Boaz is a worthy man – what does that mean? He’s worthy of respect. He’s worthy of trust. He’s worthy of imitation. Boaz is a good man; his name literally means “strength, mighty one, man’s man.” He doesn’t own a cardigan. He doesn’t drink decaf, he’s never heard Mariah Carey or the Spice Girls. He has never physically been in a Smart car.
Now, furthermore, when it says that he’s a worthy man, that phraseology, used elsewhere in the Old Testament, often refers to a man of war – so he could fight. It is used of men who are men of wealth. So he runs a good business. He’s good with his money. And men of wherewithal . He’s a man of war; he’s a man of wealth; and a man of wherewithal, meaning if there’s hardship, difficulty, oppression, he gets things done. He is the guy who delivers.
And he’s single.
Gleaning is the equivalent to social services, food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food stamps. That’s the Hebrew equivalent. And the way it works is this. God, in the Old Testament, told his people, “The land belongs to me. So if you own a piece of land, actually I own it, too, and when you work the land, harvest what I give you for food, but don’t take all of the food. Leave a little bit so that the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, the oppressed, the immigrant, the needy, can work” – not just get a hand-out, but work – “come to the field, and take some of the food home for themselves and their family.” This was the Hebrew welfare system.
So here’s Ruth, willing to work hard, do anything, venture out in faith, and hope, and trust, and pray that the Lord gives them away to have a meal. And she’s willing to work to also feed her mother-in-law.
No where in the Old Testament is any event described in these sort of peculiar terms. She happened to go – she happened to move from Moab to Bethlehem. She happened to not have any food. She happened to go out into the field. She happened to see that all of the fields were lined up one to the other. She happened to just randomly, by chance pick a field, and she happened to pick the field of Boaz, the rich, single guy, who loves God. She just happened to pick that field.
1. Life is a tapestry.
You say, “Why does the Bible say it that way?” This is providence. It’s the providence of God, which is the theme of the Book, that God sometimes works through his visible hand of miracle, sometimes works through his invisible hand of providence.
Here, what it looks like, from the human perspective is this hungry, homeless, broke girl goes out, looks at a bunch of fields and says, “I guess I’ll go glean in that one.” She makes a free-will choice to go to that particular field. No angel spoke or led, there was no miracle, she didn’t see a burning bush in the field, “Oh, that must be the one!” She just picked a field.
And here what it is saying is what looks to you and I like chance, circumstance, free will, decisions, lucky day, is really what?
The gracious providing hand of the God of providence, who is both sovereign and good. As James says, every good and perfect gift comes from God. Isaiah 65:11 rebukes those who believe in good fortune or chance. He says, “No, no, it’s the Lord. It’s God.”
What we’re looking at here is a human perspective, and it’s like peering underneath a loom, just loose ends of twine and string and yarn and knots of free will and choice, and it just looks like a mess.
Yet from above the loom, from God’s perspective it’s this glorious tapestry as he’s weaving together all of the details of our life.
Just so happens – see, you and I, we don’t believe, if we’re Christians, in chance, circumstance, karma, fortune, luck.
We believe in the gracious hand of a providential, good, sovereign God. It doesn’t mean we don’t make choices. Ruth did. But it means that God also is at work in our lives. And I love how it says it in verse 4, “And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem.” Huh-ho! Lucky for her. She happened to pick the field of Boaz out of all the fields; she happened to go there on the day that Boaz happened to be riding out to see how his business was going. He happened to there at the time when she happened to be working and he happened to see her. This is good. God’s a great, great God.
2. Be a great boss
“Boaz came from Bethlehem.” Here comes Boaz, stepping out of the Porsche, coming to check out his field, to see how things are going at the business. A very important man, a very rich man, a very successful man. “
And he said to the reapers,” – who were his what? Employees. What’s he say to them? “The Lord be with you.” How many of you are thinking – that is not your boss? He doesn’t walk in quoting verses, right? You’re thinking, “No, he’s the devil. My boss has a tail.”
“The Lord be with you.” This is a good, godly man. He gets out of his Porches. “The Lord bless you!” And what do they say, his employees?
And these are blue-collar guys, working in the field. What do they say? “And they answered, ‘The Lord bless you’” – which is the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24.
How many of you know, tomorrow when you are at work when the boss walks will hear “Oh, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!” And you all reply “Oh, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you, too, Mr. CEO! Let’s sing a psalm.”
But Boaz is a good guy. He shares his faith with his employees, loves them, blesses them, quotes scripture to them. He’s a good boss.
3. Seven Steps to Sublime Courtship
1. Love at first sight
“Then Boaz said to his young man”, the guy with the clipboard sitting there taking notes. “Then Boaz said to Johnny College, who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Who’s young woman is this?’” He looks up. “All these people work for me. Who’s that? I never hired her. What’s she doing?” What’s she doing out there in the field?
This is love at first sight. This is Boaz seeing Ruth for the first time. Ladies, does she look her best? Is she all dolled up? No. What is she? Working in the fields! She’s all covered in dirt and mud. Her hair’s in a ponytail.
2. A woman of outstanding character.
Now in this, what we see is that Ruth is a woman of outstanding character. She’s not looking for a hand-out. She’s working hard. She’s honest. She’s worked hard all day to feed herself and her mother-in-law. She, in many ways, illustrates the Proverbs 31 sort of great woman with a great work ethic. Let me say this.
Gentlemen: You need to marry a woman who’s not just attractive – you need to be attracted to your wife, she would appreciate that. But not just attracted to her physically, you also got to be attracted to her character and her work ethic and her, her devotion to the Lord, because there are some women who are a good time, and there are other women who are a good legacy.
