Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 16 2019 - Ruth 2 – Boaz

In a society where it was the role of men to provide for their extended families, widows could be very vulnerable. Naomi and Ruth were dependent upon the charity of others.

The Law of Moses had made provision for the poor in the land. Those with fields and crops were not allowed to reap up to the very edge of their fields, nor were they allowed to go over the ground a second time to gather up what had been missed. These 'gleanings' were to be left for the poor to gather up for their own use.

Ruth had come to Bethlehem with Naomi with the intent of looking after her mother-in-law. So, at harvest time, she set out for the fields to see what she could gather. The narrator tells us that, "As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek" (2:3). By this comment, and in the unfolding story, he intends us to see that God is at work, directing Ruth's steps, and those of the other characters in the story.

The character of Boaz is immediately apparent from his greeting to his workers and their response. Here was a man who was conscious that he lived moment-by-moment in the presence of the Lord.

His attention is drawn to a young woman he does not recognise. By inquiry he learns that this is Ruth the daughter-in-law of Naomi. He had heard of her kindness in devoting herself to the care of Naomi and he is determined to ensure that she does well in her gleaning. He instructs her to gather up grain close behind the reapers and to stay in his fields where no-one will harm her – a foreign girl like Ruth could have been particularly vulnerable to being abused, particularly by men (remember the closing chapters of Judges).

Ruth is amazed by his kindness to her, a foreigner, and asks why he should treat her like this. Boaz' reply forms the heart of this chapter; "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" (2:11-12).

Boaz recognised not only that Ruth had come to Bethlehem to be with and care for Naomi but also that she had come to place her faith in the God of Israel. Boaz' words of blessing are not merely good wishes. He intends, as far as it is in his power, to be the means by which Ruth is blessed by God. He instructs his harvesters not to hinder Ruth's gleaning but rather to ensure that there is plenty for her to pick up.

Ruth returned to her mother-in-law with about 13 kg of grain. Naomi was delighted and enquired where Ruth had been gleaning. When she heard that it was in the fields of Boaz, a close relative of her dead husband, her immediate response was to proclaim "The LORD bless him!" Boaz has blessed them and Naomi desires that God would bless him in return.

We also are a people who have found refuge in the God of Israel and salvation in Jesus the Messiah. We also live moment-by-moment under his care. We also are to be a people who not only wish that same blessing upon others but who seek to be the answer to our own prayers; to be the means by which they are blessed. Who will the Lord enable you to bless today?

Father God, you are the sovereign God with whom nothing happens by chance. You have blessed us with incalculable riches in the Lord Jesus Christ and you continue to pour out your blessings on our lives. Help us today to be a blessing to others in word and in deed.

Peter Misselbrook