The Five Keys to Studying the Bible
As we begin let’s review the five keys to studying the Bible.
- Jesus and the Story of the Bible
- Reality and Commands
- Read According to the Literature
- Whole, Parts, Whole
These five keys should always be running in the background as we study the Bible. These are the fundamentals, the foundation from which we will never move on from. We may add more tools to our tool belt but we will never remove these tools.
A New Character
The setting for the narrative shifts now from Moab to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:22-2:1). With this shift the author also introduces us to a new character in the story, Boaz. Boaz is a relative of Naomi. At this point the reader is aware of Boaz but Naomi and Ruth are not.
The Situation is also the Problem
The situation and the problem are the same as we get into chapter 2. Ruth and Naomi find themselves back in Bethlehem but they still do not have food. That is their situation but it is also their problem. How will they get the food they need?
Throughout Ruth, Ruth is described as the Moabite or as being from Moab. Keep this descriptor in mind as the narrative progresses. The author is going to great lengths to remind us that Ruth is an outside in Israel. She is a foreigner but this highlights God’s surprising sovereignty throughout this book.
While there was a problem Ruth takes action. She is going to go to the fields to glean. God in His grace made provisions in the law for outsiders and poor people to eat. (See Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-20)
Here Comes Boaz
Ruth 2:3 is the next turning point in the narrative. Ruth goes to glean and she happens to work in the part of the field that belongs to Boaz. The phrase she happened to come is God’s quiet sovereignty at work. Today we might say, “as luck would have it Ruth ended up in Boaz’s field.”
There is an important word here in this verse that Ruth used earlier as well, favor. Keep this in mind as you read this chapter.
Now Boaz comes on the scene. Boaz is a godly man. He shines as someone with deep godly character. The author uses the word behold to introduce Boaz. We need to pay attention here.
Ruth is a surprising book and Boaz is no exception. His background is very surprising. His mom was Rahab (see Josh. 6:25; Matt. 1:5; Ruth 4:21). Boaz’s mom was an outside, a foreigner. He had already seen God’s grace to those outside the covenant people of Israel and it was part of what God used to form his character.
Boaz Meet Ruth, Ruth Meet Boaz
After inquiring about the young women who was working in the field and being informed it was Ruth we see their first conversation. Verses 8-13 in this section are the most important of the chapter.
Pay attention to how Boaz addresses Ruth. What is he concerned with when he talks with her? Ruth responds to Boaz’s kind words humbly. As far as we know, Boaz was the first one to treat her like an insider and not an outsider.
Boaz responds to Ruth again and there are two key phrases in his response.
- The LORD repay you.
- Under whose wings you have come for refuge
Boaz hear about how Ruth loved her mother-in-law. What we see in his response to her is the God’s kindness is coming to Ruth through Boaz. Ruth has come under God’s wings for salvation and protection. It is under the wings of the Lord that we experience His blessing.
When Ruth responds she again says she has found favor. This is within the context of grace. Favor here is essentially the same thing as grace. Boaz is being gracious to her because God has been gracious to him.
Their First Meal
Boaz invites Ruth to eat and be satisfied then instructs his workers to not get in her way and to let her glean as she wants.
Interestingly in verse 16 he instructs his workers to intentionally waste food and to not stop her from picking up what they left behind.
Ruth Returns Home to Naomi
Ruth went home with almost 50 pounds of barley. God is indeed being kind to them (Ruth 2:20). Ruth, unlike Naomi in chapter one, went away empty and came back full.
We learn another interesting fact about Boaz now. He is a family redeemer. We knew he was related to them but now we know he is a redeemer.
We are left at the end of the chapter with questions needing to be answered.
- Boaz has been kind but would he be a redeemer for Naomi and Ruth as well? Would he even want to?
God in His quiet sovereignty is taking care of Naomi and Ruth. The book of Ruth is really an incredible love story but not in the way that you think. It is not primarily a love story between Ruth and Boaz or Ruth’s incredible love for her mother-in-law Naomi. No, above all this is a love story between God and His people. His sovereign love is quietly and in very ordinary ways providing for Ruth and Naomi.
- In addition to the observations in this article, how is God’s quiet sovereignty on display in Ruth 2?
- What steps can you take to have the five keys to studying the Bible in your mind when you read and study the Bible?
- From what we observe about Ruth and Boaz what applications can we make to our lives?
- Read 1 Samuel 17. Can you determine the narrative structure in the chapter?