A WORTHY MAN
Naomi and Ruth are poor, destitute widows that have come to Bethlehem for survival. Naomi had once called Bethlehem home and the story introduces a relative named Boaz who is a worthy man from the clan Elimelech, Naomi's late husband. Ruth takes the initiative and she seeks Naomi's permission to gather food for the two of them. Ruth hopes to find favor from someone during the barley harvest. Naomi tells Ruth to go knowing that she would be vulnerable in the fields. Ruth was not familiar with Bethlehem, and there is no indication that she received any instruction from Naomi so when she went to glean, she "happened" to come to the field of Boaz. Going to the field of Boaz is not a coincidence, this is Providence, and Naomi will recognize it later (vv. 19-20). Boaz "happened" to come by the field that day from Bethlehem and he blessed the reapers who returned the greeting. Boaz takes notice of the young woman gleaning in his fields, and he is curious about her identity. The foreman explains to Boaz that this was the young Moabite woman who had come with Naomi from her place of sojourning and that she had asked permission to glean among the reapers. The foreman seems impressed with Ruth's work ethic, pointing out that she had been working hard all day and had only taken one short break.
Favor And Introductions
Boaz goes to Ruth and speaks to her warmly. He instructs her to stay in his field and to keep close to his young women. He provides protection and tells her that she will be safe because he has instructed his workers not to touch her. Boaz gives Ruth access to the water that was drawn by his workers. Ruth had hoped to find favor, but she is overwhelmed by Boaz's generosity and kindness. She does not understand why Boaz would extend such privileges to her since she was a foreigner. Boaz explains that he is aware of all that Ruth has done for Naomi since the death of her husband. He acknowledged her sacrifice and her resolve to leave everything. Ruth's decision included her faithfulness to the God of Israel and Boaz prays that she will be given a full reward for her loyalty and that she would find refuge under his wings. Ruth is comforted and encouraged by the kind words of this stranger.
Time To Eat
At mealtime, Boaz invites Ruth with him and his servants. She sits with the reapers and Boaz serves her which was normally the way a host would treat and honored guest. It may have been some time since she enjoyed a nice meal. Ruth could not eat all of her meal, so she gathered the leftovers to take to Naomi. When Ruth returned to glean, Boaz gave three orders. First, Ruth was to be allowed to glean among the sheaves. Second, the servants were to pull some from their bundles and leave them for her. Last, no one was to rebuke her as she gleaned. Ruth gleaned until evening and when she finished she had almost five gallons of barley which would be enough to feed the two widows for several weeks. Ruth must have been excited as she headed back into the city carrying the bounty weighing. She arrives and immediately shares what was left from her meal with Naomi. Naomi knows that she found favor with someone or she would not have brought home so much food. Naomi blesses the benefactor and then asked for his name. Ruth announces that the name of the man with whom she worked was Boaz and suddenly this bitter widow blesses the God who she believed was against her. Naomi explains that Boaz was a close relative and one of their redeemers. Ruth excitedly shares that he wants her to stay with his servants until the harvest is complete. Naomi is comforted by this news because Ruth will be safe in the company of Boaz's servants. Ruth continued to glean in the fields and to serve her mother-in-law. What a difference a day can make.
Things To Consider:
- Why should one take the initiative?
- How does Ruth provide a good example of what to do when you are suffering?
- How does Ruth show faith?
- Have you ever experienced unexpected kindness? How did it make you feel?
- Is it difficult to receive generosity from others? Why?
- Why should followers work hard?
- How can you care for widows?
- How is God using Ruth in Naomi's life?
- Why does Ruth's consistency matter?