He just wanted to help her.
It began in the spring. Bethlehem’s fields were waves of gold beneath a dazzling sun, ripe for harvest. The man’s workers were already cutting the barley when he spotted her, working alongside his women, gathering the leftover crop.
“Whose young woman is this?” he asks his foreman and learns that Ruth is a widow. She’s from a neighboring country but has moved to Bethlehem for a noble reason.
“She’s worked from early morning until now,” the foreman says, “except for a short rest.”
Boaz leaves his foreman and goes to Ruth. This young woman needed to know there was danger in other fields, men who would assault her.
“Keep close to my young women,” he says. “When you’re thirsty… drink (water) the young men have drawn.”
“Why?” She doesn’t understand his kindness.
Boaz tells her that he knows she’s come to Bethlehem because her elderly mother-in-law wanted to return home. He knows the old woman had once been married with two sons. The family had left Bethlehem in search of food during a famine, and her husband and two sons had died, leaving the old woman alone. Boaz knows Ruth, who married one of those sons, has now left everything to accompany her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.
Boaz is impressed. At mealtime, he invites her to eat with them and quietly tells his men to leave extra crop behind for her.
When Ruth goes home that night, laden with grain, she tells her mother-in-law the day’s events.
“The man is a close relative of ours,” Naomi replies, “one of our redeemers.”
A redeemer was a relative who married a childless widow, like Ruth, so an heir could be born to inherit the land.
Ruth continues working throughout the harvest, and then her mother-in-law devises a plan. Her hope is to assure her daughter-in-law’s security.
Ruth does as she’s told, gets dressed, goes to where Boaz and his men are threshing grain, and hides until nightfall. Once Boaz falls asleep, she uncovers his feet and lies down.
This startles him. “Who are you?” he asks.
It was pitch dark, but he could tell it was a woman.
“I am Ruth… spread your wings… for you are a redeemer.”
She’s asking him to marry her.
Honestly, when you read this book, you wonder if old Naomi is crazy. Why didn’t they invite him for dinner? Can you imagine any woman lying beside her employer at midnight? Then asking him to marry her!
Even Naomi didn’t know how this would end. She had said to her daughter-in-law, “He will tell you what to do.”
This is sort of an embarrassing situation. Ruth knew he felt pity for her, but that didn’t mean he’d welcome a proposal in the middle of the night. He could have said, “Go home!”
What does Boaz do?
He accepts! “May you be blessed by the Lord,” he says.
Pay attention here, because Boaz adds something interesting. “You have made this last kindness greater than the first.”
The first was leaving her family to settle in a foreign land with her mother-in-law. But how is this proposal a kindness? She’s a poor, young widow and he’s a wealthy landowner.
Here it is; Boaz tells us. He says. “You have not gone after young men.”
Boaz felt badly about his age.
We all have such insecurities – things we can’t change, things we feel another person may reject. Some are obvious like age or size, but others are hidden – a disease, a debt, a conviction, impotence. Dating is rough.
Boaz is thrilled and quickly fulfills the complicated requirements to marry Ruth.
“Ruth” is the eighth book of the Bible. Is this a sweet story or did these people actually live?
Scripture tells us. Ruth’s child is Obed, whose son is Jesse, whose son is David (who fights Goliath). David becomes King of Israel. Ruth and Boaz lived roughly 3,000 years ago.
Remember, he simply wanted to help her.
Expect God to send people in need to you. Those you help today may help you tomorrow. This is God’s way.
Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:38. A simple path to a blessed life.
The Rev. Mathews may be reached at [email protected]. These words are reprinted with permission from the author’s book, “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.” Copyright © 2016, 2021 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved
This article originally appeared on The Star: A simple way to fill your life with blessings