Ruth Chapter 2
Ruth works in the field of Boaz
2:1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. 2:2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” Naomi replied, “You may go, my daughter.” 2:3 So Ruth went and gathered grain in the fields behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
Here we meet Boaz, a prominent man and related to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech. As we will see in chapter 4, being related to his deceased relative Elimelech gave Boaz rights and responsibilities to Boaz’s family and property. Ruth says to Naomi, let me go work and get us some food. 1st Timothy 5:9–13 comes to mind reading that. If a person in need is able to work, they should work rather than sit home and seek help from others.
Naomi may have been at the age she was unable to work in a field, but Ruth being younger was able and willing to go and work to feed the both of them. That’s another noble characteristic in Ruth to be admired and imitated. First she turns fully committed to God, then she fully commits to care for her mother in law.
It says she “happened” to end up in Boaz’s field. What do you think? I think God has a little to do with that happening. But she did her part too didn’t she? She got up and went. She was willing to work, and work all day, so she went to where the work was, and by God’s providence, she ended up in Boaz’s field. Funny how God works with the willing isn’t it?
But can you just walk into somebody’s field and start gathering grain to take home? Better not try that in 2020 (although crazier things are happening). See Leviticus 19:9–10. God made a law to take care of the poor and foreigner. God didn’t say give to the poor who were able, but unwilling to work. He said to allow them to come and gather from the corners of the field. In fact, the land owner was required not to harvest the corners or go over any of his field twice so there would be some left for those in need.
Boaz and Ruth meet.
2:4 Now at that very moment, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied, “May the Lord bless you!” 2:5 Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 2:6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. 2:7 She asked, ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now — except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.
Any of y’all ever have a boss address you in the morning with “May the Lord be with you”? I certainly haven’t. A boss at a corporation these days is in danger of getting fired if they addressed people that way! It does give us a clue as to what kind of man Boaz was. Must have been a great working relationship between owner and worker.
And how did the workers refer to Ruth? The Moabite woman. And note she had been working hard since morning except for a short break. I’m thinking many of you know what working in a field is like. When I was a kid we worked in tobacco during the summer school break to make some money. Farmers tell me now they can rarely find kids willing to do that kind of work anymore. Every generation wants things better for their kids than they had it themselves, but we’ve got to be careful not to rid them of a good work ethic.
2:8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers. 2:9 Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.”
As you might imagine Boaz is being very generous, not only with grain but also concern for Ruth’s safety and that she wasn’t harassed by the men. The Levitical laws required a farmer allow gleaning to strangers, but I’m guessing they didn’t put signs up inviting people. It was money they didn’t make when others gathered part of the crop. Interesting in that culture the men worked together and the women worked together.
2:10 Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?” 2:11 Boaz replied to her, “I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband — how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. 2:12 May the Lord reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” 2:13 She said, “You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!”
Ruth didn’t have a sense of entitlement did she? She was very humble and grateful to Boaz. And he recognized what she was doing for her mother-in-law and her acts of kindness so he told her may the Lord reward and repay you. Do you believe God blesses acts of kindness? Especially those done cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver doesn’t he, whether giving tithe, time or talent? This is a good situation isn’t it. A willing and grateful worker, a generous and kind boss. Boy if doing business worked that way in America today!
2:14 Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have some food! Dip your bread in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest. 2:15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among the bundles! Don’t chase her off! 2:16 Make sure you pull out ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!” 2:17 So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds of barley!
Upon them meeting each other, Ruth thanked Boaz for being so kind to a foreigner, and Boaz acknowledged her care of her mother-in-law Naomi, and that she was known to seek protection from the Lord. 2020 has been stressful year hasn’t it? Covid, violence in the cities, political wrangling. Amongst all of this do we seek protection from the Lord as Ruth did? How do you keep your focus on God and his will and his plans for you? It’s very easy to get caught up in the news, wasting time worrying and thinking about all of the evil we see rather than focusing on God and the hope we have isn’t it? It seems Satan has been very successful in causing all these distractions and causing many to loose sight of the goal that the Apostle Paul calls the upward call of God. (Phil 3:14).
I think we can learn from Ruth. She turned whole heartedly to God and did what was right, knowing God would care for her. She had left the religion of her homeland behind and was faithful and dependent on God, just as she said she would in chapter 1. I suspect Boaz was doing more for Ruth because Naomi was a relative, and he knew of, and was faithful to, the requirement in the law that people take care of their relatives. Boaz is referred to by some as a type of Christ, in that he was a man of great wealth, compassionate to strangers, he knew all about Ruth before meeting her, he helped her graciously, all her needs were satisfied. Christ does all of this for us.
2:18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much grain she had gathered. Then Ruth gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime. 2:19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 2:20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.”
2:21 Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’” 2:22 Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.” 2:23 So Ruth worked beside Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law.
Ruth even saved some of the already roasted grain from her lunch and took it to Naomi. After telling Naomi about her day, and about Boaz, Naomi commented that Boaz was showing loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead. Christians do that don’t they? Checking on, offering to help and helping a person who has recently lost a loved one. God bless people who come to the aid of another who has lost a loved one! Naomi also found comfort in knowing Ruth would be safe under Boaz’s employ. Ruth continued working the whole harvest season and afterwards being with Naomi. Beginning the next chapter Naomi will take the next step, counseling Ruth to help her have a secure future. Can we learn from these 2 ladies and this 1 man? I think we can.
What does the law of gleaning say about God’s care for the poor? In what ways can we as individuals and as a church address the needs of the poor?
What ways can the poor be helped beyond addressing immediate needs of food and shelter?
How might had Ruth and Naomi’s life turned out differently if Ruth had chosen to stay in Moab like the other daughter-in-law did?
How do you weigh eternal choices verses choices for this week, this month, this lifetime? Choices like how you spend your time, talent and money?
Do you believe in God’s providence? Was what happened with these ladies coincidence or ordered by God?
Do you feel as strongly about trusting everything to God as Ruth seemed to have felt?
For Christian witness, and obedience to the bible, how important is a good work ethic and why?