1734.) Ruth 4

December 24, 2015

Wedding Day!  I couldn’t find a photo of Ruth and Boaz as bride and groom!  So here is one of David and me, December 27, 2003. In just a few days, it will be 12 years!  He is my “family redeemer,” and I thank God for him.

Ruth 4 (New Living Translation)

Boaz Marries Ruth

1 Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.

Jaffa Gate, part of the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem, was built around 1540 by Suleiman the Magnificent.

City gates served two functions in ancient times. First, they were protection. Gates controlled access to a walled city. They could shut out marauders and enemies and wild animals. Gates were often fortified with towers and secured with bars of iron. Second, city gates were the site of many societal, administrative, and business transactions. Much like the Greek agora or the Roman forum, the city gate was where important issues were discussed and negotiated. Deals were made and announcements proclaimed.

Remember, too, that this is a pre-literate society. Even during the Roman Empire, scholars believe, no more than 10 percent of the people could read and/or write. So instead of written records, they had certain visual rituals, performed in front of a group of witnesses, to ratify agreements and put them into the communal memory.

Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”

A done deal.

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”

11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”

_________________________

Music:

Years ago, after a drawn-out and draining divorce from a habitually unfaithful husband, I was, to use C. S. Lewis’ term, “surprised by joy” when a wonderful man named David found me. I had his 10th grade son in my English class; his wife died of cancer the third week of school. As the months passed by and love grew, we realized that we wanted to serve God together and grow old together. Once when I was telling this story to a friend of a friend, she played me this song and I have loved it ever since! Thank you, Rachel!  I love you, David!

HERE  Selah sings “God Bless the Broken Road (That Led Me Straight to You).” I post this song for Ruth and Boaz and all the ones who have found love in circuitous and sometimes difficult ways! Hear it as a musical version of Romans 8:28 — that God works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love him, and Lord, you know we love you!

_________________________

The Descendants of Boaz

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife.

“Calypsos 1” — a poem
by William Carlos Williams, 1962

Well God is
love
so love me

God
is love so
love me God

is
love so love
me well

When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.

17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed (which means “worship”). He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.
19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.

Ruth4 star above B

And if we continue the same family tree down further generations, as the Gospel of Matthew does in chapter 1, we will find that Boaz and Ruth and David are all in the family tree of another little boy born in Bethlehem — Jesus Christ.

_________________________

Music:

For Obed and David and especially for Jesus — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”  HERE  by Sarah McLachlan.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Jaffa Gate.    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1069/856994589_33fb914816.jpg?v=0
sandal.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/4-sandal.jpg
hearts.   http://images.free-extras.com/pics/h/hearts-1482.jpg
Naomi and baby Obed.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/4-naomi-and-baby.jpg
star over Bethlehem.    https://bloorlansdownechristianfellowship.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/isaiah-9_2-61.jpg
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1733.) Ruth 3

December 23, 2015

“Boaz Wakes Up and Sees Ruth at his Feet” — 1960 lithograph by Marc Chagall

Ruth 3 (New Living Translation)

Ruth at the Threshing Floor

1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes.

Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

Several ancient threshing floors have been excavated in Israel. They are circular, level floors of laid stone, often on a hilltop. Men would take the bundles, or sheaves, of grain to this floor. There they would beat the heads of the grain to loosen the covering husk. Then they would separate the chaff from the grain by forking the grain up into the breeze and letting the wind blow the chaff away. The heavier grains would fall in a pile at their feet. This work was usually done in the evening, when the breeze picked up. The men would stay the night, sleeping besides their heap of grain to guard it. They would move it to their storage barn the next day.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

A more literal translation of what Ruth said could be, “spread your skirt over me.” The word for skirt is the same Hebrew word as for wing — so, “spread your wings over your servant,” as the English Standard Version of the Bible puts it. This word is used another place in Ruth— in 2:12, where Boaz says to Ruth, “The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under those wings you have come to take refuge.”

When Boaz heard Ruth’s request for covering, I think his heart said,  “Because you take refuge under the wings of God, you are the kind of woman I want to cover with my wings.”

_________________________

Music:

An old Ira Sankey song — “Under His Wings,”  sung  HERE  by another old gospel artist, Slim Whitman.

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Refrain:

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

_________________________

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.

Or to translate the Hebrew literally, “a woman of strength.” Ruth is a good match for Boaz, who is himself “a mighty man of strength” (as he was introduced to us in Ruth 2:1).

–Patricia K. Hull

For centuries, rubies came from Myanmar (Burma). But due to governmental unrest there, now 70% of the world’s rubies come from Thailand.

Proverbs 31:10 (ew KJV)

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.

12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.

“Boaz pours six measures of barley into Ruth’s veil” by   Rembrandt, 1648 (Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam)

Proverbs 22:9 (NIV)

A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

detail of “Ruth,” a seriograph by John August Swanson

SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND TRUST
by David Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit gives us strength when we release all our needs into God’s hands and trust in his might.

Ruth is an example of this kind of trust. After her husband died, Ruth lived with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was concerned about Ruth’s welfare and future. So she advised Ruth to lie down at the feet of the wealthy Boaz and ask him to fulfill his obligation to her as her kinsman.

That evening, after the day’s winnowing was finished, Boaz lay down “at the end of the heap of corn” (Ruth 3:7) and pulled a blanket over him. The next morning, he woke up startled, finding a woman lying at his feet. (There was nothing immoral about Ruth’s presence there; this was a common custom of the day.)

Ruth said to him, “Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9). She was saying, in essence, “Will you take on the obligation of a relative for me? Will you provide for me?” She actually was asking, “Will you marry me?”

This was no manipulative scheme. Ruth and Naomi had done everything in divine order. We can be sure of this, because Christ’s lineage came through Ruth. When Ruth returned home Naomi asked her, “Who art thou, my daughter?” (3:16). She was asking, in other words, “Shall I call you ‘engaged’ Ruth? Or are you still ‘widowed’ Ruth?”

Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Listen to Naomi’s godly advice: “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day” (Ruth 3:18). Naomi had prayed about the matter, seeking God’s direction, and God had given her counsel. He had reminded her of the law of the kinsman-redeemer (which was a type and foreshadowing of Christ). So Naomi was confident that she and Ruth had done their part. Now it was time to sit still and trust God to perform what he had promised. She was saying, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands now, Ruth. Just relax and be calm.”

A calm and peace settled over Naomi’s house. Nobody was in a frenzy, biting fingernails and wondering, “Will God do it? When will it happen?” These two faithful women could relax, sing and praise the Lord for His goodness.

Have you prayed? Have you trusted? Are you ready to sit still and “see the salvation of the Lord”? He has everything under control.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Chagall.     http://static.goldmarkart.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/200×200/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/m/a/marc-chagall-boaz-wakes-up-and-sees-ruth-at-his-feet-bible.jpg
bath.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/thirtysomethingbath.jpg
threshing floor.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/3-threshing-floor.jpg
swan and her babies under her wing.    http://strengthenedbygrace.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/swancygnets.jpg
rubies.    http://www.ramaura.com/wp-content/uploads/EasyRotatorStorage/user-content/erc_9_1352143064/content/assets/Ramaura%20Rubies-0.jpg
Rembrandt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/3-rembrandt-rb.jpg?w=450
Swanson.    http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ruth-surprises-boaz-300×296.jpg

1732.) Ruth 2

December 22, 2015

“Ruth and Boaz” by Dore, 1870.

Ruth 2 (New Living Translation)

Ruth Works in Boaz’s Field

1 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

He is “a prominent rich man,” or more literally, “a mighty man of strength,” a phrase more often used of warriors than of landholders.

–Patricia K. Hull

2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters.

Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”

Ruth2 barley field

Barley is a versatile cereal grain, used for animal fodder, certain alcoholic beverages, and foods like soups and breads. Some scholars believe that barley was the first domesticated grain in the Near East. Cheaper than wheat, it was often mixed with wheat to make a flour that people would use in “barley bread,” which was a staple of the poor. Now barley is the fourth-largest cereal crop in the world, grown in about 100 countries world-wide. It is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Today would be a good day for some beef and barley soup and a nod to Ruth!

And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

“Ruth in the fields” by Hughes Merle, 1876.

The Moabitess
by Phillips Brooks

Sweet Moab gleaner on old Israel’s plain,
Thy simple story moveth like a power.
Thy pure, calm face looks from the ripened grain,
Wherein thou gleanest, on our toil and pain,
And in the light of thy soft eyes again
Our dead lives bud and blossom into flower.
But lives like thine, sweet Ruth, are holy things,
Rich, simple, earnest in their wealth of duty;—
God’s love forever to their music sings,
His angels shield them with their sheltering wings,
His spirit truth and trust and comfort brings,
And God Himself smiles on their godlike beauty.

Brooks is best known for writing the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

detail from “Landscape with Ruth and Boaz,” by Joseph Anton Koch, 1823 (Milwaukee Art Museum)

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

“Ruth meets Boaz” by Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842-1942), Tate Gallery, London.

Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

In humility consider others better than yourselves.

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

Ruth2 good name

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.”

This is a mistranslation of course.  The original word in ancient Hebrew is “Hometz.”  Which not only sounds a bit like “Hummus,” but also resembles the word “Himtza,” the Hebrew name of chick-peas.

http://mostlykosher.blogspot.com/

So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

“Harvesters Resting” (originally titled, “Ruth and Boaz”), by Jean Francois Millet, 1852 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Proverbs 14:21 (ESV)

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

_________________________

Music:

Oh, Boaz, you have come across a prize! And “once you have found her, never let her go.”  From South Pacific, “Some Enchanted Evening.”  This classic song is sung  HERE  by Sir Thomas Allen, with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

_________________________

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
revised and updated by Alistair Begg

So she gleaned in the field until evening.
–Ruth 2:17

Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to gather the ears of corn, so must I go forth into the fields of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the word to gather spiritual food.

The gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little: so must I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them. Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise unto salvation.

The gleaner keeps her eyes open: if she stumbled among the stubble in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at eventide. I must be watchful in religious exercises lest they become unprofitable to me; I fear I have lost much already—O that I may rightly estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence.

The gleaner stoops for all she finds, and so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul‐saving word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner; down, master pride, thou art a vile robber, not to be endured for a moment.

What the gleaner gathers she holds: if she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but scant; she is as careful to retain as to obtain, and so at last her gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing! Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth?

A hungry belly makes the gleaner wise; if there be no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table; she labours under the sense of necessity, and hence her tread is nimble and her grasp is firm; I have even a greater necessity, Lord, help me to feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous a reward to diligence.

18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.

Wheat field and sky in North Dakota.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dore.    http://targuman.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/fRth0222Dore_BoazAndRuth.jpg
barley field in Serbia.    https://ridingforrhinos.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140510-01.jpg
Merle.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=6568&size=large
Koch.    http://understandingbooksbible.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/ruthboaz3.jpg
Rooke.    http://www.womeninthebible.net/1876Rooke_Thomas_Matthews_The_Story_Of_Ruth2.jpg
a good name.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/f3f7c-proverbs22_1.jpg
hummus.   http://mostlykosher.blogspot.com/2010/11/hands-off-our-hummus.html
Millet.    http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/JeanFrancoisMillet-Harvesters-Resting-Ruth-and-Boaz-1850-53.jpg
wheat field.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2540/4095464421_92a21645f8.jpg

1731.) Ruth 1

December 21, 2015

“Ruth and Naomi” by contemporary Chinese artist He Qi

Ruth 1 (New Living Translation)

Just before Christmas — a look at some of Jesus’ ancestors!

