By Matt Redmond
There is Ruth, working the fields. The sun is fading. She works by the sweat of her brow.
It would not be hard to imagine she felt small among the workers—small, with many things to be afraid of. Will I do this work well enough for us to survive? Will I, a widow with no one to protect me, be safe among the men I must work alongside?
But then Ruth is noticed by her employer. He hears her story of tragedy and needs. And he learns of her care for Naomi, which moves him.
The story does not say this, but Ruth might have felt even more fear when Boaz spoke to her. Maybe he sent for her and she had to walk over to him, worried about her future, for this was the man who held power over her hope of survival—for both her and Naomi.
But Boaz speaks to her tenderly. He calls her “daughter.” And then he brings her under his care. He makes sure she stays with the other women and works alongside them. He makes sure the men do not lay a hand on her.
I imagine the relief in her response to him: “Why have I found favor with you, so that you notice me, although I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10).
Boaz responds with what can only be thought of as a blessing—a hope that probably felt like a prayer over her weary head. “May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (v.12)
Little Ruth, with so many reasons to fear, finds herself noticed, cared for, and protected.
You don’t have to look hard for the mercy of the gospel in this story. How often have I felt small and feared the world around me? Then, when noticed by the One who can truly provide for me, I’ve asked, “Why have I found favor with you, so that you notice me…?” How often have I then remembered that, because of the work of Jesus, I am under the protective wings stretched as wide as the mercy of the cross itself.
Thanks be to the One whose faithful love is so “priceless…that people take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings” (Psalm 36:7).