Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
Naomi and Ruth are now back in Bethlehem and we are given a tantalising piece of information about Naomi’s family, namely that she has a relative on Elimelech’s side who is a man of standing by the name of Boaz. Store this up with the similar, apparently random note that all this happens at the time of barley harvest, remembering all the time that there is nothing random with God as he works out all things in accordance with his will. (Ephesians 1.4-6)
In v.2 we find Ruth, the Moabitess (indicating that she is the outsider) taking the initiative in providing for Naomi. She, Ruth, will be the one who goes to the fields to glean – possibly because of Naomi’s age or her state of mind.
Gleaning was a beautiful gift of God to the poor among his people. (See Leviticus 23.22) and was given for such a situation as we have in these verses.
Naomi, to whom clearly Ruth gives precedence, gives her agreement and Ruth rising early sets out to look for a field in which to work.
And as it turned out (NIV); It happened (ESV) she was working in the field of Boaz!
Is this providence or coincidence?
The world will say coincidence for God is not acknowledged but for the believer it is the wonder and beauty of providence as God works out his plans and purposes.
Do you believe this? Are you able to bear witness to this truth in your own life? Sometimes, as in the case of bitter Naomi and outsider Ruth it may be hard to see but as time passes, remember that with God nothing happens by chance. We will see the truth of that emphasised as we meet Boaz tomorrow!
This hymn, ‘God moves in a mysterious way’, written by William Cowper, is a wonderful commentary on the circumstances of Naomi and Ruth
Cowper himself, suffered from severe bouts of depression and was at one point in a troubled life was committed to St. Albans Insane Asylum where the 58-year-old Dr. Nathaniel Cotton tended the patients. He was somewhat of a poet, but most of all, by God’s wonderful design, an evangelical believer and lover of God and the gospel.
In God’s providence this godly man was one of the means by which William came to faith in Christ the other and chief one being his finding and reading a Bible which was lying on a garden bench – God’s providence again.
In the trials and challenges that life throws at you remember that:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will
And ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings, on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face
His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
For God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain