It is a beautifully told story, and very carefully structured. This chapter is made up of five pieces of dialogue, between Ruth and Naomi (vv.2-3), between Boaz and his reapers (vv.4-7), between Boaz and Ruth (vv.8-14, between Boaz and his reapers again (vv.15,16), and then between Ruth and Naomi again (vv.19-22). That pattern – ABCBA, or chiasm if you like the technical term – focuses our attention on the central bit – the dialogue between Ruth and Boaz.
“Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you should notice me – a foreigner?” Ruth asks (and notice how often in the chapter we are reminded that Ruth is “the Moabitess”). The answer is given in v.12 –
“May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
In this chapter we see the rich rewards of seeking refuge in God, a God who is gracious and merciful and utterly faithful. In this love story, it is His love towards Ruth (a foreigner) and Naomi (embittered and hopeless) that we should especially notice.
God’s care can be seen in part in the gracious provisions of the Law, which recognized the needs of widows and foreigners at harvest time (see eg. Lev.19:9, 10; Deut.24:19-22). Gleaning in the margins of the fields was not just tolerated but was their right.
His care is seen too in the wonderful providence of God. “As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz….. Just then Boaz arrived…” (vv.3, 4). Yet surely this was no mere coincidence, but we are to recognize the sovereign hand of God. (See back page for a helpful comment by Ferguson on God’s providence).
And his care is seen in the behaviour of Boaz, who goes far beyond his legal duty and promises protection, shares water and food, and ensures that she gathers a very generous amount of grain (22 litres would have been quite some weight to lug home!).
The chapter closes with Naomi, who at the end of ch.1 was so “empty” of hope, seeing glimmers of hope in the provision of a kinsman-redeemer, on which we will see more in ch.3.