Greetings. As we continue our series on the book of Ruth, we find that Ruth and Naomi have just returned to Bethlehem. And it says in…
Ruth 2:2 ESV— 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Care for the Poor— Now remember the because God cares about the poor, He required that part of the fruit of the land of Israel during harvest was to go to the poor, the sojourners, the widows, and the orphans. The corners of the fields were not to be reaped, and the scatterings of the cut grain were not to be picked up. That was for them. (Lev. 19:9–10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19).
Ruth 2:3-4 ESV— 3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. 4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.”
The First Words-- Now this is significant because the very first words she hears this man Boaz speak are “The Lord be with you”, a phrase that [acknowledges the Lord’s presence with the workers in the field.] So Ruth sees that this man is a God-fearing man that keeps the knowledge of God on his lips. He acknowledges God in the workplace. And the workplace can be the hardest place to acknowledge God. But to see a man unafraid to acknowledge God in his place of work is a good sign that he keeps God at the center of his home life as well. Now Boaz begins to take notice of Ruth as she is working diligently in the field. Verse 5...
Ruth 2:5-9 ESV— 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”
An Unexpected Gesture— Now Ruth is in awe of what has just happened. She has come to the field expecting to hear the other women gossiping about who she is and where she came from. She is expecting dirty looks and rejection from everyone she comes into contact with. All she wants to do is keep her head down and keep working. But then she is met with this thoughtful and overwhelming gesture of love and care from a man who should (by every social standard prevalent in that day) reject and despise her. And yet his response is opposite. He invites her to take what food she can; he promises her protection; he invites her (a Moabite) to drink from the pitchers of the Jewish men! And what he has done is he has met two of the most important things women need: security and provision. And she is overwhelmed with gratitude. Verse 10...
Ruth 2:10-13 ESV— 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”
A Woman of Character— Now Boaz sees something special about this woman. Even though she is not a Jew, Ruth is a woman of incredible character. She is faithful, dedicated, hard-working, and deeply committed; so much so that in our English Bibles we place the book of Ruth after the book of Judges (in order to contrast her character with faithless Israel). She is the opposite. And in the Jewish Bible, the order of the books is a little different. Do you know where the book of Ruth falls in their Bible. Right after Proverbs 31, which is a description of the wife of noble character. Why? Because she (apparently, even though a Moabite) was that caliber of woman. And so no matter which order of books you go with, the point is the same; this is a woman worth modeling your life after. She is admirable. Her heart is beautiful. Boaz even says to her later in 3:11: all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. (Ruth 3:11b ESV)
Humble Servant— Not in addition to all this, she is incredibly humble. We see this in the fact that she [calls herself a foreigner, but by virtue of her loyalty to Naomi and to the Lord she has become a sojourner, who can enjoy many of the rights of an Israelite (see note on 1:1; Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14; 15:14–16; Ezek. 47:22–23).] Yet instead Ruth calls herself a servant. And [The type of servant (Hb. shipkhah) to which Ruth humbly compares herself had limited rights (cf. Gen. 16:6; Lev. 19:20).] So, interestingly, she doesn’t claim those rights of a “sojourner” in front of Boaz. Yet Boaz still chooses to bless her. He says in verse 12: 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
He is the Abundant Answer— Little does he know that he himself will become the Lord’s answer to his prayer. He [becomes the Lord’s protective “wings” when he “spreads his wings” over Ruth (see note on Ruth 3:9).] But even now he is being God’s hand of blessing in her life, being that strong arm that can provide for her. And we see in the next passage that [Boaz’s favor goes well beyond the requirements of the law (see notes on vv. 2 and 7).] Look at verse 14 and following...
Ruth 2:14-17 ESV— 14 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. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”
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.
Ephah— This was about 5.5 gallons. This was “at least a two-week supply for the two women.” Plus she had food leftover from the meal Boaz provided for her. So, overwhelmed by the grace she had been shown that day, she hurries back into the city.
Ruth 2:18-20 ESV— 18 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. 19 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.” 20 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.”
What this meant— Now what this meant for Ruth and Naomi was that Boaz stood in a position where he might be able to redeem the land. And not only that, but he could also marry Ruth in order to provide her with children who could help her in her old age and carry on the family name. Verse 21...
Ruth 2:21-23 ESV— 21 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.’” 22 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.” 23 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.
Undeserved Grace— Now one thing that stands out in this passage is the fact that Ruth had everything going against her in that culture. She was a Moabite; she was young; and she was a woman. And women had very low status in ancient culture. But Boaz takes her, even when she is unworthy, and meets her needs in a very deep and personal way. He puts his reputation on the line in order to lift her up.
When We Are Least Worthy— And what is so encouraging to me is that when we are least worthy, it is then that God reaches out to us. Sometimes in my own life I have found that it is not during the times that I am at my best that Christ is closest; it is during those darker hours in which I need Him most that He shows Himself most. And sometimes; I don’t know how to explain it; but we kind of resist Him because we subconsciously think that either we are unworthy of that presence or that that sense of His presence must be imaginary because surely God would not draw close to me now; in this hour. But He does. He does. God doesn’t just draw closest to us when we are at our best. He draws closest to us when we need Him the most. Why? Because He is our Redeemer who redeems us by grace. He sees us gleaning along and because of His own grace, He lifts us up. He says, “Come dine with me. You are picking up scraps from the field? I’ll give you more. Come dine at my table. Come have your fill of me to where you have left-overs; to where your cup runneth over. Drink from my pitcher. Rest in the shade under the shadow of my wings. Let me give you security; let me be your fortress; your provider.
She DIDN’T Seek Boaz Out— Now what is an amazing point in the story of Ruth is that she didn’t seek Boaz out. She doesn’t ask for special treatment; she doesn’t ask for food and water to keep her strong as she worked with sweat on her forehead. But Boaz reached out to her anyways. Why? Because he is good.
God is already seeking you out— And I want to tell you this morning that God is already reaching out to you. God wants to be your redeemer in every sense of the word. Why? Because He is good. And He promises that if you remain in Him; in His field; in His house; He will meet your every need. The Psalmist writes: The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:10 NIV)
This week, seek the Lord your Redeemer. Abide in Him and He will abide in you. Amen
Rev. Cameron Ury graduated from Asbury University in 2007 with a B.A. in Bible and Theology. From there he continued his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS. It was there that he met his wife Tanya, who graduated from WBS with her M.A. and M.Div. degrees. Cameron and Tanya got married in 2009. Cameron then graduated with his M.Div. degree with a pastoral concentration in 2011.
After shepherding churches in both Mississippi and Ohio, they joined the ministry team at Renton Park Chapel in January of 2018, where Cameron serves as Senior Pastor and Teacher.
Cameron is also the founder and host of Lechem Panim, a weekly radio show that airs on KGNW 820AM "The Word Seattle". The ministry of Lechem Panim is centered around leading people into the life-giving presence of God in and through Bible study, prayer, and active discipleship with the aim of ministering to a world that is in desperate need of the healing touch of Jesus Christ.