3. The woman that’s in front of you.
And also, too, Boaz is after the woman that’s in front of him. So many guys are like, “I have a list and I’m looking for the perfect woman.” Look, if she exists, she’s not looking for you! You need to look at what is in front of you. Who do you work with? Who’s in your community group? Who’s in your church? Who’s in your circle of friends? Who has God put in front of you? Take a look at who God puts in front of you.
4. Ask two questions
“Before he talks to the woman, he’s a believer. He’s not going to hell. He has a job. Stop going to hell; start going to work. Jesus – Job – Woman.
Ladies, ask those questions. A guy comes up, “How are you doing?” “Jesus? Job?” I got two J-questions, Jesus, Job. “You answer those, we’ll talk. Till then, you got stuff to get on with.” You think I’m kidding. I’m not.
First sexual harassment policy in all of scripture. “‘And have I not charged the young men not to touch you.’” He makes this rule. He gets all the young guys together, “Hey, boys. You see that Moabite? Oh, yeah. She’s cute, yeah. If you touch her, I have a big field. They will never find your body. That’s what I’m saying. I’m Old Testament. That’s how it’s going to be.”
“I told the young men not to touch” – what’s he doing? Protector, provider, defender, Boaz, man of war.
Paul says in the New Testament that we’re to treat Christian ladies as sisters.
Boaz does that. He treats her like he would want his sister to be treated. Loves her, speaks to her, feeds her, cares for her, gives her a job, gives her friends, and make sure no boys are messing with her. That’s a good guy. He’s a godly man.
He’s not doing this for any ulterior motive. You’ll see later in the book, he doesn’t have any clue that she would ever be interested in him. This is just how he treats all women, with great dignity and respect, and chivalry, and kindness, and masculine defender/protector. That’s Boaz. I like him.
6. Sort out your motives
So Boaz answers Ruth’s question, why are you being nice to me?
“But Boaz answered her, ‘All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me.’” “Ruth, your character, your reputation precedes you. Everyone is talking about you. You just met the Lord. You’ve had a hard life, but you love the Lord. You serve the Lord. You’ve come here to walk with God. You’ve come here to walk with God’s people. You’ve been loyal and faithful to your mother-in-law. You’re a hardworking, wonderful woman. I respect you. I admire you. I’m not trying to flatter you, but I want to encourage you.” That’s is a great man.
And the deep desire of her heart, that God would give her favour in someone’s eyes, has been answered in the kindness of Boaz. And if this wasn’t enough, in verse 12, he is then going to pray for her.
8 Pray together
This is a beautiful beginning to any relationship. This is not the first person Boaz has prayed for. Boaz is a man who prays for people when he meets them.
He asks them, “How can I pray for you?” and when they say a request he actually prays for them. This is just part of his character. This is how he operates. So in verse 12 he prays, “‘The Lord repay you for what you have done.’”
Ruth is filled with prayers. Every prayer is for someone else, and every prayer, by the end of the book, is answered by God because, as I told you last week, God is sovereign and good.
He prays this, “‘The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you’ve come to take refuge.’”
Boaz prays that God would bless her in every way. He is essentially saying, if I might extrapolate, “I pray that God would give you food. I pray that God would give you a home. I pray that God would give you friends. I pray that God would give you love. I pray that God would give you a husband. I pray that God would give you children. I pray that God would bless you in every way that God can bless.”
Did that prayer of Boaz come true? Did God answer that prayer? Yes. Who did God send to answer the prayer of Boaz? Boaz. I will argue, based upon this text, that sometimes we need to answer our own prayers.
There are many functions of prayer. Here are two:
Sometimes prayer moves the hand of God, and sometimes prayer changes the heart of the one who is asking, that as we pray for God to do something, we realize, “That’s why I’m here! I shouldn’t just pray that God will do something.
So Boaz is essentially saying, “I pray that God will feed you.” He will feed her. “I pray that God will give you a home.” He gives her a home. “I pray that God would give you a husband.” He’s that husband. You’ll read that later – I don’t want to give it all away. “I pray that God would give you a baby.” They’re going to have a baby. And he will be the father, and the husband that is prayed for.
So oftentimes Christians pray for things that are not wrong to pray for, but then fail to act to answer that prayer. How weird would it be if I went home and said, “God, please send a man to hug my wife!” God would be like, “Duh! Duh! That’s why you’re there. That’s your job. I sent you there. Don’t pray for me to send backup. That’s your job.”
Jesus did the same thing. I’ll tell you where he did it. On the cross, Jesus prays, “Father,” what? “Forgive them.” And then what does Jesus do? Answers his own prayer by dying for the forgiveness of sin. Boaz prays for Ruth. Boaz answers that prayer.
The gospel is that you and I are Ruth, that we’re pagans, we’re sinners, we’re rebels. We come from the wrong background. We come to the Lord empty-handed and needy, and that the Lord Jesus is Boaz. Spurgeon calls Jesus Christ, “our glorious Boaz.”
And as Boaz went to survey his fields, so the Lord Jesus came to survey his proverbial field here. And as Boaz looked out and saw Ruth, so Jesus has seen us, and as Boaz pursued Ruth, so Jesus has pursued us, and as Boaz spoke to Ruth kindly, so Jesus has spoken to us kindly, and as Boaz went beyond the requirements of the law, all the way to grace, so the Lord Jesus has gone beyond the requirements of the law, all the way to grace, and we’ve found, to use the words of Ruth, favour in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, our glorious Boaz.
Now Boaz understands that he comes to God empty-handed, and that everything he has belongs to the Lord. And because he has received everything as a gift, he is very generous, and he is a gift-giver. He’s a man of grace, or favour.