Guitar Instruction by Paige

Coffee, the Bible, and Paige… Ruth ch2

 

Chapter 2

Before we get started. I just want to remind you of something.

This devotional series that I’ve been working on in the last several years has been very transformative for me. I’ve gone through the Gospel of John and the entire New Testament, and now I’m into the Old Testament – from Genesis onward.

The process that I’m using is based on a Psalms one:

”Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in it he does meditate day and night everything he does prospers.” 

The word meditate means to talk or mutter to oneself about something.

In my entire life I’ve used that process to figure things out. I like to verbally walk my way through a problem. When I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and then the pandemic hit, I found myself basically home alone for 18 months out of an abundance of caution as I did not want that virus to interact with my heart condition.

I started reading the Bible in a devotional manner. Now – I used to think that of all the ways a Bible study, that this method (the devotional method) was probably at the bottom of the ladder of effectiveness in regards to Bible study.

I could not have been more wrong. It has turned out to be one of the most valuable forms of Bible study for me.

I’ll read a passage of Scripture and then I’ll think aloud (that whole “muttering” thing from Psalms 1) – that is I will talk about it to myself in a stream of consciousness kind of thing as I think about that passage at that moment.

Once I’ve gone through the New Testament and the Old Testament in this method , the next time around I’m going to go back in start taking a deeper dive into selected passages – but they will mean more to me then because then I will have the overall context attained through reading devotionally.

So having said that, today in Ruth chapter 2, Ruth has accompanied Naomi back from Moab because Naomi and her husband had moved to Moab with their sons when there was a famine, and they’re staying in Moab.

This book has two stories happening. One is about Ruth because, well, gosh, her name’s in the title, right? But the other story is what happens with Naomi. She’s angry, she’s bitter, she’s buried in  grief as she returns home to Bethlehem.

As Naomi prepares to return home, and she tells her two daughters-in-law,

“Stay here in your country with your people and find another husband.”

Ruth’s sister decides to stay home in Moab, but Ruth makes up her mind to accompany her mother-in-law.

The have returned to Bethlehem, and that’s where we pick up the story. They’re back home now, and what is Naomi going to do?

She doesn’t have a husband to provide for her, and that’s where we pick up the story.

 

Chapter two 

“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.”

By the way, you’ll find Boaz’s name in both genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. 

“And Ruth, the Moabite, said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field, and began to glean behind the harvesters.”

As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.

Now, although Ruth is a foreigner, and as a young woman alone, she’s obviously quite vulnerable in the harvest field.

As a single woman, she could be the prey of any man with bad intentions, but yet she still undertakes to provide for her mother-in-law.

I don’t know if you know how incredible that one thing is.

  1. Ruth left her country
  2. Ruth left her people
  3. Ruth left her culture to
  4. Ruth bowed her knee to Jehovah.

In summary, she came out of an anti-God environment, and she’s embraced Jehovah, and she’s embraced her mother-in-law.

And she would be, as a single woman, vulnerable, and yet she embraced the danger of it all, and she embraced the uncertainty of it all, and she set out to provide for her mother-in-law.

The law of Moses instructed landowners to leave what the harvesters missed so that the poor, the foreigner, the widow, and the fatherless could glean for their needs. In other words, these people, the poor, would go behind the harvesters, and whatever did not make it into a sheaf of barley or wheat – what was left on the ground was theirs to pick up to meet their needs.

So just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. The Lord be with you.

The Lord bless you, they answered. Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” The overseer replied, “She’s 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.’”

I don’t imagine there was much that would distinguish Ruth from any other woman around in order to attract Boaz’s attention.

I don’t imagine her being dressed in a way that would attract male attention. In fact, I expect just the opposite actually, she would NOT want to attract male attention – that could be dangerous for a Moabite woman.

But Boaz notices Ruth, and he wants to know who she is. 

And the overseer replied, “She is the Moabite, who came back from Moab with Naomi.”

People in that area knew Naomi’s story, because she had talked about it when she came back from Moab.

They knew that Naomi was a widow, and that her daughter-in-law, Ruth, was also a widow. Ruth has remained here in the barley fields of Boaz from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter. So she was working hard.

You’re about to see how hard in here in a minute.

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 get a drink from the water jars that the men have filled.” Now, it’s customary for the men to cut the grain, and for the female servants to go behind them to bind the grain into sheaves.

Then Ruth could glean what they had left behind. Now he was protecting her by telling the men not to lay a hand on her.

And this little word from Boaz indicates the risk that Ruth had willingly taken on. This was not a safe thing that she did, but she was going to care for Naomi.

She loves her mother-in-law. 

At this, she bowed down to the face of the ground, and she asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me a foreigner?” 

Oh, before I get to his response….What a lady that Ruth was.

She wasn’t trying to fool anybody. She wasn’t trying to be anything other than what she was.

She was a Moabite. She was not Jewish.

And she did not expect Jews to offer her such accommodation as Boaz was. 

Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me a foreigner?

And Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband.

How you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with the people you did not know before.” That tells us so much about Ruth.

May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my Lord,” she said, “you have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant, though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” At mealtime, Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread. Dip it in the wine vinegar.” 

Now, at this point, I don’t know if Boaz is falling in love with her or not. I do see him as taking care of his family. We’re going to see how important that is here in a minute.

She is Naomi’s daughter-in-law, she is taking care of Naomi, and I think he recognizes the risk that Ruth is taking on herself, and he also sees how hard she is working to care for Naomi.

