Ruth 2:1-3 Commentary

 

 

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Ruth 2:1-3 Commentary

Ruth 2:1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified:  NOW NAOMI had a kinsman of her husband’s, a man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
GWT: Naomi had a relative. He was from Elimelech's side of the family. He was a man of outstanding character named Boaz. (
GWT)
KJV: And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
Young's Literal: And Naomi hath an acquaintance of her husband's, a man mighty in wealth, of the family of Elimelech, and his name is Boaz.

Septuagint (LXX):  kai te Noemin aner gnorimos to andri autes o de aner dunatos ischui ek tes suggeneias Abimelech kai onoma auto Boos - Click here for explanation of verb parsing abbreviations in parentheses after each verb

English of Septuagint: And Noemin had a friend an acquaintance of her husband, and the man was a mighty man of the kindred of Elimelech, and his name was Booz

REFERENCES ON RUTH

Art in the Bible
Kay Arthur
Evan Baltz
Herman Baar
Albert Barnes
Brian Bell
Bible.org
Biblical Illustrator
Jim Bomkamp
Edward Boone
Edward Boone
Alan Carr
Rich Cathers
Gordon Churchyard
Thomas Constable
Adam Clarke
William Cowper
Ron Daniel
Bob Deffinbaugh
Bob Deffinbaugh
Warren Dodd
Don Fortner
Max Frazier
John Gill
David Guzik
Susie Hawkins
Matthew Henry
Selwyn Hughes
Alfred Hunt
Jamieson, F, B
S Lewis Johnson
Keil and Delitzsch
Woodrow Kroll
Woodrow Kroll
John MacArthur
Alexander Maclaren
J Vernon McGee
Middletown Bible
G Campbell Morgan
Net Bible
On Site
John Piper
Preacher's Homiletical
Preacher's Homiletical
Preacher's Homiletical
Preacher's Homiletical
Preacher's Homiletical
Preceptaustin
Preceptaustin
Pulpit Commentary
Pulpit Commentary
Pulpit Commentary
Pulpit Commentary
RBC Booklet
David Reid
Ken Ristau
Henri Rossier
Sermon Seeds
Hamilton Smith
Speaker's Commentary
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
Ray Stedman
Richard Strauss
T De Witt Talmadge
Joe Temple
Joe Temple
Joe Temple
Derek Thomas
Robert Watson
Today in Word
Steve Zeisler
Steve Zeisler
Precept Ministries
YouTube Video
YouTube Video

Ruth 2 Art - excellent visual aids for teaching, preaching
Ruth: Kinsman Redeemer, Part 1; Part 2
Ruth Notes 62 page Pdf
Ruth and Boaz
Ruth 2 Commentary
Ruth 2 Sermon Notes

Ruth 2 Various Articles that mention Ruth 2
Ruth 2 - 23 pages of material
Ruth 2 Israel And The Church Foreordained By God
Ruth 2:1-14 The Damsel and the Relationship
Ruth 2:15-23 The Demand and the Revelation
Ruth 2:1-3 Searching For Grace
Ruth 1-2 Notes

Ruth: Ruth Obeys God and Finds Love
Ruth 2 Expositional Commentary Notes

Ruth 2 Commentary
God Moves In A Mysterious Way
Ruth 2 Notes
Ruth: A Light in Dark Days
Ruth 2 Can eHarmony Beat This?
Ruth 2:1-7
Ruth 2:1-12 Seek And Ye Shall Find
Ruth 2: Devotional   
Ruth 2:1 Ruth 2:2 Ruth 2:3
Ruth 2 Commentary
Ruth 2: God's Providential Care
Ruth 2 Commentary
Ruth 2:1, 2:2, 2:3, 2:3

Ruth 2:1-17 The Harvest Field
Ruth 2 Commentary

Christ, Our Kinsman-Redeemer
Ruth Commentary
Ruth 2:1 Real Riches
Ruth 2:2 Finding Favor
Ruth The Kinsman Redeemer

The Kinsman-Redeemer
Ruth 2:1-2 Commentary - Mp3 only
Ruth Notes
Ruth 2:3 - Her hap was to light on the portion of the field belonging unto Boaz.
Ruth 2: Net Bible Notes

Goel - Our Kinsman Redeemer - In Shadow (Type) & Substance
Ruth 2: Under the Wings of God - Recommended
Ruth 2:1-3 Critical and Exegetical Notes

Ruth 2:1 The Claims of the Weak Upon the Strong

Ruth 2:2 Humble Toil...

Ruth 2:3 Seeming Chances, Real Providences
Ruth 2:3 The Gleaner
Goel - Our Kinsman Redeemer - In Shadow (Type) & Substance

Blood Avenger - Avenges Man's "Murder", Reclaims Title Deed of Earth
Ruth 2:1-9 Exposition
Ruth 2:1-9 The Harvest Field
Ruth 2:3, 1:22 The Gleaner
Ruth 2:3 Her Hap

Ruth & Hannah: Learning To Walk By Faith
Ruth 2:1-7: Audio plus notes

Ruth 9 Page Summary with nice outline
Ruth Commentary
Ruth 2 Principles for Gleaners
The Book of Ruth
Ruth 2:1-6 Commentary
Ruth 2:2: Gleaning God's Riches (Devotional)
Ruth 2:3: Not By Accident (Devotional)

Ruth: The Romance of Redemption
Ruth: Two to Get Ready: Story of Boaz & Ruth
Ruth 2:3 - The Insignificant
Ruth Reaping

Ruth: Kinsman Redeemer Pt 1; Part 2; Part 3
Ruth: The Ability to Redeem - Pt 1;
Part 2
Ruth 2: Models of Love
Ruth 2 (Expositor's) Commentary - In the Field of Boaz
Ruth 2:1-13, Ruth 2:1-16; Ruth 2:1-23
Ruth 2:1-16: One Fine Day
Ruth 2:1-3:13: Lover's Language

Ruth 1-4 - Kinsman Redeemer - Download lesson 1
My Redeemer Lives - Nicole Mullen - Recommended! A must see!
There Is A Redeemer - Keith Green

NOW NAOMI HAD A KINSMAN: (Ru 2:20, 3:2, 12, 4:3-see notes Ru 2:20, 3:2, 3:12, 4:3)
 

I. A Famine - Ruth 1

     A. A Disturbed Family - Ruth 1:1-5

     B. A Decided Future - Ruth 1:6-14

     C. A Declared Faith Ruth 1:15-22
 

II. A Field - Ruth 2

     A. Expecting Grace Ruth 2:1-3

     B. Experiencing grace Ruth 2:4-17

     C. Expressing grace Ruth 2:18-23
 

III. A Floor - Ruth 3

     A. Preparation Ruth 3:1-5

     B. Presentation Ruth 3:6-13

     C. Proclamation Ruth 3:14-18
 

IV. A Family - Ruth 4
     A. Arrangements (redeemed) Ruth 4:1-8

     B. Announcements (respected) Ruth 4:9-17

     C. Accomplishments (related) Ruth 4:18-22

A few chapter titles for Ruth 2:

Ruth Gleaning in the Redeemer's Field

The Character of Two Characters!

Ruth Gleans for Grace
("Favor" - Ru 2:2, 10, 13)

A Chance Romance - It "Happened" One Fine Spring Day

Ruth's Resolve, Boaz's Reputation, Naomi's Revival

A "Grace Full" Chapter - The Greek word for grace (charis - word study) is used only 3 times in the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Ruth, all in chapter 2 - Ru 2:2, 10, 13 (=  "favor" Favor is defined as -- Kind regard; kindness; countenance; propitious aspect; friendly disposition).

Preview
in the Narrative
Parallel
in the Genealogy
1. Days of the judges (Ru 1:1) Salmon to Jesse (Ru 4:20–22)
2. Famine (Ru 1:1) Reason to go to Egypt: Perez, Hezron (Ru 4:18)
3. Bethlehem in Judah (Ru 1:1) Boaz to David (home of family; Ru 4:21–22)
4. Leaving the land (Ru 1:1) Perez, Hezron (Ru 4:18)
5. Returning to the land (Ru 1:6–22) Exodus & conquest: Nahshon Salmon (Ru 4:20-21)
6. Emphasis on Boaz in central chiastic layer (Ru 2–3) Boaz in honored seventh position in family tree (Ru 4:21)
7. Child by levirate relationship after kinsman’s reneging (Ru 4:6, 13) Birth of Perez (4:18) after Judah’s reneging (see Genesis 38)
8. Become famous in Bethlehem (Ru 4:11) Boaz and David (Ru 4:21–22)
9. Fame in Israel (Ru 4:14) Obed and David (Ru 4:21–22)

10. Obed, Jesse, David (Ru 4:17)

Obed, Jesse, David (Ru 4:21–22)

From paper - An Adjusted Symmetrical Structuring Of Ruth - A Boyd Luter

 

Summary - Ruth 2 takes place predominantly in the backdrop of a Bethlehem barley field and masterfully weaves together the lives of 3 ordinary people (Naomi, Ruth and Boaz) and one extraordinary God, Who is purposefully, providentially working out His redemptive plan for all of mankind in the ordinary events of life. The events that occur during what otherwise seems to be just another humdrum 24 hour day would prove to have eternal, extraordinary consequences! (cp Ru 4:21, 22, Mt 1:1, 5, 6) Although you may not concur with all of Boaz's character traits listed below (or you may have additional traits), certainly it is clear that the writer in Ruth 2 is painting a poignant picture of a passionate pursuer of Jehovah and one that all men whether single (and dating/courting) or married, would do well to emulate and imitate (cp He 6:12-note) in their interpersonal relationship with the "Ruth" God has brought into their life. And notice how Ruth responds to Boaz's gracious (grace-filled) words and actions (Ru 2:10, 13 - although do not expect your "Ruth" to literally fall down at your feet!). Men, women are by nature responders ("incubators") and they will give us back what we give them in our words and actions... only later and fully "baked"! As wise, godly men we need to continually seek (enabled by the Spirit) to speak and act with grace toward the "Ruth" God has given us (1Pe 3:7-note). Are you experiencing just another "ordinary" day? Remember, you serve a God Who takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. So be encouraged and motivated to redeem the time (Eph 5:16-note, Col 4:5-note, Ro 13:11-note, Ro 13:12-note, Ro 13:13, 14-note) which He has graciously given you, living it out with wisdom (Ps 90:12-note) and godliness (1Ti 4:7, 4:8-note, 1Ti 4:9, 4:10-note) as did Boaz, Ruth and Naomi, for you do not know what extraordinary consequences this ordinary day might have in the eternal plan of our extraordinary God! As you review these characteristics of Boaz, who would soon prove to be Ruth and Naomi's kinsman-redeemer, let your mind project ahead and ponder how each of this traits is perfectly fulfilled in our own Kinsman-Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ (Mk 10:45).

