From Bitterness to Joy

Day 24 – Ruth 4:14–17

My wife knew her days were numbered. The prognosis for her late-stage cancer gave her “a few months” at best. She was prepared to meet her Lord. One night, I asked her what was the one thing she wished she could do before she left. She said, “I want to carry my grandchild”. Soon thereafter, she went home to her Father’s house. Her wish remained unfulfilled.

Unlike my wife, Naomi’s wish is fulfilled. Naomi gets to see her grandson, to cuddle him in her arms. In fact, she adopts him as her own son (Ruth 4:17).

The women—probably the same townsfolk who greeted a bitter Naomi coming home from Moab (1:19–21)—now celebrate the birth of Ruth’s son with a rejoicing Naomi (4:14–15). Just months before, they had witnessed the widow’s emptiness and bitterness (1:20–21). Now, they see her fullness and happiness because of the Lord’s undeserved kindness and goodness. They praise God for His faithful providence and benevolent provision. In particular, they remind Naomi of two precious blessings from Him.

First, they praise God for giving Naomi another “guardian-redeemer”. God has already provided the family with Boaz, but now He gives Naomi the additional benefit of another go’el in this newborn. Doubly blessed, Naomi is assured that the family name will be fully restored. Their “praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer” (4:14) turns out to be prophetic. From the lineage of this go’el will come the Redeemer par excellence, Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:28; Galatians 4:4–5), who will also be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; John 7:42)—“the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).

Next, the women remind Naomi what a precious blessing Ruth has been to her. They praise Ruth for her remarkable love and incomparable devotion to Naomi. For the first time in the story (Ruth 1:22), she is not called “Ruth the Moabitess” (the last time she was still referred to as such was in 4:10, just before her marriage to Boaz). For a society that values sons more than daughters, the accolade that Ruth “is better to [Naomi] than seven sons” is most exceptional (4:15). What this means is that Naomi, through Ruth, has received such great blessings as are normally supplied by seven sons, representing the ideal family. Ruth has received the highest compliment their culture can bestow!

Strangely, Boaz and Ruth do not name their newborn son. It is the townsfolk who name him “Obed” (4:17), which means “one who serves”. This is one of only two Old Testament examples where a newborn is not named by the parents or immediate family (Moses was the other—see Exodus 2:10). Obed was born to serve Naomi, to care for her in her old age (Ruth 4:15). And Obed, through his grandson David, will serve the entire nation (4:17; Psalm 89:3–4). And a descendant of Obed, the “one who serves”, will become God’s ultimate Servant (Isaiah 42; 52:13–53:12), who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). That “[Obed] was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ruth 4:17) gives us a clue as to why this story is written. This we will consider tomorrow.

Think Through:

Paul said that all who are in Christ are abundantly blessed (Ephesians 1:3). How has the Lord blessed you this past month?

Specifically, what is that one blessing that you are particularly grateful to have received from God? Why?

Taken from Journey Through Ruth: 30 Biblical Insights by Sim Kay Tee.