We left off yesterday with Boaz spotting Ruth for the first time. Ruth was gleaning, Boaz was leaning. :0) Curious and apparently already interested, he begins to care for her, tend to her before one even really knows who the other is. Let's see what happens.
Read Ruth 2: 4-9
Do you see Boaz's care and concern for Ruth in his first words to her? He tells her not to leave his fields and that she is to follow after his servant girls. He is already tending to her safety by keeping her in a place where he can make sure she is safe. Essentially he's telling her, "I've got your back." Boaz's words far exceed Ruth's expectation and hope. You see, she is keenly aware of the fact that she is a foreigner and would likely never be allowed to glean in an Israelite's fields. Not only does he allow her to glean, he elevates her to the same status as his female servants - this was more than Ruth could have ever hoped for! And to top it all off, in verse nine he extends the offer to go get a drink from the water jars the men have filled. At a cursory glance, this seems a kind act, a nice thing to offer. But, according to ancient customs, Boaz has just handed her a glass of water on a silver platter. Traditionally she would be drawing water for the Israelites, not drinking water drawn by Israelites. That water would have likely been drawn at the city gates and brought back to the fields for the workers. The kind of time and effort involved in that might very well have taken a large portion of a worker's day. He's just saved her a huge headache and dropped an equally huge hint as to his interest level.
I don't know about you, but I think on times when my sweet husband has taken a stand for me or tried to protect me and I tell you, never has he been more attractive. There is just something about a man providing for and protecting a woman that gets to me. You might even go so far as to say he is showing me hesed, just as Boaz did by protecting Ruth from the workers in the fields and taking care of her needs. He was treating her as a lady ought to be treated!
Read verses 10-13
I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a statement: The men of today notice women primarily for their beauty. A little wealth and status might be nice too. Would you agree with that? I think that is a fair assessment. Now, go back and read verse 11. Boaz was interested in Ruth for reasons that supersede beauty. She brought relatively little to the table, culturally speaking. She had no position, wealth or power to draw him in. What did he notice her for? He noticed her for her CHARACTER!! Man, that Boaz just gets better and better.
I am touched by Ruth's response in verse 13. Ruth understands that technically she is lower than a servant girl. What can be lower than that? They had some rights and standing but Ruth didn't even possess that. Such a humbling thought. Again, here we see her character shine through. She was unashamed and pressed forward with the job she had to do.
Read verse 14 and let's camp there for just a minute. Scripture doesn't say the amount of time that has passes since verse 13. But here we find Ruth invited to dine at Boaz's table - nothing short of astonishing! Here is a lower-than-a-servant-girl invited to dine with the reapers. She had no entitlement to be there, no right to the meal, no privilege to the table. And yet she sat. This was a gift given by a person of extraordinary kindness and the power to do so. Kindness alone was not enough - power had to be part of the equation. Ruth needed Boaz to dine at the table, we need Jesus to dine at the King's table. Without him and his redemptive work in our lives, we could never dine with the King. We simply are not worthy.
I know that yesterday I said we would finish the chapter today but there is more to it than I thought. It seems as though we are breaking Ruth apart, verse by verse. Not my original intention but, like I said at the beginning of this journey, I've never done this before. I'm learning as I go and thankful for your interest and patience. Thank you for all of the kind emails. They are keeping me going!
We'll pick up again tomorrow at verse 15 - are you still with me???