love, but Boaz did. Jesus too loved us while we were still sinners.
D. Redemption comes with a price – The redeemer must give something up. Money was required to purchase the field. But it also required giving up one’s own rights. The relative was not willing to redeem Ruth because he was not willing to give up his rights. He wanted to pass his own land down to his children who had his own name. Boaz was willing to pay this price. And Jesus was willing to pay a far greater price for us, His own blood.
E. Redemption is priceless – Redemption cannot be paid for. Ruth had no money to offer. She was a peasant. She could never pay Boaz back. We too can never pay Christ back for His redemption of us. It is completely unearned and undeserved.
F. Redemption is irreversible – At the end of the passage the other relative removed his sandal and gave it to Boaz. The deal had been made. There was no going back. The decision was final. Once Jesus saves us, we are saved. Once He brings us into His family, He will not toss us out again.
G. Redemption must be accepted – Ruth had to be willing to accept Boaz. In this story, Ruth asks Boaz to redeem her. If Ruth did not want him, then it would not have happened. So although Boaz does all the work and pays the price himself, it is still a two-way road. Both sides had to agree. Ruth had to say “yes.” Jesus’ redemption of us is the same. He pays the price. He does all the work. But you must still be willing to say, “yes.” Have you already said “yes” to Jesus? If not, I hope that today will be the day that you say “yes” to Him.
What is the result for Boaz? Look again at verses 11-12.
Ruth 4:11-12 – Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Boaz receives a great blessing from all the people who witness this. They bless him with a great family and a great house. The blessing came true. We see in the closing genealogy that Boaz was the great-grandfather of David. And that means that all the kings of Judah were descended from Boaz and Jesus himself was too.
Therefore Boaz was remembered. He did indeed become famous just like they said in verse 12. Boaz did not do this out of selfish motivations. He was selfless. From the very beginning he treated Ruth and Naomi with compassion. He selflessly gave what he had. And in the end God gave him much more blessings than he ever had before.
II. Unnamed relative
- What character qualities can you see in Boaz’s relative?
- Why do you think he was willing to redeem the field?
- Why do you think he was not willing to redeem Ruth?
- What priorities do you think he had?
- Are there any applications we can make from him?
Verse by Verse Commentary
I just quickly want to highlight the relative in this passage. Interestingly, he is not even named. He could also be called the “forgotten one.”
1. Character Trait #1 – He was selfish
Just as Boaz was selfless, this man was selfish. Notice how quickly he agrees to buy the field in verse 4. He is very happy and willing to increase the size of his own estate. He would naturally have known the situation with Ruth and Naomi. But he does not ask what would happen to them. It seems like he does not care. He is their closest relative, but in the first three chapters he is never once mentioned. He does not go to ask about their welfare. He does not invite Ruth to glean in his fields. He ignores them. Of course the text does not mention a lot about him, but the absence of any compassion or outreach on his part combined with what we see in this passage shows us that he is primarily concerned with himself.
In verse 6 he says, “I cannot redeem it for myself, because I would jeopardize mine own inheritance.” What does he mean? Well if he married Ruth, he would be required to support her children. This would be a financial expense. If you have children, you know what I am talking about. But although the first child would be biologically his, in legal terms the child would be the dead brother’s. That means that the field that he himself just paid for would be passed on to this child and in essence go back to his brother. He is evidently like many people who make all decisions based on the dollars and the cents. But to him the dollars and cents don’t add up.
So what happens to this guy?
Result – Was he rich? Did his decision not to take on this financial burden help him achieve the happiness he wanted? There are two possible results for people who set their hearts on financial gain. The first possibility is that they will never get it. They may never achieve the riches they long for. So they will be miserable and unhappy in always striving for, but never getting their dream of prosperity. The other possibility is that they will get the riches they hope for. Then they will be disappointed to find out that riches cannot make one happy. The final result for this guy is that he is forgotten. He did not receive the blessings that he could have had if he selflessly put others first.
Application: If you set your dream on riches, you will be disappointed.
- How had Naomi’s situation changed since chapter 1?
- How had providence shined on her since her decision to return in chapter 1?
- How do you think her outlook changed?
- What does this teach us about putting God first in the hard decisions in life?
- In chapter 1:21 she claimed that God brought her back “empty?” Even when she was at her lowest, was she truly empty?
- What lessons can we learn from this about how to face trials in our own lives?
- Can anyone share examples of times in their lives when they felt truly low or empty?
- In what ways were you full even when you felt empty?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Character Trait #1 – Naomi was satisfied
Look again at verses 14-17.
“The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
The picture in these verses is quite different from back in chapter 1. In chapter 1 she and her family left Israel, the Promised Land, for Moab. She came back empty. In verse 20 of chapter one she says, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has afflicted me.”
In chapter 1 she is bitter and resentful and tells the people to call her “Mara,” which means bitter. In chapter 1 we learned that Naomi would be blessed for returning to her source. Here in chapter four we see this coming true. She is not empty and bitter. Her cup is full. She is blessed by the Lord. Her neighbors once again call her “Naomi,” which means “pleasant.” Back in chapter one she says, “Don’t call me pleasant! I am bitter.” This time she doesn’t correct them because her bitterness is gone.