Elimelech Moves His Family to Moab

1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel,

The stories in the book of Judges present several distressing pictures of the people of God doing “what was right in their own eyes” and not following the Lord. However, the book of Ruth presents a community that did what was right in God’s eyes. We see kindness and honor and faithfulness and and love.  We see loyalty and obedience and joy and love. We see grace and new beginnings and love.

Ruth is one of my most favorite books in the Bible. I have learned it by heart. It is a sweet story of love and redemption, and those are the best stories of all!

a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth.

Ruth1 cal me what

In the Old Testament, names had meanings that were thought to shape a person’s character. Sometimes in the Bible, God will even change a person’s name to reflect more closely what God has in mind for him or her.

The name Elimelech means “God is king.”
Naomi means “pleasant, joy.”
Mahlon means “weakening.”
Kilion means “puny” — no wonder the sons died young!
Orpah means “cloud.”
Ruth means “water abundantly.”

Later we will meet Boaz; his name means “in him is strength.”

But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.

(Alone?!  What about her two daughters-in-law?  They were with her!)

Naomi and Ruth Return

6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters!

Do both the funeral and the wedding services on one day and share the reception expenses!

Naomi is referring to the ancient practice of Levirate marriage, in which the brother of a dead man marries the widow to care for her and to raise up a child to carry on the dead man’s name (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). If there were no brother, then the job went to the next closest male relative. These men were called “family redeemers.” This practice was an important mechanism for insuring that property was kept within the original husband’s family. And for the wife:  to be a widow in the ancient world was very difficult, so this system also provided a home and a family for a woman who might otherwise be utterly bereft. In a patriarchal society, a woman really needed a man for her livelihood, for her well-being, for her reputation.

Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”

14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi.

“But Ruth Clave unto Her” by Brian Kershisnik

15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Galatians 3:14 (NIV)

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus.

Something about that family — about Naomi — caused Ruth to leave her own family and go to the Israelites and their God.  What a shining witness!

18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

Sonnet 9 — by John Milton

Lady that in the prime of earliest youth,
Wisely hast shun’d the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen,
That labour up the Hill of heav’nly Truth,

The better part, with Mary, and with Ruth,
Chosen thou hast,
and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
No anger find in thee, but pity and truth.

Thy care is fixt and zealously attends
To fill thy odorous Lamp with deeds of light,
And Hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure

Thou, when the Bridegroom with his feastfull friends
Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,
Hast gained thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure.

19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked.

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara (Mara means “bitter”),for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty.

(Not quite empty.  Ruth, who loves her dearly, is with her!)

Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

Ruth1 weeping

Psalm 25, selected verses

Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
Guard my life and rescue me,
for I take refuge in you.

22 So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a girl gospel trio, from West Africa — “Entreat Me Not to Leave You.”  I find it charming!  (Thank you, Carole!)

Entreat me not to leave you
Don’t ask me to go back
They God shall be my God
Thy people shall be my people
Where thou diest, I will die.

Or if you prefer something more SATB,  HERE  is Dan Forrest’s recent (2012) work of the same name.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/b3/04/33/b30433199c3d0d7569600a770ad28ca1.jpg
map.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/1-map.jpg
call me WHAT.    http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/img/photos/2013/05/31/89/84/baby_name.jpg
a wedding and a funeral.    http://www.funny-potato.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/weird-wedding.jpg
Kershisnik.    http://kershisnik.com/kersh-art/page/6/?y=2006&v=1292
star of David with cross.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/1-cross-star-of-david.jpg
wise virgin holds a lamp filled with oil.    http://thesouldoctor.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/lamplight21.jpg
woman weeping.    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/12/article-1206181-060776A6000005DC-36_468x668.jpg

1212.) Ruth 4

December 24, 2013

Wedding Day!  I couldn’t find a photo of Ruth and Boaz as bride and groom!  So here is one of David and me, December 27, 2003. In just a few days, it will be ten years!  He is my “family redeemer,” and I thank God for him.