So he calls her over to where he’s eating, inviting her to join him.

He offered her some roasted grain. She ate all that she wanted and had some leftover.

As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves, and do not reprimand her.” 

 “Let her gather among the sheaves, and do not reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles, and leave them for her to pick up. Don’t rebuke her.” 

In other words, leave her some of the good stuff.

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she’d gathered, and it mounted to about an epha.

If you remember the story of Gideon, there’s several ways of threshing.

One is where you throw the grain up into the air, and you hit it with two paddles, really hard, and the outer husk breaks off and floats away in the wind, and the grain itself, being heavier, falls to the ground.

So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she’d gathered, and it mounted to about an epha.

She’d been picking grain all day, and then she threshed it. Now an epha is about 30 pounds.

Folks, that’s a lot of grain. She picked approximately 30 pounds of barley..

She got 30 pounds of grain from her work that day, and she carried it back to town. And her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered.

Ruth also brought out and gave her (Naomi) what she had left over from the roasted barley, that she’d eaten after she’d eaten enough.

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’d been working.

The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz. She said, “The Lord bless him.” She 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.” 

Now the guardian redeemer, traditionally called the kinsman redeemer, is a near relative who’s responsible for protecting the interests of needy members of the extended family.

For example, his role might be to provide an heir for a brother who had died, to redeem land that a poor relative had sold outside the family, to redeem a relative who’d been sold into slavery or to avenge the killing of a relative.

In fact, the word avenger and kinsman redeemer are translations of the same Hebrew word. That’s who Boaz was.

He was wealthy. He was powerful.

He took his role as a kinsman redeemer seriously, and that’s what he was doing here, because Naomi and he were of the same family.

Then Ruth the Moabite said that Boaz told her 

“Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.” 

So Ruth had a steady job all the way through the end of harvest, and she continued working hard, getting a bushel of grain every time she worked. Can you imagine how far that would go in supporting her and Naomi? They would not only have enough to eat, but they’d have enough to sell.

She’s earning a living. She’s supporting both of them.

This Ruth is an amazing lady. 

Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It’ll 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.” So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvest were finished, and she lived with her mother-in-law.

I just love what I’m hearing here, and I love what I’m reading here. How the evidence of Ruth’s changed heart is just right out in the open.

This leads me to a thought concerning when Naomi and her husband moved to Moab because of the famine. One of the reasons that God did not want Israel to interact with the Moabites was because of the danger of the culture overwhelming the culture of Israel, which in those beginning years, was just beginning to be established.

They were in their formative years developing their own culture, their own thoughts, their own way of dressing, their own way of praying, and God did not want the established cultures around them to overwhelm that process.

Does that make sense? He didn’t want Israel interacting with Moab.

Naomi’s family moved to Moab because that’s where food was, and apparently in the midst of that Moabite culture, with the sons taking on Moabite wives, they must have maintained their faithfulness to the God of Israel, to the extent that Ruth embraced it.

She embraced the God of Israel. She embraced El Roi, the God who sees, and we can see that through her actions.

James said in his epistle,

“You say you have faith. That’s great. I have faith too. The difference between you and I is,”

(and I’m paraphrasing of course)

“I show you my faith by what I do. You can see my connection with God by how I live.” 

You could see Ruth’s connection with El Roi, the God who sees – through how she lives her life. Through how she loves Naomi.

She takes care of Naomi.

Her love for Naomi has legs.

Her faith in God has legs. She puts it to work.

Her love for Naomi and her working hard to provide for Naomi speaks huge volumes for this non-Jewish woman named Ruth who would become an ancestress of Jesus.

This is a great story. The other thing that’s happening here is that in the first chapter we saw how bitter and angry and hurt Naomi was because of what had happened, losing her husband, losing her sons-in-law, losing the possibility of an extended family, becoming a grandmother.

She was angry and she was bitter. Remember when she said, 

“Why call me Naomi?

The Lord has afflicted me. The Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.

Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

I went away full. The Lord has brought me back empty.” 

She’s in the depths of sorrow.

She’s in the depths of depression but through and because of Ruth, she’s beginning to see the work of God.

She suggested that Ruth go out to Boaz. She knows who Boaz is.

He’s a member of her family. Apparently Boaz’s reputation preceded him and she knew that Boaz would take care of her daughter-in-law.

Now, I don’t know if she had designs on Boaz marrying her daughter-in-law, but their immediate need was they needed to find food and they needed to find a way to make money.

They needed to find a way to support themselves. Naomi is too old to go out in the fields. But Ruth isn’t. Ruth just takes on that responsibility and goes. And when Ruth comes back and talks to Naomi, you hear Naomi saying words like words like, 

“Blessed be the man who took notice of you.”

In the midst of her grieving, in the midst of her sorrow and anger and bitterness that she was experiencing as she came out of Moab and back to Israel – Naomi does not stay camped there. She still sees this blessing from God’s hand.

She continues to move forward and she continues to give credit to God. She continues to believe in him.

In the midst of her sorrow, this story of Naomi is a powerful one. She’s lost everything and yet she still expresses her faith.

Blessed be the man who took notice of you. The Lord bless him. He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.

In verse 20, she says,

“The Lord bless him.” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” 

At first, I thought this entire paragraph was her referring to Boaz.

But this is Naomi referring to God.

She recognizes the hand of God. She has not walled herself off from God.

The Lord bless him. He (God) has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.

Naomi is showing great courage and faith. Wow. What a woman. 

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Guitar Instruction by Paige

Written By:

Paige Garwood

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