Apologies to all who read the other ‘blog’ it was a draft that somehow replaced this one.
The book of Ruth is a beautiful little insert amid the failings and rebellions of the Israelites. Yes, I said beautiful and I meant it even though Naomi loses a husband and both her sons and Ruth is widowed leaving the women destitute and reliant on the goodwill of neighbours and relatives.
The law God gave to Moses made provision for the poor and destitute. Just as it set out guidelines for man’s relationship with God it gave guidelines for man’s relationship with his fellow man. Judges was full of how not to do it but God gives us this beautiful story of obedience and self-sacrifice that led to restoration and family. It led to Israel’s greatest earthly king and to the eternal King of kings.
The law instructed farmers to leave the edges of their crops and bits that fell for the poor and strangers. It also made provision for those who were so poor they would lose their land which is where the kinsman or family redeemer comes from. This person would redeem the land so it didn’t pass out of the family. There were doubtless many occurrences of this failing but Ruth provides us with the story of how it should work. Boaz and Ruth marry, Naomi’s joy is restored with the birth of a grandson called Obed. Her great great grandson would be called David.
There’s a verse in chapter 2 that made me smile:
May the Eternal repay you for your sacrifices and reward you richly for what you have done. It is under the wings of Israel’s God, the Eternal One, that you have sought shelter.
I imagined Ruth whispering it to her baby as she nursed him and as he grew, Then Obed whispering it to Jesse as that boy was nurtured and trained in the ways of the Lord and then Jesse whispering it to his many sons. It found root in David’s heart so that when he was searching for the words to describe God’s care for His people.
He who takes refuge in the shelter of the Most High
will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty.
Like a bird protecting its young, God will cover you with His feathers,
will protect you under His great wings;
His faithfulness will form a shield around you, a rock-solid wall to protect you.
Ruth didn’t go out to find food with knowledge of the great destiny she would be part of. But she went hoping to find the mercy she must have heard of somewhere. Her hope wasn’t disappointed and her faithfulness to the ‘foreign mother-in-law’ was rewarded.
The words Boaz spoke to her in verse 12 was a promise then, it was a promise that David held fast to and it is a promise for us today.