“Isn’t it a law for the Jews to allow people to gather any grain the harvesters miss?”
Naomi wiped the sleep from her eyes. “Yes, God told Moses that after we left Egypt. Why? What are you thinking about doing?”
Ruth brought the last of the bread to Naomi for her breakfast. “The barley harvest has started. I’m going out to see what I can find for us to eat.”
Naomi picked a corner of mold off before she took a bite. “That sounds like a good idea, but, be careful. A pretty, young foreign girl like you might not be very safe out there.”
Ruth looked out the window. “I’ll stay close to home. Perhaps you can keep an eye on me. Let me know if you see something I shouldn’t be doing.”
Naomi swallowed. “Okay, but, don’t hesitate to come home if you feel threatened in any way. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you.”
Ruth gave her a hug across the shoulders. “Don’t worry. I will.” Then she left.
Shortly before mid-day Ruth saw a man walk up to the foreman looking in her direction. Soon he walked up to her. “My daughter, don’t glean in anyone else’s field. Stay with my servant girls and gather behind my men. I’ve told them not to touch you. You’ll be safe here. Follow them when they go to the next field, too. Help yourself to the water jars the men brought with them.”
Ruth bowed at his feet. “Why have I found such favor in your eyes, especially since I’m a foreigner?”
Boaz took her hand to help her stand. “I’ve been told all about how you left your family, home and gods to come to a new people, and how you’ve helped Naomi. You are honoring Kilion. May our God bless you richly for such duty.”
Ruth looked in his eyes. “May I continue to find your favor. You have comforted me by your kindness even though I’m less than one of your servant girls.”
Later, as the men broke for lunch, Boaz got her attention. “Ruth, come over here and dip some bread with us.”
Ruth took the bread from his hand and tentatively dipped it in the wine as all eyes studied her beauty.
Boaz scooped a handful of roasted barley and poured it into her hands. She took it to the shade of a tree and ate her fill, carefully hiding the left-overs in a fold of her garment.
She noted how the men were being much less careful about their gathering as the day wore on. It was much more common to find whole stalks of barley on the ground. She threshed the barley she had before she returned home as the sun set.
When Naomi saw how much barley Ruth brought home she had one question. “Whose field did you glean in?”
“His name is Boaz.”
Naomi’s smile widened. “You have chosen well, Ruth. He’s a close relative, a kinsman-redeemer. You’ll do well to stay with his workers.”
Ruth did remain with Boaz’s crew until the barley and wheat harvests were completed.
I’ve heard a good definition of character: it’s who you are when nobody is looking. Ruth was merely in survival mode, or so she thought. God had things orchestrated to tell a beautiful love story in real life. Those are the best ones in my humble opinion.
The barley harvest had just begun in Israel’s breadbasket when Ruth came on the scene. She was simply searching for sustenance by picking up unharvested kernels. She didn’t know whose field she was in. She had no idea they were related in any way.
Boaz shows up to check on his crew of harvesters and notices an unfamiliar woman in his field. As soon as he learns who she is he walks up and introduces himself. Ruth’s reputation has preceded her to the field.
This man of high-standing in his community is impressed by Ruth’s dedication to follow Israel’s God and people. Soon he’s showering favors on her in small, but significant, ways.
Have you ever applied for a job that you were sure you probably wouldn’t get for any number of reasons? But, then, were surprised to learn that you got the job. God wasn’t surprised at all. He knew what the boss was thinking when he made his choices.
Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” You can replace the word king with employer, or policeman, or judge, or anyone who has any level of authority over deciding the course of events in your life. God is controlling the decision-making of these people as much as He controls when anybody’s life begins and ends.
This is what’s known as God’s sovereignty. He is the most powerful force in the universe. He controls everything. Yes, even the painful events in your life. He’s not a safe God, but He does love you and wants what’s best for you. You will work through the pain and be a much stronger person for the trial. For more on working through pain read my post titled “Why, God?”
Ruth and Boaz likely woke up that day with no idea that the wheels of fate were about to bring them together, or where this would all end up. Boaz was compelled to show favor to this foreigner who showed great character by staying with her mother-in-law after the death of her husband.
Jesus went to even greater depths to show us favor when we didn’t do anything to bring attention to ourselves. He died on the cross to bring us to God because He knew there was nothing we could do to get there on our own. We’ll see next time how this kinsman-redeemer relationship works out. Just remember…
Greater loves has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
I’ll see you later. Wade