The Scriptorium

Deal-Breaker

Just one more thing... Ruth 4.5, 6

Redeemed for Redemption (3)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 119.174-176
I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.
Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

Sing Psalm 119.174-176

(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
For Your saving grace we plead, Lord, and Your Law is our delight.
We to live and praise You need, Lord, all Your help by day and night.
Straying sheep, we do not heed, Lord; come and seek us by Your might!

Read Ruth 4.5, 6

Preparation

1. What went along with the land in this situation?

2. How did the near-kinsman respond?

Meditation

We do not know with certainty what the hindrance was for the near-kinsman. Perhaps he was already married or betrothed. He was concerned that, by marrying Ruth, he would “ruin” his own inheritance. He was under no obligation of the Law to fulfill this duty, since he was obviously only a near relative and not a brother to the deceased, and living in his house. The letter of the Law was not at issue here. Boaz and the near-kinsman were seeking to follow the spirit of the Law in resolving this matter.

At any rate, he did not seem too troubled by the forfeiture of his right of redemption, and there was nothing duplicitous or underhanded in Boaz’s approach. It only remained for some symbolic gesture to seal the agreement, and for the elders to render their judgment as to its propriety.

Here is a snapshot of how communities are meant to flourish under the gracious Law of God. Even though the Law is holy and righteous and good, and Jesus commended it unequivocally (Rom. 7.12; Matt. 5.17-19), we do not teach it with any consistency; it hardly factors into our work of disciple-making; it does not guide us in matters of church discipline; and I rather suspect we would not know how to discern the spirit of it in settling disputes between members that might otherwise end up in a secular court (1 Cor. 6.1-8).

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The near-kinsman was deliberate and decisive in his response. Twice he said, “I cannot” do it (v. 6). Although this transaction was not evil; it was neither right nor good for the near-kinsman. For him, it would have been wrong. “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4.14, 15). He could not go there. And he did not. Good for him! He walked the “worthy walk” that Paul commended (Eph. 4.1, 2).

The healed leper we read about in Mark 1.40-45 did what he thought was good – verbally witnessing everywhere about Jesus; but it was not what Jesus had instructed him to do. Jesus said, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But the leper did what he thought was good instead of what Jesus commanded him: “However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter…” And what happened next? “…so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places…” The leper’s “good” marginalized Jesus’ ministry and hurt people that Jesus could have been helping.

Sometimes things that seem good aren’t good for us or for our families or our churches. Helping widows and witnessing are good things. But only if they are in full accord with the will and word of God. Only things that follow God’s Law and all His Word are good.

Something might look right and good for you. But look carefully: Is there is a deal-breaker that can render something good not good, and even evil?

Reflection
1. What do we mean by the “letter and the spirit” of the Law? What do we learn from Boaz about determining the true sense of God’s Law?

2. Bearing witness for Jesus is good. But when is it done in a way that might not be good?

3. How can you know when something that looks good might be a deal-breaker?

When the close relative discovered that he was expected to marry Ruth, he declined his right of redemption because his own inheritance might be ruined. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible note on Ruth 4.6

Lord, You are my inheritance! Help me to draw on the grace and truth of Your Law today as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 119.171-173
Praise the Lord for His abundant goodness, His salvation, and His holy and righteous and good Law. Commit your day to following Him wherever He leads.

Sing Psalm 119.171-173
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
With our lips we praise You, Jesus, for You teach us, full and free.
Now Your Word will ever please us; Your commandments true shall be.
Let Your hand come forth to ease us; ee Your Word choose gratefully!

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.
Books by T. M. Moore