Two widows now arrive in Bethlehem. One is a converted Moabite idolater named Ruth, and the other is an older Jewish woman from a leading family of Bethlehem, now widowed and completely destitute.
Ruth chapter 2 is where it all begins to turn around. Somebody might read this chapter and say that Ruth and Naomi were lucky with all these coincidences. My friend, there are no coincidences and there is no luck in life. What is happening is the invisible orchestration of circumstances as God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Now that doesn’t mean everything in your life is good, but God is fitting everything together for your good.
This chapter is going to highlight that invisible work of God in the midst of ordinary decisions—what we call God’s providence. There are no voices from heaven and no writing in the sky, but God will work through people and circumstances to accomplish His perfect plan for Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth 2 opens with the hint that God is already at work. Verse 1 says: “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.”
This rather loaded verse tells us that Boaz is related to Naomi’s late husband; so, he’s qualified to redeem, or purchase, Elimelech’s property, and marry Ruth, the widow of Elimelech’s son. This is the law of the kinsman-redeemer in Israel. (Leviticus 25 & 27)
Now in verse 4, Boaz goes out to his fields, and he says to his field hands, “The Lord be with you!” So, here’s a wealthy, godly farmer coming out to his fields and essentially telling his employees, “God bless you as you work out here today.”
In Leviticus 23:22, God commanded farmers to leave the corners of their fields untouched at harvest time. And any grain the reapers missed or dropped was to be left on the ground as well; this was God’s provision for poor people, who trailed along behind the reapers, gleaning, or picking up the leftovers.
Boaz is probably one of the few farmers in these days of the Judges who is actually obeying God’s Word. Verses 2-3 tell us:
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” … and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.
She just “happened” to go into Boaz’s field. To Ruth, it was an ordinary decision to walk over to this particular field. To the world this would be good luck. But God’s Spirit is moving Ruth’s heart to decide, “I’m going into this field.”
She doesn’t know it yet, but she just so happens to glean in the fields of her potential kinsman-redeemer. And Boaz just so happens to come out to his fields that same morning. He quickly spots Ruth in the field gleaning and asks one of his field hands, “Whose young woman is this?” (verse 5). The man replies:
“She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” (verses 6-7)
Boaz immediately knows he is a potential redeemer since he is related to Naomi’s late husband. He knows he has the legal right to purchase Naomi’s family property and marry Ruth in the process.
He evidently starts thinking about how he is going to meet Ruth. And he eventually comes over to her with a little speech—and it’s a thing of beauty.
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. 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.” (verses 8-9)
Boaz is making sure Ruth doesn’t go to any other field from then on. She is invited to drink from the company water cooler, and he has already commanded his field hands to leave her alone.
No wonder Ruth responds as she does in verse 10: “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”
Boaz tells her in verse 11:
“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.”
Boaz is saying, “I know all about your suffering; I know about the sacrifices you have made for Naomi.”
But first and foremost, he is impressed with her personal testimony of faith in God. I love what he says next in verse 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!”
Boaz has just met Ruth, and he is already talking to her about God.
Let me tell you, if you are dating somebody right now, here is your model. If that person doesn’t talk to you about God and about the things of God and if that one isn’t impressed with your testimony for Christ, you need to lace up your boots and run. Don’t even look back. You need to make sure that anyone interested in you is even more interested in God. PQ
Now lunchtime arrives, and look who’s waiting for Ruth here in verse 14: “At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’”
Boaz essentially asks her out to eat. You could call this their first date. Well, it might be a group date, but it’s a start.
Now get this picture: here’s this poor widow—an outsider, a former idolater—invited to eat with this godly, wealthy landowner. What a picture of God’s grace this is. We are impoverished, destitute sinners invited to the banquet table of God’s love and grace.
As soon as Ruth leaves, Boaz adds one more surprise in verse 15: “Boaz instructed his young men, saying … ‘pull out some [sheaves] from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean.’”
Boaz is telling them to drop stuff on purpose. You can only imagine Ruth gleaning out there, oblivious to what has been said behind the scenes on her behalf. We are often oblivious to the behind-the-scenes work of God’s providence, providing for our needs.
We’re told in verse 17, “Then [Ruth] beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.” This is around twenty-five pounds of grain! She has enough to feed herself and Naomi for a month. And when Ruth tells Naomi in verse 19 that she had gleaned in the fields of Boaz, Naomi says, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers” (verse 20). One look at all this grain and the mention of Boaz, and Naomi starts hearing wedding bells for Ruth.
Beloved, Boaz is a picture here of your Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is at work right now on your behalf. There are no coincidences; your life isn’t left to luck or chance. Let’s have eyes to see and hearts to appreciate the grace of God at work as He unfolds His plans for our lives.