 

THE CHARACTER OF
BOAZ'S CHARACTER

As Revealed in Ruth 2


Godly

 


Ruth 2:4-
note
God "
saturated" and focused, prayerful, kind, respectful, not arrogant
cp Eccl 10:12 = wise
 


Initiates

 


Ruth 2:8
-
note
Listen carefully my daughter
Spoke gently, with tender concern
 

Provides


Ruth 2:8, 9
-
note
Glean in my field, after the maids
 

Protects


Ruth 2:9
-
note
Protects her physically
Commanded servants not to touch [sexually]
(Cp to love
bears [see note] all things)


Shows Hospitality

 


Ruth 2:9
-
note
Thirsty? Drink - No need to draw
Exceeds the letter of the law
 


Bestows Favor
 

Ruth 2:10-note
(Favor = Grace)


Praises
 

Ruth 2:11-note
Speaks well of her
When was the last time you praised (not patronized) your wife?


Prays Audibly
 

Ruth 2:12-note
Do you pray audibly
for your wife?...with your wife?


Spoke Kindly

 


Ruth 2:13
-
note
Literally = Spoke to her heart!
His words comforted Ruth - cp Ep 4:29-
note
 


Serves
 


Ruth 2:14
-
note
Served Ruth. Met her needs
even above what she could ask or think
Husbands, how have served
your wife recently?


Exhibits Generosity
 


Ruth 2:15
-
note
Glean even among the sheaves!
Far above what the law required.
 


Protects

 


Ruth 2:15, 16
-
note
Protects her emotionally
"Don't embarrass her"
"Don't rebuke her"
How do you speak to your wife in the presence of others (children, friends, etc)?

 

The Hebrew literally reads

and [there was] to Naomi a relative, to her husband, a man mighty in substance, from the clan of Elimelech, and his name [was] Boaz.

Note that in this chapter the first and last verses are the comments of the narrator who is giving us context so that we can understand the significance of the events in the next few verses. The story really begins to unfold in verse 2.

 Zeisler observes

 

that chapter 2 is the story of just one twenty-four hour period. In the first five verses of the book, ten years whizzed by. A famine started and ended, a family migrated, two marriages were made, and three men died. Now we have an entire chapter that covers just one day. That also ought to persuade us to listen very carefully to the details, to observe the scene, to wonder and enter into what these people experienced. For three thousand years people have been blessed by reading what took place on this particular day when Ruth and Boaz began their relationship. (Ruth 2:1-16: One Fine Day)

 

Kinsman (04129) is not the Hebrew word Goel (word study) (kinsman redeemer) but the Hebrew noun moda or "mowda" which means simply a relative (used of Boaz once more in Ruth 3:2) and is derived from the Hebrew verb yada which means to know.  Young's Literal translation conveys the meaning of the root word (to know someone) referring to Boaz as merely an "acquaintance." (Ru 2:1YLT) It denotes the person with whom one is intimately acquainted and thus one’s near relation. Solomon has the only other OT use of moda in Proverbs instructing us to

 

call understanding your intimate friend (moda)" (Pr 7:4) (Good advice!)

 

The narrator is carefully holding back the key information that Boaz is far more than just a family acquaintance and a relative until near the end of this chapter when he is unveiled as one of their kinsman-redeemers (Gaal = Ru 2:20NIV-note) (Note kinsman-redeemers is plural so clearly Naomi knew there was more than one "candidate"!). For now we know that Boaz was Naomi's kin on her husband's side and yet it is interesting that she does not appear to make any appeal to him for assistance even though the term used here (moda) indicates Boaz was well known to her. Conversely, it is also intriguing that this very generous kinsman had not sent for Naomi although he too was clearly aware of her arrival  (cf Ru 2:11-note). Interesting!

 

The Greek word (Septuagint - LXX) used to translate kinsman is gnorimos (4x in Scripture = Ruth 2:1; 3:2; 2Sa 3:8 [translates Hebrew merea = friend or companion]; Pr 7:4) which means acquainted with and when speaking of persons describes one who is well known sometimes with the meaning of known to all, notable, distinguished. In some contexts gnorimos means notables or wealthy class (Liddell-Scott).

 

There was a relative in town but why hadn’t Naomi remembered that earlier? Could it be that her bitter circumstances blinded her perspective.

A MAN OF GREAT WEALTH: (Dt 8:17, Dt 8:18; Job 1:3; 31:25)

 

a rich and influential man (TEV)

 

a rich relative (NCV)

 

a prominent kinsman (NAB)

 

He was a wealthy, prominent man (NET)

 

well–to–do (NJB)

 

a man of standing (NIV)

 

The Chaldee reads "mighty in the law."

 

God's Word Translation renders it "a man of outstanding character". I especially like the last translation because reputation is what others think about you, but character is what those really know you, know you to be.

 

Boaz is prominent (influential) and wealthy which well suits him for his role as a "redeemer" and "restorer".

 

The Hebrew for great wealth is a combination two Hebrew words:

 

Great (01368) (gibbor) is an adjective which  means brave, strong, might  and is commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior. In some context gibbor emphasizes excellence.

 

Gibbor is used to describe God in 2 contexts ("mighty God" Isa 10:21, Jer 32:18) and also describes the Messiah who will rule God's kingdom (Isa 9:6). Gibbor describes God in Deut. 10:17, Ps 24:8, Zeph 3:17.

 

Gibbor - 150v in OT - Gen. 6:4; 10:8f; Dt 10:17; Jos 1:14; 6:2; 8:3; 10:2, 7; Jdg 5:13, 23; 6:12; 11:1; Ru 2:1; 1Sa 2:4; 9:1; 14:52; 16:18; 17:51; 2Sa 1:19, 21, 22, 25, 27; 10:7; 16:6; 17:8, 10; 20:7; 23:8, 9, 16, 17, 22; 1Ki 1:8, 10; 11:28; 2Ki 5:1; 15:20; 24:14, 16; 1Chr 1:10; 5:24; 7:2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 40; 8:40; 9:13; 11:10, 11, 12, 19, 24, 26; 12:1, 4, 8, 21, 25, 28, 30; 19:8; 26:6, 31; 27:6; 28:1; 29:24; 2Chr 13:3; 14:8; 17:13, 14, 16, 17; 25:6; 26:12; 28:7; 32:3, 21; Ezra 7:28; Neh 3:16; 9:32; 11:14; Job 16:14; Ps 19:5; 24:8; 33:16; 45:3; 52:1; 78:65; 89:19; 103:20; 112:2; 120:4; 127:4; Pr 16:32; 21:22; 30:30; Eccl 9:11; Song 3:7; 4:4; Isa 3:2; 5:22; 9:6; 10:21; 13:3; 21:17; 42:13; 49:24, 25; Je 5:16; 9:23; 14:9; 20:11; 26:21; 32:18; 46:5, 6, 9, 12; 48:14, 41; 49:22; 50:9, 36; 51:30, 56, 57; Ezek 32:12, 21, 27; 39:18, 20; Da 11:3; Ho 10:13; Joel 2:7; 3:9, 10, 11; Amos 2:14, 16; Obad 1:9; Nah 2:3; Zeph 1:14; 3:17; Zech 9:13; 10:5, 7.

 

The NAS renders gibbor as - another(1), champion(2), great(1), helpers(1), heroes(3), men(2), mighty(26), Mighty(1), mighty man(15), mighty men(57), mighty one(2), Mighty One(1), mighty ones(3), mighty warrior(1), mighty warriors(2), outstanding men(1), strong(1), strong man(1), valiant(1), valiant men*(1), warrior(15), warrior's(1), warriors(18), who is mighty(1).

 

Wealth (02428) (hayil or chayil) which means might, strength, power, valiant, virtuous, riches, wealth and is the same word used in the next chapter to describe Ruth as a woman of excellence (Ru 3:11-note).

 

This same Hebrew phrase (gibbor hayil)  is used to refer to Gideon (Jdg 6:12-note) and Jephthah (Jdg 11:1-note) and is variously translated as valiant warrior, mighty man of valor, mighty hero and mighty warrior. One gets the picture of an man of renown who in Medieval England would have been called a "knight" -- indeed Boaz would soon prove to be Ruth's "knight in shining armor".

 

The two Greek words the Septuagint (LXX) uses to translate great wealth are dunatos (an ischus - see below) which has several meanings that might apply to the man Boaz, including one who possesses power,  who has the ability to perform some function, and thus who is able, strong or "influential" (this latter meaning found in Acts 25:5). The other Greek word is ischus meaning strength or ability and discussed in the section below. It's great to have a rich and influential relative isn't it? And indeed every believer has such a Kinsman in Christ Jesus, who quite clearly is pictured in the character of godly Boaz.

 

Gill sums up the description of Boaz as a

 

man of great wealth and riches, and of great power and authority, which riches give and raise a man to, and also of great virtue and honour, all which the word "wealth" signifies; to which may be added the paraphrase the Targumist gives, that he was mighty in the law; in the Scriptures, in the word of God, a truly religious man, which completes his character

 

OF THE FAMILY OF ELIMELECH WHOSE NAME WAS BOAZ: (Ru 4:21, 22-note; 1Chr 2:10, 11, 12; Mt 1:1, 4, 5, 6; Lk 3:32)

 

Of the family of Elimelech - We have almost forgotten about him, but the author deftly brings him back into the storyline as he lays the foundation for the revelation of the kinsman-redeemer, who has to be a near relative in order to function in the capacity of kinsman redeemer.

 

Whose name is Boaz - Remember that in Scripture, an individual's name often conveyed something about their character. So let us study the meaning of Boaz. First, let's briefly study Boaz's family tree. Notice that his mother was a Gentile harlot from Jericho, who became a believer (justified by works = shown to be righteous by her good works which demonstrated that her faith was alive!) in Jehovah (Jas 2:25-note).

