God has put Ruth in just the place and time where He can use Boaz to provide for her.
12 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.”
Like Naomi did earlier in chapter 1, Boaz is acknowledging that Ruth’s true reward will come from God. Boaz is talking here about the labor of love that Ruth has been performing by taking care of her mother-in-law Naomi. Boaz is also saying that he understands that she’s now a worshiper of the One True God, and that her refuge is now found in God.
God longs for us to return to Him.
And once the returning has happened, God restores.
God and He is in the business of restoring what has been taken away, making up the years that seem wasted and ruined (e.g. Israelites wages restored from the Egyptians, Jacob’s wages restored from Laban).
13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”
Ruth thanks Boaz for demonstrating his favor toward her in two ways. First, that he has comforted her. His words have fallen upon her heart. Although this is the second time that Ruth has mentioned to Boaz in the same conversation that she’s a foreigner (that she’s not even the equal of one of his maidservants) Boaz never treats her this way. And it’s the same way when we come to God. He doesn’t care about our idol-worshipping or self-worshiping background, or where we come from, or anything else about us. He wants to save us, to comfort us, to speak those kind, caring, comforting words to our hearts.
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
Boaz specifically invites Ruth to eat with them at meal-time. He invites her to take some of the bread off of the loaf and dip it in the wine-vinegar. Giving the sop to someone was considered a great demonstration of hospitality, love and honor toward the one that you’re sharing the sop with. You give the sop to someone that you love and want to show everyone else that you love them. Ruth’s chosen to accept the love and hospitality of Boaz. And more importantly, she’s chosen to serve the Lord God and walk in His ways.
15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. 16 Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”
Because Ruth is the first one to go back to work, while everyone else is finishing up their meal, Boaz is able to make special provisions for her, to make sure that she and Naomi have plenty to eat.
So when Boaz says “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her, he is demonstrating the very favor that she has been praying that someone would show her. His kindness and provision are an answer to prayer for Ruth and Naomi. Boaz tells his servants to purposely pull out handfuls of grain heads and let it fall to the ground.
Lastly, Boaz provided for her safety and security by ordering his servants to refrain from scolding her for gleaning among the sheaves, and not to reproach her, that is, not to call her thief, or to suspect her of taking more than was allowed for her to take.
17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
The word ephah was a word borrowed from Egyptian which means basket—and so when used as a unit of measure, it means basket-full. So this would be somewhere between about 6 and 9 gallon milk containers full of Barley, or about 30 pounds worth. The generosity and kindness of Boaz far exceeded her expectations that she set when she first started gleaning. The famine that had dogged their steps for so many years was instantly over for these two women.
We’re at a neat place in the story of Ruth. God’s blessings, favor and provision are beginning to be on display in the life of Ruth. Although she is witnessing God’s provision, and although she’s gleaning for both herself and Naomi; Naomi doesn’t see it yet. God has already begun to provide, but because Naomi has been too busy complaining about how God has dealt with her, and complaining about all that she has gone through, she’s not out there with Ruth, and so doesn’t yet see the wonder of God’s provision.
Bitter has a hard time seeing better. Although she has returned to Bethlehem, she has not yet taken her refuge in the Lord, as Ruth as done. So, my question to you is: “Do you see it yet? Do you see how God is waiting for you to return to him in those places in your life that you have shut Him out of. Trust in the God who’s in the restoration business and return to Him. He just wants you to allow Him, to give Him the opportunity to bless you. And very likely, He will bless you in those same areas of your life in which you choose to return to Him.