The Lord Unexpectedly Provides

Last week we began the story of Ruth and her sovereign God. We noted that the story is about God’s providence and his faithfulness to his people. It is a story about love, integrity and redemption. And gives a story form example of God carrying about his purposes through the details of everyday life.

We looked together at Act 1, which is recorded for us in 1:1-22.

Act 1—Naomi Emptied, Ruth Brought Near

  1. The dark providence (1-5)

Tragedy struck one family in the midst of the spiritually dark time of the judging of the judges. They were hungry. They were so desperate the crossed national boundaries and went to Moab, a Gentile nation some 70-100 miles east. 

There the patriarch, Elimelech died leaving his wife with her two sons. Both boys married foreign women (something God explicitly told them not to do). Within a decade both sons are dead, neither having had children, leaving Naomi a husbandless, childless Israelite in a foreign land.

  1. The devoted daughter-in-law (6-18)

Naomi attempts to convince her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab, remarry and have children. Orpah obliges, Ruth refuses. And in her refusal Ruth pledges her allegiance to Naomi’s God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, YHWH the covenant-keeping God who shows mercy to thousands.

  1. The deflated homecoming (19-22)

Then right near the end of Act 1, the third scene is the deflated homecoming. News comes to Moab that there is bread in Bethlehem so the women return, Naomi emptied of all but Ruth. The whole city is stirred and Naomi insists on being called Mara (bitter) not Naomi (sweet) because the Almighty, all-powerful God has afflicted her.

The chapter ends with the narrator telling us.

(22) So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. 

Do you notice a subtle preoccupation of this narrator that seems a bit peculiar? He can’t seem to drop continually drawing attention to Ruth’s ethnicity. We already learned that the boys married Moabite girls in v. 4. 

Why do we keep having to hear about it? He won’t drop the moniker. She is a Moabitess. It appears in Moabitess (1:22; 2:2; 2:6 x 2; 2:21). 

Certainly, it’s possible that this was a way of designating her from other Ruth’s (such a the case with Uriah the Hittite). But it seems more likely that this narrator doesn’t want anyone to forget how unlikely this scenario is for a foreign women to be included in the royal line of God’s people.

He’s preparing us for what comes next that this is going to be a Cinderella story. See, Ruth is worse than a nobody from nowhere. She’s a nobody from somewhere that you aren’t supposed to be from.

Personally, I’m not too big into celebrity news. But it was difficult to miss the headlines in recent weeks about a mixed-race American girl marrying a British prince. Why was that so shocking? She was born in the wrong country to the wrong ethnicity to be a British princess.

That is exactly what God is up to here. He is taking a woman, born into a family who worshipped the false god Chemosh who wasn’t supposed to be allowed to gather with God’s people according to the law. In the course of time she encounters a family sojourning from Israel and finds herself connected to them first by marriage, and now by religious affiliation. She was evangelized, saved, and will now serve a prominent position in the royal history of Israel.

See, what Naomi surely couldn’t see in that day was the plan of God that required all these factors to take place in order to accomplish his plan. I can’t think of any other scenario to get done what we will see take place in the next chapters and I will explain that when we get to it.

Naomi is fifteen years into her afflictions, that is wearisome. But dawn is starting to break on this dark providence. She gained a devoted daughter-in-law, there is bread back home, and now… 

And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

There’s anticipation here for what is going to happen next. Finally, a small ray of sunshine is breaking through the dark clouds of providence. Next week will watch as God provides for these women who have nothing through the hands of a righteous man named Boaz.

The experience of Naomi’s redemption in this life isn’t promised to all believers. But the faithfulness of the God who acted in her behalf is.

Transitional verse. Puts Naomi as the central figure and Ruth as the tag-along. 

Act 2—The Lord Blesses Naomi and Ruth Through Boaz

  1. The providence of God which connects Ruth and Boaz (1-3)

(1) Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 

Ruth doesn’t know about this. That’s the narrator giving us a piece of information that makes the story more exciting because we can start to see what is happening as it unfolds. As we’ve said a master-storyteller. 

We will spend time at length on the topic of a kinsman, but that means a near relative who takes care of the rest of the family when there is a need and no one to meet it. Essentially God had structured extended families to take care of one another in the Old Testament. There was a legal obligation that extended family members had to one another in their time of need. 

The kinsman-redeemer would carry out various responsibilities including assisting in lawsuits, bringing justice to killers (avenging a death) and preventing economic losses to the family, and ultimately the tribe.

a man of great wealth,

Boaz is no second-rate prospect. He is Bethlehem’s most eligible bachelor. He is prominent. He has a good reputation. He is righteous. He is successful. A gibbor hayil has wide-range of meanings, but it was applied to valiant warriors, to wealthy men, macho-men. It was a word of strength and power.