 

Salmon
+
Rahab the Harlot
(Mt 1:5, Jas 2:25)
v
Boaz
(Ru 4:21, Mt 1:5)
+
Ruth the Moabitess
(Ru 1:22, 2:2, 21, 4:4, 10)
v
Obed
(Ru 4:22, Mt 1:5)
v
Jesse
(Mt 1:6)
v
David
(Mt 1:1)
v

Messiah
(Mt 21:9, 22:42, Mk 10:47, 12:35)

 

Boaz (01162) (Dictionary Articles) means In Him (the Lord) is strength", Come in strength, strength, or fleetness. Boaz appears like a bright ray of light piercing through the dark cloud of bitterness hanging over Naomi and this little ray of sunshine is going to grow bigger and bigger as the story unfolds. In this chapter the mercy of God becomes so obvious that even Naomi will recognize it. From the first verse we recognize that the situation is not as bleak as Naomi suggested back in Ru 1:11, 12, 13 (see notes Ru 1:11, 12, 13) where she gave the impression that there was no one for Ruth and Orpah to marry to carry on the line of their husbands. Had she simply forgotten about the kinsman-redeemers in Bethlehem or had she forgotten the law of Levirate marriage? We can only speculate for God has not revealed this to us.

 

Boaz - 22v in OT - Ruth 2:1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 15, 19, 23; 3:2, 7; 4:1, 5, 8f, 13, 21; 1Ki. 7:21; 1Chr. 2:11, 12; 2Chr. 3:17

 

The meaning of Boaz depends on which source you consult. Nelsons' New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Thomas Nelson Publishers) records that Boaz means in him is strength but The New Unger's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press) says that Boaz possibly means fleetness possibly being derived from the Arab word baaza which means  to be nimble and most other references record similar meanings such as alacrity (promptness in response or cheerful readiness) or quickness.  As King Solomon was building God's Temple in Jerusalem, he

 

erected the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right and the other on the left, and named the one on the right Jachin and the one on the left Boaz. (2Chr 3:17,  1Ki 7:21)

 

The Septuagint (LXX) translation of this passage in Second Chronicles is intriguing and gives a possible clue to the meaning of Boaz, the English translation of the Septuagint reading that Solomon

 

set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left: and he called the name of the one on the right hand 'Stability,' and the name of the one on the left Strength (Greek word ischus is used here to translate the Hebrew word Boaz.) (2Chr 3:17)

Strength (2479) (ischus) (see note by Wayne Barber ischus)  refers to “power as an enduement.” Ischus is the inherent ability  which stresses the factuality of the ability, not necessarily the accomplishment.  Ischus is inherent power or force. A muscular man’s big muscles display his might, even if he doesn’t use them. It is the reserve of strength. Ischus therefore conveys the sense of endowed power or ability. The idea is that it is the active efficacy of the might that is inherent in God, His indwelling strength. Ischus is that strength which one has in possession or ability. One might think of ischus as God's latent power. It is His capability to function effectively. He is able!

Ischus is used

 

of the ability of human beings in Mark...

 

AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' (Mark 12.30)

 

of angelic power in 2 Peter...

 

whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. (2Pe 2:11-note)

 

as an attribute of Christ in the Revelation...

 

saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." (Re 5:12-note)

 

One needs to avoid being too fanciful in the interpretation of the significance of the pillar named "Boaz", but it is worth noting that a pillar was an ancient symbol of security and strength. When all else has fallen, the pillar often remained standing strong and erect (we see this in some of the archaeological remains ancient empires). In ancient times, a distinguished citizen would in fact have a pillar erected in his honor and his name would be inscribed upon the massive pillar to document his contribution for future generations to come. In Revelation Jesus says that "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God..." (Rev 3:12-note) So the faithful service of a believer on earth will not be forgotten.

 

In summary, although we can speculate with some support about the meaning of his name, Boaz's character and conduct shine though in the remainder of this story and clearly demonstrate his moral strength as well as his alacrity or promptness to respond appropriately.

McGee adds that...
 

On the canvas of God’s Word, Boaz is drawn with noble features. He fulfilled in his life all that the Latin suggests in the great word virtus . Boaz was a man of virtue in the literal sense of that word. There is not a more winsome character presented in the Old Testament than Boaz, and there is not a more lovely woman in the Bible than Ruth. She compares favorably with her descendant Mary, the mother of Jesus. These two, Ruth and Boaz, stand out like stars on the black background of that corrupt day. Boaz was a wealthy kinsman of Naomi. The first verse uses a word that does not convey that strong meaning, but a word used later, which we will consider, does so. We shall reserve for a succeeding chapter the consideration of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer. His position of wealth made it possible for him to redeem the estate of Elimelech. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary:  Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
 

GOD MOVES
IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY

-By William Cowper (bio by John Piper)

(Cyberhymnal Version)
(
Hauntingly beautiful Pictures w/ lyrics & guitar vocal-watch it in full screen)
(
Lyrics w/ pictures & piano)
(
Beautiful vocal by Lori Sealy-A MUST listen! Close your eyes. Ponder, even pray Cowper's profound lyrics!)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning
providence
He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

 

Here is a story that is said to be behind these incredibly insightful and beautiful words of Cowper's hymn. Reportedly this is the last hymn William Cowper ever wrote, and here is the story that is said to be behind it. Cowper often struggled with depression and doubt. One night he decided to commit suicide by drowning himself. He called a cab and told the driver to take him to the Thames River. However, thick fog came down and prevented them from finding the river (another version of the story has the driver getting lost deliberately). After driving around lost for a while, the cabby finally stopped and let Cowper out. To Cowper’s surprise, he found himself on his own doorstep: God had sent the fog to keep him from killing himself. Even in our blackest moments, God watches over us.  Yes, whether this story is true or not, in either case we can rest assured that our God ever watches over us dear tried and afflicted saints.

 

Here is another version of the story of Cowper's last hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way..."

 

Whatever form the pressures toward matrimony were taking, they were obviously causing deep psychological problems for Cowper, for on Friday, January 1, 1773, an hour or two after hearing Newton preach at the morning service in church, Cowper was walking in the fields around Olney when he was struck by a terrible premonition that the curse of madness was about to fall on him again. Struggling to make a declaration of his faith in poetic form before his mind was enclosed in the darkness of depression, he struggled home, picked up his pen, and wrote a hymn that many regard as a literary and spiritual masterpiece....Soon after writing these memorable lines, the “dreaded clouds” arrived, and Cowper’s mind plunged into an abyss of madness. During the night of January 1–2, he had terrible dreams and hallucinations. In the middle of these nocturnal terrors he came to the insane conclusion that God had commanded him to take his own life in the manner of Abraham wielding his knife against his son Isaac. Apparently ignoring the point that in the Bible God intervened to prevent the fatal blow from being struck, Cowper attempted to obey this imaginary command. His suicide was thwarted by the action of Mary Unwin. She sent for Newton in the small hours of the morning. On arrival at Orchard Side, Newton was appalled by his friend’s condition. (John Newton From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken and Philip Yancey - a book that is difficult to put down and one I highly recommend)

 

Ruth 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter." (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified:  And Ruth the Moabitess 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. Naomi said to her, Go, my daughter.  (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
BBE: And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Now let me go into the field and take up the heads of grain after him in whose eyes I may have grace. And she said to her, Go, my daughter
GWT
: Ruth, who was from Moab, said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field of anyone who will be kind to me. There I will gather the grain left behind by the reapers." Naomi told her, "Go, my daughter." (
GWT)
ICB
: One day Ruth, the woman from Moab, said to Naomi, "Let me go to the fields. Maybe someone will be kind and let me gather the grain he leaves in his field." Naomi said, "Go, my daughter." (
ICB: Nelson)
KJV
: And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Young's Lit: And Ruth the Moabitess saith unto Naomi, 'Let me go, I pray thee, into the field, and I gather among the ears of corn after him in whose eyes I find grace;' and she saith to her, 'Go, my daughter.'

Septuagint (LXX): kai eipen (3SAAI) Routh e Moabitis pros Noemin poreutho (1SAPS) de eis agron kai sunaxo (1SFAI) en tois stachusin katopisthen ou ean heuro (1SAAS) charin en ophthalmois autou eipen (3SAAI) de aute poreuou (2SPMI) thugater 

English of Septuagint: And Ruth the Moabitess said to Noemin, Let me go now to the field, and I will glean among the ears behind the man with whomsoever I shall find favor (grace -charis): and she said to her, Go, daughter

AND "RUTH THE MOABITESS" SAID TO NAOMI PLEASE LET ME GO TO THE FIELD AND GLEAN AMONG THE EARS OF GRAIN: (Lv 19:9; 23:22; Dt 24:19, 20, 21, 22) (See ISBE article on Gleaning)

to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it (NLT)

pick up the leftover grain (NIV).

Ruth the Moabitess -The author makes a point to use the descriptive phrase "Ruth the Moabitess" 5 times (out of a total of 12 uses of the name "Ruth") in this short drama (Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10) which clearly serves to remind the reader of Ruth's status as a foreigner and a Gentile, one outside of the covenant promises of Israel and a stranger to Israel's God, Jehovah. So every time we see Ruth's designation it reminds us that it was Ruth, the one who did not belong, a Gentile who the Jews often despised as in the same category as dogs, a misfit, an outcast, etc, etc. Do we not see God's amazing accepting grace even in the repetition and reminders of her name as Ruth the Moabitess!

As a side note it is intriguing that one of the definitions of the noun "ruth" (did you realize it was a word in our English language?) in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is "compassion for the misery of another". Interesting!

Most believers today are Gentiles and thus we should be able to closely identify with Ruth and her predicament as a Moabitess. It is good to remember how hopeless our situation was as Gentiles. As the apostle Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus we would should all...

Remember (present imperative = command to keep this memory fresh. Don't forget where you came from and how great are the mercies of God) that formerly you the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" (Gentiles) by the so-called "Circumcision," (Jews) which is performed in the flesh by human hands...were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah." (Ep 2:11, 12-see note  Ep 2:11,12)

As Ruth enters into this Bethlehem field, she is being brought not only near to the Messiah but into the actual blood line of the coming Messiah.

Please let me go - It is easy to overlook this phrase but as explained below Ruth was not just making a casual request. She was completely committed to carry out what she was asking of Naomi! This introductory phrase then speaks volumes about Ruth's heart and her desire to obey the fifth commandment to honor your father and mother (Ex 20:12, Dt 5:16). And what was the promise for obedience?

Deuteronomy 5:16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, (Promise #1) that your days may be prolonged and (Promise #2) that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Or as Paul writes...

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH (NB: all caps in the NT of the NAS always signifies a direct quotation from the OT). (Ep 6:2, 3-note)

Did things go well with Ruth? If you don't know the answer stop and read through all four chapters of Ruth which will only take you about 30 minutes.

