Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ruth Meets Boaz

Ruth observed the harvesting process, some fields were more orderly than others. She watched for awhile how the skilled paid workers cut down the grain and some gathered for the threshing barn. Then there were the unpaid workers, mostly women, who were cleaning up the fallen stalks left on the ground. The latter group were free to take the grain home with them, so Ruth introduced herself as Naomi's daughter-in-law to the foreman in charge and inquired if she could glean, too. He recognized Naomi's name and approved her request to work.

Back home in Moab, the owners of the harvests brought all the grain to be threshed and stored, the fallen grain and stalks were never left behind for the needy in the community. Although Ruth was still tired after her long walk to Bethlehem, she was glad to have something productive to do. However, her appearence and clothing set her apart from the rest of the workers-- Ruth felt like a crow in a field full of sparrows.

She worked without stopping all morning, for this was the food they were going to need to sustain themselves all year--there was no other food source for her and Naomi. She did answer the occasional questions from the other women as she worked: that Naomi was very tired from her ordeal and needed rest; yes, it's true that Elilemech and Mahlon and Chilion died in Moab; no, there are no grandchildren.

Finally, Ruth felt a little dizzy from being in the sun and left the fields to rest for a few minutes in a house set up for the workers. Just as she sat down, she heard it--the blessing she had heard from afar the day before--one man calling out loudly and joyfully "May the LORD be with you!" and the reapers response "May the LORD bless you!". The greeting made Ruth smile, and she realized that she hadn't smiled like this for a very long time.

The owner of the fields that she was working in was the the lone voice greeting the workers, and she saw him talk to the foreman for a minute and then walk up to the house she was resting in. Her first impression of Boaz was that even though he was older, he radiated strength and vitality. At the same time, his words were full of compassion and kindness.

"Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw."

For the first time in years, some one took notice of her and her needs. Ruth had no one to teach her where to go, where not to go and what to do in this foreign place. She had been alone for a long time in taking care of Naomi without anyone caring for her. The sensitivity and understanding towards her caused Ruth feel overwhelmingly grateful, so much that she cast herself face down bowing to the ground "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"

Boaz did not hesitate to answer. "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Isreal, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."

Joy pierced Ruth like an arrow. This was what Naomi was like back in the old days! She used to say things like this all the time! A man who knows Naomi's God! "I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

Ruth went back to work, but she couldn't stop smiling. She was truly comforted and blessed by God.

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