The First Encounter
And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” 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 2:4-9
To modern ears, the exchange of prayers between Boaz and his workers seems especially peculiar; very rarely does a boss walk into his or her business to hear priestly blessings showered down from the cubicles. Boaz was apparently a man who was an evangelist and pastor to his workers. He loved and cared for them so well that they spoke well of him and prayed to God for him.
In blending his work and worship, Boaz appears to have been a man of great godliness who not only blessed everyone in the book, but was also spoken well of by everyone. While surveying his workers and field, Boaz noticed Ruth. Not knowing who she is, he asked, “Whose young woman is this?” His servant spoke well of her as a woman of character who had been working hard all day to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Despite the fact that Ruth was both sweaty and dirty, in addition to not being a virgin, not being a Hebrew, not being from a good family, not being a seasoned worshipper of God, and not even having food to eat, Boaz was intrigued with her. Why? Because of the beauty of Ruth’s character as a woman who had great faith in God and great faithfulness to people, as demonstrated by her labors to provide for Naomi.
Meeting for the first time, Boaz initiated a conversation with Ruth. Clearly a leader, Boaz spoke with both care and counsel, addressing her as “my daughter.” His words perhaps reveal that Boaz was older than Ruth and that because she had no father, husband, or brother, he was taking responsibility to protect her like family. Years later, his descendant Jesus Christ would use the same phrase to speak kindly to a woman that He healed from years of chronic bleeding (Matthew 9:22). While God’s law commanded Boaz to allow Ruth to glean in his field, he went far beyond the law and extended grace to Ruth. He put her in community with other safe and godly women, told her how to receive the most food from his field, ordered the young men not to harass her in any way, and provided water to quench her thirst—all as an act of honor and loving concern.
In short, Boaz was exceedingly gracious to Ruth. He was the answer to the hope of her heart that God would direct her to “him in whose sight I shall find favor.” Furthermore, Boaz and Ruth appeared to be an equal yoking; both were more concerned with their responsibilities to others than with their own rights—Ruth cared for Naomi, and Boaz cared for both Ruth and Naomi. These were selfless people in a selfish world.
- FOR MEN: Boaz has the Father heart of God for Ruth and Naomi. How can you receive this kind of heart and nurture in safe and life-giving relationships with the women in your life?
- FOR WOMEN: Boaz presents a human picture of the Father’s heart for His daughters. Is it easy or difficult to believe that God has the same love and care for you? Is it easy or difficult to believe men like Boaz exist who are safe for the women in their lives? Why?