They probably wouldn’t have seen one another’s profile on eHarmony.com. She was a young widow from the country of Moab. He was a bachelor of the clan of Elimelech of the tribe of Judah. She hadn’t much more than the clothes on her back. He was a man of great prominence and wealth. He owned fields. She worked in them. He was able to redeem. She was in need of redemption. But, based on my reading this morning in Ruth, there is one attribute that was a direct match for this least-likely-to-be-compatible couple. They were both worthy.
Now Naomi had a relative of her husbands, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
(Ruth 2:1 ESV)
And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.
(Ruth 3:11 ESV)
The connection jumped of the page as I was reading. Not as evident in other translations where Boaz is described as “a man of great standing” or “a man of great wealth”, and Boaz’s characterization of Ruth is translated as “virtuous” or a woman of “noble character.” But it is the same word in the original used to describe both of them and so the ESV translators used the same English word, “worthy.”
It is a word that means to have strength, to be mighty, to have efficiency, to possess wealth. A word also used of those of with notable valor or virtue. So whether it refers to a physical strength defined by position and profitability, or of a strength of character evident by humility, loyalty and service, both Boaz and Ruth had a reputation of being worthy.
And what is so remarkable about this match made in heaven is that they lived “in the days of the judges” (Ruth 1:1). Dark days when men and women did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Chaotic days when, in general, there was little to distinguish the people of God from the pagans around them. Days of idol worship and depraved behavior. Days where seemingly not much could be described as “worthy.” But here are Boaz and Ruth, a worthy man and a worthy woman.
And there’s something about authentic character that brings a light to the darkness. Something about virtue that sparks a flame of hope in the midst of despair. Fact of the matter is, you quickly find yourself really liking Ruth and warming up pretty quickly to Boaz. You think on these two worthy people and it fans the flame of knowing afresh that God works even in the darkest times to fulfill His purposes.
And it causes me to think of another who is worthy. Not in kind with a Boaz or a Ruth but so much greater than either of them. And Paul’s exhortation comes to mind,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
(Philippians 4:8 ESV)
And so I do. Jesus is true and He is honorable. Jesus is just, He is pure and lovely and deserving of all good report. Jesus defines excellence and He is the embodiment of virtue. Jesus is worthy. Worthy of praise . . . “and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev.5:12).
Because of His great grace God raised up a man whom He deemed worthy to redeem a woman whom He deemed worthy. And in so doing, He painted a picture of a greater Redeemer who would one day pay a great price in order to purchase His Bride. And He set the stage for a throne to be established. A throne that one day will be occupied by this same Redeemer who is worthy beyond all description.
What joy, what blessing to think on these things.
Because of grace. For His glory.