This final genealogy that terminates in David, the royal forefather of Jesus, reveals marvelous aspects of God’s gracious nature that may be hidden to modern eyes. First, it reminds us that grace flows where the world may see only shame or cause for rejection. Boaz’s father was Salmon, who married Rahab, the harlot who saved the spies at Jericho (see Matt. 1:5). Boaz continues the line of Judah by marrying Ruth, a Gentile woman from one of Israel’s ancient enemies, Moab. And Judah, though privileged to be prophesied as the head of the line from which the messianic King would come (Gen. 49:10), initiated the line by impregnating Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law. He thus fathered twins (Genesis 38) whose illegitimacy would have kept his seed from citizenship in Israel until the tenth generation (see Deut. 23:2)—represented by Boaz. So the line of Christ is replete with scandalous grace.
Note that this genealogy is symbolic as well as chronological. Ten key figures are mentioned from Judah to David (with some names obviously skipped in the time frame from Judah to Boaz). This shows that David’s kingly line is an echo of the covenant purposes of God represented in ten generations from Adam to Noah (in Genesis 5 and 1 Chronicles 1) and, again, from Noah to Abraham (in Genesis 11 and 1 Chronicles 1). Here again these are symbolic and not purely chronological lists, as is indicated when Matthew chooses to represent the line another way to demonstrate God’s covenant faithfulness to and through David (see Matt. 1:17).
Thus, this genealogy shows us the Lord’s sovereignty over our private and seemingly ordinary decisions, such as Ruth’s decision to go with Naomi and worship the God of Israel. Little did she know when she set out from Moab that day that she would become great-grandmother to Israel’s King David, ancestor to David’s Greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Kinsman-Redeemer of all of God’s people.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.