Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” Ruth 2, verses 5 through 9.
Word gets around in a small town. If you think about Bethlehem at the time of Jesus, it was a small town, not far from Jerusalem but not exactly a suburb either (especially the way we think about suburbs today). Now consider that same small town, hundreds of years before, even smaller. That’s where we find Ruth and Boaz.
Word had obviously spread to Boaz that his cousin was back in town, and that a guest had returned with her. You could say that Boaz was interested, and (from the research I did on the verses) some might even say that Boaz’s desire to have Ruth glean in his fields was the same desire that any man would have
But if we looked at it that way, I thing we’d lose the meaning. You see, Ruth didn’t just show up in Boaz’s field: she was led there. She was led there because she followed and served Naomi, who had been lead to Ruth’s homeland of Moab. It wasn’t a random meeting: it was arranged by God Himself, sort of like divine matchmaking. Boaz wasn’t some horny fourth cousin: he was genuinely interested in the young woman and extended to her more than just common courtesy.
Sitting in ‘the West,’ it’s difficult to discern Bronze Age Israelite customs without help; that’s a given. Yet I read the verses and read something intensely romantic about them. Ruth is a humble but strong and willing servant, lovely and foreign yet faithful. Boaz is faithful as well, modeling God for this stranger in his strange land. Boaz provides food, water, honor, vocation and protection…he does it on God’s behalf. What’s more, think of our world today, thousands of years after Ruth and Boaz. Doesn’t God still provide for us in the same way? Doesn’t he still provide those same things Boaz did? Doesn’t God still match-make our circumstances? You know the answer.
No coincidence, indeed, because word gets around in a small town. Sometimes, they’re even good words.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for these beautiful words and the story of a young man and woman.
Read Ruth 2.
What do you picture when you read these verses?
Do you think Boaz was acting in his own interest or in God’s?