As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don’t embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered.
For anyone of you who has read through the book of Ruth I’m sure you were blessed by this story of a foreign woman finding her way in a new land. While reading through this book in preparation for our wedding last year, all we kept on seeing was a picture of God through the love of Boaz. From all the sections of the book that spoke to me, this scene resonated with my life the most:
The word that comes to my mind in this chapter is dignity. In watching Boaz’ interaction with Ruth, I see a man who dignifies a poor foreigner in front of those who would have probably gone against her. She was a Moabite, a descendant of Moab who was born out of a woman who slept with her father to bear a child (Gen. 19). Beyond being a foreigner, the Israelites despised those who came from this incestuous nation. The beauty of this story is how Boaz honors her amidst a hostile crowd. He publicly acknowledged her sacrifice and rewarded her commitment. He recognizes an aspect of Ruth that most people would have overlooked because of her family line seeing a character and beauty in her that initiates a redemptive outflow.The part that strikes me the most is how Boaz ordered his men to “pull our some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up..” That image gave me a picture of how God goes before us in our journey through life.
After spending some time reviewing my life, I recently came to realize how much my parents have gone out before me. In our thank you speech at the wedding, I literally wept like a baby (cue the flattering picture) as I shared to all the guests a picture of my parents going before me, lifting off all the debris, road blocks and obstacles from my path as I race freely through life.
I can imagine that day as Ruth gleans in the field, how amazed she was at how much she had gotten. She must have gone home surprised at how much she had done and eager to show her days work to her mother. At times we all go through life bringing home awards and achievements, getting jobs, promotions and an A for one of our classes, thinking how much we have done. We receive it all and at times we take it all for granted. For me, I remember thinking back before the wedding, realizing how easy life was because of what my parents had done, how much they had set the stage for my journey. How much more must we honor a God who takes the heat and burden before we even arrive, who went before us moving the weights, boulders and stones from our path.
But often, I go home, after a good preaching or a job well done in the mission field and praise my efforts more than he who made it easy. I claim the credit, receive the recognition and pat my own shoulder as God looks back carrying aside the next obstacle from my path. Through this passage, I see God’s sovereignty and silent actions of love in the works of Boaz. I can imagine Boaz whispering these orders to his workers as Ruth exits the room, picturing how happy and empowered she may be as she goes home that night. And to think… God does that for me all the time. He leaves his bits of forgiveness on the road knowing I will fail and drops some anointing in the places he knows I’ll need an extra boost. God knows what we need and he leaves it there right in front of us.