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Immediately after the scene of the beginning of the barley harvest at the end of the previous chapter (Rth 1:22), attention is drawn to Boaz. He is the second man to be mentioned in this book. The first man, Elimelech, has failed. He has left the place of blessing and brought a curse upon his descendants. The second man is not weak, but powerful and he restores everything in which the first man has failed.
This first and second man are a picture of the first man and second Man, the first Adam and the last Adam (1Cor 15:45; 47). In the first Adam all men died; in Christ, the last Adam, those who are connected with Him are made alive. Naomi was first connected to the first man. It turned out that death was connected with this. Now a relationship is established with the second man, not by her, but by Ruth.
Naomi seems to have forgotten that he is there. Therefore, there is bitterness in her heart. With us there is often bitterness because we forget that there is Someone Who can help us. But the Holy Spirit points to Him, as He points to Boaz here.
The name Boaz means ‘in him is strength’. He is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus as He is in glory, the heavenly land. Before he appears on the stage, some things are said about him. First of all, he is a relative of Naomi. This fits in with the picture of the Lord Jesus because the Lord Jesus took part in blood and flesh and thus became a ‘blood relative’ of us (Heb 2:14-15). Only by becoming like men – but without sin! (Heb 4:15) – He could become a Savior or Redeemer for men. Boaz is also a very wealthy man. He also has the means to redeem.
The mention that he is “from the family of Elimelech” emphasizes his relationship with Elimelech. Elimelech did not live up to the meaning of his name, ‘my God is King’. Elimelech had died outside the land. He is a picture of Israel that has not recognized the rule of God in any way. As a result, God has caused them to be taken away from their land in His discipline, and made them perish. Now someone else is coming to give full shape to the kingship of God. This is perfectly to be seen in the Lord Jesus. Everything Israel has failed in, He has lived up to perfectly. He voluntarily went into judgment and death to restore the broken relationship between God and His people. The people have lost everything, but Christ has made everything good.
Ruth Wants to Glean
Ruth takes the initiative to pick up the ears. Naomi does not seem capable of anything. Ruth is in the land, but she is not satisfied with it. She longs for food. For this she has to work, she has to make an effort. A spiritual longing for God’s Word will prompt a diligent investigation of it.
In practical terms, we can also learn from Ruth. She doesn’t stay at home waiting for work to come to her. She goes looking for work, she makes an effort to find it. God blesses such action. It also applies in following a training course. There too God will bless effort. It is about being faithful in what is expected of us. Whoever wants to do the will of the Lord is led by Him to the place of blessing.
Ruth is aware that she depends on grace. After all, she has no right to anything. But where there are no rights and someone is aware of that, there can be made an appeal to grace. In that mind she wants to go. Ruth will not have known much about God’s gracious provisions in a case like hers (Lev 23:22; Lev 19:9; Deu 24:19). Because her heart, however, has gone out to the God and the land of Naomi, the faith that is in her is given the space to act. She could have stayed at home, but she realizes that she can appeal to grace.
God works, but man must go in faith. It is not about rights, but about grace. She will, as “the dogs”, be content with “the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Mt 15:27). It is not about a field where she will be able to pick up ears, but about a person who will allow her in his grace on his field. That’s what she says. She says she wants to “glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor”.
The initiative does come from Ruth, but she does not act impulsively and on her own. She discusses her considerations with Naomi. It is good for young believers to discuss certain initiatives with spiritually-minded older believers. Naomi confirms her intention and she goes.
There is great connectedness between Naomi and Ruth. Naomi represents the ancient Israel, but then the part that repents and that takes shape is seen in Ruth. In Ruth the faith of the remnant is revealed. This picture shows the relationship that exists between the faithful remnant in the future and the Israel from the past. Together they represent God’s people, with on the one hand the hopeless situation as a result of their own unfaithfulness and on the other hand the burgeoning faith with dependency on God’s grace. God will fulfill all His promises He has made to Israel in the past, to the remnant in the future. The remnant will be aware that that fulfillment will fall to them by pure grace.
Ruth Enters the Field of Boaz
Ruth has no preference whatsoever for the field where she can glean. She would not know on which field she is welcome, or on which field the most grain lies. As far as she is concerned, any field is good. That is why she will have gone into the first available field. This ‘happens to be’ the field of Boaz. That is seen from her side. For us who know this history, it is clear that God has guided it in this way. The ‘chance’ encounters that we may have, encounters that ‘happen to us’, are also God-governed events, through which He works out certain intentions.
This would not have happened to her if she had still been under the idols of Moab. The idols of Moab would not have sent her there to that field. She is not looking for the redeemer, she doesn’t know him at all. But the God of Israel, to Whom she has entrusted herself, is working to connect her to Boaz, without her being aware of it. God guides the blind to a way they do not know (Isa 42:16a). In this way He makes Ruth one of the cases in which He brings a woman to a man. He also brought Eve to Adam.
She comes “after the reapers” to glean ears. The reapers do an important job. If there were no reapers, there was nothing to glean. The field could be full of wheat, but poor Ruth wouldn’t be able to take anything from it. Reapers provide us with the grown-up corn. Reapers are the people who mow the wheat and bind it together in sheaves. What they drop is food for the poor. It is also the case in spiritual terms. What would we know of the blessings if the Lord had not given gifts (Eph 4:7; 11) which know the blessings and distribute them to those who have come to faith?
The Testimony About Ruth to Boaz
Then Boaz appears. The words he and his reapers exchange at the greeting, prove the good relationship between them. Boaz comes from Bethlehem to his field. His blessing for his reapers is that the LORD will be with them. It is reminiscent of the words “peace be to you” which the Lord Jesus says to His disciples when He appears among them after His resurrection (Jn 20:19-23). They do everything under His supervision and blessing. In their turn the reapers wish Boaz the blessing of the LORD. Thus, all the workers of the Lord Jesus wish Him blessing from God (cf. Psa 20:1-5).
In practical terms, this greeting between an employer and his employees is rare in a society where the boss is generally governed by selfishness and the subordinates by suspicion. All kinds of regulations can limit evil a little, but never exclude it, because the root of evil remains. Only when the Lord Jesus will reign righteously and the relationships with Him will be experienced immediately in a new way of thinking, will the situation be as it is here, in the field of Boaz. Yet both employers and employees who know the Lord Jesus are called to deal with each other in the spirit of this greeting (Eph 6:5-9).
Then Boaz asks about Ruth. His eye is on her (cf. Psa 33:18). He notices her as a new one on his field. He pays attention to her, but doesn’t show that directly to herself. He does not ask who she is, but whose she is: “Whose young woman is this?” Boaz is no longer a young man. In any case, he is a lot older than Ruth, because he addresses her a little later as a ‘daughter’. He is still not married. So, he asks whom she belongs to, whose she is. In veiled terms he asks if she is already married. This fits in perfectly with this history, which is primarily a love story.
From a spiritual point of view, the question can also be asked to us: ‘Whose are you, whom do you belong to?’ If the things of the world control our lives, we are from the world and not from the Lord.
The servant tells Boaz who Ruth is, and reports on her activities. She is someone who has left the plains of Moab behind her and who wants to be dependent on grace. As proof of the latter, the servant cites her statement with which she asked him to glean ears. She did it in the humblest way, she did not demand work. She longed to glean Bethlehem’s food and gather it. She asked for a place close to the sheaves behind the reapers.
In spiritual terms this speaks of the desire of a young believer to read (glean ears) in God’s Word and to see the coherence of the different verses (gather). To this end, the young believer will like to be close to believers who have already discovered this coherence, and he will like to learn from them. Therefore, he will like to visit meetings where God’s Word is explained and he will like to read comments that show him the coherence in God’s Word.