When we come back to the Lord, there is fullness and joy.
In God’s presence there is fullness of joy. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Are you like Mara or Naomi right now? Perhaps you find that are not very satisfied. Maybe you don’t feel content. You feel that your life is empty and you lack joy. Each day may be a struggle with feelings of bitterness or resentment. If that is the case, I encourage you to consider if perhaps you have drifted away from the Lord. Maybe like Mara, you have left the good things He has prepared for you and gone off on your own. But don’t stay there. Today you have a chance to come back to the Lord. You can come empty handed. God will accept you and fill you and give you His joy. If you came to GICF today feeling empty, then I hope you will go away full.
Cross-Reference – John 1:17 – Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
- Contrast Ruth’s life in Moab with her life in Israel.
- How had things changed for her?
- In what ways is Ruth similar to us?
- What does Ruth say in this passage (hint: nothing)?
- Who is the initiator, Boaz or Ruth?
- In what ways is Boaz relationship with Ruth similar to Christ’s relationship with us?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Ruth was lost, but now she is found – Let’s read verses 11, 13 and 15. Ruth was redeemed. Here is a girl who grew up in a culture of idol worshipers, so depraved that they sacrificed children to their gods. Her culture and her family were clouded in darkness. It seemed that the chances of her knowing the true God were very small. Fast forward a few years. Now she is a follower of Yahweh. God accepted her and this is symbolized in the fact that Boaz accepted her. She was no longer an outsider. She was married to one of the most respectable men in the city.
2. Ruth receives a blessing – She received one amazing blessing and one amazing compliment. In verse 11 the people ask the Lord to bless her as Rachel and Leah, two of the matriarchs of Israel. A foreign woman was elevated to a very high status as one of the important family members of the house of Israel, just like we too are elevated to a high status when God adopts us as His children.
And in verse 15 she is given an amazing compliment. The people say she is better than seven sons! If she wasn’t already sparkling on her wedding day, or when she gave birth to a son, surely she must have sparkled when she heard this!
3. God gets the praise – Notice who gets the top praise for this. In verse 14 the people say, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer.” They recognize that this amazing story we have been studying is made possible because of the Lord.
Application: When everything seems to be going well, and you receive what you long for, do not forget to give thanks to God. He is the one who makes it all possible.
- In what ways is Boaz a type of Christ? (List out similarities between Boaz and Jesus.)
- What does redemption mean?
- What price did Jesus pay to redeem us?
Verse by Verse Commentary
Now we come to the fifth person in our passage today. Jesus. He is not mentioned by name, but few passages in the Old Testament point to Jesus as clearly as this one does. We have already seen that Boaz is a type of Christ. Boaz redeemed Ruth. It cost him financially. He gave up something to get her. But he loved her. The price was worth it to him.
Boaz valued Ruth when others didn’t. In the New Testament a place called Gehenna is translated as hell 12 times. Jesus used this place as a representation of the eternal lake of fire which face those who don’t believe in him. What was Gehenna? Gehenna was actually Jerusalem’s garbage burner. A fire burned there continually to burn up all the trash the city produced. Jesus redeemed us from this trash pit. He viewed us as a treasure worth dying for.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus paid a price far greater than Boaz did. He did not have to. Just as Boaz could have legally said, “no, I am not going to redeem you” Jesus could have done the same. Our sin was our problem, not His. But He loved us. He loved you. He loved you so much that He left all the comforts of heaven and came down to this world to become your kinsman redeemer. Then He sacrificed His life by dying on the cross for your sins. He did this willingly and freely.
The word redemption means “the action of gaining or regaining possession of something in exchange for payment, the clearing of a debt.”
I read another story of a man who went to a slave market. There he saw a delicate girl about to be sold as a slave. He felt compassion for her and did not want her to end up in rough hands. So he bought her and he placed a certificate of freedom in her hand and then walked away. When she looked at it, she started shouting, “My reedemer! My redeemer! I want to be your servant!”
Application: Jesus paid the ultimate price for you. How will you respond?
Here are three possible ways you can apply what you have learned in our study of Ruth.
A. If you have not yet accepted Jesus’ offer to redeem you, then please don’t wait. It is a free gift. You must simply come to Jesus in prayer. Confess your sins to Him. Tell Him that you are willing to receive His free offer of forgiveness.
B. If you already received Jesus’ offer of redemption, then are you satisfied? Do you feel your life is empty like Naomi did? Do you realize how blessed you are? God has filled your life with good gifts. You have much to be thankful for. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for the many good gifts in your life.
C. The greatest thing that has ever been done for you is Jesus redeeming you with His own life. He brought you from far away into His own family. This is good news! What should you do with good news? You should spread it. Have you told anyone lately about Jesus’ offer of redemption? What are you waiting for? Let’s share the good news.
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