Costly Obedience


“Will you marry me?” On Sunday, September 8, 1985, Buddy asked me this question and committed to be my husband. When I agreed to his proposal, we were officially engaged; however, our commitment was not finalized until six months later when we stood before friends and family and spoke our marriage vows to one another. At that point, we willingly took on the risks and costs that accompany the joys of being married. As I read today’s passage, I’m thankful that it is customary for us to exchange rings rather than a shoe as a sign of our commitment!

  • What sacrificial, risky, and/or costly action have you taken in obedience to God? What motivated you to do this?


7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”


  1. What did taking off a sandal and giving it to another person symbolize in ancient Israel? What transaction was confirmed by this exchange?
  2. What was Boaz’s purpose in acquiring Ruth as a wife (vs. 10)? (For more on levirate marriage, see Deut. 25:5-6.) How would this have benefited Ruth and Naomi? Would this have benefited Boaz, been costly to him, or both?
  3. In what role did the elders and people serve (vss. 9, 11)? What was their response to Boaz’s purchase?
  4. God used Rachel’s and Leah’s offspring to build the nation of Israel (Gen. 29-30), and Tamar’s descendants through Perez were the ancestors of Boaz (Gen. 38). Based on this, what were the people asking God to do on Boaz’s behalf in verses 11-12?
  5. Where is God calling you to be sacrificially obedient?


Boaz redeemed Elimelech’s land and took Ruth as his wife, putting his own inheritance at risk, yet Boaz willingly paid the debt that Naomi and Ruth were unable to pay. Boaz’s “I have bought” foreshadows Jesus’ “It is finished,” when the ultimate kinsman-redeemer offered redemption and restoration to all who would turn to him in faith. And just as these witnesses at the gate offered proof of Boaz’s redemptive transaction, so would the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection one day testify to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  Let us move forward in grateful obedience to the One who redeemed us.

  • Thank God for Jesus, the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.
  • Ask God to help you to be faithful and obedient to him, even when it is costly.