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Basic Bible: Ruth Meets Boaz

Ruth 2:8-18

Ruth has accepted Naomi’s people as her people and Naomi’s God as her God. In so doing, Ruth traded any material inheritance that she might have had in her native Moab for total uncertainty in Bethlehem of Judah.

Ruth and Naomi arrived at Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. This was a fortuitous time for the destitute pair because God, in His instruction to Moses, made provision for the poor. When harvesting their fields, land owners were to leave the corners of their field unreaped such that the poor could gather that portion of the harvest for their need. The law of Moses also specified that any grain reaped but not collected by the gathers could be taken by the poor (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22).

With Naomi’s permission, Ruth went to gather grain behind the reapers. Ruth, in joining the poor of the land to gather grain, became a practitioner of the law given to Moses.

By chance, she asked to gather grain in the field of Boaz. Ruth did not announce that she was claiming the gathering rights prescribed by the law. She asked that she be allowed to do that which the law allowed.

Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s late husband Elimelech. Ruth’s presence among the reapers caught Boaz’s attention. Seeing the stranger, he asked, “Whose damsel is this?” (v. 5). Upon learning of Ruth’s identity and that she had asked to follow the reapers, Boaz instructed his young men not to hinder her from gathering grain or from drinking the water of their vessels. Boaz was required under the law to allow the poor to follow his reapers. The law did not require him to provide drinking water or special privilege. Boaz went beyond the letter of the law; he fulfilled the intent of the law. He approached Ruth and instructed her to continue to follow his reapers.

Ruth responded with a question: “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” (v. 10).

Boaz answered that he was aware of the reason for which she had come to Bethlehem. He knew that she had left the land of her nativity to benefit her mother-in-law. Boaz asked the Lord’s blessing upon Ruth because she had placed her trust in the Lord God of Israel to supply her needs (v. 12).

The words, “God bless you,” are pleasant to hear, but uttering these words does not produce blessings. Without follow up supportive assistance, these words are lip service. Boaz did not issue lip service. He did not declare, “a full reward be given thee of the Lord God,” and then go his way. Boaz made Ruth’s lot easier. Ruth had come to the field of Boaz to gather grain which the reapers had failed to gather. Boaz made sure that there would be plenty of grain for Ruth to gather. He ordered his laborers to allow her to gather grain in the midst of the sheaves and further instructed them to leave handfuls of grain ungathered.

Harvesting barley or any other grain is physically demanding. Toiling beneath the sun can quickly consume one’s energy. Mealtime provides both a break from labor and food to replenish the body. Boaz invited Ruth to eat with his reapers and gave her food to eat. He made it possible for Ruth to gather grain with renewed energy. Boaz did everything that he could have done to ensure that Ruth’s efforts would receive bountiful reward.

It is very apparent that Boaz is a kind and generous man. But it is also apparent that he is extending preferential treatment to Ruth. For what reason did Boaz reach out to Ruth? Look back at verse 11. Ruth had unselfishly chosen to provide for her mother-in-law. Ruth had no legal or moral responsibility to care for Naomi, but she did. Her kindness prompted Boaz to extend his kindness.

At the end of the day, Ruth beat out the kernels of barley from all her gleanings and it was about an ephah (v. 17). That translates into enough grain to produce almost thirty pounds of flour. That’s a lot of bread.

God works in wondrous ways. Upon departing from Moab, Naomi declared: “I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty” (1:21). Naomi (and Elimelech) left the land that God had given. In a figurative sense, they left that which the Lord had provided. They found no blessing. Ruth, on the other hand, had been given nothing. Ruth accepted Naomi’s God as her God. She went empty into the land which God had provided and received much.

On this day, Ruth went out empty to gather grain and returned full. God used Boaz to bless Ruth. God has placed this picture in His scriptures because He desires that all should know Him as the God who blesses them who trust in Him and follow His ways.

In the person of Ruth, we find one who trusted upon God and is blessed. In the person of Boaz, we find one whom God is able to use to deliver His blessing.

New Testament believers were once like Ruth in Moab — away from God and in need of a blessing. Upon trusting in His provision, we have been blessed in abundance and beyond abundance. When believers mature, we (like Boaz), become vessels by which the Lord is able to deliver His blessings to them who seek Him.

Let us be the blessing that the Lord would have us to be.

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