RUTH'S
INITIATIVE

Please (04994) (na') is a marker of emphasis with a focus on the desire of the speaker to heighten the sense of urgency or to add intensity to what follows. Here the idea is something like

"I beg you"
"I beseech thee"
"I pray thee"

Was Ruth under obligation to supply food for the family? Not by any Biblical regulation or law. But Ruth has committed herself to Naomi with amazing devotion and she takes the initiative to work and provide for them both. Ruth took advantage of the gleaning laws (Lv 19:9, Dt 24:19) which she undoubtedly had learned from Naomi. The Scripture repeated appeals to the importance which God places on work, e.g., Paul writing to the saints at Thessalonica says

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. (2Th 3:10, 1Th 4:11-note, cp Ge 2:15, 3:19, Pr 13:4, 20:4, 21:25, 26, 24:30, 31, 32, 33, 34)

Guzik adds that

Ruth, on her own initiative, sets out to glean fields to support her and her mother-in-law Naomi. This shows a wonderfully hard-working spirit in Ruth, and spiritual also - she would not have been more spiritual to sit back at home and pray for food.

Zeisler has an interesting comment on Ruth's initiative writing that...

Ruth had to say, "Naomi, there is one open door for people like us. Do you know what we are? We're poor. The law says that poor people may go into the field and pick up enough grain to eat. I'm going to trust that the one door that God has opened is the door we ought to go through. I'm going to trust that He loves us enough that this is the right thing to do."

It was actually dangerous to do so, because the time of the judges was a lawless time (Jdg 21:25). Poor people would take some risks to access even something that was rightfully theirs (Lv 19:9, Dt 24:19). But Ruth believed that she lived in her Father's world, the Scriptures were trustworthy, and God would be faithful to His promises. (Ruth 2:1-16: One Fine Day)

Two widows with no visible means of support (but one invisible all Sufficient God, EL Shaddai - God Almighty - Shaddai used by Naomi in Ru 1:20, 21-note) still need the basics of life and so Ruth volunteers (and as explained earlier, essentially begs Naomi) for permission to glean, which reflects her willingness to submit her will to the will of the one in authority, even in this small detail demonstrating her submission to God's authority as specified in the fifth of the ten commandments...

Honor (imperative mood = a command to be obeyed, not a suggestion to be side-stepped - and it is still in force - a good reminder for all young persons!) your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. (Ex 20:12)

Ruth's desire to glean reflects her commitment to Naomi and to true worship of Jehovah, for as James explained over one thousand years later...

This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit (to care for - same Greek word, episkeptomai [word study], used in the LXX translation of Ru 1:6 [see note] = "Jehovah had visited His people" - episkeptomai is not simply a casual visit but a visit with the aim of relieving one's distress!) orphans and widows in their distress (external acts of goodness), and to keep oneself unstained by the world (internal acts of holiness). (Jas 1:27-note).

Note that Ruth is not seeking permission to go to a "picnic", because in ancient times a hard day's work under the hot Palestinian sun (and here even during a dangerous time of Jdg 21:25-note) frequently netted only a small amount of grain. We learn later that Ruth's gleaning in the barley field of Boaz (her kinsman-redeemer "in waiting"), was productive of an ephah of grain (Ru 2:17-note) after it had been beaten out (separating the worthless husks from the nutritious grain).

How much was an ephah? Probably somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds or enough to sustain the two widows for up to ten days! Yes, gleaning the corners of the fields (Lev 19:9) usually netted only a pittance, but gleaning in the fields of the benevolent, generous and wealthy Goel (kinsman redeemer) Boaz, yielded "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph 3:20-note). By way of application, dear child of the King, when we like Ruth choose to obediently glean in the fields of our Beloved Kinsman Redeemer, Christ Jesus, we like Ruth experience our Goel's abundant provision (and of course, we as NT believers are speaking primarily of spiritual blessednesses). Why then do we so often wander into other fields to glean for that which can never nourish nor satisfy our hungry souls? (cp Mt 5:6-note) Let us learn from Ruth's simple but deep trust in Jehovah, under Whose wings she had fled for refuge.

Ruth the Moabitess (an alien) had every right to look to God for His help and provision,  for our trustworthy God

executes justice for the orphan and the widow and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. (Dt 10:18) (see Torrey's Topic "Widows")

The field - This field turns out to be not just any field but the field belonging to Boaz (Ru 2:3).  In this same area David would tend his father’s sheep (1Sa 17:12, 15), and Joseph would bring a young wife named Mary, to deliver her baby, the Messiah, born in the line of Boaz and Ruth (Lk 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, see esp Lk 2:4) And it is most likely in the hills above these fields shepherds were tending to their flocks on the night the Messiah was born (Lk 2:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). God's providential outworking of events in this "little town of Bethlehem" (Micah 5:2) over the years that followed this fateful day in Ruth 2 should be a source of awe and wonder to us all.

If our great God can orchestrate such monumental events on the stage of a simple field, what can He do with the seemingly mundane circumstances or events in my life?

Glean after the reapers - This phrase even suggests the meaning of gleaning which is picking up the leftovers, including the grain in the corners of the fields (Lv 19:9) and sheaves (stalks tied together) that had been forgotten (Dt 24:19).

At the outset it is worth noting that in all the descriptions of Ruth, there is not one description of external beauty, but all descriptions deal with her internal beauty. God sees not as man who looks as the external appearance but He looks at the heart (1Sa 16:7). The writer of proverbs summed it up this way...

Charm (a pleasing manner developed by painstaking drill and discipline which invites the favor of family and friends) is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. (Pr 31:30)

And thus we see that the key to Ruth is not her external beauty (which she may well have had) but her beautiful character. Physical beauty quickly fades and is transitory. Ruth's praise from Boaz (Ru 2:11) as we shall see come from her godly character rather than from such external appearance. Although the author does not specifically state it, Ruth's attitude and actions  indicate that she clearly possesses the "fear of the Lord," which is the foundation of all wisdom and the principle (Pr 1:7, 9:10, cp Eccl. 12:13, Ps 25:14-note)

Centuries later Peter summed up the godly woman (and wife) writing...

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. And let not your adornment be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1Pe 3:1, 2, 3,4-notes)

Glean (03950) (laqat) is a key word in Ruth 2 (used 12x in 10 verses - Ru 2:2, 3, 7, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23) and describes the process of gathering grain or other produce left in the fields by the reapers. The basis for this practice in Israel is found in Leviticus where Moses records God's desire that

"when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest... you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God." (Lev 19:9, 10, cp Lv 19:34)

Laqat - 34v in OT - Ge 31:46; 47:14; Exod. 16:4f, 16, 17, 18, , 21f, 26f; Lev. 19:9f; 23:22; Nu. 11:8; Jdg. 1:7; 11:3; Ruth 2:2, 3, 7, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23; 1Sa 20:38; 2 Ki. 4:39; Ps. 104:28; Song. 6:2; Isa. 17:5; 27:12; Jer. 7:18

GOD'S
WELFARE PROGRAM:
"CUT CORNERS"!

Most business owners instruct their employees not to cut corners. God however had instructed Jewish landowners in fact to “cut corners” in harvesting, and always leave some behind (Lv 19:9)!  Deuteronomy adds that

"When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien (foreigner, stranger), for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." (Dt 24:19)

These benevolent laws provided a divinely initiated “welfare” program for Israel, and were an efficient and positive way of helping the poor (Lv 19:9, 10, Dt 24:19, 20, 21, 22 - John Newton had Dt 24:22 printed in large letters and hung over his mantle piece so that he would not forget God's amazing grace to save a wretched slave trader such as he! We would all do well to remember our wretched state before Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer showed us favor [grace]) (As previously noted Ep 2:11, 12-see note  Ep 2:11,12) (See also Torrey's Topic "The Poor"). On the one hand this practice encouraged the landowners to have a generous heart and on the other, it encouraged the poor to be active in laboring for their food and thus providing for their own needs without loosing their dignity. What a far cry from many modern day man initiated welfare programs! Sadly the Jewish religious leaders fell out of step with God's heart and began to tie heavy burdens upon the people by specifically designating gleaning as one of thirty-nine kinds of work that was forbidden on the Sabbath! God's will and way is always the best way!

One English dictionary defines "glean" as to gather something slowly and carefully in small pieces. What a wonderful harvest would we each receive if we always approached God's Word with the definite intention to "glean" in the "fields" of His precious truth.

Ruth had the desire and the initiative to take full advantage of God's provision in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, indicating that she knew this truth and that she was willing to step out in faith and act upon it. What a challenging example she presents for all believers who have access to the gleanings, yea, even the bountiful harvest of God, having been

"granted...everything pertaining to life and godliness" and having access to the "fields" of all of God's "precious and magnificent promises". (2Pe 1:3, 4 -notes)

Yet there they lie, untouched and of no value to the believer who does not reach out and lay hold of these precious provisions and promises from the very mouth and hand of God Himself! Unlike God's "fields", human owners could still refuse gleaning on his land. In the days of the Judges one would not be surprised if more than one landowner refused to allowed gleaning. Would Ruth be refused this privilege?

Devotional from Today in the Word

A 1980s British sitcom called To the Manor Born told the story of a woman living on an estate that had been in her family for generations. The problem was that the lady of the manor was basically penniless, although her financial condition wasn’t widely known. Many of the show’s episodes dealt with the woman’s attempts to keep the manor running and to hold on to her estate on a shoestring budget. This could have been Naomi’s story upon her return to Bethlehem with Ruth. Naomi was penniless, although apparently she was able to move back onto the family property in Bethlehem. That may have included a house and some land, but judging from the women’s financial condition, they had no way to make a real living.

The Handbook on the Book of Ruth notes that...

It is also important that the theme of restoration and “filling” be brought about by the event of harvest, which, in a sense, is a kind of celebration of the fertility of the earth and therefore an implied abundance. (Waard, J. d., & Nida, E. A. A translator's Handbook on the Book of Ruth. New York: United Bible Societies)

AFTER ONE IN WHOSE SIGHT I MIGHT FIND FAVOR: FAVOR = GRACE in Ru 2:2KJV)

SEEKING FOR
GRACE

"to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it" (NLT)

"in the field of anyone who will allow me that favor" (NAB)

"behind someone who permits me to do so" (NET)

"in the footsteps of some man who will look on me with favor" (NJB)

"after him in whose eyes I may have grace" (BBE)

I might find favor - For what is Ruth seeking? Is it not what all Gentile (as well as Jewish) sinners need to seek for desperately? Indeed, she went out looking for grace ("favor"), and encountered her earthly "lord" (Ru 2:13) and in his words and deeds found abundant, amazing undeserved grace ("favor", Ru 2:10).

