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Ecclesiastes Podcast

Ruth 2:1-7

The book of Ruth follows the story of a Moabite woman named Ruth who marries an Israelite man who later dies, leaving her a widow with few resources. While the easy route would have been to return to her family and find a Moabite husband, Ruth commits to remain with her Israelite mother-in-law and joins her on the journey back to her home in Israel. Ruth is a model of courage and character, as she continually works to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Boaz, a relation of Ruth’s late husband, enters the scene and provides for Ruth, taking note of her character and care for her mother-in-law.

 

Ruth is an incredible example to us as someone who forsook an old life for a new one, lived courageously and faithfully, and was greatly rewarded in the end.

 

The book of Ruth also presents the idea of a kinsman-redeemer, a close relative or relationship that is able to provide immense, immeasurable benefits to another person. Boaz serves as a kinsman-redeemer, and also sacrifices for the benefit of Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi. Boaz and Ruth are both rewarded for their faithful service by being the great grandparents of King David. That places them in the direct lineage of  Jesus Christ, who serves as a kinsman-redeemer for all of mankind.

 

Ruth is ultimately an example of a godly wife (Ephesians 5:22-24) and also of the relationship all believers should have with Christ. She was virtuous and faithful while serving others. She was subject to Boaz and submitted herself to his leadership. Boaz also made a great sacrifice which provided immeasurable benefit to Ruth. This kind of marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ. Christ is our leader and ultimately our redeemer and savior, who sacrificed himself for us. Our faithfulness to him is for our good. Just as Ruth’s sacrifices and faithfulness to Boaz resulted in him acting as her kinsman-redeemer and providing her great reward, so our faithfulness and submission to Christ will result in our reward (Revelation 3:21).


Naomi and Ruth return from Moab to Bethlehem. Since these two widows have no men to provide for them, Ruth takes the initiative to work by day in the field that she later discovers belongs to a relative of Naomi named Boaz. God uses Boaz to bless and provide for the daily needs of these two widows. This chapter demonstrates how the Lord can bring hope out of any bleak situation. No circumstance is too difficult for God.


Since there was no one to provide for Ruth and Naomi, Ruth asked if she could go and glean grain to provide food.

During the period of the Judges Israel was self-governing.  The law was given by God, and they chose judges from among themselves. But it was up to the people to enforce compliance. There was no central authority.  One of God’s laws dealing with the poor was found in instructions the LORD gave to Moses in Leviticus 23:22—

‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the Lord your God.’”

Apparently Ruth knew this provision, because she petitions Naomi to give her permission to apply this provision and glean in the fields, saying Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor. Naomi grants permission to Ruth, saying Go, my daughter. So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech, who was Naomi’s deceased husband.

Given the overarching theme of God’s hand and sovereignty, it is interesting that the scripture chooses the wording that Ruth happened to come to Boaz’s field.  It seems that this choice was genuine happenstance, while God was simultaneously moving His sovereign hand.

The story introduces Boaz as a kinsman of Naomi’s husband, and a man of great wealth. Boaz appears to have been wealthy in part because he was so attentive to his affairs.  He notices Ruth gleaning in his field. Boaz greets his workers with a greeting of May the Lord be with you. This apparently was a normal greeting of the day, because his servants return favor to him, saying in return “May the Lord bless you.”  It is clear that during this era Israel had a clear connection with the God of Israel, even in their every day conversation.

Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” We are not told at this point why Boaz is interested in knowing about the young woman. Boaz does not question her right to glean in his field.

We were told the women of the village noticed Naomi and Ruth coming to town. They have also spread the news. The servant in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. The head servant had given her permission to glean after Ruth made a gracious request, saying Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves. Ruth did not demand, but requested. After noting her hard work all morning, they allowed her to rest and sit in the house for a little while.

Biblical Text

Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 The servant in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. 7 And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”