Today’s lectionary reading is from Ruth 1, and there is a lot going on here. I will attempt to make two separate posts, but it has been a crazy day. Notice the time period for the Book of Ruth: “In the days when the judges ruled,…” I have already posted about the pattern of the Book of Judges, but to reiterate this is not a time period in which there a lot of examples of exemplary behavior. The people pretty much sin, get delivered, and then sin again. This is one of the reasons why Ruth and Boaz come across as such exceptional characters.
In the case of Ruth, she shows loyalty to her mother-in-law even after her husband has died, even after her mother-in-law releases her from any obligation, and even after her own sister has gone away. In the words of Boaz, she could potentially go after the younger men, but she does not. Boaz obeys the Old Testament laws concerning providing for the poor by allowing them to go behind his workers and collect grain in his fields. This is a law that would have been costly to Boaz, but he keeps it anyway. He upholds the law of levirate marriage even when the closest kinsman would not. The closest kinsman does not want to put his estate in jeopardy.
In opposition to this, the people in general during the time of the Judges are “doing evil in the sight of the Lord” and “doing what is right in their own eyes.” What a contrast! But, it confronts us with the question – Are we like Boaz and Ruth? Are we willing to do right when it costs us something? Are we willing to do right even when the people around us are not?