Faith Rest; Chesed
Ruth chapter two is going to portray for us two important aspects in the spiritual life, both of which were true whether we are talking about Old Testament spiritual life or New Testament spiritual life, and in order to catch what the author wants us to see here in terms of spiritual principles it would help of we thought about this book as a four-act play. Each chapter represents a different scene of action, different conflict, different problem, and different solution. As we do that the drama intensifies as we go through the book until we come to the resolution of the theme at the end of the last chapter. As already pointed out, the theme of this book has been suggested by many people to be redemption because of the central place that Boaz plays. Boaz is called in the book a goel in the Hebrew, and that means a kinsman-redeemer. It is the second of two Hebrew words used for redemption. A goel is a personal kinsman-redeemer and is a picture of the redemption that our Lord Jesus Christ provides for us because He became our kinsman at the incarnation. The eternal second person of the Trinity took on true humanity in order to go to the cross and die as our substitute. But though redemption plays a central part in this book the key theme of the book has to do with Naomi’s situation. The focus is not on Ruth or on Boaz, except as the drama plays out in their lives it resolves the basic conflict in Naomi’s life. And that is her response to her adversity, her suffering. That is the central point. It starts with Naomi losing her husband and her two sons and then the resolution of the book focuses on how God fills that. He transfers her cursing and her bitterness into blessing and joy. So the book focuses on the universal question of why God allows suffering in the universe, why God allows evil to occur in the lives of people.
The principle doctrine, then, covered here is how God transforms cursing into blessing. It begins with a microcosm look, a look at how God works this out in the lives of three individuals—Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. So we begin with the microcosm, the suffering in the life of Naomi, and then we can extrapolate from that by analogy to how God is going to transform the cursing that is taking place in the nation Israel at this time in history into blessing, and then further extrapolate that into how God transforms the human race that is under the curse of sin, the judgment of sin, into blessing.
One important principle that we need to recognize again and again in this book is that is doesn’t happen over night. When people go through suffering in life the immediate thing that we cry out is, “God, take it away from me now.” Yet we see that the resolution to sin and evil and judgment is not something that happens instantaneously. And yet, even when the judgment is coming God has already provided the solution and He is already working to transform the cursing into blessing.
The personal suffering in the life of Naomi is also a picture of the cursing in the life of Israel at this time. Remember we have located this in the period of the judges, and during that time Israel continually goes through the cycle of disobedience, discipline, and then deliverance. These cycles always kept deteriorating and the nation kept declining into greater and greater apostasy because of their rejection of God’s provision. From one generation to the next they would reject God and then God would have to take them through the same disciplinary cycle again. So there is cursing in the life of Israel because of their disobedience to God. That is the reason there is evil in the world, not because God is the cause of evil, not because God has made things evil, because a righteous God can create nothing but righteousness. God did not create evil in the universe, but God did create creatures who had the capacity to make bad/evil choices. Because God gave creatures free will there is the potential for disobedience and that disobedience is what introduced evil into the universe. So God is not the one at fault, but God is the one who in His omniscience knew all the knowable. In His omniscience He knew that man would sin, He knew that Lucifer would sin, and he began to provide a solution. He had a plan from eternity past on how to solve the problem of evil in the universe and only Christianity has a true solution to the problem of evil. All of the other world’s philosophies and world religions either deny its reality ultimately or they end up making it an eternal principle of the universe, which means that you can’t ultimately distinguish between good and evil at all.
So we have the personal cursing on Naomi, then we have the problem of cursing in the life of the nation Israel, and then that in turn is analogous to the suffering, the cursing in human history, that mankind is cursed because of Adam’s sin. When Adam disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he plunged not just the human race but all of creation under the judgment of God. So the personal cursing in the life of Naomi is but a microcosmic picture of the overall cursing and judgment of sin in human history and on mankind. But the solution to the problem of human history takes place at the cross where Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by dying spiritually. Remember, the penalty for sin is spiritual death; the consequence of spiritual death is physical death and suffering and transformation of the created order from the perfect order that God intended into an order that is less than perfect, an order where there are now thorns and thistles, where animals are now carnivorous, and where there is now pain and suffering in the world. So Jesus Christ goes to the cross and there He solves the sin problem by dying as a substitute for our sins. The solution for evil, then, takes place at the cross, and then that is further worked out in history over time. The solution to the cursing in the life of the nation Israel comes through blessing in David as a picture of Jesus Christ. This takes place through the child that is born to Ruth.