Ruth 4 (New Living Translation)

Boaz Marries Ruth

1 Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.

Jaffa Gate, part of the wall around the Old City of Jerusalem, was built around 1540 by Suleiman the Magnificent.

City gates served two functions in ancient times.  First, they were protection.  Gates controlled access to a walled city.  They could shut out marauders and enemies and wild animals.  Gates were often fortified with towers and secured with bars of iron.  Second, city gates were the site of many societal, administrative, and business transactions.  Much like the Greek agora or the Roman forum, the city gate was where important issues were discussed and negotiated.  Deals were made and announcements proclaimed.

Remember, too, that this is a pre-literate society.  Even during the Roman Empire, scholars believe, no more than 10 percent of the people could read and/or write.  So instead of written records, they had certain visual rituals, performed in front of a group of witnesses, to ratify agreements and put them into the communal memory.

Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”

A done deal.

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”

11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”

_________________________

Music:

Years ago, after a drawn-out and draining divorce from a habitually unfaithful husband, I was, to use C. S. Lewis’ term, “surprised by joy” when a wonderful man named David found me.   I had his 10th grade son in my English class; his wife died of cancer the third week of school.   As the months passed by and love grew, we realized that we wanted to serve God together and grow old together.   Once when I was telling this story to a friend of a friend, she played me this song and I have loved it ever since!  Thank you, Rachel!  I love you, David!

Selah sings “God Bless the Broken Road (That Led Me Straight to You).”  I post this song for Ruth and Boaz and all the ones who have found love in circuitous and sometimes difficult ways!  Hear it as a musical version of Romans 8:28 — that God works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love him, and Lord, you know we love you!

_________________________

The Descendants of Boaz

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife.

“Calypsos 1” — a poem by William Carlos Williams, 1962

Well God is
love
so love me

God
is love so
love me God

is
love so love
me well

When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.

17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed (which means “worship”). He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.
19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.

Ruth4 star

And if we continue the same family tree down further generations, as the Gospel of Matthew does in chapter 1, we will find that Boaz and Ruth and David are all in the family tree of another little boy born in Bethlehem — Jesus Christ.

_________________________

Music:

For Obed and David and especially for Jesus — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,”  HERE  by Sarah McLachlan.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Jaffa Gate.    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1069/856994589_33fb914816.jpg?v=0
sandal.    http://www.bibleview.org/en/Bible/Moses/Sandal/normal.jpg
hearts.   http://images.free-extras.com/pics/h/hearts-1482.jpg
Naomi and baby Obed.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/4-naomi-and-baby.jpg
Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus.    http://www.prayerthoughts.com/prayerthoughts/Prophecy/images/pt1010_catalog1720-cropped.jpg

1211.) Ruth 3

December 23, 2013

“Boaz Wakes Up and Sees Ruth at his Feet” — 1960 lithograph by Marc Chagall

Ruth 3 (New Living Translation)

Ruth at the Threshing Floor

1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes.

Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

Several ancient threshing floors have been excavated in Israel.  They are circular, level floors of laid stone, often on a hilltop.  Men would take the bundles, or sheaves, of grain to this floor.  There they would beat the heads of the grain to loosen the covering husk.  Then they would separate the chaff from the grain by forking the grain up into the breeze and letting the wind blow the chaff away.  The heavier grains would fall in a pile at their feet.  This work was usually done in the evening, when the breeze picked up.  The men would stay the night, sleeping besides their heap of grain to guard it.  They would move it to their storage barn the next day.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

A more literal translation of what Ruth said could be, “spread your skirt over me.”  The word for skirt is the same Hebrew word as for wing — so, “spread your wings over your servant,” as the English Standard Version of the Bible puts it.  This word is used another place in Ruth— in 2:12, where Boaz says to Ruth, “The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under those wings you have come to take refuge.”

When Boaz heard Ruth’s request for covering, I think his heart said,  “Because you take refuge under the wings of God, you are the kind of woman I want to cover with my wings.”