Boaz talks to his servant about Ruth. The servant who is in charge of the reapers is a picture of the Holy Spirit. He speaks to the Lord Jesus about us (cf. Rom 8:26). When someone comes in humility to receive blessing, the Lord sees it, He notices it. The servant testifies of her that she has focused entirely on her work. Therefore, he mentions that she is someone who “has been sitting in the house for a little while”, which probably indicates sitting in a hut in the field to find rest and shade. Ruth did it only for a little while.
Boaz Speaks to Ruth
Then Boaz turns to Ruth. He does so with due respect for her attitude. He doesn’t overload her with a load of grain and doesn’t speak about his place as the redeemer. His first words are an encouragement for her not to go to another field and not to leave the field where she is now either. She has ended up on the right field. Leaving that field will mean that she disadvantages herself. What a blessing she will lose if that happens. For us this means not to leave the place where the Lord Jesus is with His blessing.
He also encourages her to join his maids. They have been on the field for a long time. They know where the gleanings are: with the reapers. She has to stay with them, that is the best company. The picture shows that the Lord Jesus indicates that fellowship with other believers in His field is the way in which we can make the spiritual blessings our own. In this way we will grow in faith.
He points her to “the field”, that is his whole land. That is what her eyes should be focused on. Thus, the Lord Jesus points out to us that a great expanse of blessing is waiting in the heavenly land. Every believer who desires to know all the spiritual blessings he possesses “in the heavenly [regions] of Christ” (Eph 1:3) may enjoy them. That blessing is ready to be gathered by us, handful by handful. If we want to receive that blessing, we must be where the Lord bestows the blessing. Other fields may also be good, but they are not the fields of Boaz. It’s about being where he is. He encourages her to keep searching. We must keep searching in the Word of God (Isa 34:16).
Boaz also said something to the servants. He has forbidden them to touch Ruth. The field of Boaz is characterized by purity. For us it means: Keep your hands off. Do not touch anything that is not yours (1Thes 4:3-8). Keep the relationships pure. Keep yourself clean.
From a spiritual point of view, one application is that those who have been given a service to do by the Lord Jesus may not submit the believers to themselves. They must not harass the believers by imposing burdens on them. Instead, He has given His servants another command: They must use their hands to refresh thirsty souls. “Drink from what the servants draw”, means that we listen with desire to healthy teaching from the Word through the gifts the Lord Jesus has given. These gifts are themselves first refreshed by the Word and have gathered it and can then pass it on.
Ruth falls down before Boaz. She is impressed by His Mercy. This show of mercy comes to her unexpectedly. We pray for mercy, and when we receive it, it causes wonder. The heart says to the Lord Jesus: “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Then the Lord explains how He appreciates it when a heart seeks His blessing. He rewards every trust in His grace as if it were a merit. Whoever takes refuge in Him is rewarded. The Lord’s recognition of this as merit does not mean that there is anything we can boast of. It is all the result of His work and grace.
That is why Ruth speaks of a favor. She doesn’t yet know what else is going to come, but her attitude prepares her to receive more. She will soon get beyond praying and thinking.
Boaz Tells What He Knows About Ruth
In his answer, Boaz does not elaborate on the grace that impressed her so much. He speaks only of what she has done. He praises her dedication. Boaz’s answer shows that she is not a stranger to him. First, he mentions what she had done for her mother-in-law after the death of her husband. The death of her husband has not been a reason for Ruth to look for a new partner in Moab. Instead, she has focused on being there for Naomi.
She has become more and more attached to Naomi. This will undoubtedly be because of Naomi’s faith, which, despite the weakness with which that faith was apparent, she nevertheless noticed in her. This has awakened in Ruth a longing for the God of Naomi. This desire can only be appeased in one way and that is by linking her fate to that of Naomi.
Ruth was not a restless pleasure seeker who lived from one party to another. She was looking for rest for her heart and she felt that Naomi could somehow help her in that. That is why she linked her fate to Naomi’s and went with her mother-in-law. This meant that she turned her back on her parental home, to which she could have returned after the death of her husband and to which Naomi had also wanted her to turn back (Rth 1:8). She has cut the natural ties to never restore them again. In her we see the practice of the Lord Jesus’ words: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10:37a).
