The book of Ruth seems like a quaint little story, off by the side of the road, but it is actually a crucial part of the story of the coming Messiah. The fact that these events were recorded long before the arrival of David shows the sense of expectancy that attends this story.
“And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias” (Matt. 1:4–6).
Summary of the Text:
When we do research in our family tree, which is usually an innocent activity, we are not generally looking for the horse thieves. We like to find distinguished ancestors, like the great great-grandfather who held Robert E. Lee’s horse at Appomattox. But among the Jews it was different—their interest in genealogies was rooted in their desire to find a distinguished descendant. A good portion of the Old Testament consists of telling us the story of how God was narrowing down the options, leaning into the future. First, He chose Abraham (Gen. 12:1). Then from Abraham’s sons He chose Isaac over Ishmael (Gen. 21:12). After that, so that God’s sovereignty might be highlighted, He chose the youngest twin Jacob over his brother Esau (Gen. 25:23). Jacob had twelve sons, and one of them had to be “the one,” and it was Judah (Gen. 49:10). Tamar had twins by Judah, and Perez pushed out ahead of Zarah the firstborn who had the scarlet thread tied to his wrist (Gen. 38:30).
Achan was a great prince in Israel, who caused Israel to stumble by his covetousness (Josh. 7:1), and he was removed from the messianic line by means of execution, his whole household perishing with him. That house was cut off. A distant cousin to Achan named Salmon, a cousin from a rival house, was a man descended from Perez, and we should not be surprised when Salmon married Rahab, the woman who marked her household by means of a scarlet rope (Josh. 2:21). Salmon and Rahab had a son, whose name was Boaz.
And after Boaz married Ruth, we are still leaning forward, yearning for the Messiah to come. The thing to note about this is that messianic expectation is not something we project backward with the benefit of hindsight. They looked forward, with the benefit of promises.
What was the blessing given to Ruth by the people of her city, and by the elders?
“And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman” (Ruth 4:12).
“Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (Ruth 4:18–22).
So we have narrowed it down quite a bit further. We have now come to the one who would give his name to Jesus. Jesus was the son of David (Rom. 1:4), He was Jesus ben-David, or, as we would put it, Jesus Davidson. This is what the book of Ruth is about.