Do we not see the clear portrayal of a greater Lord of the Harvest here? Indeed, the Lord of grace (2Ti 2:1-note), is He Whom we seek, in order that we too like Ruth might come into the fruitful fields and the experiential knowledge (not just head knowledge) of His abundant provision of amazing, transforming, energizing grace (e.g., notice the practical effect of "grace" as the believer's "instructor" to energize and lead us to live a different life in Christ - see Titus 2:11-note, Titus 2:12-note).

Favor (02580) (chen/hen) means favor (acts which display one’s fondness or compassion for another), grace (acts of kindness displaying one’s pleasure with an object, which benefit the object of pleasure), acceptance. The basic meaning of chen is “favor.” Whatever is “pleasant and agreeable” can be described by this word.  Chen conveys a sense of acceptance or preference. The related verb chanan depicts a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need.

Chen - Forty-three of the 68 uses of chen are found in the phrase “to find favor in the sight of" as in our current verse - Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 30:27; 32:5; 33:8, 10, 15; 34:11; 39:4, 21; 47:25, 29; 50:4; Exod. 3:21; 11:3; 12:36; 33:12f, 16f; 34:9; Num. 11:11, 15; 32:5; Deut. 24:1; Jdg. 6:17; Ruth 2:2, 10, 13; 1 Sam. 1:18; 16:22; 20:3, 29; 25:8; 27:5; 2 Sam. 14:22; 15:25; 16:4; 1 Ki. 11:19; Esther 2:15, 17; 5:2, 8; 7:3; 8:5; Ps. 45:2; 84:11; Prov. 1:9; 3:4, 22, 34; 4:9; 5:19; 11:16; 13:15; 17:8; 22:1, 11; 28:23; 31:30; Eccl. 9:11; 10:12; Jer. 31:2; Nah. 3:4; Zech. 4:7; 12:10.

The NAS renders chen as - adornment(1), charm (1), charm(1), charming (1), favor(51), grace(8), graceful(2), gracious(3), pleases(1).

The KJV renders chen far more often as grace than the NAS -  grace 38, favour 26, gracious 2, pleasant 1, precious 1, well favoured

Chen is translated in the Septuagint by the Greek word charis (click word study) which is usually translated grace in the NT

The first use of chen was in Noah's day which was like "the days of the judges" for God saw that

the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. But Noah found favor (chen, LXX = charis = grace) in the eyes of the LORD. (Ge 6:5,6:8, cp Noah's righteousness by faith He 11:7-note, a preacher of righteousness 2Pe 2:5-note, mentioned with Daniel and Job, Ezek 14:14, 20)

Chen is used three times in Ruth (Ruth 2:2, 10, 13) all three in Ruth 2 (here, verse 10 - "Why have I found favor in your sight" and in verse 13 -"I have found favor in your sight") Grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it.

As a woman, a poor widow, and an alien, Ruth was in need of grace and she sought it in the form of a field in which she could glean. This was completely an act of faith (cp 2Co 5:7) because, being a stranger, she didn’t know who owned the various parcels of ground that made up the fields. There were boundary markers for each parcel, but no fences or family name signs as seen on our farms today. Her great faith reminds us that

"without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Heb 11:6-note)

Glean today
in the broad field of promise...

C H Spurgeon (From "Morning and Evening - Morning, Aug 1) draws a wonderful personal application from Ruth's appeal to Naomi...

Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean today in the broad field of promise. Here are abundance of precious promises (2Pe 1:4-note, Ep 1:3-note, Col 2:3-note), which exactly meet thy wants (Php 4:19-note). Take this one: “He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.” (Mt 12:20KJV) Doth not that suit thy case? A reed, helpless, insignificant, and weak, a bruised reed, out of which no music can come; weaker than weakness itself; a reed, and that reed bruised, yet, He will not break thee; but on the contrary, will restore and strengthen thee. Thou art like the smoking flax: no light, no warmth, can come from thee; but He will not quench thee; He will blow with His sweet breath of mercy till He fans thee to a flame. (cp 2Ti 1:6-note)

Wouldst thou glean another ear? “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28, 29, 30) What soft words! Thy heart is tender, and the Master knows it, and therefore He speaketh so gently to thee. Wilt thou not obey Him, and come to Him even now? Take another ear of corn: “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 41:14KJV) How canst thou fear with such a wonderful assurance as this? Thou mayest gather ten thousand such golden ears as these! “I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thy transgressions.” (Isa 44:22KJV, cp Mic 7:19, Ps 103:12, Isa 38:17, 43:25, Jer 31:34, 50:20, Da 9:24, He 8:12, 10:17)) Or this, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa 1:18) Or this, “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” (Re 22:17KJV-note)

Our Master’s field is very rich; behold the handfuls. See, there they lie before thee, poor timid believer! Gather them up, make them thine own, for Jesus bids thee take them. Be not afraid, only believe!

Grasp these sweet promises,
Thresh them out by meditation and
Feed on them with joy.

AND SHE SAID TO HER "GO MY DAUGHTER":

Naomi granted Ruth's request and instead of referring to Ruth as her daughter-in-law, she added an affectionate my daughter (8X - Ru 2:2; 2:8; 2:22; 3:1; 3:10; 3:11; 3:16; 3:18). There is no reason given for Naomi not joining Ruth in the fields as might have been expected of one who was in such  her dire circumstances but notice that Ruth does not grumble, murmur or complain...

"I've got to stoop over in the hot sun all day. Why aren't you going?"

Ruth did all things without grumbling or disputing and proved herself blameless and innocent, a child of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (the days of the judges), among whom she appeared as a light. (Php 2:14, 15-notes) And one man certainly noticed her "light"!

Does your Christ-like non-grumbling attitude make you a lighthouse like Ruth in your home, your family, your neighborhood, your workplace, your school, your church?

 

Ruth 2:3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened, to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified:  And [Ruth] went and gleaned in a field after the reapers; and she happened to stop at the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.(Amplified Bible - Lockman)
GWT
: So Ruth went. She entered a field and gathered the grain left behind by the reapers. Now it happened that she ended up in the part of the field that belonged to Boaz, who was from Elimelech's family. (
GWT)
KJV
: And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
NAB: and she went. The field she entered to glean after the harvesters happened to be the section belonging to Boaz of the clan of Elimelech.
Young's Literal:  And she goeth and cometh and gathereth in a field after the reapers, and her chance happeneth -- the portion of the field is Boaz's who is of the family of Elimelech.

Septuagint (LXX): kai eporeuthe  (3SAPI) kai sunelexen (3SAAI) en to agro katopisthen ton therizonton (PAPMGP) kai periepesen (3SAAI) periptomati te meridi tou agrou Boos tou ek suggeneias Abimelech

English of Septuagint: And she went; and came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers; and she happened by chance to come on a portion of the land of Booz, of the kindred of Elimelech

SO SHE DEPARTED AND WENT AND GLEANED IN THE FIELD AFTER THE REAPERS: (1Th 4:11, 4:12; 2Th 3:12)

So Ruth went. She entered a field and gathered the grain left behind by the reapers (GWT)

And she went, and came and took up the heads of grain in the field after the cutters (BBE)

So Ruth went to the fields. She followed the workers who were cutting the grain. And she gathered the grain that they had left (ICB) 

A "Chance" Romance
(It Happened One Spring)

When did these events take place? beginning of barley harvest (April/May ~ fruitful restoration)

Charles West spoke what Naomi needed to remember when he said that...

We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.

Spurgeon applies this truth writing that

When Ruth went to glean in the fields of Boaz, it was the most gracious circumstance in her life that Boaz turned out to be her next of kin; and we who have gleaned in the fields of mercy praise the Lord that his only begotten Son is the next of kin to us, our brother, born for adversity. (from his sermon The Man of Sorrows, March 2, 1873).

In another comment on this verse Spurgeon writes...

I have now to invite you to other fields than these. I would bring you to the field of gospel truth. My Master is the Boaz. See here, in this precious Book is a field of truthful promises, of blessings rich and ripe. The Master stands at the gate and affords us welcome. Strong men full of faith, like reapers, reap their sheaves and gather in their armfuls. O that you were all reapers, for the harvest truly is plenteous! But if not reapers, may you be as the maidens of Boaz. I see some servants who do not so much reap themselves as partake of that which others have reaped.

AND HAPPENED TO COME TO THE PORTION OF THE FIELD BELONGING TO BOAZ, WHO WAS OF THE FAMILY OF ELIMELECH: (2Ki 8:5; Esther 6:1;6:2 Mt 10:29; Lk 10:31)

her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz (KJV)

As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz (NIV)

It just so happened that the field belonged to Boaz. He was a close relative from Elimelech's family (ICB)

Now it happened that she ended up in the part of the field that belonged to Boaz (GWT)

It just so happened that the field belonged to Boaz (NCV)

She just happened to end up in the portion of the field that belonged to Boaz  (NET)

she happened to stop at the part of the field belonging to Boaz (AMP)

Chance led her to a plot of land belonging to Boaz of Elimelech’s clan. (NJB)

by chance she went into that part of the field which was the property of Boaz (BBE)

as luck would have it, it was the piece of land belonging to Boaz (Tanakh)

Keil & Delitzsch translate it as "her chance chanced to hit upon the field" (not the best translation for there was no element of "chance" [as used in modern vernacular] involved in this event!)

Chance, Luck, Fate?
or
Sovereignty and Providence?

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

George Muller could well have been referring to the superintendence of Jehovah on every line of the book of Ruth writing...

If our circumstances find us in God, we shall find God in our circumstances.

William Arnot's discussion in his book on Proverbs - Laws from heaven for life on earth - Providence

Indeed to recognize the hand of God in our life does require the exercise of faith, for as Thomas Watson wrote...

God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to his promises.

She happened to come - Just a coincidence, right? Not if God is sovereign and providentially in control of even the numbers of hairs on our head or the demise of a lowly sparrow. The English dictionary says that coincidence is the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.  Or a chance occurrence of events remarkable either for being simultaneous or for apparently being connected. Or a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. And as you might surmise, there is not a single use of the word coincidence in all of Scripture! This happening did not happen by accident, chance, luck, good fortune or any other similar term the unbelieving world might ascribe.

Listen to, watch and be encouraged by the great truth that Our God Reigns.

