Select Wisdom Brand
(Ruth 2:1-13) No Such Thing as Chance

(Ruth 2:1-13) No Such Thing as Chance

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Ruth
Ref: Ruth 2:1–13

Ruth didn't just happen to stumble onto a field one day that belonged to a close relative. And Boaz didn't just happen to notice her gleaning and fall in love with her. Nothing just happens! God wrote Ruth and Boaz' story . . . and He has written yours as well!


No Such Thing as Chance

Ruth 2:1-13

In our last discussion I began by talking about the medical profession and their brutality – remember?  And how they say things like “This won’t hurt” as they pull out a needle 8 inches long.

They’re not telling the truth!

The problem is, even if they told us the truth, we wouldn’t like that either, would we?

One lady sent me a great illustration why being a medical professional is tough whether you hold back or come right out and tell us everything.

A man went in to see his doctor for a routine physical.  The nurse came in to cover the basics – you know how they do all that.  She asked the man, “How much do you weigh?”  He said, “Oh, about 165.”  The nurse had him step up on the digital scale and then said, “Hmmm, you weigh 197 pounds to be exact.”

She then asked him, “How tall are you?”  He said, “About 6 feet.”  She looked him over and then asked him to step up to a measuring rod and then said, ‘Hmmm, you’re exactly 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall.”

She moved on to take his blood pressure . . . and then said, “Sir, your blood pressure is extremely high.”  “High”, he said, “Whaddya expect?  When I came in here I was tall and lanky and you’ve just told me I’m short and fat.”

That’s not funny is it?!

Oh my . . . well, for those of you in the medical profession, you’re have a really tough job, and we’re actually proud of you; keep telling us the truth, we need to hear it.

Having finished the first chapter of the Book of Ruth, all of what we’ve studied has been one piece of bad news after another.

The truth was brutal!

Apart from Ruth’s commitment to Naomi, the story is a tragedy that Shakespeare would have appreciated. 

Two widows return to Bethlehem; one a foreigner and the other a woman who once had standing in the community and respect throughout Bethlehem but now, destitute, impoverished and reduced to living on handouts.

Chapter 2 of Ruth is where it all begins to turn around.  In fact, chapter 2 will cover the events on only one day . . . but what a day it will be in the lives of Ruth, Naomi and a bachelor named Boaz.

Before we dive into the text, you need to keep in mind that these are the days of the judges.  There is no record of priest of prophet that provides counsel.  These aren’t easy days for spiritually minded men and virtuous women of character to succeed.

The odds are stacked against them.

By the time you get to the end of chapter 2, most people might come to the conclusion that luck must have happened by.  

In fact, the world would consider Ruth and Boaz “lucky” and the events surrounding their meeting amazing coincidence. 

The truth is, a believer living in any generation, living in any culture, there are no coincidences; in fact, as you leave your choices to God, there is no such thing as chance.

Ruth chapter 2 will reveal the invisible hand of God in the midst of ordinary, everyday decisions.  There are no voices from heaven; they won’t get any clues from angelic visitors; they experience no visible signs pointing the way. 

It struck me as I re-entered this scene, Ruth chapter 2 is the personification of Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths – literally, He will make your paths straight.

That’s exactly what will happen here.

The chapter opens with the author giving us a hint that hope is on the way.

Notice verse 1. Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

With this brief statement, the author builds anticipation and hope by hinting to us who know about the role of Kinsman Redeemer, that we have just been introduced to the Knight in shining armor.

And we’re given several glimpses into the life of Boaz, in this brief biography, that actually tell us a lot about him.

A Brief Biography of Boaz

  1. First, we’re told that Boaz is clearly related to Naomi.

The Hebrew word for “kinsman,” in Ruth 2:1 can refer to either a friend or a relative.  We discover later on in chapter 2 that he is actually a close relative. 

According to rabbinical tradition down through the centuries, Boaz was believed to be a nephew of Elimelech.

C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Volume 2 (Eerdmans, reprinted 1991), p. 477

He is a potential redeemer of Elimelech’s estate, which would rescue both Naomi and Ruth from destitution and poverty.

  1. Secondly, we’re told that Boaz is greatly respected in Bethlehem.

Ruth 2:1 refers to Boaz as, a man of great wealth.

This Hebrew phrase, “man of wealth” is difficult to define.  It is translated, “valiant warrior” in Joshua 6:2; or mighty man of war in 2 Samuel 17:8.