So this is the picture here that we must not forget as we come face to face with this episode in these four chapters in the life of Ruth. This is why this is recorded. It is not just some nice story about some young girl who is destitute and impoverished, has lost her husband and finds a wonderful, noble man of integrity to solve her problem. It is not just a romance, not just the story of God’s solution in her life, it is a picture of how God is the one who is continuously working behind the scenes to transform our cursing into blessing.
As we think about this in terms of a drama we need to think about it from the viewpoint of the author. The author is writing it almost like a drama. You don’t see God brought out on to the stage here as you do in other narratives. The writer is much more subtle than that, he is picturing what is going on in the life of Ruth in the same way that you and I experience life. We don’t see God revealing Himself overtly in the day-to-day affairs of our life or interceding directly in the affairs of our life. We face certain situations and certain problems and adversities in our life and we wonder, How is God going to solve the problem? How are we going to handle this adversity? How do we deal with this particular crisis? We have our basic problem-solving devices and we have the promises that God has given us, and we learn to trust God, claim the promises, mixing faith with the promises of God. But while we do that we don’t know how God is working, and that is how this writer is approaching this drama. Ruth does not know how God is going to solve her problems. Naomi is caught up in self-absorption, her own bitterness and her own loss, and Ruth is the one who demonstrates character derived from the Bible doctrine that is in her soul, and she is the one who is going to step out, executing the faith-rest drill, but she doesn’t know how God is going to solve the problem. She is just going to trust God and do what God says to do, and yet behind the scenes we see that God is already working providentially arranging the circumstances in a remarkable way.
The second chapter is going to focus on Ruth’s response to the crisis in their lives now that they are back in Bethlehem, and it is going to focus on what God is doing and what God has already done behind the scenes in order to resolve the crisis. As the reader we already know what is going to happen and the writer knows that. he has clued us in and he is going to clue us in. For example, in the first verse of chapter two this should really be in parenthesis because the writer is clueing us into something that Ruth is unaware of and Naomi is unaware of. So as the audience we know something that the players on the stage do not know. Because we have been clued into this we can just sit back and enjoy the drama, knowing how God is working things out.
Ruth 2:1, “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.” That tells us that God has already provided a solution in Boaz, but Ruth doesn’t know that and Naomi doesn’t know that. So we get to watch how they are going to discover God’s solution to their crisis, and we will discover how Ruth is operating on the doctrine that is in her soul, and the character that that develops, and it will give us some tremendous insights into our own spiritual life. When we come to verse 12 we will see a remarkable indication of how God works in our lives through suffering in training us in the spiritual life.
That must remind us of another principle highlighted at the introduction to the book. That is, that if we look at the panorama of Israel’s history it can roughly be laid over the experience of the individual believer as they advance in the spiritual life. For example, the call of Abraham is analogous to God’s call to then believer to salvation. The election of Israel is comparable to the election of the believer. Then there is the redemption of Israel that takes place at the Exodus, and the redemption is based on the shed blood of a lamb that is without spot and blemish—comparable to the redemption of the believer who is bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, a picture of the spiritual death on the cross. Then we have the initiation into a new life which is the baptism by the Holy Spirit for the church age believer and is picture by Israel crossing the Red Sea being baptized or identified with Moses at their Exodus. After that they are given the law, and that is a picture of the fact that we don’t have God’s absolutes until after salvation. God’s standards for how to live come after salvation, they are not a prerequisite for salvation. Salvation is not based on what we do, salvation is based on God’s grace at redemption, and then after we are saved and adopted into the family of God, just as Israel was adopted at this time—they are called the firstborn of God—then we are told how we should live as members of the royal family of God. So everything from the giving of the law at Mount Sinai all the way through the history of Israel in the Old Testament is designed to give a picture of what takes place in the soul of the believer in the church age. That is the application. It is not the primary interpretation, it is the application. So Ruth is a picture, not of salvation, but of what takes place in the sanctification and spiritual growth of the believer.
