Marriage is an important theme that arises again and again in Scripture, and there are many models of what a good marriage looks like in the Bible. The Song of Solomon, for example, is a beautiful picture of a husband and wife and their love for one another. In the New Testament, Priscilla and Aquila stand out as a couple who served the kingdom of God together, complementing each other in their life and witness (Acts 18:24–28; Rom. 16:3–5a).
We also find in the Old Testament the history of Boaz and Ruth, who marvelously display what God intends for husbands and wives to be in the marriage relationship. Clinging to her widowed mother-in-law Naomi after her first husband died, Ruth journeyed to Bethlehem, Naomi’s home. While there, she gleaned wheat from the fields of Boaz (Ruth 1–2). In desperation, with all the men in the family dead, Naomi and Ruth were in danger of losing their inheritance and their family’s land if an heir could not be produced. In keeping with the Levirate marriage law, Ruth was able to marry a close relative and bear a son who would legally belong to Naomi’s family, thereby ensuring that the property would not pass from them (Deut. 25:5–10).
As a close relative, Boaz could redeem Ruth and Naomi, and so Ruth approached Boaz one evening, inviting him to redeem her from this plight (Ruth 3). Ruth was calling on him to take the lead in the relationship to provide for her materially and, ultimately, spiritually, for in marrying her, Boaz would be obeying the law of God. Her example shows us what it means for a wife to submit to her own husband (Eph. 5:22–24). Good wives look for their husbands to lead them and encourage them in their difficult calling. May the wives among us follow Ruth’s lead.
Boaz also shows us what it means to be an ideal godly husband — one who is willing to give up his life for his own wife and family (vv. 25–27). Another of Naomi’s relatives was unwilling to take Ruth for his wife, fearing that he would lose any compensation for meeting Ruth’s needs once they bore a son and the inheritance passed into the son’s hands. Boaz, on the other hand, was willing to sacrifice much to bless Ruth and her family, showing us what godly husbands do for the sake of their wives (Ruth 4). May those of us who are husbands imitate his self-sacrifice.
Boaz was ultimately rewarded for his selfless deed when he was included in the line of David and thus the line of Christ (Matt. 1:1–17). He did not know that this would be his reward when he cared for Ruth, however. Likewise, we do not always know how God is going to reward us for doing what is right, but we can rest assured that we will be repaid for any sacrifice we make to obey His law, whether now, in the age to come, or both.