Ruth 2:20 – “And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.”
In this verse Naomi makes two statements, seen in the words “Naomi said.” In the first statement she blesses Boaz for his kindness. In the second statement she tells Ruth of Boaz’s relationship to them, and his responsibility.
Naomi’s first statement: “Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness.” Naomi begins with praise. There is a similarity and a difference in her blessing in vs 19 and vs 20. In vs 19 Naomi says: “Blessed be he,” which is similar to this verse, but Naomi adds something, she adds “of the Lord,” she sees “the Lord” in all that has happened! Naomi sees in Boaz the hand “of the Lord,” the provision “of the Lord” for her and Ruth. What a difference from her earlier words when she first returned. Then Naomi didn’t bless God, she blamed God. Then He was the Almighty and her words were bitter, a reflection of her heart that had not fully surrendered and yielded to God. She had said: “the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” (1:20) and “the Almighty hath afflicted me” (1:21). In that statement she saw only His Might in judgment and correction, and she forgot the other meanings for the name Almighty in the bitterness of the trial. She forgot He was the “All Sufficient One” that He was the “Strength giver,” that He was the “Satisfier,” the One who “enriches and makes fruitful.”
Now she sees God in a different light. He is not just the Almighty who judges and corrects; I think she remembers the meanings of that name again but now she says that He is the Lord, He is Jehovah, the Eternal One; the Unchangeable One. Jamieson Fausset and Brown summarize the difference between the two names by saying that God is not only the Almighty who made the promise to Abraham, but Jehovah who keeps those promises because He is unchangeable. I think Naomi sees that God will keep His promise to do all the things He says He would do as the Almighty: give strength, satisfy, enrich and make fruitful. Another interesting point is that the Jews will not speak the name Jehovah, instead they say Adoni which is also translated Lord but means Master. The Jewish Bible uses Adoni instead of Jehovah in their translation, and if Naomi is speaking using this name, she is acknowledging that she has fully surrendered to her Master. What a difference the trial has brought in her! Naomi sees the One behind the blessing and the One has moved the man, who is the instrument of the blessing. Her first words were bitter, a reflection of a heart not fully surrendered to God. Her final words are sweet, showing her surrender and submission.
Naomi sees the kindness of Boaz: “who hath not left off his kindness.” She sees two things: What has not been done and what God has done. The words “left off” show what God has not done. Those words mean “forsaken” or “refused.” Despite her past disobedience, God has not forsaken her and because of her prayers, God has not refused her! This has always been God’s promise to His people; over and over He said He would not leave them or forsake them. God told Jacob this (Gen 28:15); He told Moses this (Deut 31:6) and He told Joshua this (Josh 1:5). Despite their disobedience or rebellion, He gives this assurance to them. The Lord makes the same promise to us today: “I will never leave thee or forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). It doesn’t matter how hard or difficult the trial or how bitter the place may seem, the Lord is always there! Naomi sees what God has done through Boaz, He showed “kindness.” The word for “kindness” means “favor, mercy, loving kindness.” This is God’s Grace in action, seen through Boaz. This is what God through Christ has done for us, He has shown His “kindness” – His Grace! Then Naomi ends this first statement with who will benefit, who the Lord has shown this kindness to: “to the living and to the dead.” The living refers to Naomi and Ruth and the dead to Naomi’s husband and son, Ruth’s husband.
Naomi’s second statement: “The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.” Her second statement ends with hope and expectation. Her first words are for God and her final words are for Ruth and herself. She explains Boaz’s relationship to them and with this relationship his responsibility. She says Boaz is “near kin to us” he is “near” – “in place” – he is nearby, which means “approach,” he is approachable. She says Boaz is “one of our next kinsmen,” there is another who is not named but who will be seen later. Both have this responsibility but only one will fulfill it. The word for “kinsmen” is from the Hebrew root “to redeem,” it means this man is “one who redeems.” This name holds all the responsibility and his right to exercise that responsibility. In Ruth 2:1 it says Naomi had “a kinsman,” and the word here means “acquaintance.” Boaz was there but she didn’t know about him yet, he is seen as a distant relative. Naomi’s words to Ruth and Orpah in the first chapter show she was unaware of Boaz. Naomi only saw what she couldn’t do, not what someone else could do (Ruth 1:11-13). In Ruth 2:20 Naomi says “next kinsman,” the word here means much more. The Hebrew word is “Goel,” meaning “one who redeems.” This speaks of the right and responsibility of the one who is next kinsman. This speaks of the ways he could exercise that right. It is after Boaz meets Ruth that Naomi realizes the potential of his relationship. She knows what it is that Boaz can do because of this relationship and she sees in Boaz’s kindness that he knows about this relationship.
