Ruth Series: Of Law Courts and David’s Line

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13 October, 2020

Ruth Series: Of Law Courts and David’s Line

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       The workshop of the Carpenter


O Christ, the Master Carpenter,

who at the last through wood and nails

purchased our whole salvation;

wield well your tools in the workshop of your world,

so that we, who come rough-hewn to your bench,

may here be fashioned to a truer beauty by your hand.

We ask this in your name and for your sake. Amen.

A prayer of the Iona Community, Scotland


Read:

Ruth 4:1-16. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1Meanwhile 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.

2Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3Then 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. 4I 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.”

“I will redeem it,” he said.

5Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

6At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

7(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

8So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.

9Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

11Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

13So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

(Ruth 4:1-16 NIV)


Thought for the Day:

Boaz had such integrity that he would risk losing the opportunity to marry the woman he had immense admiration for rather than cheat his relative of his legal rights. Everything then was taken out of Boaz’s control. His relative with the prior claim/responsibility to care for their relative in distress (for that is the sole role of a guardian-redeemer) could say yes or no to this responsibility. But the key point is that Boaz had no control. It is hard to “let go and let God” as the old saying states.

By doing so he kept his good character as well as gaining the amazing Naomi into his life.

Of course, Naomi had even less power over her life as a woman in those times but she too gained a man of good character into her life.

As a married couple their good qualities would have combined to make a rich upbringing for their children where good character would be a highly valued trait. This sets the scene for their great grandchild David who would become King of God’s people.

But what is truly remarkable about this whole story of Ruth is that she is not even an Israelite. She comes from the Moabites to the south east her were ancient enemies of Israel. The story is highlighting that God cares for good character and faith above all else that may divide us. A lesson that had to be relearnt by the early church. God is delighted to welcome into the centre of his family anyone who yearns for the things that God yearns for.

How might this insight help you today?

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Jesus, Giver of Peace

Jesus, Giver of Peace

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer:

Risen Jesus,

we thank you for your greeting,

‘Peace be with you’.

The shalom of God, deep lasting peace;

peace that brings inner calm;

that keeps a person steady in the storm;

that faces the persecutor without fear

and proclaims the good news with courage and with joy.

This is the peace that reconciles

sister to brother, black to white,

rich and poor, young and old;

but not a peace that is quiet

in the face of oppression and injustice.

This is peace with God,

the peace that passes understanding.

(John Johansen-Berg in Bread of Tomorrow, ed. Janet Morley)

Read:

John 20:19-21 (NIV) Jesus Appears to His Disciples

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Thought for the day:

Slow your breathing, close your eyes, and bring to mind a peaceful place or an image of what peace means to you. Using our imagination to take us to a place of peace can reduce anxiety, and help us to relax. Whilst our yearning might be to remain in that relaxed place of peace all day and every day, life makes this impossible. The peace which Jesus gives is this kind of peace and more. It is a deep inner peace that enables us to be strong in the face of life’s difficulties, and to stand up for what is right. When Jesus was speaking with his disciples before his death he said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Tile from peace wall in Hamilton, New Zealand

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Leadership, Enemies and Peace

Psalm 27 Surviving Leadership

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: A collect of the Evening

Lighten our darkness,

Lord, we pray;

and in your great mercy defend us

from all perils and dangers of this night;

for the love of your only Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book, 1978

Read:

Psalm 27. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked advance against me to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

3Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

4One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

5For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

6Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7Hear my voice when I call, Lord;

be merciful to me and answer me.

8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, I will seek.

9Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper.

Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour.

10Though my father and mother forsake me, the

Lord will receive me.

11Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.

13I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.

(Psalm 27 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

David had discovered that leadership is tough in this “dog eat dog world”. Even though the Psalm is written by an individual, this individual is the King. It is his position that attracts envy and enemies who want to discredit and bring him down. He is almost drowning under the weight of their gaze.

This is still felt today by anyone in leadership either in politics, or in social media, football, etc. Not a day goes by without someone sharing how they were ‘trolled’ or the victim of hate speech, or the victim of false accusations. Not a day goes by without politicians saying misleading things about their opponents.

How does one survive?

David seeks God’s face. (v 8) He fills his thoughts with God and his ways and this helps change his mindset from victim to ‘blessed one’. The goodness of the Lord preoccupies his thoughts not the malice of his enemies. These are the insights of experience. This is how David actually survived and flourish in a life that was never without enemies.

What do you fill your thoughts with over the day?

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Psalm 26 Self Awareness

Psalm 26 Self Awareness?

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER: A collect of the morning

Lord our heavenly Father,

almighty and everlasting God,

we thank you for bringing us safely to this day.

Keep us by your mighty power,

and grant that today we fall into no sin,

neither run into any kind of danger,

but lead and govern us in all things,

that we may always do what is righteous in your sight;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book, 1978

Read:

Psalm 26:1-7. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

1Vindicate me, Lord,

for I have led a blameless life;

I have trusted in the Lord

and have not faltered.

2Test me, Lord, and try me,

examine my heart and my mind;

3for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love

and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

4I do not sit with the deceitful,

nor do I associate with hypocrites.

5I abhor the assembly of evildoers

and refuse to sit with the wicked.

6I wash my hands in innocence,

and go about your altar, Lord,

7proclaiming aloud your praise

and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

(Psalm 26:1-7 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

We know David’s life story; his childhood steeped in shepherding and reflecting on God, his faith based gangly teenage faith based war on Goliath, his rise to General in Saul’s army, and his faith based defense of his own paranoid king. It is no wonder that he wrote a Psalm like this- before he became one of the “deceitful, wicked, evildoer, hypocrites”! His adulterous affair with the married Bathsheeba and the cynical disposing of her honourable husband under cover of the warfront took even David by surprise (see his Ps 51)

It is a very human thing to do. It begins when we demonise people who do bad things. In our arrogance we assume that they are not like us, that there is something different about them, that they (and not us) have a quality called ‘wickedness’ about them that makes them do what they do. And because we don’t have this quality we are safe from ever doing what they do.

The Editor who collected all the five Psalms collections together into one book 2500 years ago knew that the composer of Ps 26 was the composer of Ps 51. When read together they give a much fuller understanding of what it is to be human.

When read together we begin to gain self-awareness.

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