I get the feeling that i'll end up coming back to Ruth again and again. I'm currently working through it for Wednesday night teen church, and loving it once more. I guess one of the reasons it works so well is that ion the face of it the book looks like a simple provincial love story, woman meets man, man likes woman, man and woman get married. But underneath that, there's so much more going on.
Mark Driscoll says there are small h heroes in the Bible, who all point to the big H Hero of the Bible, Jesus. Boaz is one of these small h heroes, who redeems Ruth, provides for her and protects her, and is on that level a pretty clear picture of Jesus work for us. But if Ruth and Boaz are the main characters, why do we end with Naomi and Obed? Why do we end with David?
My answers based around an assumption, but i think it's a fair assumption. I think Samuel wrote Judges, Ruth and at least some of the books actually named after him. I think Judges is his pamphlet against human kings, his continual illustration that human leaders do not work, and that for any hope we need to turn to God. I also think he would have known, from reading the Pentateuch that one day Israel would have a human King. I also think he knew that the scepter of this King would not depart from Judah. The King would have to come from the line of Judah.
So all those assumptions being made, Ruth becomes 'this is where Kings come from.' It was written to show disbelieving, humanistic Israel who their King should be. Not Saul the Benjaminite, but David, from Judah.
That's why this genealogy isn't just a weird footnote, it's the point of the whole book! Where do Kings come from Israel? They come from Judah, they're called David, they're chosen by God. Ruth would have shown the original readers the importance of choosing God's King, not any old king. It would have shown them the humble and difficult background of their great shepherd king. And for us? This genealogy takes Ruth from the provincial, rural back waters and puts her at the centre of the universe. It shows that in the darkest of times God is at work to do greater things than we can possibly imagine, not just by providing Ruth (and Naomi) a son, but by continuing His line, His seed, quietly, simply, eternally.
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