Let’s talk today about another woman who found favor with men because of the hand of God guiding her. Today I want to talk about Ruth. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi had been married to Elimelech. Naomi and Elimelech had moved to Moab because of a famine in Bethlehem. While in Moab, their two sons took wives but over time Elimelech and the sons all passed away. The wives of Naomi’s sons were Orpah and Ruth. After the loss of her husband and her sons, Naomi decided it was time to go home. At first it appears that Naomi would take both of her daughters-in-law with her, but she implores both of them to return to their parents home. Naomi was obviously very loved by them as they both wept and protested. Orpah eventually relents but Ruth says no that she will return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law.
One thing that is notable in Ruth chapter 1 is that it appears that Ruth is not just following Naomi, but Ruth is following who Naomi is following.
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16
Ruth obviously saw something in Naomi that maybe Naomi did not even see herself. Naomi is bitter because of all she had lost, but she apparently still loved the Lord and wanted to follow Him. And while doing that, she had shown something to Ruth that made her not want to return to her life as a Moabite woman and to follow the gods of Moab. Ruth was a Gentile and she chose to follow God.
So Ruth follows Naomi and they return to Bethlehem. And Ruth goes to work. In those days in Israel the poor of the land who had no means would go to the fields and would glean from the grain that was dropped or left behind to get food.
“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.’” Ruth 2:2
There is nothing here that suggests that Ruth knew to which field exactly she would go. In fact in verse 3 it says “she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz.” Now Boaz was a relative of Elimelech, which meant he could be a kinsman redeemer to Ruth. In those days a kinsman redeemer was a male relative who would have the privilege and responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble or deceased. The kinsman-redeemer would care for the widow and possibly even take her in as his wife but in turn would receive the property owned by the deceased. Isn’t it just something that Ruth just “happened” to come to a field that was owned by a relative of her deceased husband.
Boaz takes notice of Ruth and asks about her and when he does, he is told that she is the daughter-in-law of Naomi and that not only did she follow her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, but that she is now caring for her by working to get grain to feed them. Boaz was impressed, Ruth had found favor with him. And Boaz tells her to stay close to the women who are working for him and he instructs the men that they should not touch her.
“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
Boaz also goes so far as to have Ruth sit down with his servants to eat and he instructs his servants even more to intentionally drop more grain so that Ruth can pick it up. When Ruth returns home she tells Naomi about Boaz and his kindness to her and Naomi realizes that he is a kinsman redeemer to her family.
I love how this story unfolds because as it is playing out the people in the story may not necessarily see God’s hand guiding them, but as we read it and in hindsight they can surely look back and see the hand of God guiding them. First God guided Naomi and Ruth back to Bethlehem, then He guided Ruth, first to even go to glean in the fields and then to the exact field that she should land in where there would be a relative of her husband. He guided Boaz to take notice of her and then as the story continues to unfold He guides the plan Naomi puts into action to let Boaz know that Ruth is interested in him.
Our lives can be much the same way. We don’t always see the hand of God guiding us in the moment by moment things of life. But when we look back and we see the fields we ended up in and the people we crossed paths with, we can see that God was guiding us all along and granting us favor with the people we need to find favor with to walk out His plan for our lives.
The ending of this story is in a lot of ways the beginning of ours as well. Boaz does indeed redeem Ruth and marry her. And when he does she gives birth to a child and they name him Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David. And we all know that this is the lineage of Jesus! Which is another notable thing in the story. Ruth, being a Moabite was an unlikely player in the lineage of Jesus. God often uses unlikely people to carry out His plans. But He will use, whoever is following Him, and those who follow Him will find favor!
May we find favor with men as we follow Him!