From my vantage point on the volleyball court, I noticed how he carried himself, treated others, and contributed to the team. I learned so much about my husband-to-be from watching his interactions and then paying attention to how he treated me. We usually don’t claim “love” at first sight, but we can claim “learn” at first sight.
In our first encounter with Boaz, we learn by watching his exchanges with those in his field and, ultimately, the foreign woman who came to glean there. Strong, tender men like Boaz inspire affection.
He’s called a “worthy” man, indicating character, strength, and influence. In her study of Ruth, Kelly Minter describes the term “man of standing” from the Hebrew term “gibbor hayil,” often meaning a war hero, a capable and wealthy man. Since it doesn’t seem like Boaz was a man of battle, the term reveals his “high social standing.” Boaz was from the tribe of Judah and the same clan as Elimelech, Naomi’s late husband. Several families from a tribe made up a clan, so having a close male relative suggested potential hope for the widow.
- Authority – As a “worthy” man Boaz owned the field where Ruth gleaned, but he was a hands on owner who went to oversee his own field. He was actively involved in the field he cared for and in matters there.
- Attitude– Upon arrival, Boaz didn’t get right to productivity or work schedules. Instead, he spoke to the laborers, declaring God’s presence in the field and his blessing over the workers. This isn’t an arrogant business mogul, but a wise and worthy caretaker looking to the Creator of all things. Not surprisingly, the workers responded respectfully, “The LORD bless you.” As early as our first encounter, we see Boaz as a humble man of strength. Men like Boaz inspire affection.
- Attention – With all his responsibility, we would understand if he had a hard time multi-tasking, but Boaz didn’t miss details, noticing Ruth and inquiring about her. With tenderness, he extended grace to the foreign woman, calling her “my daughter,” firmly telling her stay in his field, near his workers, providing for her safety. Not surprisingly, this worthy man inspired her affection, as she bowed at his feet in gratitude.
- Appreciation – When Ruth wondered at his kindness, Boaz described reports he heard about how she cared for Naomi in their hardships. He knew of Ruth’s sacrifice and loyalty and declared his hope that she would be rewarded by His God, the ultimate source of Ruth’s refuge. At mealtime he demonstrated his respect for Ruth, sharing the abundance of his table and affirming his protection over her. Boaz appreciated God’s care, and he appreciated the worthy way this Moabite woman responded to her circumstances.
What began as a day in the field became “learn” at first sight for Ruth and Boaz. The strong and tender kinsman known for his godly authority, humble attitude, attention to people, and appreciation for things of great value is a man who inspires our affection as we read Ruth’s story. He also inspired the devotion of a young widow in a foreign land as she hoped someone would see beyond her status and respond to her need. “Learn” at first sight was just the beginning.
Encountering such a redeemer is irresistible.
What first encounter quality in Boaz draws you most to him?