“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
If you’re familiar with the Bible then I’m guessing you’ve heard of the story of Ruth. If not, let me give you a quick summary. Ruth was a woman who married a man from a foreign land and tied herself to his family. Her father-in-law, her husband and her brother-in-law all die (not simultaneously) and her mother-in-law (Naomi) decides to return to her homeland. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to stay with their own families. Ruth’s sister-in-law Orpah stays. But Ruth clings to Naomi and ends up returning to Naomi’s homeland with her. Ruth then goes to work in a barley field as a means to provide for herself and Naomi. There she meets Boaz who just so happens to to own the barley field Ruth is working in. Long story short, Naomi finds out who Ruth is working for, realizes it’s a relative who can “redeem” Ruth as wife and mother and plays matchmaker between the two. Her instructions and Ruth’s obedience pay off as Boaz marries Ruth and Ruth gives birth to Obed who was King David’s grandfather.
The book of Ruth is one of redeeming love and used as an example of how God can take tragedy and turn it into glory. However, if misinterpreted, it can easily be romanticized and fill people, especially single women longing for marriage, with false hope. For a woman longing for marriage, especially one has endured much rejection and/or abuse, the story of Boaz redeeming Ruth can fill her with the idea that God will use a man to redeem her circumstances also. I want to be clear-Boaz was a kinsman redeemer but he did not redeem Ruth.
In Ruth’s cultural times, a kinsman-redeemer was a relative who carried out an act for a near relative who could not carry it out for themselves. In Ruth’s case, she was left a childless widow. Boaz acted as a kinsman-redeemer by marrying and impregnating her in order to carry on her husband’s name (Ruth 4:10.) Boaz was a man of noble character but he was not a knight in shining armor who rescued Ruth. He was a man who was impressed with Ruth’s beauty and work ethic. He saws Ruth’s approach toward him as an act of kindness. He also admitted there was another relative closer in relation to be Ruth’s redeemer. He protected Ruth’s reputation but was willing to step aside if the other relative chose to redeem Ruth himself (all found in Ruth chapters 3 and 4.)
Ruth was not a damsel in distress either. She suffered great loss. She made hard choices. She worked on her own accord. Ruth doesn’t bring up the idea of remarriage or children. Her mother-in-law does. Ruth only obeys the directives Naomi gives her. Ruth was not wallowing in sorrow or waiting for a man to come along and rescue her. She was in survival mode focused on taking care of herself and Naomi. God stepped in and redeemed Ruth’s circumstances by connecting her to Boaz but God is Ruth’s ultimate rescuer.
No where in the book of Ruth does it mention that the desires of her heart was remarriage or to have a child. In fact, when Naomi tells her to stay in her homeland, it’s because Naomi had no other sons for her to marry in order to bare a child. Naomi tells her to stay with her own family and find another husband there. But Ruth tells her this; “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Ruth does not choose to go with Naomi hoping to meet Boaz or any kinsman-redeemer. She goes with Naomi because that’s who she identifies as her family and she has a loyalty to staying with that family. The Bible doesn’t say it, but I believe Ruth either had no intentions to ever remarry or simply trusted God to take care of the matter. Either way, remarriage was not Ruth’s priority.
Please don’t misinterpret today’s post. I am not against marriage or remarriage. The point of this post is to empower the woman who believe a man, a relationship and/or marriage is her saving grace to let go of that ideology. To the woman who thinks her life will begin when God finally sends her the man of her dreams, you’re missing out on life that’s happening right now! God is our true redeemer. He was Israel’s redeemer in the old testament and He sent Jesus to be our redeemer from sin in the New Testament. He saves our circumstances and He redeems us from sinful mistakes. No human being has the power to do that. Expecting someone to redeem us puts unnecessary pressure on the person we identify as our savior. It also is a form of worship and violates the Ten Commandments (Thou shall have no other gods before Me…)
If you are a single woman and your heart’s desire is marriage, please don’t pray for a Boaz. Boaz was Ruth’s husband. He can’t be yours. Pray for the man God has designed for you. While you’re waiting, be diligent in your work, recognize where you can rescue yourself and trust God to rescue you when you cannot. Be the provider for the family God has gifted you, even if that family is just you and a pet or two. Trust Him to be your leader and partner. See God as the husband you wish you had because we are all His bride. He is ultimately the One for each and everyone of us.
God will always be our Mr. Right. If we misinterpret Boaz and especially if we get caught up in romance or Hallmark movies, we can easily become impatient and fall for a Mr. Right Now. Wait on God. Trust His ways. Celebrate your singleness (it’s just as precious gift as marriage) and work hard at being the woman God made you to be. If being a wife is part of His design, it will come to pass, just like it did for Ruth, in God’s time and His way! We don’t need to manufacture our own love stories. Ruth didn’t and God gave her Boaz. Trust Him to write your love story too!