24th May 2017

Ruth: Week 3 (Wednesday, May 24 2017)

 

Though only four chapters in length, the Book of Ruth has long been recognised - even by those who don’t believe the Bible - as a literary masterpiece. But for all its literary beauty and excellence, it is so much more than that. It is, for example, about a loving relationship between a young woman and her mother-in-law. It is also about a young maiden from Moab and the man who loved and redeemed her. It is about a romance that triumphs over racial and religious prejudices. We learn from example that the Book of Ruth is about real, genuine love. This series will also teach us that God has a special place in His Word for women, and for the unique, miraculous role they play in His plan. Perhaps nowhere else in God’s Word is a woman’s strength of character and purity of motive more evident than here. Most importantly, the Book of Ruth is a story of God’s purpose to redeem all those who will put their trust in Him, simply because He loves them. Available from www.davidjeremiah.org

 

Chapter 1

v19 The two women went to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, all the people in the town started to talk about them. The women asked, ‘Is this really Naomi?’ v20 But Naomi said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi. Call me *Mara, because *The Almighty has made life very bitter for me. v21 I went away full. The *LORD has brought me back empty. So do not call me Naomi. The *LORD has spoken against me. *The Almighty has done bad things to me.’ v22 So Naomi came home. Ruth, her son’s wife, came with her from the country called Moab. They reached Bethlehem at the beginning of the *barley harvest.

Verses 19-22 Ruth and Naomi travelled together. They arrived at Bethlehem when the men were beginning to harvest the *barley. The women from the town recognised Naomi. They were surprised at how she appeared. She explained her circumstances. She thought that her name should now be Mara. Mara means ‘bitter’. She was without a husband or sons. She had nothing. She thought that God was against her. Only Ruth, the young woman from Moab, remained with her. But in all that she had suffered, Naomi did not stop believing God. She did not understand why her life was sad. She only knew that God was in command.

Chapter 2

v1 Elimelech had been Naomi’s husband. Boaz was a relative of Elimelech. Boaz was an important man. v2 Ruth was from Moab. She said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field where I can *glean *grain. Perhaps someone will be kind to me.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ v3 So Ruth left and went to the field. There she *gleaned *grain behind the harvesters. Now she happened to come to the part of the field that belonged to Boaz. He was a relative of Elimelech. v4 Just then, Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the harvesters, ‘I pray that the *LORD will be with you.’ They said to Boaz, ‘We pray that the *LORD will do good things to you.’

Verse 1 This verse tells us about Boaz before he actually comes into the story. He was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, and he was a rich and honourable man. It is important for us to know the family connection. In Israel, families owned the land. All the land was a gift from God, so each family cared very much about their part of it. Elimelech had no son to take his responsibilities, but his family tried to help Naomi and Ruth.

Verses 2-3 Ruth was younger than Naomi was. So she offered to gather grain that the men had left. It was usual to allow widows and foreigners to do this (see Leviticus 19:9-10). This was called *gleaning. God made this rule for his people. It was a way for them to share his gifts with poor people. Ruth seems to have chosen Boaz’s field by chance. However, we know that God makes good things happen. He does this when we trust him.

Verse 4 Now Ruth was working in the field. Boaz, the master, arrived. He said, ‘I pray that the *LORD will be with you.’ The workers replied, ‘We pray that the *LORD will do good things to you.’ His words to his workers show that he is a good master. He was using words that a priest would use to bless the people. The workers replied in the same way. God was there, at their place of work. His people can always be sure of this.

v5 Boaz asked his servant, ‘Who is that young woman?’ The servant was the leader of the harvesters. v6 He said, ‘The young woman is from Moab. She came back from the country called Moab with Naomi. v7 She said, “Let me *glean by the *sheaves. Let me walk behind the harvesters.” She came at dawn and has been working until now. She only rested in the house for a short time.’

v8 So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen to me, my daughter. Do not go to another part of this field to *glean. Do not go away from here. Stay with my women servants. v9 Look in the field where the harvesters are. *Glean where they are. I will tell the men not to touch you. The men have filled jars with water. If you want a drink, use those jars.’ v10 Then Ruth fell on the ground and hid her face. She asked him, ‘Why are you so kind to me? Why did you notice me? I am a foreign woman.’ v11 Boaz replied, ‘They told me everything that you have done for your husband’s mother. When your husband died, you came away from your mother and father and from your own country. You came to people that you did not know before. v12 I ask the *LORD to be good to you for what you have done. I pray that the *LORD, the God of Israel, will pay you in full. That is because you came to him for protection.’ v13 Then she said, ‘You are so kind to me, my *lord, because you are giving me help. I am only a servant girl, but you speak to me like a friend. I am not even one of your own women servants.’

Verses 5-13 Verse 5 makes it clear that Boaz and Ruth had not met before. The chief worker told his master that Ruth had come to Bethlehem with Naomi. And he told Boaz that she was from Moab. She had asked him to allow her to join the other women. And he did. She worked hard. So Boaz’s chief worker had obeyed God’s law. The stranger had gathered food with the women from Bethlehem.

 

In verse 8, Boaz showed Ruth that he accepted her. He gave her protection. And he offered her drink from the water jugs that his young men had brought. This was more than the law demanded. Boaz was very helpful to Ruth. He was a generous master. And he was kind to those who depended on him.

Ruth had not expected so much kindness. She was very grateful and humble. She fell on the ground to show that she respected him. Her first question was, ‘Why are you so kind to me? I am a foreign woman.’ He had looked after her especially.

 

Boaz showed Ruth that he accepted her. Boaz’s God will accept her too. She has chosen to come and be one of God’s people, so God will surround her with his love. He will keep Ruth safe. He will be like a mother bird that provides shelter for her babies under her wings.


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