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. 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. ESV
As we listen to the book of Ruth, it is clear that life has not been easy for this young Moabite woman. She married into an Israelite family, who had gone to live in her native country. But before they had been in Moab ten years, great tragedy struck. Ruth’s husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law all die. Her mother-in-law, who is filled with bitterness, decides to return to Israel, when she hears that God has come to help his people. And Ruth makes the decision to go with her. Ruth throws in her lot with God’s people, but still her life does not seem promising.
For Ruth is an outsider and without means of financial support. Her mother-in-law cannot or will not help, and so Ruth goes out into the fields to gather leftover stalks of grain—alone.
However, Ruth is not really alone, because God is with her. As we saw last week, the Sovereign Lord directed her into the fields of one of her relative by marriage. His name is Boaz, and he is a well-off, influential landowner. Now comes a dramatic moment. Ruth and Boaz talk for the first time. What will happen?
I. Boaz’s kind answer to Ruth’s request (2:8-9)
As this scene opens, all is not sweetness and light for Ruth. On the one hand, she is gathering grain so that Naomi and she can eat. But on the other hand, this is hard work, and from the coming conversation with Boaz, we can gain hints that she felt threatened, perhaps because she was a Moabitess. She may well have wondered how successful her endeavor might be. Suddenly, everything changes for her good! It was in the path of faith that Ruth found blessing.
1. His kind greeting (“my daughter”) is a message of acceptance. Boaz doesn’t address her as a foreigner but as a family member. His words convey a sense of welcome and reassurance. They might well have been the first kind words she heard since arriving in Israel. It is like saying, “We’re glad you’re here; please make yourself at home.” This sense of acceptance ought to permeate every situation in our assembly (cf. Rm 15:7).
Apply: We really don’t care where you’ve come from, but we care a lot about where you’re going! Welcome! Come with us; we’re heaven-bound! [Read Pilgrim’s Progress; this is always a Christian attitude.]
2. His advice is also a message of acceptance. He tells her to stay in his fields. From his emphasis, it seems that she might have been in the process of leaving. He is quieting her fears. My brothers and sisters, we must realize that we need to make others feel very accepted. We are used to hugs and handshakes here, but the hearts of our guests can be very apprehensive. Perhaps they have never felt acceptance. Now certainly, you don’t rush up and give a guest a hug! But you can ask them if they’d like a cup of coffee, show them where to hang up their coats, or offer to sit near them.
1. He gives Ruth a place in his community of workers. He is not paying her, but he is allowing her to support herself off his possessions. Yes, God’s law commanded this, but he is letting her know that he walks according to the law of the Lord (Ps 119:1).
2. He reassures Ruth that no one is going to abuse her verbally, physically or sexually in his fields. He seeks to put Ruth at ease; she won’t have to work looking over to her shoulder. She is in a secure place where she can enjoy gathering food.
Apply: It is a man’s responsibility to make women and girls feel safe and secure (cf. 1 Tm 5:2).
1. Boaz gives Ruth permission to drink from the water jars used by his workers. This is very considerate care for a woman working hard under the near eastern sun; it will also save her time in getting her own water.
2. This act of compassion is a reversal of social customs, because in that culture foreigners usually gave water to Israelites and women to men. So then, this would strike Ruth as very special treatment. He invites Ruth to take the first steps from outside the social circle of the community of Israel to inside at least the outer part of that circle.
Apply: Where are you in this fellowship of believers? Draw nearer!
II. Ruth’s respectful reply (2:10)
A. Her humility before Boaz
1. Sense of surprise about his kindness – Her life has suddenly taken a change for the better!
2. Expressed in her posture – She probably dropped to her knees and then put her face to the ground, much like the position of Muslims in prayer.
B. Her amazement about his grace
1. She has to wonder about the reasons that a rich, influential man like Boaz would notice a poor widow like Ruth. In addition, why would he care about a foreigner, when Israelites could be expected to avoid them (cf. Deut 14:21)? (The idea of a foreign woman has negative connotations in the Proverbs.)
2. She understands that this is grace—unmerited favor, and she appreciates it highly!
Apply: Do you have a sense of amazement about Christ’s grace to you? This week is a fine week to regain it in your heart.
III. Boaz’s explanation (2:11-12)
A. His awareness of her sacrificial giving
1. He knew what she had done for Naomi, after the death of her husband. Thus, he plainly is referring to how Ruth helped Naomi return to Bethlehem. The news about Naomi’s return would have spread quickly through such a small town in ancient times when people had a much greater sense of community.
2. He appreciated what this had cost her. She had left family and what is familiar to become a foreigner in Israel, where the law covenant would provide barriers to her acceptance. She had imitated Abram, when he left Ur (Gen 11:28; 24:7), and so she shows that she had the character of a daughter of Abraham. She was now living among an unfamiliar people, and so she probably was friendless, which is sad.
Apply: Men, we need to be more like Boaz and realize what hardships people are experiencing. The day for the oblivious male is past. Wake up and care, in order to show Christ’s kindness.
B. His prayer for Ruth
1. He asks the Lord to reward her. “The Lord” or Yahweh is God’s covenant name with Israel (cf. Ex 6:2). He believes that his covenant Lord is able to repay Ruth for her kindnesses to Naomi. His prayer for reward is within the context of faith (Heb 11:6). The Lord motivates us to believe him by promising great rewards for those who do. Things like eternal life, forgiveness of sin and justification, a place in God’s family, and an eternal inheritance seem like good motivational rewards, would you agree? Let’s contrast this with what the resurgent atheism of our time offers. The best they can say is, “You are a meaningless nothing in a world of no value; cruelness and kindness are equivalent meaningless ideas; when you die you are just a collection of meaningless atoms slumping back into an inanimate state; there is no hope or good in this meaningless world. Live meaninglessly in despair!” Instead my friends, rejoice in the good news of Jesus! The reward he offers faith in him is so much better!
2. He acknowledges her faith in God. He views Ruth as having taken refuge under God’s “wings”. This is a picture that occurs a few times in the Old Testament Scriptures. We first encounter it in the great Song of Moses, where he speaks of God’s care in delivering Israel from slavery (Deut 32:8-12). From this base, a number of pictures develop from this imagery.
a. God is a place of safety (Ps 17:8).
b. God is a place of refreshment (Ps 36:7-9).
c. God is a place of quiet peace in a storm (Ps 57:1).
d. God is a place of celebration (Ps 63:7).
e. God is a place of hope amid destruction (Ps 91:1-8).
Point: God is the gospel; God is here, God cares, God rules, and God provides.
Quote: Augustine, Confessions, 4.16
IV. Ruth’s respectful request (2:13)
A. A wise reply
1. By her words she expressed her gratitude for Boaz’s kindness. Ruth needed to say thank you to him. Gratitude is important in God’s perspective.
Apply: Take time to say “thank you” to the Lord this week. Come out on Wednesday evening for a special opportunity.
2. But her words also asked for continued favor. She knows that her needs are great, and she is not ashamed to hint about this to Boaz.
B. An awareness of her need for grace
1. She takes a lowly position—of a “servant girl”, which was someone on the lowest rung of the social ladder.
2. She calls him “lord” or “master” (Adonai).
Point: Ruth had an attitude that is largely lacking in our time. It is called “humility”. What is precious in God’s sight is despised in our land. Don’t put God to the test, thinking that you can get away with pride. Listen to the word of the Lord. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6 NIV).
Pastor Dave Frampton
When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.