14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain.She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”
21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
(Ruth 2:14-23 NIV)
As we pick up the story of Ruth and Naomi from last time, we see Ruth stepping up to help provide for herself and Naomi. Ruth volunteered to glean in the fields after the harvesters, picking up the stray stalks of grain for food. Ruth was willing to endure the ridicule, scorn, and even potential racist treatment in order to provide for herself and Naomi.
In our last session, we also met Boaz, the owner of the field where Ruth was gleaning. When Boaz inquired about Ruth, his workers filled him in. He extended his kindness and generosity toward her both verbally and materially, telling her to stay with his harvesters for protection and provision.
Today we see Boaz continue to extend his kindness, directly to Ruth and indirectly to Naomi. Boaz offers Ruth food at mealtime, and instructs his harvesters to treat Ruth with respect (no harassment or ridicule) and generosity (telling his workers to leave some extra stalks behind for her to gather).
At the end of the day, verse 17 tells us Ruth gathered about 30 pounds of grain. This was far more than she had ever expected to gather in an entire week or longer.
When Ruth returned home, imagine Naomi’s shock and surprise! Verse 19 gives us insight into Naomi’s response. In typical motherly fashion, Naomi begins the rapid-fire questioning: “where did you go? who did you meet? how did you get all this grain? who did all this for you/us?”
Ruth proceeds to tell the events of the day and informs Naomi that Boaz owned the field where she was gleaning. Ruth told Naomi about all the kindnesses Boaz had done for her and Naomi.
Naomi then told Ruth about their family relationship to Boaz, through her deceased husband. In verse 20, Naomi recounts to Ruth that Boaz is a guardian-redeemer for them. The term “guardian-redeemer” was a legal term given by the Lord (Leviticus 25:25-55) to provide for widows and the poor in Israel. The Lord set up a system of family care so that no one would starve to death or go without food or shelter. There would be poor people in Israel, but no one was to be totally destitute and without hope. Boaz knew his relationship to Naomi and Ruth and willingly stepped up to help. Notice that Boaz did not hold this guardian-redeemer role over Ruth’s head nor did he provide grudgingly. He did so with genuine kindness and care for them.
May we treat others around us with similar care and concern as Boaz cared for Naomi and Ruth. And when others offer us help in our time of need, may we see it as God’s provision and give thanks to the Lord and the one helping. May our pride not interfere with what God is doing in both the heart of the giver and the one being blessed.