There are two key doctrines that are going to be emphasized in this chapter. First of all, from Ruth’s perspective, the faith-rest drill because she is demonstrating in her response her trust for God. She is going to do what the law says to do and she is going to expect God to provide the blessing. Secondly, what wee see behind the scenes is God’s chesed, the Hebrew for His faithful, loyal love. It incorporates a vast array of concepts: mercy, compassion, love, faithfulness, loyalty. It is that chesed love that forms the backdrop for this entire book because chesed love is an unconditional love based upon the promise of God back at Sinai. It is not an emotional love, a sentimental love, a love based on attraction, it is a love based on the character of God. So what we see is God in His loyalty, His chesed love, continuing to be faithful and to provide solutions even when people are unfaithful. Even when Naomi is rejecting God’s grace provision and she is reacting and bouncing of the walls in self-absorption and bitterness, God is demonstrating His faithfulness, His loyalty and His love. Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness [chesed] with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” His blessing on Israel is grounded in His chesed love.
Ruth 1:22 is really where the division occurs, where the paragraph break takes place, and the paragraph really begins in 1:2 and goes down through 2:12. “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.” Notice the use of the word “returned.” Returned is from the Hebrew word shub, and it means to return, and it often means to repent in the sense of turning back toward God. It is used in two sense, a negative sense used of Israel turning to idols and also used in a sense of turning back to God from idolatry. It has many other meanings as well, the most common of which is what we find in this passage, i.e. simply the act of returning from one place to another. Bit the writer in this first chapter has used this word ten times: 1:6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 15, 16, 21, 22. Whenever a writer uses a word that frequently it is designed to get our attention. Obviously Naomi is returning to the land in which she began, and that is the concept of return. He wants us to remember that when he uses this word it has this other sense of repentance and turning back to God, and it is to remind us of what is happening in the broader concept of Israel. They started off in judgment because there was a famine, and now there was blessing in the land because the people had turned back to God. Now Naomi who had been out of the land—a picture of being out of fellowship—is now turning back to God and going back to the place of blessing. That is the picture here.
The focus of the action in verse 22 is still Naomi. She is still the central player and she has been all the way through chapter one, but a shift is going to take place in the next couple of verses.
The second thing to be pointed out is that it is not just the nuance of returning or repenting, turning back to God, but also timing. The author makes a point out of the timing here: “at the beginning of the barley harvest.” The timing here is the first “coincidence.” The writer is almost winking at us. He says, “Notice this.” They just happened to come back right at the time of the barley harvest. They could have come at any other time of the year, but they come back when this occurred at the end of March or the beginning of April just when the grain for the bread was ready to be cut. So we see again God’s providential work in timing. God’s timing is everything. Isaiah: Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles.” It is that concept of waiting in the faith-rest drill, that we have to relax and let God work out the solutions according to His plan and His timetable, and not try to push things according to our plan and our timetable. God has providentially worked. How do we know that? Because while Naomi is out of the land in Moab she has heard the report that there is now food in Israel, that God has visited His people again. So there is the suggestion of timing here. This is the first of many coincidences here, and the principle here is: God’s timing is always the best. We must wait on the Lord for His timing, not our timing.
We are told that they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. That is also going to be important because as we go through this chapter we are going to see that although the writer doesn’t talk about Ruth going out day in and day out for two or three months of the barley harvest, all the way to what is Pentecost—which, incidentally, was when this book was read in the ceremonial calendar in Israel. They always read the book of Ruth at Pentecost. This is a young girl who has a tremendous work ethic, and a fantastic sense of responsibility and obligation to her mother-in-law. This demonstrates the chesed that she has come to understand. That is the backdrop. It doesn’t use the word chesed here. Remember, Naomi first used the word in talking to Orpah and Ruth and said, “May God deal with you as you have dealt with me.” So here we see how Ruth has reached a level of spiritual maturity because she understands this concept which is foundation to what we call impersonal or unconditional love, i.e. going the extra mile, doing that which is best for the object of love, not for who they are or for what they have done, but because our own character and our lives built on the grace principle and our understanding of what Jesus Christ has done for us.
Ruth 2:1, “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.” We really should put a parenthesis around this because it is really the author talking behind his hand, so to speak, to the audience. This is not a close kinsman, really he’s of the family of Elimelech, so he’s an in-law to Naomi, not a blood kinsman. He is not a close blood kinsman, he is not a brother to Elimelech. The reason to make that point is because it was to the brother of Elimelech that the responsibility for the levirate marriage would fall. He is said to be a man of great wealth. The word here that is translated “great wealth” is the same phrase as is used in Judges chapter six to describe Gideon, and there it is translated “noble warrior.” It is also used in other passages, as in Proverbs 31:10 where is describes a man of some standing in the community, a man who has position and honor, a man of integrity. The emphasis is that Boaz is a man of integrity, a man of character, of nobility. We see that he is from the clan of Elimelech, not just the family. He is an extended relative. We are not exactly sure what Boaz refers to, but some suggest it has affinities to a cognate in Egyptian; others suggest that it is a shortened form of a word which has to do with strength. What we see here is the emphasis in Scripture is not on externals, it is not on position, not on prestige, not on financial status. The emphasis is on his character, his integrity, his soul and how his soul has developed because of the application of doctrine.
