Summary: From the very first Ruth reveals that she is looking for grace (v. 2). In spite of the past, in spite of who she was - she was looking for grace.
“Living In The Field Of Grace.”
The story of Ruth began with an Israelite family who decided to leave the Promised Land during a time of famine. They decide to travel to the land of Moab where they hear there is food. The family consisted of Elimelech, his wife Naomi and their two sons. But life there was not easy. First Elim-elech dies leaving Naomi a widow. In the course of time the two sons marry Moabite women, but die without children. Naomi hears the famine is over in Judea, and decides to return home. She urges the two daughters-in-law to stay in Moab. Orpah stays but Ruth refuses to leave Naomi and returns with her to Bethlehem.
At end of chapter one there is a glimmer of light as Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem “at the beginning of the barley harvest.” (1:22) It was also the time of the feast of the Passover (Deut. 16:9). It was the beginning of a new year according to the Jewish calendar and there could be no better time for a new start or a new beginning.
“Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest (late April/early May; the eighth month…, shortly after which would follow the wheat harvest (2:23). This was perfect timing for two widows in need of food, as gleaning laws required land owners to leave the corners of fields and all fallen shafts of grain for the poor. We learn of God's sovereignty over life's details when the text says that Ruth happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz (v. 3); it is this seemingly incidental circumstance that effectually opens the door for the blessing God (Yahweh) had in store for Ruth and Naomi.” [Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Online. “Theology of Ruth.” www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary /turth-theology-of.html]
Iain Duguid (dew –kit) makes a wonderful statement about grace, “God doesn’t promise to give us the grace to survive all the scenarios that we can dream up-but only to give us the grace to enable us to make it through whatever he actually brings into our lives.” [Iain M. Duguid. Reformed Expository Commentary. “Esther & Ruth.” (Philipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2005) p.156]
From the very first Ruth reveals that she is looking for grace (v. 2). In spite of the past, in spite of who she was - she was looking for grace. She found it in verse three. And when she went to glean in Boaz’s field she entered a field of grace. Ruth found grace in the field of Boaz and her experience becomes an illustration of believers can live in the field of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Bible times, barley was much more widely cultivated than now and was the main food of the poor. It was always valued less than wheat (2 Ki. 7:1; Rev.6:6). Although barley was sometimes used as animal feed in Bible days (I Ki. 4:28), it’s main
use was as a staple food.
First, Searching For Grace. (2:1-3)
“There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. 2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor.” (kindness) And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3 Then she left, 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 family of Elimelech.”
Verse one introduces us to Boaz. We are told that he is a “man of wealth” During the time of famine when others had left the Promised Land and went to Moab, Boaz had stayed and God had not only provided for him but in fact he had made Boaz a man of great wealth.
One interesting fact about Boaz is that his mother was none other than Rahab (Matt. 1:5), the former harlot from Jericho, a gentile with a past.
It is Ruth that asks about going out and gleaning in the field after the men. It should be recognized that gleaning was for poor folk.
In so doing she put herself in a very vulnerable position.
Ruth was hoping to find favor (kindness) from a landowner (v. 2) The fact that Naomi did not accompany Ruth to glean in the fields is the cause of some speculation. Some hold that her absence is due to bitterness or depression. It may have been that she focused on the domestic chores while Ruth went out to gather grain. Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that by this time in her life Naomi is simply too old or not physically able to do the back breaking work required of gleaners.