_________________________

Music:

An old Ira Sankey song — “Under His Wings,”  sung by another old gospel artist, Slim Whitman.

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Refrain:

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

_________________________

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.

Or to translate the Hebrew literally, “a woman of strength.”  Ruth is a good match for Boaz, who is himself “a mighty man of strength” (as he was introduced to us in Ruth 2:1).

–Patricia K. Hull

For centuries, rubies came from Myanmar (Burma). But due to governmental unrest there, now 70% of the world’s rubies come from Thailand.

Proverbs 31:10 (New King James Version)

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.

_________________________

12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.

“Boaz pours six measures of barley into Ruth’s veil” by   Rembrandt, 1648 (Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam)

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)

A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

detail of “Ruth,” a seriograph by John August Swanson

SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND TRUST
by David Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit gives us strength when we release all our needs into God’s hands and trust in his might.

Ruth is an example of this kind of trust. After her husband died, Ruth lived with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was concerned about Ruth’s welfare and future. So she advised Ruth to lie down at the feet of the wealthy Boaz and ask him to fulfill his obligation to her as her kinsman.

That evening, after the day’s winnowing was finished, Boaz lay down “at the end of the heap of corn” (Ruth 3:7) and pulled a blanket over him. The next morning, he woke up startled, finding a woman lying at his feet. (There was nothing immoral about Ruth’s presence there; this was a common custom of the day.)

Ruth said to him, “Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9). She was saying, in essence, “Will you take on the obligation of a relative for me? Will you provide for me?” She actually was asking, “Will you marry me?”

This was no manipulative scheme. Ruth and Naomi had done everything in divine order. We can be sure of this, because Christ’s lineage came through Ruth. When Ruth returned home Naomi asked her, “Who art thou, my daughter?” (3:16). She was asking, in other words, “Shall I call you ‘engaged’ Ruth? Or are you still ‘widowed’ Ruth?”

Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Listen to Naomi’s godly advice: “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day” (Ruth 3:18). Naomi had prayed about the matter, seeking God’s direction, and God had given her counsel. He had reminded her of the law of the kinsman-redeemer (which was a type and foreshadowing of Christ). So Naomi was confident that she and Ruth had done their part. Now it was time to sit still and trust God to perform what he had promised. She was saying, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands now, Ruth. Just relax and be calm.”

A calm and peace settled over Naomi’s house. Nobody was in a frenzy, biting fingernails and wondering, “Will God do it? When will it happen?” These two faithful women could relax, sing and praise the Lord for His goodness.

Have you prayed? Have you trusted? Are you ready to sit still and “see the salvation of the Lord”? He has everything under control.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Chagall.     http://www.marcchagallprints.com/view_art.php?art_id=1471&min=0&max=10000000&portrait=&original=&sub=&sort_by=&sold=
bath.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OaIDiH8w_3M/S-yD57C9tWI/AAAAAAAADBE/wku3bhh08Q4/s1600/thirtysomethingBATH.jpg
threshing floor.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_UeCPYLLgPkY/Shav9uf29DI/AAAAAAAABeQ/P6x5ZTYH5HU/s400/Threshing+Floor.jpg
swan and her babies under her wing.    http://strengthenedbygrace.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/swancygnets.jpg
rubies.    http://www.rocas.com.mt/data/rubies.jpg
Rembrandt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/3-rembrandt-rb.jpg?w=450
Swanson.    http://www.deebrestin.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ruth-surprises-boaz-300×296.jpg

1210.) Ruth 2

December 20, 2013

“Ruth and Boaz” by Dore, 1870.

Ruth 2 (New Living Translation)

Ruth Works in Boaz’s Field

1 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

He is “a prominent rich man,” or more literally, “a mighty man of strength,” a phrase more often used of warriors than of landholders.

–Patricia K. Hull

2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters.