Then Boaz speaks about what she left and where she went. Thus, the Lord Jesus speaks to every believer who has been impressed by grace. Abraham also left the land once and went, showing faith in what God said, to the land that God would point out to him. Ruth is a second Abraham, she has done the same. With her this did not happen because of faith in a promise of God, but through what she heard about Him from Naomi, and what she saw of Him in her.
Boaz speaks of recompense and “full” wages from the LORD for what Ruth has done. He tells her where her faith has brought her and what else she will get. She has come to seek refuge under the “wings” of the LORD, the God of Israel. Those who do so will not only find protection, but so much more. God rewards this trust in Him, with rich blessings.
Peter asks the Lord Jesus what their share will be because they have left everything down. In his answer, the Lord even speaks of a hundredfold blessing and the inheritance of eternal life: “Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:27-29). The grace of God is so great that He gives a rich reward to those who relinquish all for His sake.
Reaction of Ruth to the Kindness of Boaz
All these words of grace make a great impression on Ruth. It happens to her as it also happened to Mephiboseth who is also overwhelmed by the grace David shows him (2Sam 9:8). She does not doubt his grace, even less does she refuse it, but she confesses her unworthiness. She feels overwhelmed by his favor which is a comfort for her.
After everything she that she has experienced and left behind, she needs it. Her heart has been searching for what really brings peace. In that which Boaz says to her, she feels that peace flowing in. This doesn’t make her self-aware and self-assured, but humble and small. She remains aware of her origin. When she thinks about Boaz’ servants, she is reluctant to compare herself with them. Grace always thinks less of ourselves, and considers others more than ourselves.
If we are aware of our origins from sin, we will particularly appreciate the favor God has shown us. That will also keep us from placing ourselves above others. We will consider others higher than ourselves (Phil 2:3b).
Boaz and Ruth Eat Together
The blessing is getting bigger and bigger, according to the principle that “to everyone who has, [more] shall be given” (Mt 25:29a). Boaz invites her to come and eat with him, and his reapers. Boaz is not always busy giving orders to all his servants. He also grants them their rest. In that time of rest, they take food.
In all his activities it is necessary for a servant of the Lord to take some rest with Him (Mk 6:31a) and eat what He gives. Before they continue their service, they must have enjoyed the food themselves first. After that they can also hand out to others.
Ruth sits down. This is necessary to take the food at rest. The Lord also recommends that the crowds “sit on the grass” first and then feeds them (Mt 14:19). Then Boaz personally gives Ruth the food, while she is sitting beside the reapers. A service for the Lord does not give us the right to a place closer to Him than someone who has just come to faith.
For Ruth, the meal has a special meaning. It is, so to speak, a phase in her spiritual development. She is involved by Boaz in fellowship with him and his servants. A meal is a picture of fellowship. Spiritual development and ‘a meal’ belong together. So, we see it with Esther, who first receives grace and then has a meal with the king (Est 5:4-8; Est 7:1-2). We also see it with the brothers of Joseph (Gen 43:33-34).
Ruth takes her place among the reapers and takes from Boaz’s hands what he has for her. This is a personal blessing for her, different from what she gets from the reapers. He gives her “roasted grain”. This is the food that came in the place of the manna, after the people of Israel arrived in the promised land (Jos 5:11-12). The roasted grain is grain that has been in the fire. It speaks of the Lord Jesus who was in the fire of God’s judgment. He has been in death, but he is also risen and gives eternal life to everyone who believes. That is the illustration of what has happened to Ruth
She has to dip it in the vinegar herself. It recalls the sour wine offered to the Lord Jesus during His suffering on the cross (Psa 69:22; Mt 27:48). This is a picture that when she takes this food, she must remember what a suffering this has meant for the Lord Jesus. Then she eats, is satisfied and has some left. We also see that there is some food left when the Lord has fed the crowd (Mt 14:20). That is how grace acts. There is always more than what is required for our needs. Our capacity to receive is always much less than His capacity to give. He always provides according to His wealth, and that wealth is inexhaustible.