There is something else that is lurking behind the scenes here in terms of application and that is that Boaz is from Bethlehem. So Boaz serves as a type of Christ. Remember, he is going to be the goel, the kinsman-redeemer, and he comes from Bethlehem, just as Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem and comes from Bethlehem in His humanity and is our kinsman-redeemer. So when we look at Boaz we are going to see certain elements there in the relationship to Ruth that portray the relationship of Jesus Christ to the church.
Ruth 1:2, “And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said to her, Go, my daughter.” All of a sudden the focus shifts. It is not longer on Naomi, it is on Ruth. Ruth becomes the principal character in the drama. She is the one making decisions now, she is the one demonstrating initiative. She begins with what is translated, “Let me go,” and that is a cohortative of request. It is correctly translated Please let me go.” Ruth is demonstrating her authority orientation here and respect for the elderly. So she goes to Naomi for whom she has now accepted responsibility, and says, “Let me go to the field.” And it is a request that she go out and take care of them, and it demonstrates something about Ruth’s character, that she recognizes her responsibility to take care of her mother-in-law and she is sensitive to that responsibility. She is going to take whatever steps are necessary in order to fulfill that responsibility. But she just doesn’t go out in some sort of independent manner and explore any particular option, she demonstrates by her actions that she understands something about the background of the Word of God. She wants to go out and glean among the ears of grain. Then she says, “after one in whose sight I may find favor.” The Hebrew word for “favor” is the word hen, which means grace. So she is looking for grace, and this clues us into the spiritual dimension here. She is looking for G9od’s gracious provision in their life to solve the problem. She is going to do what she is supposed to do but she doesn’t have a clue how God is going to supply bt she is basing this on her understanding of the Old Testament law.
In the Mosaic covenant God provided a welfare system for the nation based upon their responsibility and on the principle of grace and generosity from those working in the fields. Leviticus 19:9 informs us of this: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.” In other words, don’t squeeze every drop out of every penny that is yours. Leave something over to the other person, operate on a little grace and let everybody win something. Leave something there so that those who are poor, those who are impoverished, the widows or the orphans can come out to the fields and they have something to glean for themselves. So there is a responsibility there. But in this time of apostasy one would not expect that everyone in Israel was doing this. There would be some farmers who were just tightwads, they are not obeying the Lord, they do not have any concept of grace orientation. But God recognizes that there are legitimate problems and legitimate reasons for people who are impoverished. In that society the widows and the orphans had no one to supply for them or take care of them, and so God established a means based on grace to take care of them. Leviticus 19:10 goes on to say, “And you shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and stranger [foreigner]: I am the LORD your God.” Ruth is a foreigner, a Moabite, not a native Israelite. Leviticus 23:22 expands this: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” This is repeated in Deuteronomy 24:19: “When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Ruth is going to trust God in this. God has established the procedure in the land to take care of the needs of the widows and orphans. She is going to go outside of Bethlehem from farm to farm looking for somebody who is applying the Word of God in their business life so that they are leaving the corners of the field ungleaned and leaving some barley out in the field so that she has something to work so that she can get some food for her and Naomi. This introduces us to the fact that the faith-rest drill has two dimensions to it, it is not something that is purely passive. It is not saying we are going to trust God and fold our hands and do nothing. In many cases there is a responsibility dictated to the believer, and the believer is going to perform in his responsibility and he is going to count on God in order to solve the problem. God is going to move behind the situation but he is going to be active in whatever God says to do and he will be passive in the sense that he is not relying upon his action to bring the result but is relying upon God to bring the result.