Great things can come from small beginnings when you have a great God. And in this first scene of Ruth 2 we see 2 divine providences - Ruth's happening on Boaz's field (no signs, no fences) and Boaz happening upon Ruth in his field.

Happened (07136) (qarah) in this context refers to something that happens out of human or self control. This does not express the modern idea of “chance” or “luck,” for that is foreign to OT thought. (See booklet How Much Does God Control?) The verb qarah is used in cases where divine providence is the cause (Ge 24:12, cp Ge 27:20), expressing the thought that the event in question is beyond human control. It is clear that Ruth was providentially led by God for there were at least two men in Bethlehem who could permanently deliver Ruth and Naomi from their poverty and loneliness, and Ruth was specifically led to the field belonging to Boaz. Thus Ruth, without any intention to do so, ended up gleaning in the field that belonged to Boaz. The translation “as it happened she came upon” expresses nicely the absence of volition on Ruth’s part. Truly God...

works all things (how many?) after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11-note)

Sovereignty is defined by Webster's as supreme power especially over a body politic. It describes freedom from external control or of other controlling influences. God is the ultimate authority in every sphere and place. It follows that all creation is subject to Him and that all creation is answerable to Him. As an aside, what verb do you see in the word sovereign? "Reign" of course, and this verb captures the essence of this divine attribute. Our God Reigns! (Play midi; Play vocal).

Easton's Bible Dictionary says Sovereignty is God's

absolute right to do all things according to His own good pleasure (Da 4:25, 35; Ro 9:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 1Ti 6:15; Re 4:11).

Ray Pritchard tells a humorous story related to sovereignty noting that ...

this is a clarifying doctrine. It teaches us that there is no such thing as luck, chance, fate or coincidence. You can have God or chance, but you can’t have both. When a cowboy applied for health insurance, the agent routinely asked if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The cowboy replied, “No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Weren’t those accidents?” “No,” replied the cowboy, “They did it on purpose.” The cowboy realized that there are no such things as “accidents.” How about you, Christian? Do you believe that some things catch God by surprise? In the words of a good friend, “God is too sovereign to be lucky." (Read Pastor Pritchard's entire message and see also his series of 16 messages on Our Awesome God) (See also list of sermons by Dr Pritchard that also relate to God's sovereignty)

C H Spurgeon said that...

There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust. (Divine Sovereignty )

God's sovereignty overrules every calamity. Let's take a brief look at His sovereignty over historical events. Did you know that two great leaders, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt, almost died before the World War II began? In December 1931, Churchill was struck by a car as he crossed Fifth Avenue in New York City. In Miami in December 1933, an assassin's bullet barely missed Roosevelt and killed the man standing beside him. Both leaders survived and contributed mightily to the defeat of Hitler. Why did they survive to lead their nations in this time of crisis? Because God was in control back then and He is still in control. God is sovereign over nations causing their leaders to rise and to fall (Da 2:21; 4:32, 33, 34, 35; 5:21). The prophet Habakkuk complained that it didn't seem right for God to use wicked Babylon to discipline Israel, but God assured him that this did not mean evil would triumph. God was in control and would one day bring about perfect justice

"Is it not indeed from the LORD of hosts That peoples toil for fire, And nations grow weary for nothing? For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea. (Hab 2:13, 14).

Dear brother or sister in Christ, rest assured that your times are also in the omnipotent, omniscient God's hands. No matter what may happen in this world, He is always in control!

This Is My Father’s World
Oh, let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
--M D Babcock

Matthew Henry wrote that...

Either directly or indirectly, every providence has a tendency to the spiritual good of those who love God (cp Ro 8:28-note, Ge 50:20).

Job spoke of God's sovereignty (and omnipotence) when he declared...

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

David wrote that...

Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.

William Cowper wisely said that..

Happy the man who sees a God employed in all the good and ill that chequers (Ed: a pattern of alternately coloured squares) life.

Given the fact that Ruth could little have understood the significance of the truth that "her hap was to light" (KJV), what John Flavel said is such an apt commentary...

Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards.

A J Gordon must have read John Flavel and phrased it this way...

God's providence is like the Hebrew Bible; we must begin at the end and read backward in order to understand it.

Martin Luther had as similar insight noting that...

Our Lord God doeth work like a printer, who setteth the letters backwards; we see and feel well his setting, but we shall see the print yonder—in the life to come.

DIVINE
PROVIDENCE

Happened is translated in the Septuagint (LXX) with the verb parapipto (para = beside + pipto = to fall) which describes coming onto a situation accidentally and becoming innocently involved. The Greek historian Herodotus uses parapipto to describe ships meeting by chance at sea! Now imagine two people (Ruth and Boaz) from such different backgrounds, being directed and drawn irrevocably like two ships into the same harbor!

Related Resource: Providence - Study of the Doctrine of Divine Providence

Taylor notes that...

the historian (writer of Ruth) would not have us to believe that it was all by chance. On the contrary, the great lesson of the book is that "the Lord is mindful of His own," and that He leads them through ways that they know not, to the end which He has designed for them. But the writer speaks here after the manner of men. He describes all that men see. They cannot trace the workings of the divine hand; they perceive only what takes place before their eyes; and so he says here of Ruth that "her hap happened," "her lot met her," "her hap was to light" on the part of the field belonging to Boaz, but he means every reader to infer that God had turned her steps thither. (William M. Taylor. Ruth The Gleaner)

In Matthew Jesus reminds His audience of the providential watchcare of the Father for His children asking and answering a rhetorical question...

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

I like the way John Blanchard phrased it...

God's providence will fulfil all His promises.

Calvin may have been correct when he uttered the following statement but the men he describes never read (understood) the book of Ruth...

There is nothing of which it is more difficult to convince men than that the providence of God governs this world.

Naomi and Ruth would both agree with Stephen Charnock who said that...

Providence is crowned by the end of it.

Providence is derived from the Latin word providere meaning to foresee or to attend to. The English word providence according to Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary entry means...

Foresight; timely care; particularly active foresight or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation.

In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercise over His creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson has the following notes on providence writing that...

There is no such thing as chance or blind fate—but there is a providence which guides and governs the world. (see Pr 16:33) Providence is God's ordering all outcomes and events of things, after the counsel of his will, to his own glory.

[1] I call providence—God's ordering things, to distinguish it from his decrees. God's decree ordains things that shall happens, God's providence orders them.

[2] I call providence the ordering of things after the counsel of God's will.

[3] God orders all events of things, after the counsel of his will, to his own glory; his glory being the ultimate end of all his actings, and the center where all the lines of providence meet. The providence of God is "the queen and governess of the world." It is the eye which sees, and the hand which turns all the wheels in the universe. God is not like an artificer who builds a house, and then leaves it—but like a pilot, he steers the ship of the whole creation...

God's providence reaches to all places, persons, and affairs...providences, which are casual and accidental to us, are pre-determined by the Lord...providence is greatly to be observed—but we are not to make it the rule of our actions...Divine providence is irresistible...God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to his promises...The providences of God are chequer-work, they are intermingled...The same action, as it comes from God's providence, may be good; and as it comes from men, may be evil...ADMIRE God's providence...Learn quietly to SUBMIT to divine providence...You who are Christians, believe that all God's providence shall conspire for your good at last...Let it be an antidote against immoderate FEAR, that nothing comes to pass but what is ordained by God's decree, and ordered by his providence... Let the merciful providence of God cause THANKFULNESS... (For more detailed discussion see - Body of Divinity - Scroll Down to "14. The PROVIDENCE of God")

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains that providence is...
 

the continuous activity of God in His creation by which He preserves and governs. The doctrine of providence affirms God’s absolute lordship over His creation and confirms the dependence of all creation on the Creator. It is the denial of the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.


Through His providence God controls the universe (Ps 103:19); the physical world (Mt 5:45); the affairs of nations (Ps 66:7); human birth and destiny (Gal 1:15); human successes and failures (Lk 1:52); and the protection of His people (Ps 4:8).


God preserves all things through His providence (1Sa 2:9; Acts 17:28). Without His continual care and activity the world would not exist. God also preserves His people through His providence (Ge 28:15; Lk 21:18; 1Cor. 10:13; 1Pe 3:12).


Divine government is the continued activity of God by which He directs all things to the ends He has chosen in His eternal plan. God is King of the universe who has given Christ all power and authority to reign (Matt. 28:18, 19 20; Acts 2:36; Eph. 1:20–23). He governs insignificant things (Matt. 10:29–31), apparent accidents (Prov. 16:33), and good (Phil. 2:13) and evil deeds (Acts 14:16).


God acts in accordance with the laws and principles that He has established in the world. The laws of nature are nothing more than our description of how we perceive God at work in the world. They neither have inherent power nor work by themselves.


We are not free to choose and act independently of God’s will and plan; we choose and act in accordance with them. In His sovereignty, God controls people’s choices and actions (Gen. 45:5; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 21:1). God’s actions, however, do not violate the reality of human choice or negate our responsibility as moral beings.


God permits sinful acts to occur, but He does not cause us to sin (Gen. 45:5; Rom. 9:22). He often overrules evil for good (Gen. 50:20, Acts 3:13)
(Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

Providence (Easton's Bible Dictionary)...

Literally means foresight, but is generally used to denote God's preserving and governing all things by means of second causes (Ps. 18:35; 63:8; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3). God's providence extends to the natural world (Ps. 104:14; 135:5, 6, 7; Acts 14:17), the brute creation (Ps 104:21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29; Mt. 6:26; 10:29), and the affairs of men (1Chr. 16:31; Ps. 47:7; Pr 21:1; Job 12:23; Da 2:21; 4:25), and of individuals (1Sa 2:6; Ps 18:30; Luke 1:53; James 4:13, 14, 15). It extends also to the free actions of men (Ex. 12:36; 1Sa 24:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; Ps. 33:14, 15; Pr 16:1; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1), and things sinful (2Sa 16:10; 24:1; Ro 11:32; Acts 4:27, 28), as well as to their good actions (Phil. 2:13; 4:13; 2Cor. 12:9, 10; Eph. 2:10; Gal. 5:22, 23, 24, 25).

As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God's permission (Gen. 45:5; 50:20. Comp. 1Sa 6:6; Ex. 7:13; 14:17; Acts 2:3; 3:18; 4:27, 28), and as controlled (Ps. 76:10) and overruled for good (Ge 50:20; Acts 3:13). God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, overrules it for good.

