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Category Archives: Ruth

Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups — The Threshing Floor (Ruth 3:6-13)


The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “Ruth and Boaz (after Ben Zion)” and was created by Ned Bustard. 

So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law. After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.” “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
Ruth 3:6-13

Dear God, I’ve spent some time looking at Ruth and Boaz, but I don’t know remember spending too much time thinking about Boaz himself. You know, trying to get into his skin. To do that, we have to go back to his introduction in chapter 2. Here are some verses in chapter 2 that are striking me about him and his character:

Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to water they have drawn from the well.” (Ruth 2:8-9)

Not only did Boaz provide food for her, but he also cast a net of physical protection over her. I have been reminded over and over again how vulnerable women are to physical harm. I was talking with a friend yesterday morning about our daughters and wishing we could protect them better. My wife and I have talked about her uneasiness walking in crowds and fear of being groped by an anonymous man walking by. These just aren’t fears that I have, but they are real and legitimate fears for women. In fact, until this morning, I don’t think I’ve ever given much thought to the physical danger Ruth was in by going out to glean in the fields. But Boaz thought about it.  Why did he care so much? What was it about Ruth that got his attention?

“Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” (Ruth 2:11-12)

I think that speaks for itself. So I guess my question is, were Ruth and Naomi manipulating Boaz in chapter 3? At the end of the day, I suppose this was part of the culture at the time. In fact, I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand this story because I don’t understand the culture of that time and place enough. But I do know that this ended up being part of your plan because these two people became David’s great-grandparents. Boaz did a lot of wonderful things, but he never knew he had done this. He was faithful in what you had given to him to steward, and the results would have been beyond anything he ever would have dreamed.

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t go back to this image by Bustard and at least say what he had to say about it in his book:

Ben-Zion Weinman (1897-1987) was a sculptor, painter, and printmaker. An emigrant from Ukraine, he came to the United States in 1920 and was a founding member of a 1930’s avant-garde group called “The Ten.” Curing the 1950s he completed several portfolios of expressionistic etchings/aquatints. This print is a reworking of one of those pieces from The Books of Ruth, Job, and Song of Songs portfolio. The Bible is ambiguous about what may or may not have happened that night on the threshing floor: Weinman leaves the way open for either reading of the passage in his visualization of the famous night. He depicts both people asleep under the starlight, the future great-grandmother of King David under a blanket at the feed of Boaz, who snores against a heap of grain.

I looked for the original, and I couldn’t be sure which image was the one that Bustard used as the inspiration, but it’s interesting to consider that the author of Ruth left the events of that night vague. I’d never considered that before. I just took it for what was written on the page. Perhaps I’m naïve.

Father, help me to be faithful this day. Help me to not look to my legacy or my future because I have zero idea how you might be using me. The author Gary Thomas said in one of his books (it might have been Sacred Parenting) that our role in history is to be born, possibly procreate, and then get out of the way. What you do with our lives after that is up to you. Help me to embrace that simplicity and to offer you this one life that I get on earth to further your kingdom and your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Ruth 4:13-17

Ruth 4:13-17 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. 

Dear God, I never noticed it before, but after the baby is born it all becomes about Naomi and not Ruth. The women saw this baby as her guardian redeemer. I am guessing it’s because Boaz was now culturally obligated to care for Naomi because of the child. Regardless, the passage let’s us in on a secret that there was no way for any of them to know. Yes, you cared about Naomi and Ruth, but you had a special plan for one of Ruth’s great grandsons. 

This reminds me of a song we used to sing in church. It’s all about you. I don’t know where all this is going or how it all works out, but even in the midst of tragedy your eyes are moving to and fro throughout the earth to strongly support those whose hearts are completely yours. The support might not look like we expect or want, and we might never know what you were doing. But stories like this remind us that there is so much more to anything happening around us than we can see. 

Father, help me to faithfully live my day. Help me to help those who need you and help me to care for those around me. Help me to do it not for myself, but for your glory, your plan, and because it is simply what needs to be done. 

In Jesus’ name I pray, 

Amen 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 4:1-12

Ruth 4:1-12 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said. Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.” At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.” Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel. So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” 

Dear God, I feel like I’ve had a lot of familial duty lately. As a husband, father, brother and son, I have had responsibilities in each area. It has felt good to be able to be here for them, but it has also been stressful. It has been hard to know where to draw the line between helping and getting too involved. 

Father, give my wife and me wisdom to know what you would have us to do, and help us to recognize when we ourselves need help. Be glorified in us and help us to stay squarely in your will when it comes to the role you have for us to play in others’ lives. 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 3

Ruth 3:1-18 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.” “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.” So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.” He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.” 

