In the Waiting, God is Working | A Look at Ruth 4:1-4

woman waiting on God in pray
Ruth 4:1-4

“Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek.  I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” 


Wait. This one word has the power to steal my breath and leave me eager to exhale when faced with an uncertain future—especially when the power to steer the situation lies outside my control.

Naomi’s last word of instruction to Ruth was wait. Boaz promised to handle the redemption of Ruth and the redemption of Naomi’s land by day’s end. (Ruth 3) This must have brought some relief to Ruth’s desire for a stable future for herself and Naomi. But how disheartening to hear another redeemer, a nearer relative, someone she knew nothing about, had first dibs ahead of Boaz.

The prospect of trusting their fate to a stranger must have been daunting. (Leviticus 25:23-28, Deuteronomy 25:5-6) With only the words of Boaz to rely on, a prayer and promise from one whose reputation preceded him, they waited. (Ruth 3:10-13)


True to character, Boaz set in motion all required to resolve the matter—lawfully. He brings together the ten elders needed to witness the property transfer at Bethlehem’s gates, a place of important business transactions. As the nearer relative approached the gates, Boaz signaled him to turn aside and join the gathering. The offer about to be revealed would provide an opportunity to change more than the man’s physical bearing. If accepted, it could change the direction of his future. He would need to count the cost of this reorientation.

The redeemer of Naomi’s plot of land could gain financially in the right circumstance. In the Year of Jubilee, according to Levitical law, the redeemed property would return to the original owner. (Leviticus 25) Naomi, a widow with two sons who predeceased her, had no heir or potential for heirs in the future. There was no risk of the property returning to Elimelech’s line. The result—financial gain for the redeemer.

Boaz announced the widow Naomi’s offer to sell her husband’s land, clarifying that if the nearest relative doesn’t redeem it, he will. Boaz waits, holding his breath. After considering the cost, the nearer relative replies, “I will redeem it.”

Was this the response Boaz had hoped for?


Boaz knew something the relative did not yet know. More than land needed redemption—there was the widow Ruth to consider. Any heir from a union with Ruth would inherit Naomi’s redeemed land and continue Elimelech’s name. (Deuteronomy 25:6) Boaz counted the cost. He had nothing financial to gain from such a union. In fact, he would most likely take a financial loss in this circumstance. Yet, he found himself willing to risk his comfort in following the heart of God’s law by redeeming them both.

Spoiler alert. You may know the happy end of this story. (Ruth 4: 13-16) Still, this moment in the narrative leaves one waiting to exhale in anticipation of a tomorrow over which Ruth has no control. How would it all play out? Which guy would get the girl, and would the goodness of God get its way? This question is one that Jesus’s followers might have asked as He hung on the cross, dying. Would hope for a better tomorrow die with Him? Where was the goodness of God in this strange turn of events?

There is a happy ending for Jesus’ followers too. Just as Boaz took the initiative to redeem the widow Naomi and her foreign daughter-in-law through the proper channels, Jesus took the initiative to redeem us in keeping with God’s law. The wages of sin, He said—death. And only His death, a sinless sacrifice, would do. And, as Boaz committed to completing Ruth’s redemption, God committed to realizing our redemption through the person and work of Jesus. Because of Jesus, we need not doubt that—in the waiting, God is working.

Because of Jesus, we need not doubt that—in the waiting, God is working.

Kim McGovern

Ruth and Naomi need only wait and trust their uncertain future to their faithful God. No matter how the day ends for Ruth, she can exhale while waiting for God to write the rest of her story. A story that proclaims God’s trustworthiness to future generations.


Are you weary of waiting for God to work things out for your good? You can trust He will guide you, as He did Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, into His goodness as you reorient our course to follow Him.


Where in your current story are you holding your breath, waiting on God for redemption? What aspect of God’s character can you rest on to find the courage to exhale in the waiting? Add your response below. I’ll get us started.

1 thought on “In the Waiting, God is Working | A Look at Ruth 4:1-4”

  1. While waiting on God to reveal my next chapter, I often doubt His faithful presence. Recounting how God has faithfully kept His promises in His word and in my story encourages me to trust Him with my uncertain future.

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