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Finding Favor

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Today we continue our study in the book of Ruth. In order to understand this book we need to understand some of the tradition and laws that governed Israel.
Naomi, and Ruth were both widows. This meant that it was difficult for them to earn a living to support themselves.
In the introduction of our passage today we are introduced to a relative of Elimelech named Boaz.


A Man of Standing

He is introduced as a man of standing. This term, “a man of standing” can have a lot of different meanings. It can mean a man of wealth, or it could refer to a property owner, or a man of influence. The literal meaning is “a man of valor.”

A relative of Elimelech

As a relative, he is from the same clan—which means he was a near relative.
So what do

Ruth’s Plan

Throughout this section Ruth is always referred at “Ruth the Moabitess” even if it is not reflected in the English translation.
She suggests to Naomi that she be allowed to go into the fields and pick up all the left over grain. This was called “gleaning.”
She is going to pick up the leftover grain in any field where she found favor in the eyes of the owner.
Naomi agreed that she should go and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. This was part of the Levirate Law—Any stranger, or alien in need could go behind the harvesters, and pickup the left overs ().

In The Field of Boaz

So Ruth is gleaning in the field of Boaz when he arrives from Bethlehem (vr 4).


Notice how he greets his harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” The harvesters replied with the same greeting. This shows that their faith is important. It also sets the tone for the rest of the passage.

Who Is This Girl?

Boaz sees Ruth, and knows she is not one of his servant girls, but doesn’t know who she is. So he asks his foreman about her.
His foreman replies, that she was:
(1) a Moabite. This could have been a derogative remark. The text really isn’t clear.
(2) She came back from Moab with Naomi. Perhaps, the foreman knew he was related to Naomi. Again, the text doesn’t say.
(3) She asked if she could glean among the sheaves behind the harvesters. She didn’t assume anything, but asked permission.
(4) She has been working steadily from morning till now—this is a testament of her hard work, the original language uses the word that can mean “to stand or to endure.” The foreman goes on to tell Boaz that she only stopped for a short rest in the shelter.

Ruth Meets Boaz

Boaz goes to talk to Ruth. He tells her:
(1) Don’t go to someone else’s field.
(2) Stay with his servant girls and glean.
(3) Watch his harvesters, and go to the field with them.
(4) Again, follow after the servant girls.
(5) If you are thirsty, go get a drink from the water pots filled by men.
Ruth asked why she had found such favor in the eyes of Boaz. Especially since she was a foreigner.
Boaz has heard about the kindness of Ruth towards Naomi since Elimelech died. And now, she left everything she knew to come and live with a people she does not know!
Boaz really wants God to repay Ruth with rich rewards for all she has done for Naomi.
The phrase, “under whose wings you have come to take refuge” This is a phrase that is used repeatedly in the book of Psalm (cf ; ).
In verse 13, Ruth thanks Boaz for his kindness— “though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.”
At meal time, Boaz invited Ruth to have some food—bread dipped in wine vinegar, and some roasted grain. In fact, Boaz offered her so much that she had some left over.
Boaz gave his men orders to not embarrass her if she gathers in the wrong place. He also told them to pull out some of the stalks from their bundles and leave them for her to pick up— “and don’t rebuke her.”

Finding Favor

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she went and threshed the barley she had gathered.
She ended up with about an ephah—(about 22 liters). So Ruth carried the grain back to town and showed her mother-in-law how mush she had gathered. Not only that, but Ruth brought back the left over roasted grain from lunch.
Naomi asked Ruth in whose field she had gleaned. Ruth answered that it was a man named Boaz. Naomi asks the Lord to bless Boaz because he has not stopped showing kindness to both the living and the dead.
Not only that but he is a close relative—close enough to be one of the “kinsman redeemers.”—Levirate Law said when a man died without children, his younger brother was to marry the woman and raise up children in the name of the deceased brother (). Boaz was a close enough relative to carry out the Levirate Law.

What Next?

In verse 21, Ruth—the Moabitess went on to tell Naomi that Boaz told her to stay with his workers until the finish of the barley harvest.
So Naomi tells Ruth to go with the servant girls of Boaz, because in someone else’s field she might be harmed. So Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean. She kept doing this until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. She continued to live with her mother-in-law.

So What?

Sometimes I feel like I’m a broken record, but here in chapter 2 we watch as God begins to unfold His plan for the three main characters: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. None of them know what will happen next. But God has a plan!
God has a plan for you—even when you can’t see it!
I’m struck in this passage by the kind and gentle faith of Boaz.
Perhaps we need to develop a kind and gentle faith that we spread to those who around us.
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