(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.”

Naomi isn’t necessarily too old to work, but it would be additional humiliation on top of all that she has already lost.

Note that respectful submission of Ruth to Naomi. Believers in God regard authority as being from God and subject themselves to it.

Ruth said, “I’m gonna go find someone who will let me work in their field…”

Agrarian society. How were widows and orphans and foreigners cared for? God provided for these people, but also by the work of their own hands. It was a way of still meeting needs, but it wasn’t a handout, it was cooperating with their efforts.

Leviticus 19:9—Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.

Leviticus 19:10—Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.

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.

Deuteronomy 24:19–22—19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 “When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 22 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

Essentially this functioned as a tax of sorts. If you were a landowner you left 5% or 10% of your available productivity that you would use to generate a profit and you donated it to feed those who needed the most help and had the least options (these three appear throughout the Old Testament—the alien, or foreigner, an immigrant, the orphan, a child without parents, and a widow, a woman without a husband). Each was disadvantaged, each needed assistance.

Ruth meets 2 out of 3 qualifications for being on a community assistance program here. Seems like she would be a shoe-in then for gleaning. But oftentimes foreigners, orphans and widows were overlooked. The law is on her side, but she must still find one in whose sight I may find favor.

Wealthy landowners would throw obstacles in the way to make it difficult. 

Isaiah 1:23—Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, nor does the widow’s plea come before them.

Isaiah 10:2—So as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans.

Legal protection was granted, but then it was made difficult. This type of thing happens in society all the time. It reminds me of the beachline on Palm Beach Island: beach is public land, but access is restricted to you can’t get to the public beaches.

And we are in the time of the judges. People are greedy, spiritual devotion is low. And so, we know from other places in the Old Testament, this was probably not a given right now. But she doesn’t have any other options.

(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. 

Chance upon chance… Naomi, Boaz, Ruth are all in the dark about what the future holds.

It just so happened

By some stroke of luck

God works in mysterious ways his wonders to unfold… don’t attempt interpret your circumstances look for signs and open doors. Here are women who went back to Israel. They came up with a plan to meet their needs through labor according to the biblical pattern. They commit their way to the Lord. They act in faith. And lo and behold, God is working about in their behalf.

Of course, nothing happens by chance and the narrator knows this.

. . . the author’s real meaning in 2:3b is actually the opposite of what he says. The labelling of Ruth’s meeting with Boaz as “chance” is nothing more than the author’s way of saying that no human intent was involvedÙ For Ruth and Boaz it was an accident, but not for God. The tenor of the whole story makes it clear that the narrator sees God’s hand throughout. In fact the very secularism of his expression here is his way of stressing that conviction. It is a kind of underplaying for effect. By calling this meeting an accident, the writer enables himself subtly to point out that even the “accidental” is directed by God.

She just shows up to glean in a field not knowing whose field it is, and certainly not imaging the implications of her decision. Sunday morning in Bethlehem, time to start the workweek and she shows up.

Interest and suspense as Ruth happens upon property belonging to a wealthy and prominent relative.

How much scheming or manipulating has Ruth done to get where she is? How much jockey for position? How much has she had to play every card just right, to gain an advantage?

The timeless theme about God that we see in this passage is that he calls his people to obedience, and to leave their needs in his hands to provide. That’s hard. It’s scary. We love control (or feeling like we are in control).

Here is a woman with significant needs, and she simply wakes up, entrusting herself to her God YHWH, and then goes about the calling he has given her. Namely, go work for food. Be diligent, and trust me to provide. 

The New Testament counterpart to this is the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, where he has just instructed his people not to live lives that are worried and anxious, over-concerned about the physical needs they have, because that is what the world does.

Instead, believers are to seek first the kingdom of heaven and then trust God that he will provide as he sees fit.

Do you want to put yourself in the place of maximum blessing in your life? Cultivate faithfulness day-by-day in the little. Ruth doesn’t have grand plans right now. She doesn’t have her 10 year-plan dialed in. She just knows it would honor my mom-in-law if I worked so she wasn’t humiliated by being a poor, widow in the field, and I’m going to ask God to give me a field to work in where I can find favor. And that’s all I’ve got today.

Meanwhile, the Lord is connecting Ruth to Boaz in an unforeseen providence.

If you are waiting on the Lord right now, don’t fret. Fix your eyes on the certain hope that if you are in Christ, God is working in your behalf. Meanwhile, you pursue the Lord, day-by-day in faithfulness.

Act 2—The Lord Blesses Naomi and Ruth Through Boaz

  1. The providence of God which connects Ruth and Boaz (1-3)
  2. The protection of God which covers Ruth under Boaz (4-16)

This is so sweet. If this were a motion-picture, you this is where things are going to get emotional in a good way. You have felt the plight of Ruth and Naomi. You are beginning to feel hopeful that things are taking a turn.

And now there begins to be some measure of resolution breaking forth.

(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.” 

The boss shows upon the jobsite. 

The fields were outside of Bethlehem. So, Boaz leaves town and goes out to his fields to check on things. When he arrives, he goes out to the workers, here they are called reapers.

And he doesn’t first say, “where are your time-cards?” or “how much have you gathered today?” or “are our numbers up or down?” He says, “God be with you” (to bless you). “YHWH be with you,” and they say, “God bless you,” back to him.

Probably a bit uncommon in the period of the judges.

(5) Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 

Looks out and sees a woman he’s never met before in his field. Imagine coming out of your doorstep and there’s a stranger from a foreign land working in the garden out back behind the house. Seems like a logical question.

He wants to know her background. Whose young woman is this? Is this someone’s wife? Is this a family-member?

(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.” 

The supervisor begins to recount a conversation that he had with Ruth. God told his people to allow for this. It was a way that widows and orphans were cared for.

Now it almost sounds as though Boaz doesn’t know about Ruth yet, but that’s not the case. He knows who she is, but he just doesn’t know what she looks like. They haven’t met personally. Remember the whole city was alive with the news when Naomi (now requesting to be called Mara) returned.

The text here indicates the righteousness of Boaz. 

The supervisor carries out the master’s wishes. Ruth arrives at the field in the morning, Boaz isn’t there yet. She checks in the with the supervisor about gleaning and he acts in accordance with his master’s customary policies and procedures manual.

Boaz let’s foreigners glean in the field. Of course, you can glean. Remember that’s stipulated in the law, but not a given in practice. That’s why Ruth said I need to find someone’s favor. So, Ruth gets the green-light based upon principle.

But now Boaz gets to the office there in the field and finds out that Naomi’s daughter-in-law has landed in his field. Boaz knows Naomi because she married his close relative Elimelech. We don’t know the exact familial relationship. Jewish tradition holds that it was uncle/nephew. It was probably that or some other variation on cousins.

So, in keeping with social customs, Boaz is going to take the initiative and go introduce himself to Ruth. 

Allow me to say, the conduct of Boaz here is noble. He’s a gentleman in the classic sense in a time when such conduct was rare. It means that he treats others with dignity and respect and care. Here is a man who is generous and gracious and kind.

God’s grace comes so often through human instruments, does it not? Consider protect of God through Boaz…

(8) Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. 9 “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.” 

Wow. This is the opposite of the bare-minimum and goes way above and beyond. 

Boaz urges her to keep taking free food off his land. Keep cutting into my profits. Keep taking the barley that I have grown. I got the seeds, I prepare the ground, I planted it, I protected it, and now I want you to come and partake of it. Please stay here and don’t go to another field.

Part of this is provision, but there is a huge dimension of protection here.

Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. 

First recorded workplace harassment policy… it is dangerous for Ruth to be out in fields working right now. This protection was important.

Same issues today. In India, for example, women often dehydrate themselves during the day because going to the bathroom in midday is dangerous. They try to avoid going out, and then when they do a band of women will all go together at the same time for protection because assaults are so common.

Boaz says, I made sure everyone knows that you are not to be messed with. And then he goes beyond basic protection and says…

When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”

This is just over-the-top. Typically, women would serve men. Remember when Abraham’s servant was looking for a wife for Isaac? Rebekah not only watered the man, but all of the camels too (Genesis 24:17-19)? 

Not only women serving men, but foreigners served Israelites. And then finally, Ruth is the new kid on the block. The new person should have the most basic jobs. Even in the Supreme Court of the United States, the junior justice has to open the door and is in charge of the mealtime logistics.

In other words, getting the water should be Ruth’s job. Boaz says, you just come and drink the water that’s already been drawn and carried over here. This is remarkable.

Can we pause for a minute. This story is about the providence and generosity of God. But it isn’t apart from human generosity. Boaz is not only reflecting God’s character, but he is incarnating the character of God in God’s behalf.

Boaz serves as the conduit or the instrument that brings God’s generosity to this Moabitess woman. My friends, generosity pleases God. It reflects his character.

If your mindset is always, “what’s the least I have to do to get by” then your attitude does not reflect the heart of God. A generous hearts asks not what must I do to get by, but what can I do? Children, if your mindset is the least amount of sacrifice for your siblings or the least amount of chores and service in the home, don’t believe that you are serving with a generous heart.

I’m not talking about just financial generosity. I’m talking about in time, relationships, service.

Adults are you generous with your time to meet the needs of others? Generous in the way that you pray for them, serve to meet practical needs, use your gifts in the body of Christ to serve others? Generosity is a practical expression of living for the glory of God vs. self-satisfaction.

If you don’t think this is supernatural and rare behavior, just look at Ruth’s response: 

(10) Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 

Ruth understands her vulnerability right now and her need for protection. She is a foreigner. She has never met this man. She’s expecting to be in danger while gleaning, if she can even find a field to glean in that day.

Just think about how nerve racking your first day on the job was. And that’s with an interview process and meeting the team and emailing back and forth and onboarding and orientation.

Ruth is showing up asking for work as a complete stranger. She has low expectations. And now, from her vantage point, this wealthy, prominent, stranger-man is being kind and generous and he doesn’t have some hidden motive.

And then to top it off she is an unclean, Gentile. She is an immigrant, in a nation that doesn’t much prefer immigrants. To say they are second-rate citizens isn’t even doing the attitude justice.

(11) Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 

Turns out that this generous man, who would have allowed any foreign woman to glean in the field, is in fact giving Ruth special treatment. He has heard the full-report: you are a righteous woman. You have acted in a godly manner. You have made YHWH your God.

Do you see how this is all weaving together? God working through the faithfulness of his people? Ruth is just living out a life of integrity and conviction as she follows Naomi, and here Boaz is citing that as a primary reason for his care for her.

God is blessing her obedience.

And then Boaz pronounces a blessing:

(12) “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” 

May whatever you touch be blessed by God. He specifies, not the Moabite god, Chemosh. But the God of Israel, YHWH, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge. Poetic imagery used to demonstrate the powerful protection and tender-care of God to his people.

Deuteronomy 32:11—Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.

This is favorite imagery of the Psalmists who draw on this metaphor throughout the Psalter. It is used to describe the safe-place that God’s people run to when they are in need.

Think of what little ones do when they get overwhelmed or scared? They go run to mom and bury their little faces in her legs, or hide behind her. An eagle is an image of power and majesty. And so God’s people find protection and care in their covenant God.

And Ruth is in the family now. She’s a member of the covenant. Remember? Her God is Naomi’s God. That means that this eagle-like protection under the wings of God applies to her now as well. And so Boaz, who is the human instrument of bringing about this protection, blesses her and commends her to the Lord. He keeps a God-centered perspective on the whole thing.

(13) Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

You are treating me like I belong here when I don’t.

And now there is a transition between v. 13 and v. 14. After this conversation, Boaz goes about his duties normal for the day, Ruth returns to gleaning. And then…

(14) At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, 

It’s lunchtime. This is the noon meal. Eating together was more than just taking food. There was refreshment. There was an opportunity for hospitality. Throughout the Old Testament, just like today, meals are part of social life, they are taken together after treaties are formed, they are times of enjoyment and refreshment (Isaiah 21:5; Amos 6:7), they can indicate friendship.

This is incredible.

Big Boaz (this prominent man) eats with his worker-guys. He’s out there with the reapers. He wants to be there are a presence caring for his people. He’s probably asking questions about their families and getting to know them. The point is they are more than merely day labor in his mind. Another indicator of humility on Boaz’s part.

Ruth is a Gentile so she’s not eating with everyone else. She either brought food from home, or maybe didn’t have food and was just going to skip lunch. Probably a bit of an uncomfortable time. And so, Boaz calls out, and invites Ruth to come near. He wants her to come and have lunch with them.

I understand that the illustration doesn’t do it justice. But imagine it’s your first day on the job and you are doing janitorial work, and the president of the company learns your name that morning. And then at lunch time, the president is in the lunchroom and calls you over by name to have lunch with the team, and to eat out of the same lunch box.

The lunch menu is a grain cake cooked in oil. The wine vinegar is basically what it sounds like. It was a bit sour, yet refreshing. A simple equivalent to our day would be a nice balsamic vinaigrette it added something to a plain piece of bread as a condiment to spruce things up. 

And so, here’s this foreign woman, who doesn’t know anyone, just dipping her hand in the bowl and eating with everyone else… the text says he served her. Personally, waiting on her.

and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.

She got a large portion, more than she needed. 

Ruth doesn’t know the familial connection yet. She has just met a kind, older man who is taking good care of her and showing her favor. I’m sure she was offering up praises and gratitude to YHWH for the first-day of work he had given her. Lunch was over, and it was time to work again, and so she get’s up to leave, and…

(15) When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. 16 “Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.” 

Boaz does two things here. First, he guarantees that Ruth will have a productive and easy time gleaning. Second, he guarantees that she won’t be embarrassed. You can just imagine the temptation. You are a worker and this random lady shows up out of nowhere and you are supposed to help her get food.

When I was in the fields working years ago, everything you get paid is based upon what you harvest. And so, it was competitive even in the fields as a youngster. If there is a better side of the bean plants then you want on that side because you get your buckets filled faster and the more buckets the more pay.

Boaz doesn’t want anyone muttering under their breath, “must be nice to not have to do any hard work to get your gleaning done… must be nice to loaf off of others, wish I could do that…” Boaz says protect her dignity. So, there is physical and psychological protection offered by Boaz.

It’s a sign of God’s faithfulness to protect Ruth.

And don’t you see the connection here between divine purpose and human means? God doesn’t send an angel to protect Ruth. He doesn’t intervene in any of the miraculous ways that we see him working in Exodus for example.

God brings about protection, his divine protection of her, through, not apart, from the human instrumentality of Boaz fear of the Lord.

Act 2—The Lord Blesses Naomi and Ruth Through Boaz

  1. The providence of God which connects Ruth and Boaz (1-3)
  2. The protection of God which covers Ruth under Boaz (4-16)
  3. The provision of God which sustains Ruth through Boaz (17-23)

(17) So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 

And so we see that even though Boaz has been very generous, Ruth herself is quite industrious. She works until evening. Then she has to beat out what she gleans—taking it to the threshing floor to separate the barley from the stalks.

We really don’t know the measurement (30-50 pounds is a huge range). But it’s a lot of grain, nonetheless. That was about one month’s worth of the grain ration usually allotted to male workers. In other words one month of gleaning with this type of take-home and Ruth has food for the year for both her and Naomi.

That night she beat it out at the threshing floor. Hard work. Gather it. Beat it. Gather it into a basket. Then carry it home. She would probably have to take breaks along the way back to Bethlehem.

(18) She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied. 19 Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” 

Where in the world have you been? Not which side of town were you on, but whose land were you working today? Ridiculous amount of food gathered. Before she even knows his name, Naomi is pronouncing a blessing upon this unknown man.

Ruth doesn’t yet know the significance of the place she was gleaning, but as they continue to speak of the day more details come out, and…

So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 

Look, with a name like Boaz and in a town of 200 people you don’t even need a last name. Probably only one of those guys.

(20) Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the LORD who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” 

Again, she pronounced a blessing from the Lord on Boaz. Just consider all that Boaz has done already: 

  1. Encouraged Ruth to glean in his field (8)
  2. Promised Ruth physical protection (9a)
  3. Gave Ruth water (9b)
  4. Blessed her (12)
  5. Fed her and waited on her (14)
  6. Provided extra grain for her (15-16)

Part of this is kindness to Ruth, part of this is kindness to Naomi, and part of this is kindness in behalf of Elimelech.

But even now Naomi sees that Boaz is just a tool in the hands of the Lord. That’s the referent when she says who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead. The grammar argues for the near antecedent making the who not Boaz, but the YHWH. Similar language in:

Genesis 24:27—He said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”

Here is an answer to Naomi’s prayer request from 1:8. But when Naomi prayed it, surely her prayer had in mind Moabite fulfillment. She is seeing the kindness of God granted right in front of her through Boaz. Boaz is the answer to a prayer request. No doubt, even may prayer requests.

Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.” 

Boaz, as a kinsman-redeemer presents potential hope. Possible that Naomi’s wheels are already turning about the potential role Boaz could play in restoring her family when she says he is one of our closest relatives, including Ruth in the equation. 

They continue in conversation, and Ruth gives her mother-in-law the rest of the details from the day.

(21) Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “Furthermore, he said to me, ‘You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” 22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field.” 

There it is, the narrator continues to highlight Ruth being an outsider. We didn’t have this detail from the earlier conversation that he told her to stay until the end of the harvest.

So, Naomi says, that’s a good idea. It’s a dangerous place out there, and you should stay on Boaz’s property so that others do not fall upon you in another field.

(23) So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

The two harvests blended together, and wheat harvest went into June. Overall depending on the season, a couple of months.

And so, as the curtain closes on Act 2 there is a slight indication that we will have a transition taking place at the end of the wheat harvest. 

Chance upon chance, the first field she rolled into was the best one. Friends, this is surely a reminder for each of that God is working about the fulfillment of his promises and he is a source of comfort and refuge and protection for his people. 

We are called to walk by faith and trust him to provide what is best. Well things are going to begin to heat up a bit next week in Chapter 3.