Ruth 2:3, “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and she happened to come to a portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.” The translators haven’t done us a fair job here. They have kind of hinted at it, they say she happened to come to the portion of the field, but the writer doesn’t say it that way. He is really using tongue-in-cheek humor to get out attention. Literally in the Hebrew it reads, “Perchance chanced upon the portion of the field belonging to Boaz.” Most Christians would say, “Chance? There is no chance in the Bible, we know that God is in charge.” The Jews didn’t believe in chance. For example, in Proverbs 16:33 we read, “The lot is cast into the lap; but its every decision is from the LORD.” So if the lot has a decision from the Lord then there is no such thing as chance. So what is the writer doing here? He is looking it from our perspective and he uses this phrase of chance in order to get our attention, and it is a tongue-in-cheek thing. He is winking at us. He says God is already working behind the scenes and this is another example. Not only do we see God’s providential care bringing them back to the land just at the right time but now, as Ruth goes out—she has no idea where she is going, she doesn’t know who the relatives are, she is not aware of Boaz, and Naomi hasn’t told her anything, she is not aware that Boaz is a kinsman out there, it is completely out of her mind—she just “happened” to end up at Boaz’s field. Ruth’s faith-rest drill is operating and God is fulfilling His part. He is being faithful. His chesed love is being demonstrated in the background.
So she comes to the field belonging to Boaz who was of the family of Elimelech. But she doesn’t know that, she is clueless to this. She goes out early in the morning trying to find someone who will take her. She comes to the field of Boaz and very politely requests of the overseer if she can glean in the fields. He gives her permission, which shows that not only is Boaz grace oriented but Boaz has a good employer has treated his people in grace but Boaz has a good employer has treated his people in grace and inculcated into them the same grace orientation that he has. This is a great example for Christian employers. What we see here is a man who is operating on unconditional love, on integrity and loyalty and real genuine care for those who work for him, and they respond to him in kind.
In Ruth 2:4 we come to the next “coincidence.” “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless you.” The first coincidence was that they just happened to come back to the land at the beginning of the harvest. The second coincidence was that she just happened to end up in the field that is owned by a distant relative. The third coincidence is that some time in the morning Boaz just happens along and just happens to come up when Ruth is visible and Ruth is available. Notice His care for the workers: “The LORD be with you.” This is not just a saying and it indicates concern for the spiritual welfare of those who work for him and they return that. It is not merely an economic relationship, there is more to it than that. Boaz is concerned about the individual and they, in turn, respond to that care.
In Ruth 2:5 Boaz comes up and sees his servant. “Then said Boaz to his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose young woman is this?” The word here is not the typical word we would expect for servant but the word that means a young man, emphasizing an age difference there. He comes to the young man who is in charge of the reapers. This is the overseer, the business manager there out in the field. And Boaz asks, “Whose young woman is this?” So the timing here is just at the time that Ruth has taken a break from in morning. Boaz comes up and is talking to his servant and he looks over and sees this stranger to him, and says, Who is she?” Think about this. It would be a typical first reaction for any employer who sees somebody sitting down and hasn’t seen them work all day to get the impression that this person is just sitting around not doing anything. The overseer would say something that would correct that misunderstanding, if in deed it was there.
Ruth 2:6, “And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish young woman that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab.” So she is known, she has a reputation. What she has done in terms of her desire to care for her mother-in-law has gone out through the grape vine in Bethlehem. Every body knows who she is, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, and she couldn’t stay back in Moab but desired to come here and has taken on the responsibility of taking care of bitter Naomi. This tells us, too, that the overseer expects Boaz to know who she is. Her reputation has preceded her. He relates the conversation that they had at the beginning.
Ruth 2:7, “And she said, please, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.” What she was requesting was that as the reapers go through and they bundle up the barley that some would fall out, and she wants to follow along and pick that up, and she wants to go out into the corners of the field and reap in order to get what she can in order to supply the food needs for her and Naomi. From early morning she came, she is not shirking, she has been working all morning and just now took a break. So this is going to impress Boaz, as it should us, with her work ethic, her sense of responsibility. The emphasis here, again, is on her faithfulness. She has been faithful to Naomi, she is demonstrating what chesed is in her life. So this is a picture of her trust, of how she has come to understand chesed, and then she is going to in turn rely upon God to take care of the situation. Boaz is now going demonstrate his character. He is going to demonstrate that he understands chesed as well. He has impersonal love to all mankind and he is going to demonstrate that this is not just an absence of mental attitude sins but he that it includes generosity.