What was the responsibility of the “next kinsman” under the Law? There were four important rights he could exercise, provisions made for those in need.
First: He could redeem an inheritance: Property (Lev 25:25). If he was not able, the property would be returned in the year Jubilee (Lev 25:10,28). Jeremiah was asked to do this, to exercise the “right of redemption” for his uncle (Jer 32:7-9), and Jeremiah did this.
Second: He could redeem an individual: People (Lev 25:47-49). This was someone who had to sell himself because of his poverty and was in bondage to another.
Third: He could marry the widow of a relative so the deceased would have an heir (Deut 25:5).
Fourth: He could be an “Averger of the blood.” He would pursue and slay those who committed murder on behalf of the family. There was a provision made for those who had killed unintentionally, they could flee to a city of refuge (Nu 35:12; Deut 19:5-6).
Naomi had property to redeem and her dead son (Ruth’s husband), needed an heir to inherit. Naomi realized the full potential of what Boaz was able to do for them. Warren Wiersbe makes a wonderful statement concerning what he does as he exercises this right of the next kinsman, which is the right of redemption: “It was not just the kindness and love of Boaz for Ruth that gave Naomi confidence, for those wonderful feelings could change overnight. It was the principle of redemption God had written in His Word that gave Naomi the assurance that Boaz would rescue them.
To summarize, the requirements that this man must meet, and only Boaz will be able to meet all these requirements were as follows: 1) He must be willing to redeem persons or property. 2) He must be a kinsman. 3) He must be able to redeem. 4) He must be willing to pay the full price justice demands. In type, only Jesus meets these requirements for us. As we see in Naomi’s statement, there is another, but Naomi tells Ruth to choose Boaz, though Boaz says there is one who is nearer. Boaz knows he will not be able to or willing to redeem.
Jesus is our kinsman: He is the “one who redeems.” Jesus was a kinsman for Israel: He was a Jew. Jesus was a kinsman for Mankind: He was a Man. He is called the Son of Man (Mt 8:20) and the Son of God (Mt 8:29) in the Gospels. The Son of Man is used at least 84 times in the Gospels and the Son of God is used at least 28 times. There is an emphasis on both. He was conceived by God and born of a woman (Lk 1:35). He was flesh and blood, like us, He shared our humanity (Phil 2:7; Heb 2:14). This gave Him the right to redeem us!
Jesus was able to redeem: He had the ability and was willing to redeem. His ability was his sinlessness and His willingness seen in His love and obedience. He asked His disciple: “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Mt 9:28). He said “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11) – He was Able. He said: “I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10:15) – He was Able! Paul said He is “able to save them to the uttermost” (Heb 7:25). He was Able!
Jesus was able to pay the full price of redemption: Jesus met God’s demands for justice and paid the penalty in full. God “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6) and God “made him to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). What a terrible price He paid, one that we could not and no one else could pay. And yet the full price is paid and God’s justice was satisfied because Jesus rose from the dead! He “was raised again for (because of) our justification” (Ro 4:25).
Jesus redeemed both persons and property: He redeemed mankind; all those descended from Adam, and He redeemed all that Adam lost. Adam lost his place in the garden and was driven out, and he lost his dominion over the earth. Until Jesus came, Satan had that dominion; he is called the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) and by right could offer to Jesus “the kingdoms of the world” (Mt 3:8). But after Jesus came and redeemed mankind, Satan lost that place. Adam lost his fellowship and his life, a spiritual and physical death. Jesus bought that back for us, we now have life and have it more abundantly and we have fellowship with God. We have a place and “sit together in heavenly places” (Eph 2:6). We have an inheritance (Acts 2:32). We have so “much more” (Romans 5) and the culmination of that much more is seen in that like Boaz, Jesus will have a Bride! How glorious are the result of what our Kinsman Redeemer has purchased for us, how wonderful that He was willing and able to exercise the Rights of Redemption for those in such need – how wonderful when we see this!
To be continued