When the angel of God came to Gideon, in Judges 6 and said, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor,” this was the same phrase used. 

The term has such a strong military context that some scholars believe Boaz was a veteran soldier.

Since Boaz would have been living in the days of Gideon, an eligible soldier, and Gideon had called for faithful volunteers from among the tribes, some scholars believe that Boaz had been one of Gideon’s 300 valiant men. 

The word means more than a valiant soldier.  It’s also translated “a man of influence” in 1 Samuel 9:1.

The same expression actually appears again in Ruth 3:11, when Boaz tells Ruth that she is a woman of excellence.

Finally, the word is clearly used to refer to a man of wealth in 2 Kings 15:20. 

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Ruth (Eerdmans, 1988), p. 133

Listen, any way you slice it, Boaz was highly respected in Bethlehem – a man of honor, integrity, influence and even wealth.  All of these attributes will be proven throughout the remainder of this little Book.

In fact, let me point out one more quality to Boaz that could easily be overlooked – and yet, in my mind, cemented my opinion of his character.

Boaz was not only closely related to Naomi;

Boaz was not only greatly respected in Bethlehem, but thirdly;

  1. Boaz is spiritually reassuring to his employees.

Skip down to verse 4 where we’re told what happens when Boaz arrives at his fields.

Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

You might easily skip this . . . don’t miss it.

He arrives and immediately shows concern well beyond the normal greeting of salom – Peace to you. 

Boaz’s words both greeted them and gave them his hope for them – look again – May the Lord be with you

In other words, Boaz is saying to his employees that he wants them to not only be blessed, but blessed by the sense that Yahweh was with them – blessing their work . . . blessing their lives. 

Ibid, p. 145

Can you imagine your boss coming to work, passing by your desk, and saying, “I hope you sense the presence of God today as you work.”

How about you and me – do you have anybody working under your supervision? 

Can you imagine making it your goal this week to say something to them that lets them know you want God’s blessing on their lives . . . some of you would get a warning for being too open about your religion.  Some of you would get empty stares.  Some of you might see people tear up and say, “No one has ever said that to me before.”

You say, “But this is Boaz.”  He knows he’s gonna to be in the Bible.  No he doesn’t.

This isn’t religious jargon . . . he means it.  And his employees know he means it because they respond by saying, “May God bless you.”

Remember the context of this time.  Israel’s morals were at an all time low.  The people have lived spiritually defeated lives for nearly a decade.  They are raw with physical needs as well – as the famine has now just lifted.

Boaz cares about more than a bumper crop.  He cares about these men and women who are scraping out an existence.

On the canvass of scripture, the portrait of Boaz is painted with the brush strokes of integrity, honesty, humility, diligence, and godly character.

These may have been the very reasons he was single.  He probably wasn’t all that interesting to the local girls – they wanted his money, but he just talked about God too much.

More than likely, he wasn’t interested in settling for someone of lesser character. 

These were the days of the judges where everyone did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

In a culture marked by moral and spiritual decadence, Boaz and Ruth shine with distinctive character and integrity.


Let’s stop for a moment and glean some principles from just this brief biography of Boaz, before we move on:

  1. Even when most people have forgotten God, it’s possible to develop godliness.

In the middle of this generation, a man named Boaz rides out to his fields and greets everyone in the name of the Lord.

His tribesmen were no longer convinced that God was worth following and Boaz says to his employees, “Listen, God is not only worth following, but I hope you sense His presence today.”

  1. Even when your culture around you becomes self-centered, it’s possible to be self-sacrificing.

This was a time where everyone did whatever they wanted to do – it was a dog-eat-dog world . . . yet here was a man who cared about people – even those on a lower rung of society.

The law of Moses dictated that farmers must leave the corners of their fields for the poor.  It also dictated that gleaners had the right to come along and pick up what was accidentally left behind.

These were tough times! 

Throughout Israel, there were farmers who refused.  They forbade gleaners . . . they would send their own farm hands back into the fields to gather what was left.

These were tough times . . . who had time to follow the laws of generosity and mercy?

Boaz did! 

He cared about the needy and downtrodden . . . in fact, by keeping the law he would find his wife.  Imagine that.

We’d better move on to verse 2 or they’ll never meet.

2. And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.”  And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”  3.  So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers;

In Bible times, the reaper would grab the stalk with his left hand and cut off the grain with a short sickle in his right.  He’d hang on to it and grab another stalk, eventually filling his hand until he laid the bundle down.  Either he would then tie the bundle or there would be workers following along to tie the bundles and collect them. 

