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The Scriptorium

These Are the Generations

What are these verses doing here? Ruth 4.18-22

Redeemed for Redemption (6)

Pray Psalm 69.13-15

But as for me, my prayer is to You,
O LORD, in the acceptable time;
O God, in the multitude of Your mercy,
Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.
Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters.
Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.

Sing Psalm 69.13-15

(Greensleeves: What Child Is This?)
O Lord, we make our prayer to You; receive our words, O Savior!
Let lovingkindness see us through, and answer us with favor!
Lord, lift us above the mire; deliv’rance is our one desire!
Let not the floods conspire to swallow us forever!

Read Ruth 4.18-22

Preparation
1. What’s different about the form of these verses from the rest of Ruth?

2. Where does this genealogy begin? Where does it end?

Meditation
Imagine that you are at a poetry reading, and the poet has been narrating a lengthy, well-crafted story, that glides from episode to episode with the clearest, cleanest, and loveliest of poetic devices, building the narrative as it goes. Then, right at the end, the poet breaks into Chaucerian English as a kind of envoi to his story: “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote/the drogthe of Marche hath perced to the roote…” or something like that, leaving the audience delighted, but scratching their heads. The writer of the book of Ruth is doing something like this in these verses.

The toledoth structure of this coda (“generations” or “genealogy” as NKJV has it) was by David’s time an archaic and unused literary device. However, it was an important tool for linking the progress of God’s covenant in the book of Genesis. The writer employed it here to connect David’s birth with the covenant beginnings of Israel.

Further, Perez, where the lineage begins and whose name means “divided”, was the son of Tamar, a Canaanite woman. Anyone who knew the book of Genesis would have acknowledged her to be a legitimate daughter of the covenant. Thus, the writer anchored David to his roots in a Canaanite woman and the covenant promises of God. But why?

Could it be that this little book of Ruth was written during the seven-year civil war that followed the death of Saul and Jonathan? And could it be that the advocates of a Benjamite dynasty, claiming Saul’s lineage, were arguing against the legitimacy of David on the grounds that he had a Moabitess in his pedigree? Was the book of Ruth a political tract to celebrate the grace of God, legitimize David’s claim to the throne, and persuade the divided tribes to find unity and renewal in their proper, Judah-descended (Gen. 49.8-10) king? Was David to be recognized as the first “Shiloh” – a Hebrew contraction which means, “him whose it is” – the rightful heir of the kingdom of Israel, and the forerunner of the greater King to come?

I think this is very likely. The chaotic period of the book of Judges – where Ruth begins, when there was no king in Israel – resolves through the story of Ruth into the period of covenant renewal under David. The unspoken but quite apparent message is that the grace of God will return to His people through the tribe of Judah, via Boaz and Ruth, in the kingdom promised to David. And it points, through the device of genealogy, to the greater Son of David – the true Shiloh – Who was yet to come.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Many people today have accessed Ancestry.com to find out about their heritage. And if David had looked there, this is what he would have found. “Now this is the genealogy…” (vs.18)

Paul expands the possibility of the genealogy to us by saying: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3.28, 29). If.

The writer of the book of Hebrews teases out the possibility further by saying: “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” Then the majestic inclusio that Christ is the Son over His own house, “whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3.4, 6). If.

The confidence and the hope that we must hold to the end is that our ancestry happens not by birth but by belief and obedience: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1.12, 13). Of God.

And here is our Ancestry.com assurance: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved’” (Rom.10.12, 13). Secure.

Reflection
1. How do these verses support the continuity of God’s covenant throughout Scripture?

2. How do the inclusion of Tamar and Ruth in these genealogies point to the time of the Gospel?

3. How do the genealogies of Scripture encourage us as members of God’s covenant today?

The story concludes with David’s genealogy, beginning with Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar. This genealogy could have been added to the book long after the original writing was complete, but more probably the book as a whole was composed at a later date than the events described. The genealogy of David is not really an appendix, but an essential element demonstrating the author’s purpose—and the purpose of the Lord in the building of the family line of King David and the Messiah. The story of Boaz’s redemption of a foreign woman points to Jesus’ great redemption of all those who believe in Him. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible note on Ruth 4.18-22

Lord, thank You that my name is written in Your book of life, in the generations of Your sons and daughters. Help me to be faithful to that pedigree today as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 69.34-46
Praise the Lord for Jesus and His saving mercy! Thank Him for including you in the family of His people. Plead with Him to help you live as His child and heir today.

Sing Psalm 69.34-36
(Greensleeves: What Child Is This?)
Let heav’n and earth now praise You, Lord, the seas and all their creatures,
for You will save us by Your Word and build Your City’s features.
There we will with Jesus dwell and know His blessings full and well.
His glorious Name we’ll tell to every man and creature!

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.

Check out the changes in The Ailbe Bookstore. Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you to see where the book of Ruth fits into the whole of Scripture’s story. Order your copy by clicking here – free of charge!

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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

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