Summary: Finding refuge close to God’s heart.
As we left off last week, we saw how God had brought Naomi and Ruth through some very trying times. They had lost their husbands and were on a perilous journey back from Moab to Bethlehem.
The lesson we looked at last week was that we have to come to the end of ourselves in order to find the beginning of God. For Ruth and Naomi, it took great tragedy. But they would have never imagined what beautiful blessings God had in store for them once they did indeed come to the end of themselves and cast their lives wholeheartedly into His caring hands.
But now our two grieving women have made it back into Naomi’s hometown of Bethlehem and must now find a way to survive. This is where our story picks up in Ruth 2.
Scene 1: A “Chance” Encounter (vv. 1-3)
Since they had arrived back in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest (1:22), Ruth felt it best to avail herself of the custom of gleaning behind the reapers in a field.
GLEANING - The custom of allowing the poor to follow the reapers in the field and pick up and freely take the fallen spears of grain. This custom had back of it one of the early agricultural laws of the Hebrews:
"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. 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.” (Lev 19:9-10)
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. (Deut 24:19)
By gleaning the leftovers, she would be able to support herself and Naomi.
NOTE: What a demonstration of the compassion of God for those who are poor and needy…
· “She happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz” – what would seem like “Chance” was in reality God’s providence in action!
· Boaz was a relative to Elimelech, Naomi’s deceased husband.
· He was a man of great wealth, and apparently a man of good standing in the community.
Scene 2: Ruth meets Boaz (vv. 4-7)
· Boaz was apparently a man of God, who looked after his workers well v. 4
· Then he took special notice of Ruth (v. 5) – “Who dat?!”
(KJV – “Whose damsel is this?”) J
Scene 3: Boaz cares for Ruth (vv. 8-17)
· Boaz made certain that Ruth was provided for and protected from harm. She was welcomed to stay in his field for as long as she needed.
Scene 4: Ruth brings home a good report (vv. 18-23)
· Ruth brings gleanings and good news home to Naomi. (vv. 18-19)
· It turns out that Boaz is a close relative (kinsman-redeemer) to them. We will look at this interesting detail further next week… (v. 20)
· Naomi gives Ruth her blessing to stay close to Boaz (vv. 21-22)
· They were welcome to glean till the end of harvest time. (v. 23)
Transition: And so we have quite a turn of events since the first chapter. Chapter one seemed very sad and discouraging. But chapter two unfolds with promise…
There is most certainly the beginning of a human love interest between Boaz and Ruth. But behind the scenes of this developing love story, it is God who is romancing Ruth into a relationship with Him. It is “a Romance for a Hopeful Heart.” God is demonstrating through the person of Boaz His own love for her… and the love He has for all people with hopeful hearts.
I want to focus our attention on v. 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." (Ruth 2:12)
Boaz blessed Ruth for taking care of her mother-in-law. It was a kind and considerate thing to do. She was working hard to provide the two of them. Boaz prayed a blessing on her hard work because he recognized Ruth’s sacrifice as a godly one.
Obviously, God does not have literal “wings.” It is an expression of God’s security and protection He offers to His children. As a mother bird protects her young by spreading her wings over them, so the Lord protects His people.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. (Ps 36:7)