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. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife.”
The question we must ask ourselves every day when faced with various circumstances is “What is the right thing to do?”
This is what Boaz considered when he determined to go to the city gate. He wanted to marry Ruth and provide for and protect her as her kinsman-redeemer. But he knew there was a relative closer to Ruth than him, who could choose to take on that role. Boaz was a man of integrity, unable to simply allow himself to rush off in a great swell of emotion when Ruth proposed to him on the threshing floor. His vision was set clearly on winning Ruth legitimately.
Boaz prioritized doing the right thing over his reputation. He went to the most public place—the city gate—in order to pursue a marriage with a foreigner, which potentially could have harmed his reputation and legacy. The closer relative was not willing to take this risk (Ruth 4:6). This man isn’t even given a name in Scripture. This is a lesson to us: we shouldn’t strive to make and safeguard a name for ourselves. Let someone else make a name for us and praise us. We should simply strive to do right.
Boaz’s words reveal that one of his motivations was to “perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance” (Ruth 4:10)—to preserve the name of Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband, by continuing his family. That’s selfless. That’s impressive. If Boaz had only been concerned for himself and his desires, he could have whisked Ruth away as his wife. Instead, he carried out his responsibility and publicly owned the situation. At the time, the passing of the kinsman-redeemer title was customarily sealed with the public exchange of a sandal (v 7). This exchange symbolized something greater—namely, Boaz’s commitment, love, and personal sacrifice for Ruth. Similarly, the cross stands in public view, and there we see Christ’s commitment, love, and sacrifice on our behalf. It cost Boaz financially to marry Ruth. It cost Christ His very life to redeem us and make us His beloved bride.
Both of these sacrifices—Boaz’s and Christ’s—won great rewards and legacies, providing a future and a hope: one for a young Moabitess and her mother-in-law, the other for all of humanity. Boaz’s pursuit of rightness resulted in a marriage that played an integral part in all of history by continuing a lineage that eventually led to the birth of our Savior (Matthew 1:5). And because of Christ’s sacrifice, we now look forward to the day when we will stand in glory, see His face, and praise His name forever. Our Bridegroom came and rightfully won us at great cost to Himself. Imagine Ruth’s joy when she heard that Boaz had given his sandal and confirmed that he would marry her. A similar joy should be ours as we look at the cross and know we are Christ’s. And the example of Boaz should be ours as we look at our day’s decisions and difficulties and learn simply to ask, “What is the right thing to do?”