January 4, 2012

Ruth & Boaz: Love At First Sight (Sorta)



Now Naomi had a relative of her husband's, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, "Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor" And she said to her, "Go, my daughter" So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers... -Ruth 2:1-3
I'll admit it. I have crushes on dead guys from the Bible. Creepy? Yes. But, I'd like to think I'll get more credit for liking dead Bible men than Hollywood actors. And Boaz is one of them. Boaz is a relative of Naomi, and he is not some cowardly, passive guy, nor is he overbearing and harsh, but rather he's a strong, masculine, godly man who knows how to treat a woman. If you're a guy, imitate Boaz. You'll go far if you do. Up to this point the men we've been introduced to have been Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon, all of whom kicked the bucket and were foolish. But, Boaz is different. Boaz's name literally means strength, and strong he is. He's strong in his faith, strong in his masculinity, strong in his plans, strong in his business (the dude has got some cash), and he's not afraid to step up to the plate. He's a worthy man. And it just so happens he's single. Amen.

Now, picking off from chapter one, Ruth and Naomi have just moved back to Bethlehem... and they're broke... which means they're hungry. So Ruth asks Naomi if she may go into the fields to glean, which Naomi agrees to. Gleaning is the equivalent of welfare services or the food pantry. It was set-up because the people believed that they did not "own" their lands, but rather God did, so if they did have land, they were to be good stewards and to help those who couldn't buy food. So folks would glean in the fields in order to earn some food. This is what Ruth set out to do "and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech" (Ruth 2:3). Ruth goes out, sees all these fields, and just randomly picks one, but not just any field, nope! She "just happened" to pick Boaz's field. The rich, single, God-loving man. It's a good day indeed. I can just clearly picture God looking down on this smiling and excited about what He's  about to orchestrate. "And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem..." (Ruth 2:4). It just so happens that Ruth picks the same day to glean that Boaz decides to visit his workers and check on his business.
Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this?" -Ruth 2:5
Boaz looks out and sees this woman working in his fields who he did not hire, but he sees her (love at first sight? perhaps), and his curiosity is spiked. Now, it should be noted that Ruth does not look her best here. She's been out in the fields working hard, she's sweaty, sticky, and muddied up. Her hair is tied back in some messy knot and she's wearing her work clothes. So it's not like Boaz sees this incredibly good looking woman; Ruth is a mess. But, Boaz is a wise man, because he's attracted to her character before her looks. Boaz sees that Ruth is a hard worker whose trying to take care of her bitter mother in-law because they're destitute, and to top it off she's a new Christian and new to the community. This is great example that we need to be more concerned with a good legacy rather than a good time. I know you come across someone who you think is hot, but you gotta get beyond that. Hell is hot as well. You gotta be attracted to their character and love for Christ first and foremost. Boaz is also smart because he sees who God has placed in his life. Boaz isn't looking over Ruth for some imaginary woman that fits his "list." I'm going to get on my soapbox here, but I don't care. Whenever I hear a guy complaining that he can't find a nice Christian girl I wanna knock his head against the wall or something. Seriously! They're all around you. I've got a running spreadsheet of single girls. They're not that hard to locate! Just open up your eyes! And some of you need to chuck that list of things you're looking for in a future spouse. When you get down to it being so detailed you're even looking for a specific eye color in the other person (yes, I've heard that come from someones mouth), you've gone to far. I mean think about Ruth. She's broke, homeless, smelly and dirty, spent the majority of her life in a sexually perverted cult, and to top it all off she's got a bitter mother in-law whose part of the package deal. That's probably not what Boaz had on his "list." But I digress... Back to Boaz and Ruth...
Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn" -Ruth 2:8-9
Ruth and Boaz have their first conversation beginning in verse eight, and we see here that Boaz is going to step up to the plate where the other men in her life have failed. Boaz tells Ruth not to go glean in another field, because he's going to make sure she gets more than her fair share of his food and money. Boaz is going to provide community for Ruth by having her glean with the other young women. And finally, Boaz is going to make sure that none of the men bother her whatsoever, he's going to protect and defend her, and they will serve her if she needs a drink of water rather than the other way around. Chivalry is a good thing and needs to be resurrected in this day and age. Boaz goes above and beyond the call of duty. Understandably this leaves Ruth a bit confused because she doesn't have a ton going for her right now: "Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'" (Ruth 2:10) Boaz's answer here will either make or break the Bible's best love story of all:
But Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!" -Ruth 2:11-12
Boaz explains to Ruth that he's taken notice of her character and the hard life she has had. He's not going to flatter her but rather he's going to encourage her by praying that the Lord takes her under His wings. Nice. Boaz is a man of prayer. One thing you'll notice throughout the story is there's a lot of praying, and every one of those prayers gets answered by the end of the story. So Boaz prays that God bless her in every way imaginable... and it just so happens that Boaz is going to be an answer to his own prayer for Ruth. Boaz prays that Ruth will be fed and have a home... he feeds her and provides a home and community for her. Boaz prays she has another husband... he's going to end up being that husband. Boaz prays for children... they're going to have a son. Sometimes we end up being the answer to our own prayers. When we pray we need to make requests on the persons behalf, but we also need to examine how we as Christians can help in those requests. God often uses his people to get things done.
Then she said, "I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants" -Ruth 2:13
Ruth highly respects and esteems Boaz. As women we like it when men speak kind words to us, comfort us when we're struggling, take care of us, etc. Boaz does just this. He knows how to be tender and an encouragement to Ruth. He's shown her a great deal of grace and provides for her far above what the law would've required or would've been expected of him. Boaz knows his gospel very, very well, and he puts it into to practice. Ruth becomes Boaz's informal ministry by looking after and caring for her because it's an honor to do so, not because he owes it to her. So at the end of the day he sends Ruth home with an ephah barley (an equivalent of a few thousand $$$).

When Ruth returns home, Naomi is more than impressed with what Ruth brings back. Upon finding out that Ruth gleaned in Boaz's field Naomi blesses and prays for Boaz because of his generosity and his hesed love towards them.
So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law. -Ruth 2:23

8 comments :

  1. Such a sweet love story. A man pursues, a woman responds... A great example for all of us. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Wow! This was incredible to read. What had me nodding in agreement was "we need to be more concerned with a good legacy rather than a good time" - such wise, wise words. Well said.
    Finding a man if prayer is definitely a priority on my heart. Thank you so much for sharing. xx

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  3. Thanks for making me look at Boaz in a different light! I have read the book of Ruth several times, mostly because it is so inspiring how Ruth is incredibly selfless and patient and obedient. I hope we all become like her when Christ comes. Wonderful post, and can't wait to read the rest!

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  4. i love this. both guys and girls need to be awakened to what is truly attractive in the other...godliness! love love love it.

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  5. I love this story. Its one of my favorite.

    I think its so funny you have a crush on a dead Bible character. haha You're so funny!!
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

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  6. I have multiple crushes on "dead Bible characters." Guess it runs in the family?

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  7. This is one of my most favorite books of the Bible...I am a divorced(not my choice) mother of two. I have found so much encouragement in Ruth...I too have a small crush on Boaz!! I have been praying for my own family redeemer!

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    1. Mine too! Will be praying for your "Boaz" =)

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