The story of Ruth turns again with the introduction of Boaz.
Naomi and Ruth are not alone: they have a relative in Bethlehem, “a man of standing”. Moreover, Boaz is a landowner and farmer who runs his property according to the law of God: he left the edges of his field and any produce that fell so that the poor and the foreigner might have something to eat(Leviticus 19:9-10). That Boaz obeys God is a surprise: after all, this is a time when everyone did what they saw fit.
The presence of Boaz – a relative, who does what is right in the eyes of God, who is providing for the poor and the foreigner– injects hope into the story of Naomi and Ruth.
But the author of the book intends our focus to be on another character: God.
Ruth goes out to glean, believing she will be able to find food, and more than that, “find favour” from someone who would tolerate a poor, foreign widow working in their field.
The field where she finds both food and favour, “as it turned out”, belongs to Boaz. The author intends that we read this statement in a very different way: it do not just “turn out”. God is active in this story, and the arrival of Ruth in Boaz’s field is evidence of God’s invisible but sovereign hand. For in Biblical thinking, there are no “coincidences”: God is working in all things.
Boaz’s first words in the story are words of blessing, spoken over the people. His benediction invokes God’s name and presence, “The Lord be with you!”, causing those who have been blessed by Boaz to speak a blessing over him, “The Lord bless you!”
The Lord will indeed be with these people, and in particularly with Ruth who is among them. And the Lord will indeed bless Boaz.
As we reflect on this part of the story, and of the injection of hope that Boaz brings, may we – in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in today – trust that God is active in the details of our lives. God is with us, and the Lord’s presence leads to blessing.