The reapers would work carefully . . . listen, gleaning for fallen stalks or grain left behind was tantamount to eking out a living.  This would be like someone today walking along the road trying to survive by recycling aluminum cans.

Hubbard, p. 138

Now notice verse 3b.  And she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

Here Ruth has decided to help her mother-in-law survive.  She goes to the fields of Bethlehem and just so happened to come to Boaz’s field.

The Hebrew language literally reads, “She chanced to chance upon the field.”

Keil & Delitzsch, p. 477

What looks like chance . . . coincidence . . . is divine providence.

There were no lights flashing; no band playing on Boaz’s field; no voice saying, “Turn left and go through that gate!”

Stanley Collins, Courage and Submission: Ruth & Esther (Regal Books, 1975), p. 19

At the time, to Ruth it was just an ordinary decision.  I’ll go in here and glean over there.

To the world it was blind chance . . . coincidence.

But the believer is immediately struck by God’s direction.

This is the Proverbs 3:5-6 in living color.   In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

Was this some coincidence?  Not a chance.

Finding out the ways God arranged the initial meeting between husbands and wives has always been interesting to me.  For those who marry, apart from receiving Christ, that is life’s most critical decision.

I have heard an interesting story from one couple who attended our church – both of them were attending Bible college and getting ready to graduate.  Just before this young man graduated, a friend gave him the name and address of a girl her brother had dated – things didn’t work out but she was highly commended.  He put the piece of paper in his wallet and forgot about it.  Two years later, he was preaching in meetings around the country, and one night as he cleaned out his wallet he saw that piece of paper.  He wondered if she had gotten married, and on a whim decided to write a letter to her, asking her if she’d be interested in meeting him sometime.  When his letter arrived, she was at a conference where she had just committed her life to full time Christian work.  She wrote him back and said, “Yes, I’d be happy to meet you.”

Eventually, this young man had a couple of preaching opportunities nearby.  He arrived in town the day World War II ended.  As a result, two national holidays were declared by the U.S. government and his meetings ended up being cancelled.  Since he had nothing to do for a few days, the girl’s father invited him to stay at their house.  Two months later, Paul and Betty Jane Freed were married. 

Paul went on to serve as the President of Trans World Radio for many decades, both he and Betty Jane joined Colonial when we were still meeting as a church in East Cary Middle School.  He’s now with the Lord and Betty Jane is living in Florida, listening to every sermon I preach – so, hello Betty Jane . . . thanks for giving me the perfect illustration.

Guidance from the Lord is promised, but it often comes on the heels of ordinary decisions.  There are no visions or bands playing. 

But if your heart says the same things Ruth’s did; that is, “the God of Israel will be my God, no matter what,” then ordinary decisions will be in line with God’s pleasure and blessing.

David said it this way: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord . . . (Psalm 37:23)

Ruth is now gleaning in the fields . . . and wouldn’t you know it – Boaz decided to come visiting that very morning.

4.  Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you . . . [and man is ever about to]. 

At this moment, Boaz spotted Ruth. 

5. Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?”

This is the Hebrew equivalent of a whistle!

I remember whistling to my oldest daughter when she was around 4 years old.  She didn’t know what it meant; which gave me an opportunity to explain – to prepare her.  “Honey, one of these days some young man is gonna to do that in your direction.  It means he thinks you’re pretty and he wants your attention.  When he does that, ignore him and run home to Daddy.”

Notice the servant’s response in verse 6, She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.  And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’  Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”

Now slow down just a moment. 

Verse 8 informs us that Boaz will go and meet Ruth.  The verses that follow show us that he’s mapped out a plan . . . some time elapsed while Boaz got it worked out.

It was no different then than now.  Meeting that girl you are interested in takes some strategy, especially if you are interested in asking her out!

In fact, asking a girl can be terrifying.  Your entire self-worth is on the line.  You are giving this girl the opportunity to make you feel like you are really something or like you are worth nothing, right? 

One author said it’s like handing her a loaded gun and pointing the barrel directly at your heart.  And ask, “Will you go out with me?” and then, wait for her to pull the trigger. 

Today just so happens to be the day I handed a loaded gun to Marsha – December 7th – today, 31 years ago I asked her out on our first date.  And she said “yes” . . . isn’t that a miracle. 

And I invited her to go with me to a church service.  How’s that for irony.  She’s been going to church with me ever since.

