So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”“May I continue to find favour in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
As I comment again on the unfolding of this beautiful story of the relationships and interactions between Naomi, Ruth and Boaz and as we see the sovereign hand of God at work bringing about his purposes, I urge you to take time to read the whole book in one go. To do so will be a richly rewarding even if you know the story well.
With the whole as background, the individual sections will be understood in greater depth as we see emptiness and bitterness gradually being reversed by the LORD, the God of Israel. See how Boaz understands the situation.
Ruth, remember a Moabitess and a stranger, asks , “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” and Boaz in response highlights what amounts to Ruth’s self-sacrifice in leaving everything that was dear to her to accompany Naomi to a foreign land. But crucially Boaz also notes that in doing what she has done, she has knowingly or unknowingly taken refuge under the wings of the God of Israel.
I recall years ago hearing this description of turning to Christ.
‘The first steps in becoming a Christian involve committing as much of myself as I know to as much of Christ as I know.’
Naomi, new much of God but had been brought very low and in the depths attributed her bitterness to God.
Ruth however had seen in Naomi something which drew her strongly to that same God. Your God will be my God 1 v. 16
Boaz saw all of this as the working out of God’s plans and being aware of his responsibilities as a Kinsman (Deuteronomy 25.5-10) acted in a right and godly way towards Naomi and Ruth.
In some respects this might all seem somewhat distant from our 21st Century lives but when we realise the momentous consequences of the interactions set out in this book, which we will come to in the next couple of days as emptiness changes to fulness, it is good to reflect that if you are a believer then even the apparently insignificant things in your life are there for the glory of God and the outworking of his purposes.