The abundance with which Ruth arrives home leads to lots of questions from Naomi. The huge provision leads Naomi to speak a blessing over, “the man who took notice of you”. When Naomi hears that it is Boaz’s field, she cries out again, “The Lord bless him!”. Boaz, whose first words in the book are a benediction, and who has spoken blessing over Ruth, is now twice blessed by Naomi.
Naomi goes on to explain what Ruth apparently does not know (but which we, as readers, have known all along): Boaz is a relative. But then Ruth, and we, learn something else: Boaz is a “guardian-redeemer”, one who had a legal obligation to Elimelech, to provide for and protect his family, which includes Naomi and Ruth. Boaz, of course, has already begun to fulfil these obligations – inviting Ruth to remain in his fields for the whole harvest, thus providing food for her and Naomi, and providing protection for Ruth from those who might harm or exploit her.
Boaz now takes on an even greater significance in the story of Naomi and Ruth. We are left to draw the lines in the story for ourselves. Not only did God arrange for Ruth to be in Boaz’s field that day, so that she might have food and protection, but this Boaz “turns out” to be a guardian-redeemer, one whose presence and obligations would extend far beyond harvest time and provide ongoing security for these two poor widows.
In the difficult circumstances of these two widows, we are starting to get the picture that God is working to bring about his purposes on a much, much bigger scale than we first imagined. Naomi is beginning to realise this too, and a change is happening in her. The story has changed from desolation to blessing being spoken over the lives of everyone, in the name of the Lord who is the source of blessing. Do we believe that God is doing the same in our lives too?