Ruth chapter 2 highlights the provision of God for His people. Even amid Naomi’s despair and bitterness, God is at work. He never forgets His people, and He never abandons His children.
Life has not gone the way Naomi thought it would. Food was scarce, so her family moved to Moab. She watched as her husband and two sons died outside the land of promise, and she was left alone in the world with two daughters-in-law who were not even from among the people of Israel. Bitter and isolated, she heads back to Bethlehem with one daughter-in-law in tow. Ruth refuses to leave her, and the two women arrive in Bethlehem as the barley harvest begins. The “house of bread” is no longer empty, and maybe, just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope.
Ruth’s Initiative, God’s Provision (1-3)
As chapter 3 begins, we are introduced to Boaz. Two important facts are mentioned. First, Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s. That will be important later. Second, Boaz is a “worthy” man. We need to pause here for a moment and think about this term. The word “worthy” carries the idea of valor (Jud. 6:12) and noble character (Prov. 31:10). Don’t miss this! During a time of spiritual darkness in Israel, here is an Israelite of Israelites, a worthy man amid unworthiness. Boaz was a man who walked with God when it wasn’t popular to do so. We need more of this today. We need it in our churches and our nation. We are seeing a degradation of manhood in the church. We seem to either have bullies who run roughshod over others, or men beset by passivity, pornography, or frivolous pursuits. We need a generation of men like Boaz…not defining manhood by things like salary or how much time they spend outdoors, but by whether they walk with God, even when it’s not popular to do so.
We need a generation of men like Boaz…not defining manhood by things like salary or how much time they spend outdoors, but by whether they walk with God, even when it’s not popular to do so.
In verses two to three, Ruth takes the initiative. She knows the law, and she decides to attempt to provide for her and Naomi. But while it is her plan, verse three lets the reader know that it is God who is guiding her steps. She “happens” to end up in Boaz’s field. There is an intentional irony here. Nothing in God’s world just “happens.” He is providing for His children through this woman from the cursed nation of Moab.
Boaz’s Kindness, God’s Provision (4-16)
As the narrative progresses, all the “accidents” of the story continue to pile up. Ruth is in Boaz’s field. Boaz just happens to pop in while she is working there. Notice his character. The author makes a point of highlighting Boaz’s interactions with his workers. He blesses his workers with a greeting that is full of grace. This is the type of make Boaz is. But then he immediately notices that there is a new face in his field. He immediately asks who she is, and his foreman refuses to use her name, referring instead to her as the “Moabite woman.” But Boaz makes it clear that he doesn’t share a negative view of this woman who came so far in support of her grieving mother-in-law.
Boaz immediately engages with Ruth in a conversation filled with endearment and grace. He treats her as family (“my daughter”) and instructs her to remain exclusively in his field. During a time when it could be incredibly dangerous to be a Moabite woman in Israel, Boaz makes it clear that he will step into the role of protector and provider. Ruth’s response to this kindness is one of humility and grace. Her question to Boaz in verse ten is important. She is humbled, not because she is a woman, but because she is not a native Israelite. She is from Moab, a country that Israel was not supposed to have dealings with. Verses eleven to twelve give Boaz’s beautiful response. He praises her kindness and courage and calls to Yahweh to repay her and give her refuge. This wish will play a key role in chapter three of the book. He then goes out of his way to show care for Ruth both in provision for her immediate needs (by having her eat with him and his workers) and her future needs (by having the workers drop grain for her to pick up). This is a beautiful picture of compassion, generosity, and acceptance. And again, Boaz is showing kindness, but God is using him to take care of Naomi and Ruth.
Naomi’s Joy, God’s Provision (17-23)
At the end of a long day, Ruth goes home. She is tired, but she is full and joyful. She shows Naomi the grain that she was able to collect during the day and Naomi is amazed. She went out to glean scraps and came home with an Ephah of barley, which by best estimates is between thirty to forty pounds.
At this point, we see a change in Naomi’s theology. She is no longer bitter, but sensing again the goodness and mercy of her God. She knows that only God could arrange the series of “incidents” that led to Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s field. God is looking after His children! Ruth and Naomi will not starve. But it goes beyond that. God isn’t just going to provide for Ruth and Naomi’s immediate needs. He is about to do something incredible on their behalf.
Take This Home…
* Showing love often requires us to take the initiative in serving others. Don’t ever use the sovereignty of God as an excuse for sin or inaction.
* Trust the sovereign hand of God! He is at work, even when life is hard!
* Don’t make excuses for personal patterns of sin. High character, deep peace, and spiritual well-being are all possible even in the midst of a spiritually bankrupt society.
* There will be dark days in this life, but remember that you are never outside the realm of God’s lovingkindness and guidance. Trust Him. Walk with Him. Get to know Him better.