Love and Marriage – Ruth and Boaz
The Bible is not exactly a ‘Romantic Novel’ is it!
But it does contain some delightfully romantic tales of men and women in love and enjoying one another. The Book of Ruth is unique in telling the inside story of two people courting and finally marrying. Our first reading takes the story of Ruth just one step forward before we divert to read and reflect on the love between Jacob and Rachel.
This is an up and down story, with heartache, sadness, ultimate delight in marriage and children, but ending in the death of Rachel in childbirth. Mills and Boon would make much of it – especially the bit where Jacob has to promise to give his Father-in-Law 7 years free labour for the privilege of taking Rachel as his wife. Only then to be swindled into marrying Leah first and having to promise another 7 years in order to gain Rachel – his first love.
It is a week to reflect on marriage, and to pray for one another whatever our marital status or longing might be.
v 9. Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife.
True to his word to Ruth the previous evening, Boaz set about the task of redeeming the land and marrying her immediately. The process of acquiring both land and wife in the same deal seems odd to us, but not out of the ordinary in that culture. We can only imagine that Ruth had a real affection for Boaz and longed for the security that being married to him would bring. Then Boaz’s prompt response suggests that feelings were reciprocated!
Courtship and marriage is surrounded by so many possible pitfalls that it is a wonder that folk actually complete the process successfully and enjoy happy lives together!
So stop for a while today and reflect on the institution of marriage, whatever your own status is in that respect. Ruth and Boaz were setting out together after difficult experiences. Ruth had been widowed, and was without children; and Boaz was a mature man, and some feel that he too might have been a widower who had thrown himself into his business as a farmer. Don’t view this relationship through some form of rose-tinted spectacles – for many it has proved a hazardous venture, with rocks and reefs that might cause the voyage to end in disaster. I’ve not been privy to the lives of many who have given up on marriage – but I have seen the impact of such decisions on the lives of children in schools. Pray today for joyful marriages, and at the same time for contentment in the singleness that many enjoy or endure.