So Boaz works up his speech.

Notice verse 8, Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter.  Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.  Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them.  Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you.  When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”

Listen, he had figured out every conceivable way to keep Ruth in his field only.

She can follow freely behind the reapers; she can drink from the company water cooler – meaning she wouldn’t have to walk back into town for water – in a little while she’ll be given a free meal.

And did you notice that Boaz had already commanded his men not to touch her.  This phrase can mean to injure her – they may not have wanted competition for the fallen grain . . . who’s she anyway.

The phrase is also translated “to have sexual relations” in Genesis 20:6.  Here’s a young woman, without protection, alone, vulnerable – and she’s a foreigner, without legal protection in

Israel . . . who would care?!

Boaz has effectively told everybody, “I am now her guardian – don’t get in her way, don’t lay a hand on her, give her water to drink when she wants it and watch out for her.”

No wonder, v. 10, tells us that Ruth fell on her face, bowing to the ground . . . this is the Old Testament form of a curtsey . . . and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

Now remember, Ruth doesn’t know Boaz is related to Naomi.  Boaz knows, but Ruth only knows that this wealthy landowner is showing extreme kindness to her – an outsider. 

Boaz then tells her that he knows all about her, in v. 11, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.”

Boaz says in effect, “Ruth, I already know everything about what you’ve been through . . . the death of your husband, your commitment to Naomi and to the God of Abraham.” In other words, you have something special on the inside that is worth honoring.”

I love what Boaz says next in verse 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.

This guy walked with God.  Why haven’t we heard more about Boaz?  Why aren’t there books out for men on the life and character of Boaz?  This man’s brief appearance in scripture is convicting to every man in this auditorium.

He and Ruth have only recently met and he is talking about God.

He’s doing more than just dropping God’s name – he’s advocating for God . . . he’s recommending God to her.

Boaz is saying, “Listen, I know you’ve left family, friends, and country.  I know you are perhaps, lonely.  So listen, you just snuggle up under the wings of Almighty God and rest assured,

He’ll watch over you; And I’m going to pray that He will repay your deeds with kindness – He’s trustworthy!”

Boaz could probably have proposed then and there!


Let me give two principles from this initial encounter between Boaz and Ruth:

  1. The foundation for a romantic relationship is a vital relationship with Jesus Christ

Let me say this to every single person. 

If that guy or girl you’re interested in walks with God, it will not take you very long to discover it. 

If after one date – or conversation before one date – their acknowledgement of God and the things of God doesn’t come through – whether it’s saying a prayer before eating or making reference to church or the Bible – if that doesn’t come out loud and clear, then leave them in your dust! 

I have told countless individuals over these 23 years after they’ve told me about the person they were dating and what they should make of them, I have told them to go home, put on their tennis shoes and lace them up tightly and run!

I deal with people on the other side who refused to run; who lowered their standard; who made their choices apart from prayer and obedience to scripture . . . who thought it would be better to marry an uncommitted Christian or a non-Christian than to remain single.

The foundation for a romantic relationship with someone else is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. A permanent attraction between a man and a woman goes beyond the physical dimension and involves a spiritual dimension.

Thirty one years ago, I asked Marsha out – that young lady who sat in my college English classroom – and it took me all semester to work up the nerve to ask her out.  I’d never heard her testimony!  I hoped she had one – but her beautiful blue eyes turned me into jelly.

But it would be the spiritual dimension that mattered most. 

J. Vernon McGee pointed out in his commentary on Ruth something that you might easily miss.  He pointed out the fact that nowhere in the Book of Ruth are we told what she looked like – not one physical description is given.  

J. Vernon McGee, Ruth: The Romance of Redemption (Thomas Nelson, reprint 1981), p. 81

Boaz was smitten by her no doubt . . . but what ultimately attracted this very eligible bachelor to her was her commitment to God and her character in life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this encounter in a Bethlehem field was not a chance . . . this is no coincidence . . . God has been developing two paths that in a matter of months will become one path.

Consider this – they were both acknowledging God in all their ways, and God was directing their paths . . . together.


Add a Comment


Margaret says:
This is an awesome love story about Ruth,Naomi and Boaz..,and how we should have this same relationship with God Almighty that Boaz saw in Ruth. This is a blessed teaching lesson for dating/marriage.This Bible story could be used in pre- marital counseling, before making a huge mistake and causing a ship wreck in your life.

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.
CLICK HERE to make a difference.