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The Scriptorium

Sitting in the Gates

Whole lot of sitting here. Must mean something. Ruth 4.1, 2

Redeemed for Redemption (1)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 119.5-8

Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

Pray Psalm 119.5-8

(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
Let my ways steadfastly keep to all the statutes of Your Word.
Then shall I, no shame enduring, fix my eyes on You, O Lord!
With an upright heart I praise You, in Your rules will I abide.
I will keep Your statutes wholly; keep me ever by Your side.

Read Ruth 4.1, 2

Preparation

1. Where did Boaz go to meet the near-kinsman of Naomi?

2. Besides himself and the kinsman, whom else did he gather?

Meditation

Boaz is a man of his word, as Naomi knew (3.18). Here he set the stage for the climactic events of the story. He had an interest that he wanted to pursue, but only by means of proper procedure. The not-so-subtle message we will gather from this chapter is that blessing and redemption are through obedience to the Law of God.

Boaz would present his case before the elders of the city (v. 2) – those whose experience and example fitted them to render judgments about what was right and good for their community – as they gathered in their customary place at the gates of the city. Gathering in the gates was both practical and symbolic. In the gates, “sunshine” provisions would ensure that all things were open to public scrutiny; such deliberations also provided an opportunity for teaching the community in the Law of God.

Further, in the gates, the elders symbolized their roles as protectors of the flock of God, guarding the goings in and out of the community. The outcome of Boaz’s interest was by no means a foregone conclusion, and he would only be content when the matter was resolved in a just manner. The near-relative, who was next in line to redeem Naomi and her property, was asked to be present (v. 1) so that his interests in the case would be properly represented.

We continue to admire Boaz. He is a great man, not just in material prosperity, but because he is a man under the Law of God and the proper authorities of his community. His is a greatness that comes from faith and obedience. When we remember that these events are unfolding during the time of the judges, when all around anarchy and pragmatism prevailed, it should encourage us that enclaves of grace and truth can flourish even in the worst of times.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Waiting. Being still. Doing sometimes happens best in not doing. Trusting. Sitting.

“Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there…” (vs. 1).

“Come aside, friend, and sit down here” (vs. 1).

“So he came aside and sat down” (vs. 1).

“And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, ‘Sit down here.’ So they sat down” (vs. 2). As you can see, this activity involved a whole lot of sitting!

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, seemed to have a sitting skill that pleased Jesus: “…a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” This particular sitting riled Martha up so much that she complained to Jesus about it. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me. And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Lk. 10.38-42). Sitting. Listening. Learning from Jesus.

And again we meet Mary sitting. After their brother Lazarus died the sisters responded in their usual fashion. “Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.” Martha, in her haste, rushed to judgment and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Mary, on the other hand, when she more thoughtfully got up to go meet Jesus “fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11.20-32)

Waiting is a skill that does not come easily to us. We have to be told to “Be still…” (Ps.46.10) There is much wisdom to be sorted through as we learn, as Boaz did, to invite ourselves and others to sit in the gates, gaining guidance and instruction from the Word of God.

Reflection
1. What does all this “sitting” symbolize? Why was it necessary in Ruth 4?

2. What does it mean to “sit” under God’s Law? To “sit at the feet” of Jesus?

3. How can these two verses help you in praying for the elders and pastors of your church?

This matter depended on the laws given by Moses about inheritances, and doubtless the whole was settled in the regular and legal manner. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ruth 4.1--8

Lord, Your Law is the way of justice and peace; help me to walk in it today as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 119.1-4
Pray that God will direct your steps this day, in everything you do, to obey His Law and all His Word.

Sing Psalm 119.1-4
(Ode to Joy: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)|
Blessed are they whose way is blameless, all who walk within God’s Law,
who, His testimonies keeping, seek Him, filled with joy and awe.
These are they who, no wrong doing, ever walk within God’s ways.
Lord, Your precepts You command us; we would keep them all our days.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Ruth by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the Ruth series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers are from Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel: Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV, John R. Franke, ed, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2005). All quotations from Matthew Henry are from Matthew Henry Concise Commentary, E-text version Copyright (c) 1996, 2002 Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All quotes from Earl Radmacher are from The NKJV Study Bible, copyright ©1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006) (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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