The whole story of the book of Ruth is worth reading. It is only four chapters long and would only take you about 20 minutes to read it. If you are not familiar with the story you are welcome to step away from the computer for a bit and get caught up. I promise, I will wait for you. If you prefer to read it online, one of my favorite sites for reading Bible texts is BibleGateway.
Ruth and Naomi
Though Naomi and her family were Israelites, they were living in the country of Moab. Ruth married one of Naomi’s sons. Later Naomi’s husband and two sons died while they were still in Moab. This left Naomi in a foreign land with two daughters-in-law and no extended family support. She decided to return home to Israel.
Naomi announced to her daughters-in-law that she would go back to Israel and that they should return to their families. But Ruth said to Naomi that she would rather go to Israel to be with Naomi. In the way she worded her request to stay with Naomi, and through many other evidences in the book of Ruth, I believe that Ruth had a passion to know the God of Israel. To Naomi she said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16, 17)
After hearing these words, how could Naomi refuse to let the young Ruth travel back to Israel with her?
Ruth and the Harvesters
Ruth knew that God’s law had said that when a field was harvested the corners should be left for the poor and for strangers (Leviticus 19:9, 10). Ruth told her mother-in-law that she would go to the harvest field and gather grain (Ruth 2:2). Several things in the text like this indicate that Ruth was probably a student of Hebrew culture and law.
Even though she had every right to be there gathering from the corners of the field, Ruth was not presumptuous. She asked the workers of the field for permission to gather grain (Ruth 2:7).
Ruth and Boaz
While speaking to the workers of the field, she met the owner. His name was Boaz. He was very kind to her and told her not to go to any other field to harvest grain. She was welcome to stay in Boaz’ fields. He also invited her to drink from the water that his workers had available. Boaz commanded that his workers treat her kindly and not to harm her in any way.
Boaz, before the inevitable romance began, was more than kind and generous to Ruth.
It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
—Ruth 2:11, 12
Ruth fell to her face and thanked Boaz for his kindness. She then asked why he was so gracious to her. She was a stranger from another country. He had no obligation to her other than to fulfill the law (Ruth 2:10).
And this is where the law of the harvest comes in. Ruth reaped what she had sown, more than she had sown, later than she had sown and in proportion to what she had sown.
We find out later in the story that Boaz is related to Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law. Because of this, Boaz knew that Ruth had abandoned her homeland so that she could care for Naomi. Ruth had sown kindness and care to Naomi. Beyond that, Boaz said, he knew that she had trusted in the God of Israel (Ruth 2:12).
Boaz said that God was rewarding Ruth for everything that she had done in showing kindness to her mother-in-law.
Then Boaz invited her to eat with the workers. She sat with the reapers and ate their food. She had already been given water to drink. Boaz commanded the workers to allow her to work in the main part of the field to gather some of the best grain. The workers were even told to do the hard work of the harvest and allow some to “accidently” fall so that Ruth wouldn’t have to work so hard (Ruth 2:16).
In the end Ruth and Boaz fall in love (who didn’t see that coming?). Ruth, a woman brought to Israel from another country, became the great grandmother of King David. God blessed this young lady who had sown kindness and faithfulness in the small way that she could by making her an ancestor to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—Jesus Christ.