“she went into the field and worked steadily”
When Ruth and her mother-in-law returned to Naomi’s native land they were destitute. Two women alone in
a land which was now foreign to them; no employment and no friends. One woman was young and the other
old. Not the best of scenarios. It wasn’t Naomi’s intent that Ruth accompany her, but Ruth insisted. She was
very fond of Naomi as well as loyal. Too, her husband had died early and she wasn’t inclined to pursue
another. She also didn’t think the aging Naomi could make a go of it on her own. Thus they made the
journey to the land of Naomi’s roots. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Naomi’s home town, they caused quite
a stir. Here were two women who had travelled alone, no husbands, and with apparently no means in which
to support themselves.
Naomi was not a happy camper. She wanted to change her name to one which meant “bitter.” The up side,
however, was that the beginning of harvest season was upon them and there was the possibility of work,
even if it didn’t make the list of preferred career opportunities. Naomi was too old for physical labor, but Ruth
was young and able. She knew she could follow after other workers and retrieve any shafts of grain which
were either missed or had fallen to the ground. The term for this was “gleaning,” and it was one of the
lowliest things one could do, but Ruth had no problem humbling herself. She would do whatever it would take
to make ends meet.
As it turned out, the field in which she was gleaning belonged to a distant cousin of Naomi’s. Who knew?
The owner’s name was Boaz. He was no dummy and knew a good thing when he saw it, so he encouraged
young Ruth to work his fields rather than stray to any other. He also told his employees to purposely let
some grain fall here and there so that her gleaning would prove successful, perhaps a little more so than
usual. That which she normally would have gathered was multiplied. She was no dummy either and realized
after a fashion that she was favored.
All this was quickly reported to Naomi, who, in response, set up a plan for Boaz and Ruth to hook up. So we
have three players who were all very cool and liked to play the odds. The story gets messy, but Boaz and
Ruth marry, Naomi gets to play nanny to their baby Obed, and it turns out that Obed becomes part of the
lineage which leads to Jesus, Savior of humankind. About the “who knew?” The answer is - God knew!
The moral is multifold: God will always provide a way when there seems to be no way, never be afraid to
humble yourself, gather what you can because it can be multiplied, and God will protect you when you have
no way of fending for yourself. Now that’s a good God.