When Naomi and Ruth settled in Naomi’s homeland, Scripture shows us Ruth was sincere in her loyalty to her mother-in-law.
The chapter begins with an introduction of Boaz as a wealthy man who was kin to Naomi’s late husband. Immediately following this, Ruth asked for permission to go to the field and “glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.”
Gleaning was a common practice by the poor. Gleaning was the gathering of grain that either had been dropped by laborers, or left intentionally for them in a field.
Did Naomi suggest that Ruth should go to the field owned by Boaz? Some people have suggested this is a possibility, but in verse 3 we are told, “her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz.” Perhaps it appeared that Ruth had incredibly good luck in finding the field owned by Boaz, but actually luck had nothing to do with what happened. Ruth’s steps and her choices were directed by the providence of God.
When Boaz came to his field, he saw Ruth and asked his overseer about her. The man said she was the one who came back from Moab with Naomi. She asked for permission to glean, and had been working all day.
Boaz approached Ruth, telling her not to glean in another field. Stay close to his workers, Boaz told Ruth, because he had given them special instructions to bring no harm to her. When she wanted water, drink the water his servants had drawn for the workers.
Overwhelmed by his generosity, Ruth fell down. How is it, she asked, that Boaz would care for a stranger like her? Boaz said he was aware of her loyalty to Naomi. Ruth left everything behind to be with her mother-in-law, and Boaz, pronounced a blessing on her by saying, “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”
Boaz gave Ruth permission to eat with his workers, and he ordered the workers to purposely leave some of the harvest behind for Ruth.
At the end of the day, Ruth had enough grain to feed her and Naomi for several days. She had worked diligently, but she also benefited from the kindness of Boaz.
How do we apply this to our lives? First, God wants us to help poor people, and help does not necessarily come every time in the same form. Gleaning taught everyone that our ultimate help comes from God.
n The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. firstname.lastname@example.org.