It is often in the smaller, less noticeable things we do that our true character is revealed. Do we impatiently stare at the checkout clerk working the long line ahead of us? Do we decide not to help with the new church ministry because we don’t like the person in charge?
Surely Boaz faced similar decisions in his everyday life, but the Bible details various ways he showed unselfishness and concern for others— even at his own expense.
The book of Ruth recounts how Boaz, a farmer in Bethlehem, was a wealthy man, yet he took time to talk to others, such as his harvesters. He also took special notice of a young woman named Ruth who was gleaning in his fields, and he learned that she was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, the widow of his deceased relative Elimelech. Boaz made sure Ruth was protected and treated honorably while she gleaned in his fields. He provided her with abundant food and water and even instructed his men to purposely leave stalks of grain for her to gather.
Later Ruth appealed to Boaz that he marry her and purchase the land that had belonged to Naomi’s husband so it would remain within the family. Boaz was certainly interested, but honorably and selflessly presented the offer first to a relative who was more closely related to Naomi. When the other relative declined, Boaz gladly acquired the land and Ruth as his wife.
Boaz and Ruth later had a son, Obed, who became an ancestor of David and ultimately an ancestor of Christ. By purchasing the land and marrying Ruth, Boaz acted in the Old Testament role of kinsman-redeemer. In ancient Israel, God’s covenant with His people included the offer of a portion of the Promised Land as an inheritance, so it was critical that everything be done to prevent the loss of one’s land.
The kinsman-redeemer could help a struggling relative by purchasing his or her land to ensure that it remained with the family.