Protection and Provision
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?” 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!” 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 2:10-13
In response to the gracious protection and provision of Boaz, Ruth followed a common Eastern mode of demonstrating gratitude and humbly received his favor. Without tipping his hand, the author paints a lovely picture of Boaz as a respectable man with character like Jesus’, and Ruth as a blessed and cared-for woman who respected Boaz easily. One is left to wonder if romance wasn’t dawning in what had thus far been a dark season of hardship for Ruth. Furthermore, with penetrating, humble insight, Ruth asked Boaz why he was so generously kind to her. Did he want to sleep with her? Did he want to take advantage of her? Did he want to manipulate her? Or were his actions truly favor, or grace, to her?
Boaz simply wanted to give to Ruth and take nothing from her. Boaz answered Ruth’s question by publicly praising her character as a woman with faith in God and faithfulness to her mother-in-law. Boaz also prayed for her, despite having only known her briefly, and asked that God would reward and protect her. Boaz’s prayer is one of many in the book; each were prayed for someone else and all were answered by the conclusion of the book (1:8–9; 2:12, 20; 3:10; 4:1–12, 14).
Two things are most curious about Boaz’s prayer for Ruth. First, not only did he pray that Ruth would be rewarded by God for her faithfulness, he also answered his own prayer. In this, Boaz is like Jesus, who prayed that sinners would be forgiven while hanging on the cross and then died to answer His own prayer and enable forgiveness.
Second, Boaz was apparently a frequent reader of the Psalms because he included a common theme from the Psalms as part of his prayer for Ruth. Boaz essentially referred to Ruth as a lovely but vulnerable small bird that God had taken under His wing. This word picture is a heart-warming reminder that God doesn’t use His proverbial wings to fly from us, but rather cover us that we might have safety (Psalm 17:8), refuge (Psalm 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:4), and joy (Psalm 63:7).
In the example of Boaz, we see nine aspects of safe people:
- Safe people understand the Father heart of God.
- Safe people care about our safety.
- Safe people introduce us to other safe people.
- Safe people enforce good boundaries.
- Safe people are generous.
- Safe people encourage our character.
- Safe people pray we would flourish.
- Safe people provide comfort and kindness.
- Safe people point us to God as our safe place.
Ruth then spoke to Boaz, honoring and praising him, not just as “a lord” but now “my lord,” for his gracious provision, comforting protection, and loving words. He gave this lavish grace even though she wasn’t even worthy of the treatment of one of his lowly servant girls. This is a portrait of grace at work.
In conclusion, we see that although Ruth was a despised Moabite who had worshiped a false god (Deuteronomy 7:1–4; 1 Kings 11:1–2) called Chemosh (Numbers 21:29; 1 Kings 11:7), God both saved her and blessed her. God did this through His invisible hand of providence that was made visible through the hand of Boaz, a masculine man of honor who walked hand-in-hand with Him. Likewise, to God we are each Moabites—outcasts, idolaters, and unworthy of grace or favor. But just as Boaz came to his field to speak with and care for Ruth, so Jesus, our great Boaz, came to His earth to give us gracious favor and take us under His proverbial wing.
- Practically, are there any unsafe people or situations you need to move away from, and then move toward safer people?
- Are you a safe person for others? How can you become a safe person for others, and what does it look like for someone to be safe in our culture?