The Servants Get a New Command
After she has eaten and is satisfied, she doesn’t go home. She has not become lazy by the grace shown to her. She rises and continues gleaning. She remains busy. That gives Boaz the opportunity to show a second sign of his personal affection. She does not have to stay at the edge of the field, but may “glean even among the sheaves”.
He instructs his servants to purposely pull out some grain for her. His servants don’t decide how to deal with hungry souls. It would also have been easier for them to directly give her a whole sheaf. But they like to serve Boaz and by his grace they communicate to others in the way he indicates. What belongs to the Lord Jesus, we may give in grace to others who remain in the blessings, without being entitled to direct them. The servants are there for others.
Boaz doesn’t give her in the lap what he wants to give her. Boaz’s grain is already assigned to her, but she has to glean herself, she has to make an effort to glean. The result of the gathered ears is therefore not only dependent on her zeal, but also and in the first place on the goodness of Boaz. In the same way, we may diligently examine the Scriptures, but the riches we draw from them are the result of the goodness of the Lord Jesus. Only His blessing makes us rich (Pro 10:22a).
Ruth must not have been aware of this sign of his love, unless she has had her eyes open to the fact that there are suddenly so many ears to glean. They have been left especially for her. The Lord has for each of His own special grain, a special sign of His love, which He sends to us through obedient, faithful servants.
Ruth has gleaned, but she also needs to beat out. Grain cannot grow without straw. However, straw is not food for humans. In speeches and comments there will often also be some straw, such as examples or repetition, so that the meaning of the Bible section is well remembered. In addition, there is the weakness of the expressions that are used or sometimes wanting to say it more beautifully to impress. All these human elements must be removed. Often, it is those things that we take home from a meeting and we talk to each other about the straw, and little or not at all about the grain. We remember the defective or beautiful form in which something is said, while ignoring the content.
Ruth has no interest in straw. She beats the grain out to take it home, because only therein is food. Spiritually, it means that we consider before the Lord what we have read in God’s Word and take into our hearts what it contains. Not everything we hear or read we keep. It’s about what we beat out. We have to work on it and we have to make an effort to do so. Then what we have gathered can become bread.
Ruth has gleaned an ephah of barley at the end of the day. An ephah is ten omer (Exo 16:36) and an omer in the wilderness was the meal of manna for one day (Exo 16:16; 22). Ruth has collected food for ten days. She takes that home, so others can be fed with it.
Beating out also indicates that more work needs to be done to get the full benefit of what she has gathered. It can be compared to the ‘chewing the cud’ – by clean animals (Lev 11:3) – of what we have taken from the Word, for example in a meeting or at a conference. Beating out means to pray and think about what we have read or heard from and about God’s Word. Many impressions disappear like smoke, simply because we haven’t thought about them afterwards.
Ruth Lets Naomi Share in the Blessing
Ruth takes with her what she has gathered and beaten out. Yet she does not give that to Naomi. She gives Naomi what she has left, after she was satisfied with what Boaz gave her (Rth 2:14). The rich Ruth lets the still poor Naomi share in her abundance. With what we have personally received from Christ in abundance, we can feed others. This is not only in the meeting, but especially in our contacts as believers with each other.
How much did we enjoy the Lord Jesus? Is that so much that we can also give it to others, out of its abundance? Often our contacts are limited to everyday conversations which we also have with our unbelieving neighbors. That is not necessarily wrong, but sometimes it is the result of spiritual poverty, so the level of conversation doesn’t go beyond earthly things.
Naomi can see from the large quantity, that Ruth is particularly blessed by a landowner. Because of the fruit she sees, Naomi asks where she has been. People ask us, when they see what we have and hand out, where we have been. The Thessalonians are known throughout the area to belong to the Lord Jesus and live for Him (1Thes 1:8). If we spend a lot of time watching TV and surfing the internet, if we have been busy in those ‘fields’, and have read nothing of the ‘field’ of God’s Word then we probably can’t hand out anything. I take with me to the meeting, where I have been, and what I have been doing.