Leviticus 19:9-10 (New International Version)

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”

Barley is a versatile cereal grain, used for animal fodder, certain alcoholic beverages, and foods like soups and breads.  Some scholars believe that barley was the first domesticated grain in the Near East.  Cheaper than wheat, it was often mixed with wheat to make a flour that people would use in “barley bread,” which was a staple of the poor.  Now barley is the fourth-largest cereal crop in the world, grown in about 100 countries world-wide.  It is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.  Today would be a good day for some beef and barley soup and a nod to Ruth!

And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

“Ruth in the fields” by Hughes Merle, 1876.

The Moabitess
by Phillips Brooks

Sweet Moab gleaner on old Israel’s plain,
Thy simple story moveth like a power.
Thy pure, calm face looks from the ripened grain,
Wherein thou gleanest, on our toil and pain,
And in the light of thy soft eyes again
Our dead lives bud and blossom into flower.
But lives like thine, sweet Ruth, are holy things,
Rich, simple, earnest in their wealth of duty;—
God’s love forever to their music sings,
His angels shield them with their sheltering wings,
His spirit truth and trust and comfort brings,
And God Himself smiles on their godlike beauty.

Brooks is best known for writing the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

detail from “Landscape with Ruth and Boaz,” by Joseph Anton Koch, 1823 (Milwaukee Art Museum)

Proverbs 11:25 (New International Version)

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

“Ruth meets Boaz” by Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842-1942), Tate Gallery, London.

Philippians 2:3 (New International Version)

In humility consider others better than yourselves.

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

Ruth2 good name

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.”

This is a mistranslation of course.  The original word in ancient Hebrew is “Hometz.”  Which not only sounds a bit like “Hummus,” but also resembles the word “Himtza,” the Hebrew name of chick-peas.

http://mostlykosher.blogspot.com/

So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

“Harvesters Resting” (originally titled, “Ruth and Boaz”), by Jean Francois Millet, 1852 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Proverbs 14:21 (English Standard Version)

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

_________________________

Music:

Oh, Boaz, you have come across a prize! And “once you have found her, never let her go.”  From South Pacific, “Some Enchanted Evening.”  This classic song is sung by Sir Thomas Allen, with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

_________________________

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
revised and updated by Alistair Begg

So she gleaned in the field until evening.
–Ruth 2:17

Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to gather the ears of corn, so must I go forth into the fields of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the word to gather spiritual food.

The gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little: so must I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them. Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise unto salvation.

The gleaner keeps her eyes open: if she stumbled among the stubble in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at eventide. I must be watchful in religious exercises lest they become unprofitable to me; I fear I have lost much already—O that I may rightly estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence.

The gleaner stoops for all she finds, and so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul‐saving word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner; down, master pride, thou art a vile robber, not to be endured for a moment.

What the gleaner gathers she holds: if she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but scant; she is as careful to retain as to obtain, and so at last her gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing! Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth?

A hungry belly makes the gleaner wise; if there be no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table; she labours under the sense of necessity, and hence her tread is nimble and her grasp is firm; I have even a greater necessity, Lord, help me to feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous a reward to diligence.

18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.

Wheat field and sky in North Dakota.

_________________________

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Dore.    http://targuman.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/fRth0222Dore_BoazAndRuth.jpg
barley field.    http://www.yourlocalweb.co.uk/images/pictures/23/46/barley-field-above-swannay-farm-231677.jpg
Merle.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=6568&size=large
Koch.    http://understandingbooksbible.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/ruthboaz3.jpg
Rooke.    http://www.womeninthebible.net/1876Rooke_Thomas_Matthews_The_Story_Of_Ruth2.jpg
a good name.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H9anr-kAqrE/TgI7EjVAE2I/AAAAAAAAF6M/lMguM0HQxUw/s1600/Proverbs22_1.jpg
hummus.   http://mostlykosher.blogspot.com/2010/11/hands-off-our-hummus.html
Millet.    http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/JeanFrancoisMillet-Harvesters-Resting-Ruth-and-Boaz-1850-53.jpg
wheat field.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2540/4095464421_92a21645f8.jpg