Bad things happen or is there a plan: Ruth’s Story part 2

Chapter 2 of Ruth finds our heroine, Ruth, stepping up to support  Naomi and herself.  This is harvest time.  Ruth will find a farm and tag along behind the workers and glean what she can for the two of them.  Jewish law provides for the poor and aliens to gather from the left overs to take care of themselves.  So Ruth rolled up her sleeves and from dawn until break time she works nonstop except for a rare sip of water and then she’s right back at it.   Her gleaning took her onto a field belonging to Boaz, a member of Elimelech’s family.  A relative of Naomi’s husband.  He was a man of wealth.   As he showed up to check on how things were going with the harvest Boaz extended his customary enthusiastic greeting to all his workers: “The Lord be with you!” he shouted with a waive and  smile and they all called back “The Lord bless you!”   Then Ruth  catches his eye. When Boaz asked “who does she belong to?”  The servant explained she was Ruth, who returned with Naomi from Moab.  “She asked permission to glean in your field after the workers and has been working endlessly since she arrived early this morning until now.”   Then Boaz approached Ruth and said “Don’t glean in any other fields, stay close to my maidens and watch where they reap.  Follow them.  I’ve ordered the young men to keep away from you and not molest you.  And when you’re thirsty I’ve made sure the young men will leave water for you to drink.”  Boaz went further in his instructions to his staff requiring them to drop bundles of grain for her to pick up and not give her a hard time.  Then Ruth was overcome by gratitude and fell at his feet face to the ground saying “Why are you so good to me, a foreigner?”  Boaz responded “I’ve been made fully aware of all you’ve taken on for Naomi’s sake since the death of your husband.  I know how you have left your family and your country and come to a people you don’t know.  The Lord bless you and reward you in full for all you have done.  Blessings from the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you’ve come to take refuge!”  “Even though I am not one of your maidservants you are so kind to me!” Ruth responded “What you said has blessed and encouraged my heart more than you can know!”  From then until the end of harvest Ruth was included as a member of Boaz’s servants, sharing his bread and water and given extra protection and grain to take home to Naomi at the end of each day.

When she got home after that first day Ruth  showed her mother-in -law all she brought home and Naomi asked “Where did you glean?  Whose field did you work in?  Blessed be the man who noticed you!”  “His name is Boaz.” Ruth said. Then Naomi praised “May God, the one who has not ceased His kindness to the living and the dead, bless Boaz!   Boaz is a near relative of ours.  He has the right to redeem us!”  The Book of the Law (Leviticus 25:25) says if a brother has sold his property because he was too poor to keep it, any of his family can buy it back to keep the property in his family.

Chapter 3 of Ruth opens with Naomi saying she must do good by Ruth by arranging a marriage “Shall I not seek a home for you so you can rest and prosper?”  So who was the chosen eligible bachelor?  Boaz, of course!  But men are often clueless and need encouragement so Naomi coached Ruth in how to approach Boaz.  It was clear Boaz had a heart to protect and care for Ruth but perhaps Boaz, an older gentleman,  needed to see that Ruth thought of him as more than a benefactor.  So here was the plan:  Ruth bathed, perfumed, dressed to impress and stole into the threshing floor to spy out where Boaz would be sleeping.  After his last meal when he was drunk and happy Boaz curled up at the edge of a mound of grain and  slept. As Naomi instructed, Ruth crept up to Boaz  and climbed under the covers at his feet.  In the middle of the night Boaz awoke and noticed that someone was laying at his feet and saw a woman was there.  “Who are you?”  “Its Ruth.  Cover me with your wing of protection for you are a next of kin.”  This thrilled Boaz’s heart “You have blessed me more than I have dared to hope  for you haven’t gone after young men, rich or poor!  You have built a reputation of courage and strength.  You are respected by the whole community and I will do whatever it takes to be your kinsman redeemer but there is a closer relative so I must, legally, give him first choice.  If he agrees than good but if not then, as the Lord lives, I will do the part of kinsman redeemer for you!  Now you must leave before daybreak.  It would not do for you to have anyone see that you spent the night here with me .”  Then Boaz loaded Ruth up with six measures of barley so as not to send her home empty handed to Naomi.

Pretty awesome story so far, huh?!!!  Well the best is yet to come.  Are you getting the idea that God might have a plan yet?Check back for part 3 and we’ll see what happens!

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