Monday, October 18, 2010

God Is At Work - The Story of Ruth Part III - A Strange Proposal, Part 25 of 31

TEXT: "And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go, each return to her mother's house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.' . . . Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead . . . The man is a relative of ours, a near kinsman.' . . . Then he said, 'Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich' " (Ruth 1:8; 2:20; 3:10).

IDEA: Hesed is a quality of life that should characterize those who know God.

PURPOSE: To help listeners appreciate the quality of hesed in Ruth that can, by God's grace, characterize us.

If I ask you to describe "dependability" or "loyalty," how might you answer? When we talk about "virtues" and "graces" in someone's life, why are we quickly drawn to an example?

I. One virtue in people that reflects God to us is in the Hebrew word hesed.

Hesed is difficult to translate. No single word in English captures its meanings. Translators use words like "kindness," "loving-kindness," "mercy," "loyalty." Perhaps "loyal love" is close.

Hesed is one of the richest, most powerful words in the Old Testament. It reflects the loyal love that people committed to the God of the Bible should have for one another. It is not a "mood."

Hesed is not primarily something people "feel."  It is something people DO for other people who have no claim on them.

The word hesed is displayed throughout the story of Ruth where it is usually translated "kindness."  Love is something we do, not primarily something we feel.

Naomi uses this word of Ruth in Ruth 1:8.

Naomi uses this word of Boaz to explain his lavish act of kindness in Ruth 2:20.

Boaz uses this word of Ruth in Ruth 3:10: "The Lord bless you, my daughter; this kindness (hesed) is greater than what you showed earlier."

What happened "earlier"? Ruth did not forsake Naomi and gleaned to provide for her needs. It was more than kindness. It was loyalty to her mother-in-law.

In proposing to Boaz she showed her further regard for family relationships. How?

When she thought of marriage, she did not go after the "young" men (the Hebrew means "choice," whether rich or poor). There is an article with young – it is a definite group of young men.

Boaz implies that had she wanted to, she could have married a wealthy younger man. There would be no point in praising her faithfulness to family if that were not true.

She was willing to marry a kinsman other than Boaz if that would help Naomi.

II. Can you think of examples you know of someone who showed hesed to someone else or to you?