Let’s look at a slightly different view of God’s grace, His grace shown through one of His own people. This particular example of grace comes on the heels of tragedy and much sorrow at a time when its recipients are feeling alone and burdened, perhaps even a bit forsaken. To begin, a little back story is in order. Israel was in a time of famine, people were suffering. A man named Elimelech decided it would be prudent to take his wife Naomi and his two sons into the land of Moab. While they were in Moab, Elimelech died. Naomi’s sons also each took for themselves a wife from among the people of Moab; their names were Orpah and Ruth. After about ten years, Naomi and her daughters-in-law suffered the death of her two sons. Naomi by this time had heard that conditions in her own homeland had improved, and being a widow in a strange land, she decided to return home was her best choice for survival. Naomi spoke to her daughters in love and encouraged them to “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. “May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.” according to Ruth 1:8-9 (New American Standard). Both young women declined and opted to return with her to her homeland but as time came for their departure, only Ruth traveled with Naomi. Scripture tells us that at this point in the story, Naomi was feeling old, used up and feeling that the hand of God was against her. Ruth was dedicated to Naomi and very loving toward her. They began their trip back to Naomi’s homeland.
Safely back in Bethlehem, Naomi and Ruth settled in. Ruth asked permission from Naomi to glean wheat along the edges of a field so they would have food. It was the tradition of the day that the land owners would leave the edges of their field so that the poor could come and gather some of the harvest so their family would have some food. The field where she stopped belonged to Boaz who was a kinsman of Elimelech. Interestingly, Boaz visited his fields that day and saw this young woman gleaning in the field, he first inquired about who she was from his servants. Next he spoke with Ruth letting her know she was safe in those fields and his servants would make sure she had water while she was working. He asked her not to glean in any other fields and left her to her work. When mealtime came, Boaz called her to eat with the others and when she returned to the fields they were instructed not to insult her and to intentionally drop some of their grain that she might find it.
At one point, Ruth inquired of Boaz as to his great kindness and favor toward her because she was a stranger in the land. Boaz’s response is recorded in Ruth 2:1-12, “Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth had left everything familiar because of her devotion to her husband’s mother after his death. Not only did she leave her land and family, she had been so touched by this family’s devotion to their God that she wanted to serve God just as they did. Boaz’s kindness and these words were confirmation that she had chosen wisely.
This beautiful story doesn’t end here, it is just beginning. Boaz and Ruth marry and from that marriage comes a son named Obed. Obed has a son named Jessie, and Jessie has sons, the youngest named David who becomes the best known king of Israel. Grace continues to flow and be traced throughout the generations, even among tragedy and sorrow, grace continues and is found in the new life of Obed. Ruth 4:16-17 says, “Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi !” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Naomi, who had lost her husband and both sons now had a new start with this grand baby, the one who had previously said call me ‘bitter’ had hope, healing and joy through the grace of God shown to both her and her daughter through her kinsmen redeemer Boaz.