Elimelech and his sons are dead; Mara and Ruth are left empty. The new Adam, Elimelech, failed to heed God’s voice and didn’t come to Bethlehem for bread. The new Abraham, he failed to heed God’s call to “stay” rather than “go”. The empty women are left without an Adam – without a go’er redeemer. That is, until they meet the mighty man.
In the Bible, it is usually warriors who are described as “mighty”. Nimrod was a mighty man (Gen 10:9). He was a hunter; the founder of Babel. The Nephilim were also mighty, and they dominated the earth (Genesis 6). Joshua’s armies are called “mighty”, as are the judges Gideon and Jephthah. Most of David’s men are described as mighty.
Which makes it strange that we meet Boaz, and the first description we hear of him is that he is mighty. He is no warrior. He is a farmer; a farmer with servants who pick the grain for him. The ESV, unfortunately, obscures this oddity when it translates gibbor as worthy man, rather than mighty man. But, in doing so, we miss what it means to be mighty.
Our culture generally expects men to be mighty. We are expected to be mighty – to take up our arms and defend our families! Especially in this situation, we would expect that if Boaz is related to Elimelech, he should swoop in and take Mara by the hand and marry her. But, in the crazy, upside down world of the Bible, the story we expect is not the story we get.
Boaz is mighty because he is a man of Torah. He instructs his servants to not glean the edges of his field, a levitical provision in place to feed the poor. Boaz is described as a mighty man for simply doing the bare minimum. He does not deliver the food to Mara and Ruth; rather, he leaves it available for her to pick up. He also never comes to Mara; rather, Ruth has to come to him while he sleeps. Yet, he is described as mighty.
It is hard, sometimes, to let the world’s conception of might, and men, go. But here is an example of a mighty person. The mighty person is the one who simply obeys the Lord. Sometimes this takes direct action; sometimes, it merely means being faithful as God uses this work silently. Boaz had no idea that his future wife was gleaning his fields. He only knew God commanded to keep the droppings available for her. But he was faithful. Soon, he would be the one to feed her, adopt her into his household, making a maid part of the family. But not yet. Now, he is merely faithful.
But he is a type of Christ, a new Adam. Boaz shows us the standard for masculinity Christ would set. So, men, how do we become mighty? We become mighty by being faithful to what God has commanded us in the Bible. And that is enough. God will take this work and transform it, and us. Not right away. But in the might of the Lord, our faithfulness allows us to be mighty, too. Don’t let the world define heroism and masculinity. Let the Bible show you a different way to be mighty; a different way to be a man.
Trust me, it’s infinitely better.