Ruth 2:8, “Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Listen carefully, my daughter. Don’t to glean in another field, furthermore do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.” He is going to give her precise instructions not to look for sustenance somewhere else, he is going to take responsibility for her, and he goes on in verse 9 to say, “Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them…” This is remarkable. He is telling her not to go anywhere else but to stay where she was, and not only that but she was not going to be confined to just picking up whatever is left over in the corners of the fields, but she was to go behind the maids as they tie up the sheaves. As they did that they would lose a certain amount of the barley on the ground. And he is even going to come along and tell those who are binding up the sheaves to make sure they left a lot behind, he wants to do a lot for her. He recognizes that she has been working very hard and he is impressed by her character. He is impressed by who Ruth is, by her character, not by anything else.
“… I have commanded the servants not to touch you…” No body is going to look down on her because she is poor, and nobody is going to give her a hard time because she is out there. In fact he is going to tell them to treat her well. “…and when you are thirsty, go unto the water jars, and drink of that which the servants draw.” That probably wouldn’t have made the regular hired hands very happy because they would have to haul the pottery jars of water from the well in town out to the fields. Now she had been given free reign to go over to their water jars and to drink all that she wants. So that is another example of his understanding of chesed. His understanding of impersonal love is that he is going to go the extra mile, he is going to do whatever he can to take care of her and to provide for her needs. Then she responds by demonstrating her own grace orientation. She has tremendous gratitude.
Ruth 2:10, “10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground…” This is the Hebrew word for worship. This isn’t worship in a religious context, but this demonstrating her gratitude to him and that she has found grace. “…and said unto him, Why have I found grace in your eyes, that thou should take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” In verse 2 she said that she was going out and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight she may find grace, and now she has found a grace-oriented employer who is demonstrating grace to her. Grace is the foundation of chesed, the foundation of impersonal love and unconditional love. Grace means unmerited favor, and it means treating people not in the way they deserve, but it is to treat them on the basis of absolutes.
Ruth 2:11 reveals Boaz’s character. “And Boaz answered and said to her, It has fully reported to me, all that you have done to your mother in law since the death of your husband: and how you have left your father and your mother, and the land of your nativity, and are come to a people which you knew not previously.” Now he knows all about her. He is impressed with her character, her sense of allegiance to Naomi, to her sense of responsibility in the way that she is caring for her.
Ruth 2:12, “The LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord [In other words, May God bless you richly in terms of His logistical provision for you while you are working] …from YAHWEH the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” What he says at the end of this verse is really the hermeneutical key to the interpretation of this paragraph. He goes beyond the physical responsibility to recognize there is a spiritual dimension here and that Ruth is exercising the faith-rest drill, and that impresses him because of her spiritual quality and her spiritual growth. There is more to this phrase than simply a metaphor utilizing a bird, an eagle in this case, and the way the eagle protects her young.
Let’s take minute to explain this metaphor because it is used to explain God again and again in the Old Testament. This is what is called a zoomorphism, it attributes to God something that applies to an animal that God doesn’t actually possess. Exodus 19:4 is the first time this metaphor is applied to God. God applies it to Himself: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself.” In Deuteronomy it talks about the fact that God is compared to an eagle, and as the eagle literally flutters its wings around the young in the nest, so God does that to the young. The picture here is how the mother eagle trains the young eagles to fly. As they mature and get to that age where they can fly she sits on the side of the nest and begins to flap her wings to get them to do likewise. They begin to imitate. Sometimes they get a little power going and start taking off they are going to flip right out of the nest and drop 100 or 200 feet to the ground. So what they do is that if the baby does that then the mother flies down under and catches the baby on the back of her wings and carries that baby back to safety in the nest. That is the process of how the mother eagle is training the baby to mature it. The picture here is that God is training us and when we fall God is the one who provides the protection and who constantly guards and protects us. Psalm 17:7, 8, “Show your marvellous lovingkindness [chesed], O you who saves by your right hand them who put their trust in you from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings.” It is a metaphor of God’s chesed, His faithfulness in protecting the believer and His faithfulness in the way He works to mature the believer and to teach them how to trust Him. So He is constantly putting us in circumstances and situations that require a little more trust, a little more confidence. We may fall and we may fail but God is the one who comes along to sustain us and to continuously protect us.
That is the picture we have of Ruth in this first part of the chapter. She is trusting God; God is the one who is taking care of her, and the same is true for us as we are growing and maturing, learning how to exercise the faith-rest drill. He is the one in the background, constantly faithful, always there to take care of us so that that that fulfills the purpose of Isaiah 40 that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint."