In an earlier post, we began to look at the character of Boaz. A man of both moral standing and material wealth, he is a man who is merciful and admirable who leads his workers and does justly for Ruth. In Ruth 2:20 we will also learn that Boaz is a redeemer. In the details of the last part of chapter two, we find Boaz’s hospitality and generosity, Naomi’s recognition of this kindness, and hope for Ruth and Naomi’s future. We see God working through Ruth’s boldness.
And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” 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 she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law. - Ruth 2:14-23
Boaz was gracious and kind. His posture was welcoming and a picture of how God can and does rule over the most unfavorable of circumstances with His favor and goodness towards us (Rom. 8:28, 29). We learn that Boaz, though wealthy, eats with his workers. He also works as the host of the meal. In verse 14 we see Boaz extending his favor to the table in this touching scene where he passed roasted grain to Ruth. Boaz meets her needs and even provided leftovers that she would later share with Naomi (vs 18).
After the meal, Ruth prepares to go back to work. Seeing her activity Boaz instructs the workers to let her glean among the sheaves, and to also pull out some from the bundles (vs 15-16). Ruth gathers an abundance of barley and she brings home ample food to Naomi’s place (vs 17-18). Naomi sees the blessing and success of Ruth’s gleaning. She knows it could not be the result of mere chance or even hard work alone. As Ruth reports the day’s events, Naomi’s spirit and hope are revived. Naomi is able to recognize God’s kindness even though it’s been present the whole time. What things prevent you from seeing God’s kindness?
In addition to this significant turnaround, Naomi also reveals to Ruth more information about Boaz, and at this point the concept of a family redeemer is introduced. Naomi was surely glad to see the leftovers and the barley, evidence in her tone that changes in verse 19. Naomi’s speech in Ruth 2:20 is almost the complete opposite of her earlier claims. She had previously claimed that God had forsaken her (1:13, 20-21). Now she claims that God’s loyal love does not forsake the living or the dead. Naomi doubted God’s love when things were difficult and let her experiences affect her understanding of His faithfulness. Despite this, God remained faithful. How do you understand God’s faithfulness during struggles? What can you do to ensure that your view of God’s love isn’t dependent on your circumstances?
Like Naomi, we may experience times when it is difficult to see God’s work. But He is present during trials and victories. God provides exactly what we need and so much more! God’s love and faithfulness are consistent. The problem is our perception in times of adversity, not His presence and provision. Can you confidently say that God’s “loyal love has not forsaken the living or the dead” (2:20)? He has promised to be with those who are His. We can gladly offer that loyalty back to Him. May we remember God’s loyalty in the hard times.
You may have experienced disappointed hopes, but there is a hope that does not disappoint – Hope everlasting (Rom. 5:5). Ruth and Naomi had no idea of what God had in store for them. Their experiences should inspire us to trust that God has a plan for our protection and provision. We can trust that His purpose is being accomplished in Ruth’s life and our own lives today.
For further study: Lev. 23:22; Deut. 16:9-12, 23:3-4, Deut. 32:11; Judges 11:1; Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32
*Sources listed in last post of series.