Dear God, first, we don’t spend enough time reading the stories of the Old Testament. These are just some great reads. Yes, they are dated and tell us about customs that seem weird to us, but they are still instructive and they are also fun to read. 

That being said, everyone’s responses to their situation are very similar to what we would do now. Naomi is trying to solve some big problems for her and for Ruth and she is strategizing. Ruth is being obedient to Naomi as well as being loyal to her. As Boaz says, “All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” Her reputation precedes her. 

And then there is Boaz. He has a good idea he is being used here, but he legitimately sees it as an opportunity to help a good person. He knows Ruth doesn’t mean anything negative by it. It’s the way of their world. But Naomi and Ruth trusted Naomi’s plan because they knew what kind of man Boaz was. 

All the while, unbeknownst to them but knownst to us, this is all paving the way for David and Jesus’s earthly lineage. How cool is that? You took the time to share David’s back story and tell us about. Some good people in a hard time. 

Father, help me to be a good person. Help me to be wise. Help me to be generous. Help me to simply let go of myself and love you. 

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 2:14-17

Ruth 2:14-17 14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her.16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.

 

Dear God, I have a friend right now in financial need, and it is hard to know how to help them. Where do I draw the line between helping and not helping? How do I keep from taking on too much of this friend’s burden? How do I keep from becoming codependent with them? I like to be a hero. How do I keep from falling into that trap, but instead listen for your still small voice as to what I am supposed to do?

Frankly, to help this friend would stretch us financially, and I have mixed feelings about that. One the one hand, I do have the money there and you have been very good to us. On the other hand, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to be foolish with the money in case we need it for something else.

I guess what is really bothering me is to hear how powerless this friend feels in their situation and how someone else in their life is using money to control them and put them in fear. I know people like that. I’ve seen the power they try to exercise over people and there is a part of me that wants to go in and neuter that power and keep them from being a bully.

I think of all of this because Boaz had some decisions to make about Ruth. She wasn’t the only woman gleaning in the field. But he knew her story of not only tragedy but honor. He appreciated it, respected it, and decided to do his best to honor it in a way that Ruth could still have her dignity.

Father, show my wife and me the way forward on this and the other issues that are before us. There are people for us to love. There are people on whom we need to use tough love. There are also situations in which we need to step back and let go. We need to trust you to be a provider for these people in your way. Perhaps that is through us. Perhaps it is through someone else. I think the thing I am hearing in this, however, is that, whatever we do, we need to do it in a way that gives our friend dignity.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Ruth

 

Ruth 2:1-13

Ruth 2:1-13

Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

 

Dear God, there is something to be said for just being a nice guy. There is something to be said for empathy. Boaz didn’t realize it, but his actions in this moment were being recorded for all time. History was watching, and we found him faithful. He is now an example to us on how to treat someone who is less fortunate than us.

Ruth, of course, is an example as well. She didn’t realize history was watching her too. She didn’t know that, 5,000 years later, I would be sitting here on a Sunday morning before church thinking about her faithfulness to Naomi and her perseverance in the face of hardship.

So what will I do today? What kind of an example will I be to anyone who might take note of my life. What kind of servant will I be for you?

Father, give me the strength to remember that every moment of my day counts. That doesn’t mean that I have to be in action every moment of the day to be found faithful, but it does mean that I need to be about worshiping you in my thoughts, words, and deeds. Thank you for the people in the Bible who were found to be faithful to you in their daily lives. I always think of the widow that Jesus saw putting the two coins in the offering. Help me to do all of this, and to do it in the humility that comes from the recognition that I am your grateful servant.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Ruth, Uncategorized

 

Ruth 1:19-22

Ruth 1:19-22 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?” “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. 

Dear God, this story is great evidence that there can be reasons for our suffering other than sin in our lives. In the moment–in the fog of war–we can interpret tragedies in our lives as you abandoning us. But, as outsiders looking in on this story in retrospect, we know that Ruth has a destiny that required this path Israel’s destiny requires Naomi’s suffering. 

I confess that I hate to suffer. I want to be happy. I want to feel secure and safe. And I often choose the safe option instead of the bold option because I want to play it safe. And I also confess that there have been times (and continue to be times) when I don’t understand the suffering I’m experiencing. I’ve been upset with you about my suffering. I’ve gone full-fledged Naomi and complained to others about my suffering. 

Father, Naomi could have used the Serenity Prayer from AA, and I can always use it. Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Ruth