All the single ladies: Seriously stop it. Stop waiting for your “Boaz.”
While it is wonderful (and important) for us to look at our current day situation with a biblical perspective, attempting to layer Ruth’s story over our own stories of finding love is… well, it’s just plain awful ladies. Does the Bible have a lot to say when it comes to dating, marriage, waiting for God’s provision, and more? Absolutely. But the story of Ruth & Boaz? It’s just not a romantic comedy, y’all. And we certainly shouldn’t be looking at it as a great picture of dating and God-designed romance.
It’s not the best Boy-Meets-Girl love story of all time.
It’s not a Biblical lesson on “taking a calculated risk on love.” (I didn’t make that one up. I heard a preacher say that in a sermon series on Ruth. Part of my soul died that day.)
It’s not a Biblical example of how sometimes a girl should initiate and show her interest in a man.
When we make these haphazard applications from this incredibly rich story in the Bible, we are missing the cultural and historical context, and the author’s overall record of the story. None of us, please hear me, none of us are “Ruth waiting for her Boaz.”
3 Reasons You Are Not Ruth
1. You are not helpless without a man.
Ruth was a vulnerable widow in a culture and time where she was at great risk. As a childless widow, she was considered among the lowest, most disadvantaged socio-economic class. She needed to get married again because she needed a protector/provider. In that day, unmarried women were cared for by their fathers until they were given in marriage to a husband who took the responsibility. Because Ruth’s father-in-law and brother-in-law had also died, she had no provider. She couldn’t get a job and develop a career. As a widow, she was destined to a life of poverty until a man chose her. Thank God, literally, this is not your and my circumstance.
2. You are not property.
Culturally, women were considered property in this time period. Now, it is obvious from the text that Boaz does not look at Ruth as acquiring property. But there is another relative in the story who absolutely does. In fact, the closer relative (who goes unnamed in the story, which was not unintentional on the author’s part)– is very interested in inheriting her father-in-law’s land but once he realizes that Ruth is part of the deal, he bows out; he does not want the responsibility of caring for a widow.
3. You are not trying to marry a distant relative of yours in order to keep your family’s inheritance.
Or I hope not. At this time in Israel, when a women’s husband died, the closest male relative was required by the law (Deut. 25:5-10) to take her as his wife. He was her “Kinsman-Redeemer” to protect her, to carry on the deceased’s name, and take on the family inheritance. Think of it like keeping the estate in the family’s name.
3 Reasons This Is Not A “Boy Meets Girl” Love Story
1. Nowhere in the book of Ruth does it ever say, “because Boaz loved her.”
You actually can’t even find the word LOVE anywhere in this book. Those of you whose heart is breaking right now, I’m sorry. I really am. Now, there is no doubt Boaz is a wonderful man. We see dozens of examples in the book of Ruth that show his character, generosity, care, integrity, not to mention his love of God’s law to “do the right thing.” But Boaz doesn’t see Ruth in his fields or sleeping on his threshing floor and fall in love with her. He sees a woman (who has a great reputation) that needs a provider. Out of compassion and a desire to do what is right (what the law calls him to do), he sets out to marry her.
Boaz also blessed Ruth for not looking for a younger man (Ruth 3:10). Ruth didn’t have a “love at first sight” experience with a rugged, handsome Boaz. She approached Boaz because he was a good man and, most importantly, because he was her relative.
2. The book of Ruth is about God’s Sovereignty, His presence in the smallest details, and His plan to send His One & Only Son to our world.
There are miles of evidence in this book about how God provided and had His hand in every twist and turn of the story. But most importantly, God planned to include Ruth (a Moabite, who was specifically excluded from the nation of Israel– Deut. 23:3) into His family by marrying Boaz, which fulfills the prophecy that Jesus would be born in the lineage of King David.
Ruth and Boaz had a son who was King David’s grandpa. God’s plan all along was for Ruth to marry Boaz and to have a child that would secure Jesus’ lineage in the Davidic line just as the prophets had declared. That is the main point of this story and the purpose of it being in the Bible.
3. The book of Ruth is an analogy of Christ’s love for His people.
Ok, so maybe I tricked you. Forgive me. The story of Ruth is definitly a love story, but not in the way we usually make it out to be. Boaz is a picture of Christ. Ruth could not save herself. She needed a provider and Boaz did just that. He redeemed her, provided for her, and sheltered her—which is a beautiful picture of exactly what Christ did for you and me.
You and I are destined for poverty; we are vulnerable; we are in trouble with no way to help ourselves, but Christ stepped in and chose to redeem us. The story of Ruth & Boaz is an analogy for the greatest love story of all time: Christ’s love for His people.
So, help me out here. Let’s stop making Ruth and Boaz a Hollywood romance. Let’s stop using Ruth’s initiative as an excuse to make a move on a guy. While it is great to pray for your future spouse, you don’t need to pray for your Boaz to appear. Your Boaz has already come. His name is Jesus and He already offers you everything you will ever need and more.
(This is an update version of an old blogpost. Sometimes I’ll do this if I find myself having current conversations about a topic I’ve previously written on. I use it as an opportunity to brush the dust off an old post I liked, freshen it up a bit, and repost for new readers who may not have seen it before.)