The mode of God's providential government is altogether unexplained. We only know that it is a fact that God does govern all his creatures and all their actions; that this government is universal (Ps. 103:17, 18, 19), particular (Matt. 10:29, 30, 31), efficacious (Ps. 33:11; Job 23:13), embraces events apparently contingent (Pr 16:9, 33; 19:21; 21:1), is consistent with his own perfection (2Ti 2:13), and to his own glory (Ro 9:17; 11:36).

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A MERE HAPPENING? - Huang, a nonbeliever, was a visiting scientist at the University of Minnesota in 1994. While there, he met some Christians and enjoyed their fellowship. So when they learned he would be returning to Beijing, they gave him the name of a Christian to contact who was also moving there.

On the flight back to Beijing, the plane encountered engine trouble and stopped in Seattle overnight. The airline placed Huang in the same room with the very person he was to contact! Once they arrived in Beijing, the two began meeting weekly for a Bible study, and a year later Huang gave his life to Christ. This was not just a mere happening; it was by God’s arrangement.

In Ruth 2, we read that Ruth came “to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ru 2:3). Boaz asked his servants who she was (v.5), which prompted his special consideration toward her. When Ruth asked him the reason for such kindness, Boaz replied, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law . . . . The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you” (Ru 2:11, 12).

Did the events in the lives of Ruth and Huang just happen? No, for none of God’s people can escape God’s plans to guide and to provide.

I know who holds the future,
And I know who holds my hand;
With God things don’t just happen—
Everything by Him is planned. —Smith

A “mere happening” may be God’s design.

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I. Providence Defined. -- ISBE article

The word "provide" (from Latin providere) means etymologically "to foresee." The corresponding Greek word, pronoia, means "forethought." Forethought and foresight imply a future end, a goal and a definite purpose and plan for attaining that end. The doctrine of final ends is a doctrine of final causes, and means that that which is last in realization and attainment is first in mind and thought. The most essential attribute of rational beings is that they act with reference to an end; that they act not only with thought but with forethought. As, therefore, it is characteristic of rational beings to make preparation for every event that is foreseen or anticipated, the word "providence" has come to be used less in its original etymological meaning of foresight than to signify that preparation care and supervision which are necessary to secure a desired future result. While all rational beings exercise a providence proportioned to their powers, yet it is only when the word is used with reference to the Divine Being who is possessed of infinite knowledge and power that it takes on its real and true significance.

The doctrine of divine providence, therefore, has reference to that preservation care and government which God exercises over all things that He has created in order they may accomplish the ends for which they were created.

"Providence is the most comprehensive term in the language of theology. It is the background of all the several departments of religious truth, a background mysterious in its commingled brightness and darkness. It penetrates and fills the whole compass of the relations of man with his Maker. It connects the unseen God with the visible creation, and the visible creation with the work of redemption, and redemption with personal salvation, and personal salvation with the end of all things. It carries our thoughts back to the supreme purpose which was in the beginning with God, and forward to the foreseen end and consummation of all things, while it includes between these the whole infinite variety of the dealings of God with man" (W. B. Pope, Compendium of Christian Theology, I, 456).

II. Different Spheres of Providential Activity Distinguished.

The created universe may be conveniently divided, with reference divine providence, into three departments: first, the inanimate or physical universe, which is conserved or governed by God according to certain uniform principles called the laws of Nature; secondly, animate existence, embracing the vegetable and animal world, over which God exercises that providential care which is necessary to sustain the life that He created; and thirdly, the rational world, composed of beings who, in addition to animate life, are possessed of reason and moral free agency, and are governed by God, not necessitatively, but through an appeal to reason, they having the power to obey or disobey the laws of God according to the decision of their own free wills. This widespread care and supervision which God exercises over His created universe is commonly designated as His general providence which embraces alike the evil and the good, in addition to which there is a more special and particular providence which He exercises over and in behalf of the good, those whose wills are in harmony with the divine will.

III. Biblical Presentation of the Doctrine of Providence.

The word "providence" is used only once in the Scriptures (Acts 24:2), and here it refers, not to God, but to the forethought and work of man, in which sense it is now seldom used. (See also Rom 13:14, where the same Greek word is translated "provision.") While, however, the Biblical use of the word calls for little consideration, the doctrine indicated by the term "providence" is one of the most significant in the Christian system, and is either distinctly stated or plainly assumed by every Biblical writer. The Old Testament Scriptures are best understood when interpreted as a progressive revelation of God's providential purpose for Israel and the world. Messianic expectations pervade the entire life and literature of the Hebrew people, and the entire Old Testament dispensation may not improperly be regarded as the moral training and providential preparation of the world, and especially of the chosen people, for the coming Messiah. In the apocryphal "Book of Wisdom" the word "providence" is twice used (Wisd 14:3; 17:2) in reference to God's government of the World. Rabbinical Judaism, according to Josephus, was much occupied with discussing the relation of divine providence to human free will. The Sadducees, he tells us, held an extreme view of human freedom, while the Essenes were believers in absolute fate; the Pharisees, avoiding these extremes, believed in both the overruling providence of God and in the freedom and responsibility of man (Ant., XIII, v, 9; XVIII, i, 3; BJ, II, viii, 14). See PHARISEES. The New Testament begins with the announcement that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand," which declaration carries along with it the idea of a providential purpose and design running through the preceding dispensation that prepared for the Messiah's coming. But the work of Christ is set forth in the New Testament, not only as the culmination of a divine providence that preceded it, but as the beginning of a new providential order, a definite and far-reaching plan, for the redemption of the world, a forethought and plan so comprehensive that it gives to the very idea of divine providence a new, larger and richer meaning, both intensively and extensively, than it ever had before. The minutest want of the humblest individual and the largest interests of the world-wide kingdom of God are alike embraced within the scope of divine providence as it is set forth by Christ and the apostles.

While providence supports,
Let saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guide his children well.
-- Philip Doddridge

Samuel Ridout observes that...

We see how everything is ordered of God, not by Ruth. She does not know in whose field she is gleaning: “Her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz.” Humanly speaking, it was Rebekah’s hap to be at the well when Abraham’s servant came in search for a bride for his master’s son; it was the hap of the woman of Samaria to meet the Stranger from Judea, who had such words of life and grace to tell her. But we know that what is man’s “hap” is God’s purpose, the purpose of love of Him who sees the end from the beginning and plans it all. His eye was upon Rebekah, and He made her go out to the well the first to meet the servant of Abraham. He constrained the woman of Samaria to go where she would meet the Son of God, and have her life transformed by the message He brought her. He knows and He draws each of us, at the appointed time and in the appointed way, to the place of blessing. How wonderful are His ways, and what love there is behind what seem to be the merest incidents. God is absolutely sovereign. All our blessings are from Him alone. The work of grace, from beginning to end, is His. Therefore to Him alone is all the praise. (Ridout, S. Gleanings from the Book of Ruth. Pleasant Places Press)

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He Is In Control (Our Daily Bread) - The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. --Pr 16:33 (Ed: Casting lots was a method often used to reveal God’s purposes in a matter -- Jos 14:1,2 1Sa 14:38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 1Chr 25:8-31 Jonah 1:7 Acts 1:26)

Flipping a coin, drawing straws, or taking a number out of a hat have long been ways of resolving disputes. I once read of an election in an Oklahoma town where the two leading candidates each received 140 votes. Rather than go through the expense of another election, city officials used a chance method to decide the winner, and everyone accepted the outcome. What the writer of Proverbs said proved to be true:

Casting lots causes contentions to cease, and keeps the mighty apart (Pr 18:18).

Many people view all of this as nothing more than a matter of chance. But the amazing thing about what the Word of God calls "casting lots" is that the Lord is ultimately the One who controls the outcome. This was true in the story of Jonah, where God showed Himself to be Lord even through the actions of superstitious, unbelieving sailors.

So, what does all of this say to us as believers?

From the Christian's perspective, there is no such thing as chance. God is either directly or indirectly involved in everything that happens to us. He can therefore be trusted and obeyed in any circumstance, because even the smallest details are under His control. --M R De Haan II

Things don't just happen to those who love God,
They're planned by His own dear hand,
Then molded and shaped, and timed by His clock;
Things don't just happen--they're planned.
--Fields

God is behind the scenes
and
controls the scenes He is behind.

God not only orders our steps.
He orders our stops.
--George Muller

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Solomon eloquently sums up what "happened" to Ruth explaining that

The mind of man (woman) plans his (her) way, but the LORD directs his (her) steps. (Pr 16:9)

This proverb is a magnificent expression of the sovereignty of God (see discussion of God's Sovereignty), whereby Jehovah inevitably and without exception accomplishes His will and purpose through free-willed agents acting freely but responsibly. Permitting or overruling the acts of man or woman without infringing upon his or her freedom or interrupting his or her responsibility is an awesome expression of God's providence. (cf, free will of Joseph's brothers and God's providence in Ge 37:26, 27, 28 and His sovereign purpose in Ge 45:5)

Dear brother or sister in Christ, this great truth can be like a balm of Gilead for your soul when the winds of adversity begin to blow, for you can be certain that God even "makes the winds His messengers"! (Ps 104:4) God is altogether sovereign. He is not a God of chance. A faithful believer, seeking honestly to know and do the will of God, especially in relation to His already revealed will in Scripture, can be confident that the circumstances around him are not dictated by the laws of probability but by the will and purpose of God.

A field (7704) in Palestine was not enclosed and signifies that portion of the open ground which lay within the landmarks of the owner, but remember that there were no signs saying ...

"This way to Boaz's field"

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
--William Cowper

The truth is that Ruth was thoughtful and obedient to take care of her widowed mother, Naomi, and Jehovah was going to bless her unselfish obedience! One wonders what would have "happened" had she chosen instead to sit with Naomi but that is speculation because either way God was in control and what He purposed would come to pass.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary explains that...

Since land was apportioned by tribe and clan and family, what would have looked like a single field may have had delineated tracts that belonged to various clan or family members. Stone markers would have identified the boundaries, and it would be very easy to pass from one family holding to another in what looked like one field. Indeed, it would have been easiest for the poor to roam over the whole field to improve their chances of adequate returns. In contrast, Boaz has intentions that Ruth be more than adequately provided for. (Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament . Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press)

William M. Taylor adds that...

The field to which Ruth went, though apparently one large and undivided area, was really made up of the aggregate portions of land possessed by those who dwelt in Bethlehem. Just as, even at the present day, in some parts of Switzerland, the agricultural population live in villages round which their several patches of land lie--not cut up by hedges or fenced off by stone walls but forming what appears to be one immense field, though it is actually very carefully mapped out and divided by landmarks which are perfectly recognizable by the inhabitants themselves; so it was, long ago, in Bethlehem. To a casual visitor there would seem to be but one field, but yet the portion of each proprietor was marked sometimes by heaps of small stones, and sometimes by single upright stones placed at short but regular intervals from each other. This enables us to understand the precept against the removal of a neighbor's landmark (Dt 19:18, 27:17, Pr 22:28, 23:10, Ho 5:10), and explains why in the narrative before us the word "field" is in the singular, and why it is said that Ruth found her place of privilege in the "part of the field which belonged to Boaz." (Ruth The Gleaner)

This scene is very practical in understanding how we are to discern God's will. A faithful believer, seeking honestly to know and do the will of God, especially in relation to God's will revealed in Scripture, can be confident that the circumstances and events that transpire are not dictated by the laws of probability but by the will and purpose of God who truly is causing "all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Ro 8:28-note). And so circumstances although not the primary factor, are nevertheless, valid aids in discerning the will of God in our life. The point is that there is no such thing as "chance" or "fate."

McGee adds some very practical comments on discerning the will of God in one's life writing that

It’s amazing today how many people interpret God’s will as being the easy way. Well, it’s not always the easy way. It certainly wasn’t for Ruth." He goes on to add that "One of the glorious things, as we go through this world today, is to know that our times are in His hands; to know that He is ordering the events of this universe; and to know that God has said that nothing can come to a child of His without His permission. You must remember that there was a hedge around Job, and even Satan couldn’t touch him until God gave permission. God will not give permission unless it serves some lofty and worthy purpose. It did serve a lofty and worthy purpose in the life of Job...For the child of God today who is frustrated because he’s looking for some sign, some experience, some light, some voice, some vision, some dream, he must realize that God is not speaking to us in that way today. God today is speaking to us through His Word. And the child of God who walks in fellowship with God, with no unconfessed sin in his life, and has not grieved the Holy Spirit, can commit his life to God. And when he gets to a place where he isn’t clear just what God’s will is for him, he can make a decision and move into the situation. Now maybe he makes a wrong decision, but God has permitted it for a purpose. As I look back on my life, there is one instance where I expected God to open up a door for me, and He didn’t open up that door. In fact He slammed the door, as it were, in my face, and I felt very bad about it. But I thank God that He did it, because now I can look back and see that it was best. It’s like what Joseph said to his brethren when they came to him after the death of old Jacob, their father. He said in Genesis 50:20 , “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” How wonderful that is, and may it be an encouragement to you today. Perhaps you are actually biting your fingernails and are wondering why you don’t get clear leading. You know Christians who act like they have a hotline to heaven. Now it’s wonderful that all of us have access to God, but I’m not sure that He always talks right back to us. So let’s be very careful today about the way we banter about the statement, “I know this is the Lord’s will.” We just can’t always be sure. But we can commit our way to Him, have no unconfessed sin in our lives, not grieve the Holy Spirit, and be in the center of the Lord’s will as best we know. Yes, my friend, you can commit yourself to Him in a wonderful way. And even if you got into the same predicament that Joseph did, or even that Job did, say with him, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). My friend, that’s the glorious truth that brings a joy and an expectancy to life. The providence of God makes every day a thrill for the child of God. I’m glad that He didn’t give me a blueprint because, frankly, I like to take a trip over a new road, going into an area I’ve never been before. I did that one autumn when we were in the Ozarks. My, how that road twisted and turned. And every twist and turn was a thrill—the autumn leaves were a riot of color. Nature seemed lavish, covering every hillside with polychrome pictures. And I’m so glad that God didn’t send me pictures of it all ahead of time. What a thrill life can become for us! " A proper understanding of the Lord's will can truly set you free to be all He desires you to be, without worrying over every detail or everything you perceive as a mistake. Someone might say it was a mistake for Joseph to have told his brothers about the dream he had of ruling over them because that just served to insight their envy into action. Let the truth of Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 (note) and of the real events in Ruth's life encourage you to walk out in full assurance that your God is bigger than any circumstance and so you can be confident that "confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Php 1:6-note) (Listen to J Vernon McGee's Mp3 on Ruth 2:3)

God was the Matchmaker exercising divine providence, even as He had "guided (Eliezar) in the way to the house of (Abraham's) brothers" (Ge 24:27) to find Rebekah, the wife prepared for Abraham's son, Isaac. God was moving all events in the life of Ruth that she might occupy a strategic position and be an important link in the scarlet chain running through Scripture.

Of the family of Elimelech - This phrase is repeated by the writer to remind the reader that Boaz was from the family of Elimelech and thus was "eligible" to be a kinsman-redeemer.

G Campbell Morgan writes the following note regarding Ruth's "hap to light on the portion of the field belonging to Boaz"...

The home-coming of Naomi and Ruth was to poverty, and they were faced by very practical problems. These were rendered more difficult by the fact that Ruth was a Moabitess. Yet, she it was who faced the fight, and went forth as a gleaner to gather what would suffice for immediate sustenance. The human side of things is expressed in these words. But the statement is by no means a pagan one. The Hebrew word rendered "hap" does not necessarily mean that the thing that occurred was accidental, although often used in that way. It literally means, that which she met with, and the statement is that it was that portion of the field which belonged to Boaz. All the issues reveal the Divine overruling. That which she met with, was that to which she was guided by God—if all unconsciously, yet none the less definitely. God led this woman, who had given up everything on the principle of faith, to a man, completely actuated by the same faith. The lines of his portrait are few, but they are strong, and a man of the finest quality is revealed. It is a radiant illustration of the truth that God does guide those who confide in Him and in the most definite way. Some experience is often so simple that we are tempted to say it happened, and to mean that it was a sort of accident. Yet the long issues make it certain that it was no accident, but part of a covenant, ordered in all things and sure. When in loyalty we make the venture of faith in God, we are ever choosing the path that is safe and sure. There are no accidents in the life of faith. In its music, the accidentals perfect the harmony. (Morgan, G. C.: Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Revell. 1994)

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F B Meyer has the following notes on ...

RUTH 2 RUTH, THE GLEANER - Our first experiences when we have chosen Christ are not always sunny ones. We have to glean in the fields of strangers. Testing times like these develop our nobler qualities, and make it clear that we have chosen God for Himself, and not for the wages that He pays.

Ruth 2:1, 2, 3 Ruth, the gleaner. -- The noblest natures are noble in the simplest of things. Those who are faithful in least, approve themselves worthy of being promoted to be faithful in much. Imitate Ruth, by doing the thing that lies next to your hand, and you will be probably promoted to a wider sphere. We must die in little acts of self-denial before we can bring forth much fruit. It is not in seeking great things for ourselves, but in doing little acts of service for those near to us, that we commend ourselves for usefulness and blessedness.

Those who glean in the fields of the Land of Promise will have enough and to spare, will meet their great Kinsman, and will become prepared to enter upon the higher experience of that union with Him, of which marriage is a shadow. Glean on, oh my soul! and gather after the reapers among the sheaves! Beat out what you glean with patient care! Do not hesitate to bring forth and give to those who need to abide at home! The time will come when those fair fields of Bible truth shall become your own, by union with their owner.

Ruth 2:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 14, 15, 16, 17 Boaz, the master. -- Would that language like this was more frequently heard in harvest fields and factories! The speech of the employed is generally an echo of that of the employer (4). We should beware, however, of degenerating into a formality which speaks God's name thoughtlessly. How much good might we do if we were more careful to notice those who serve us, and speak kindly to servant-girls. Little acts and words of kindness do not cost much, but they mean much to a lonely soul (Matt. 25:40). Note the significant synonym for trust (Ruth 2:12; Ps. 63:7; Matt. 23:37).

Boaz (strength) the near kinsman, is a glimpse of Him who, centuries later, was born in this same Bethlehem, and who appeals to each who does the will of His Father, as brother, sister, or mother. He takes knowledge of strangers; He is quick to see every trait of natural grace, and all kindly actions done to the least that belong to Him; He provides bread and wine; He causes handfuls to be dropped on purpose; He screens from annoyance and harm; He comforts and speaks to the heart; He blesses, and the humble, stooping spirit is blessed forever.

Ruth 2:18-23 Naomi, the anxious mother. -- How gladdened were those aged eyes with ephah (between three and four pecks) of barley, and with the reserves from the mid-day meal. We ought to bring home from every service the reserves of what we have heard (Ruth 2:18). Man's kindness will sometimes soften a hard and weary heart, and enable it again to believe in the love of God (Ruth 2:20). An over-ruling Providence had guided the young stranger to the field of a kinsman, though she knew it not (Ruth 2:19). God remembers the prayers of the dead long after they have been offered, and answers them by mysterious providences, which show the eternal permanence and steadfastness of His love (Isa. 54:8-10; Rom. 8:28). (F. B. Meyer. CHOICE NOTES ON JOSHUA THROUGH 2 KINGS)

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Read and consider putting into practice some of the principles set forth in C H Spurgeon's devotional Her hap was (Ruth "happened to come") -

Yes, it seemed nothing but an accident, but how divinely was it overruled! Ruth had gone forth with her mother’s blessing, under the care of her mother’s God, to humble but honourable toil, and the providence of God was guiding her every step. Little did she know that amid the sheaves she would find a husband, that he should make her the joint owner of all those broad acres, and that she a poor foreigner should become one of the progenitors of the great Messiah.

God is very good to those who trust in Him, and often surprises them with unlooked for blessings. Little do we know what may happen to us tomorrow, but this sweet fact may cheer us, that no good thing shall be withheld.

Chance is banished from the faith of Christians, for they see the hand of God in everything. The trivial events of today or tomorrow may involve consequences of the highest importance.

O Lord, deal as graciously with thy servants as thou didst with Ruth. How blessed would it be, if, in wandering in the field of meditation tonight, our hap should be to light upon the place where our next Kinsman will reveal Himself to us!

O Spirit of God, guide us to Him. We would sooner glean in His field than bear away the whole harvest from any other.

O for the footsteps of His flock, which may conduct us to the green pastures where He dwells!

This is a weary world when Jesus is away—we could better do without sun and moon that without Him—but how divinely fair all things become in the glory of His presence! Our souls know the virtue which dwells in Jesus, and can never be content without Him. We will wait in prayer this night until our hap shall be to light on a part of the field belonging to Jesus wherein He will manifest Himself to us." (Spurgeon Morning and evening October 25 PM)

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