Ruth 1-4 Why have I found favor in your eyes, since I am a foreigner?

From Ruth 1-4

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Naomi decided to return to Israel because they heard the famine was over. Her husband and sons had died. Ruth one of her daughters in law in a heartfelt speech persuaded Naomi to allow her to remain with her. When they returned most of the people remembered Naomi and soon after heard of Ruth. She gained a reputation as the Moabite woman who came with Naomi and gave up her people to begin another life. In this post we meet another special person.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The name of this special person is Boaz.

2 Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.

2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.”

And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. (Ruth 2.1-3)

Boaz is introduced as a worthy man. Ruth goes over to his field. But the text is not clear if Ruth intentionally chose his field over the others. It seems she will try a number and see who finds favour with her.

The text will repeatedly refer to Ruth as a Moabite woman. A foreigner.

4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.”

5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” (Ruth 2.4-7)

Boaz lives up to the narrator’s description. Greeting the workers on his fields and blessing them in the LORD.

How do you greet your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Boaz notices young Ruth gleaning among his fields and enquirers about her, finding out she is the Moabite woman everyone has been talking about.

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. (Ruth 2.8-11)

Boaz approaches her directly and urges her to keep on gleaning at his field. An act of kindness because she could be attacked (raped) at other fields. He will make sure she is looked after.

She asks, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’

How are foreigners normally treated? How should God’s people treat foreigners?

Ruth’s reputation precedes her as a devoted and faithful woman.

12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2.12)

The LORD commonly rewards good behaviour and punishes sin. Boaz highly regards her behaviour and believes the LORD will reward her for it.

Notice as well, joining the people of Israel also signifies she has taken refuge under Israel’s God.

She finds refuge under the wings of the God of Israel. Who is your refuge?

13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2.13)

Ruth responds in thanks to Boaz’s kindness.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Ruth is a notable example of how God has included Gentiles into his plan of salvation. Ruth and Boaz get married and their son is an ancestor of King David (Ruth 4.17-22), who in turn is the ancestor of Christ.

Occasionally foreigners are spoken of and well regarded in the Old Testament. They anticipate the work of Christ, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 12.3) blessing all the nations. Rahab the prostitute and her family (Joshua), the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings) and Namaan the Syrian commander are examples that come to mind.

These foreigners took refuge in the LORD is some way.

Story of Jesus

The gospel accounts in their own way refer to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the saving purposes of God. Luke in particular (said to be the gospel the apostle Paul preached by the early church) has a fair amount of content referring to the Gentiles. Here is one such instance.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;

30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Lk 2.22-32)

Jesus is a light of revelation for the Gentiles. I assume most people reading this are Gentiles themselves. In biblical times this was a big thing. People foreign to the God of Israel being saved and given membership in the covenant people of God.

The way Boaz treated and welcomed Ruth should provide us a good example with how we can treat newcomers, foreigners and strangers into our church communities.

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