We ended last time with Ruth and Naomi arriving in Bethlehem and the introduction that it was harvest time. Let’s dig in and read
Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Ruth doesn’t just sit around waiting for Naomi to provide food or tell her what to do, but instead Ruth jumps right in taking the initiative and went to work. She not only shows that she was a willing worker but a hard worker!
So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.
She just “happened to come” to Boaz’s field who was a relative of Naomi! This is one of my favorite verses in the whole chapter because it shows so much of how the Lord was guiding Ruth. There had to be a ton of different fields to choose from but she went to the one that happened to be Boaz’s!
And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
Boaz comes to his field greeting them cheerfully and kindly. And immediately notices Ruth in the field…maybe it was because she was a foreign or maybe there was a stir of something inside him that the Lord prompted. I like to think it was the latter since it sounds more romantic. 😉
The one in charge over the reapers then tells him how Ruth came and asked to glean in their fields and how hard of a worker she was, starting from early morning and still working with just a short break. Can you imagine that for Ruth too? She is probably tired and worn down from the journey but she knows that there is a need and gives her whole self into meeting that need.
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”
Boaz then approaches Ruth and tells her to only glean in his field and no one elses. That she has protection in his field. What was Ruth’s responds?
Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
Ruth falls down on her face in awe and respect for this man. She knows that she is a foreigner and despised in most eyes, but this man had been kind by offering her food to glean, water to drink and protection. Boaz responds to her and tells her had she had gained a reputation among the people of being kind, generous and loyal to Naomi. How nothing that she did has been unnoticed by others. It makes me think of Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”
I read this and think how compassionate Boaz must have been how he cared for Ruth. He not only gives her unlimited food but then as Ruth goes right back to gleaning, tells his men to pull some of the wheat off and leave it on the ground to make it easier for Ruth where she can just pick it up. What a sweet gesture.
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
When Ruth returned home after a long day of work, Naomi was blown away with how much that she had glean! She began asking her where she gleaned and how generous the man was. Can you imagine Naomi’s surprise when Ruth tells her it is Boaz?! She knew that he was their kinsman redeemer! She is so excited because she sees the Lord working out something she could never had imagined! She knows that Boaz can save the name of her family and give Ruth a new life again!
But it’s interested because Naomi and Ruth, even with that knowledge that Boaz can save them from their present situation, don’t immediately go to Boaz and tell him but they wait til after the harvests. I can only imagine how hard it must have been but they displayed such patience’s waiting on the Lord!
That’s where we stop today…next week we’ll find out what happens to bring Boaz and Ruth together!