Summary: We see How God Provides through 1)Godly Government. 2) Godly Providence. 3) People of Godly Character.
With the official start of Summer, we have come into the Season of labor unrest. This week, crowds as hoards descended on the LCBO as if to stay off an alcoholic apocalypse. Currently, strikes reign from Toronto to Windsor and pundits wonder if we can have any workplace stability. Who will deliver workers on strike against entrenched employers as citizens endure heat and mountain garbage?
In pastoral tranquil, we are comforted in a picture of labor harmony with both gentility and blessing from the opening of Ruth chapter 2. Coming out of death and famine in Chapter 1, in chapter 2, employers bless workers while providing for the poor and needy.
If only people looked to the pages of Scripture for guidance on how to regard employers and workers. Behind the tranquility and blessing is one strong acknowledgement of the providental hand of God.
When a people disregard God’s existence and provision, while foolishly flaunt a mistaken notion of autonomy, God allows them to suffer in their folly. When a people humble themselves before the face of God, acknowledge His authority and their responsibility of being accountable before Him, then they conduct themselves with honor and godly character.
God Provides through:
1) A Godly Government. Ruth 2:1-3
Ruth 2:1-3a [2:1]Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 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." 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. (ESV)
God has mandated certain conditions to be in place, in the governing of His people, that people like Ruth would be provided for.
Chapter one has set the scene in terms of tragedy. In 2:1 the narrator introduces a new character. The details are presented in the reverse of logical order. Under normal circumstances we would have learned successively his name, his family, his status, and his significance for the story.
The presentation of Boaz in this story reveals four important details about him. First, he is a “relative” of Naomi’s husband. Three times he is referred to as a gōʾēl, “kinsman redeemer,” to Naomi and Ruth (2:20; 3:9, 12).
The narrator’s point is not that he is an acquaintance of Naomi but a relative of her husband. This small detail raises the interest and hopes of the readers, especially those who are familiar with Israelite family law and custom.
Second, this character is an ʾîš gibbôr ḥayil. described as a worthy man. In its simplest sense the expression means “man of substance, wealth,” hence a man of standing in the community. As described in Prov. 31:10, which employs the feminine equivalent, the name can also mean “noble with respect to character,”.
Third, he was from the clan of Elimelech. This phrase clarifies the first, “a relative of /on her husband’s side.” The word for “clan,” mišpāḥâ, denotes a subdivision of a tribe. The clan was an ethnic unity, a large extended family, Israel’s social structure broke down as follows: people, descendants of one ancestor, Israel (עָם, בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל), tribe (מַטֶּה/ שֵׁבֶט), clan (מִשְׁפָּחָה), family, “father’s house” (בֵּית אָב).
Fourth, his name was Boaz. The Septuagint’s transliteration of the name as Booz may suggest a hypocoristic (abbreviated) version of bĕʾōz yhwh, “in the strength of Yahweh [I will rejoice/trust].”
Now that the new character element is described, Ruth 2:2–3 provides a short scene where the roles reverse. For the first time Ruth is portrayed as the primary actor, and Naomi’s role is that of “reactor.” The scene consists of two phases, the first transpiring in the house where Naomi and Ruth are staying and the second on the way to the field. As in previous episodes, the former phase is taken up almost entirely with dialogue. But this time Ruth seizes the initiative. The narrator’s identification of her again as “the Moabitess” reflects the extraordinary nature of her action. She, an alien in a foreign land, is determined to make something of her life.
Ruth approaches her mother-in-law and requests permission to go out and get some food for them by gleaning in the fields. Her speech is a polite request.
• We don’t know why Naomi was not helping? She was perhaps in her fifties at this point in the story and evidenced no obvious crippling disability that made her unable to go out and work. Two certainly would have been safer than one and might have expected to bring home at least a little more food. Perhaps she was still bitter or too overcome with grief. She has apparently consumed all her energies in worrying and has none left to try to do anything that might actually resolve her problems.