14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
Boaz was not worried about status – he sat with his workers and even invited a lowly gleaner to join them. Men of character do not have demand respect through artificial means like holding to class differences. Through his example of sharing food with Ruth he is setting the example of how he wants to see her treated.
It is quite possible that Ruth came to the field without food. She and Naomi were quite poor. Boaz gave her enough and then some. Ruth shows her resourcefulness a few verses later when she gives Naomi her leftovers. Naomi did not have to wait to process what Ruth brought home before she could eat.
I love verses 15 – 16. I think they are my favourite verses in this chapter. Not because of any profound truth, but just what I have imagined after reading it so many times. Boaz tells his young men to let Ruth glean from the sheaves like he had promised her. Not only that they were to leave grain for her glean – to purposefully give her grain as it were. Later in the book of Ruth the implication is that Boaz is older – likely past the age when men normally married. So I can just imagine the young men nudging each other and winking because they perceive that the boss is falling for someone. What else but the beginnings of love would cause Boaz to treat Ruth this way?
I know I’m reading into this, but doesn’t love always start somewhere. Often we admire a person’s character or personality and this turns to love the more we know of them. Knowing that Boaz and Ruth will eventually marry makes me believe that we are witnessing the seedlings of that love.
Boaz went beyond what the law required in telling his young men to purposefully leave grain for Ruth to glean. So often the Lord blesses us with more than we could have imagined or asked for. I remember when the topic of birth came up with Hugo and I before we were married. The best I was hoping for in a husband was someone who would be open to the idea of homebirth. You can only imagine my surprise when Hugo enthusiastically agreed with me that birth should (if possible) take place at home. God had given me more than I asked for.
We also see grace here in Boaz’s dealing with Ruth – giving something not deserved. Ruth had no reason to expect anything beyond what the gleaners were allowed. She asked to glean among the sheaves and was granted her request, and now beyond that Boaz commands his workers to leave easily-available grain for her. Isn’t that how God treats us? Giving us more than we ask for or deserve?
The song – “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” – really describes the amazing grace God bestows on us when we are saved.
Boaz gives us a beautiful picture of grace, and if a mere human can be so gracious how much more can God give grace to those in need.