In answer to Naomi’s question, Ruth does not mention the place where she worked, but the name of the man on whose place she worked: Boaz. It means something special to Ruth, but only that he is a friendly man who has blessed her richly. She now knows his name, that name with the beautiful meaning ‘in him is strength’. There is growth in her spiritual development. So, it is with someone who has just come to faith. First, he is happy about the forgiveness of his sins, then he becomes happy with the Redeemer by getting to know Him more personally, by discovering more the meaning of the Name ‘Jesus’ (meaning ‘in Him is salvation’).
Boaz Is One of the Closest Relatives
For Naomi, Boaz’s name is a new ray of light in her dark circumstances. In her hopeless situation she is suddenly reminded of Boaz, the blood related, the Redeemer. She should have known that in him there is salvation, but she has forgotten him. God makes sure that she gets in touch with him again. Naming him suddenly opens the blessing of the LORD for her.
Ruth has the faith, Naomi has the knowledge. Naomi sees the goodness of the LORD for the dead, that offspring could come, and therefore goodness for the living. His goodness to the dead means that everything He promised will be fulfilled by Him to their offspring. He will do so through the ‘close relative’ or the Redeemer. As soon as eyes are turned to Him, hope appears with all consequent blessing.
The word here translated as ‘close relative’ is literally ‘redeemer’. The word comes from family law. The word contains the meaning of demanding back, buy out, release, redeem. The person of the redeemer occurs in four connections:
1. The redeemer may reclaim a piece of land; he may redeem it from someone who bought it from the original owner (Lev 25:25). Thus, the land will be made free of encumbrance (Isa 63:16-18) in relationship with the remnant, who will again be put in the possession of their inheritance.
2. There is also a meaning of redeeming people who have sold themselves out of poverty (Lev 25:48-49). They can also be made free (Isa 43:1; Isa 51:11). God buys back His people from all the nations of the earth.
3. The redeemer also releases debt. We see that with the blood avenger (Num 35:16-27), that is literally a blood redeemer. What does he redeem? He redeems by killing the killer (Isa 47:3-4).
4. The redeemer is also the one who releases his brother’s wife from childlessness – the duty of a husband’s brother (Deu 25:5-6). Boaz will redeem Ruth (Rth 3:13). He will not redeem something for or on behalf of Ruth, the inheritance, but herself. This makes him both her redeemer and her husband. These are also the relations in which the LORD stands to his people (Isa 54:5).
For Naomi, Boaz is still “one of our redeemers”, not yet the only redeemer. She is similar to people who have a high appreciation of the Lord Jesus, but for whom He is not yet the unique Redeemer (cf. Mt 16:13b-14). But she is on the right track.
Ruth Continues to Work on the Field of Boaz
Boaz has overwhelmed Ruth with the great promise that she is allowed to be on his land with his servants until the end of the harvest. The servants are his servants and the land is his land. Everything belongs to Boaz.
Ruth’s thoughts go no further than that she can be on his field every day. But Naomi already sees Ruth as Boaz’s wife. Her faith and hope have been awakened. Naomi works slowly with Ruth because Ruth doesn’t know of a redeemer yet. Love cannot be forced; restoration cannot be enforced either. Love must have its own natural development. So, Ruth needs be there every day on the field to meet Boaz every day.
The period that she works in the field of Boaz will last fifty days, from the beginning of the barley harvest (Rth 1:22) until all Boaz’s harvest is finished. When the harvest of wheat is over, it is the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Exo 34:22; Lev 23:15-21; Deu 16:9-12). Ruth chapter 2 takes place between the Passover and the Feast of Weeks, i.e. in a period of seven weeks. We can assume that during that time Boaz and Ruth have eaten together every day, in the presence of others. In this way they got to know each other better in a relaxed and practical way.
Ruth has always looked for the right company, by which she gained the blessing for herself. Ruth not only started well, but she also continued well until the end of the harvest. Perseverance is an important characteristic for a believer. She also stays with her mother-in-law. She continues to remain true to what Naomi suggests
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ruth 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26