The Invisible Hand of God — Reflections on Ruth 2
When last we left Ruth and Naomi, they had just returned to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley and wheat harvest (1:22). Recall in Ruth chapter one, Naomi and her family traveled to Moab from Bethlehem because there was a famine in the land and there was no food. While in Moab, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, along with her two sons ten years later. Naomi is left only with her two daughters-in-law. After an impassioned plea to her daughters-in-law to return to their homeland, Orpah leaves Naomi, but Ruth clings to her.
As we get into chapter two, while the two women are in Bethlehem at the time of the wheat and barley harvest, they’re still not out of the woods yet. Naomi and Ruth have no means with which to support themselves. Taking the initiative, Ruth asks permission from Naomi to to glean in the fields during the harvest. Naomi approves. It is at this point we’re introduced to Boaz. We are told that he is a “worthy man” and a relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s husband (2:1). Why is this important? If you’re familiar with the OT, there were provisions in OT law that protected the people from permanently losing their land inheritance either due to death of the patriarch or having to sell the land to pay off debts. A family member could redeem the land and preserve it for the family.
As we go through Ruth 2, we see that Ruth just so happens to find herself gleaning in the field of Boaz. We also see that Boaz just so happens to arrive in time to catch Ruth and inquire who she is. Boaz hears the good report about Ruth and then begins to show her above and beyond kindness (Heb. Hesed). He tells her that he has heard all about what she did for Naomi, he invites her to have supper with him and his workers, he then instructs his workers to be deliberately careless as they harvest so she’ll have more to glean. Imagine the luck?
Now as Christians (and as Reformed Christians), we don’t believe in luck. All of the events of Ruth chapter two are told from the perspective of Ruth and Boaz, and they are told in such a way to emphasize the language of coincidence. But this is done with a wink to the audience for it is clear that the invisible hand of the Lord was moving to bless His people. This wasn’t a chance encounter between Boaz and Ruth, but a divine appointment orchestrated by God to not only bless Ruth and Naomi, but also to ensure the line of Messiah.
SPOILER ALERT! The union between Ruth and Boaz will produce a son named Obed, who will be the father of Jesse, who is the father of David, the great king of Israel. Remember, the story of Ruth occurs during the period of the Judges, and this was generally speaking a time of chaos and debauchery. The people needed a king, and God was providing for this need through the divinely appointed meeting between Ruth and Boaz. The invisible hand of the Lord was moving to bring about the great king David, but more than that, the Greater David, Jesus Christ.
The challenge for us to to recognize that the Lord is working in our lives to bring about His glory and our good. Nothing in your life is an accident. Everything that occurs is divinely orchestrated by the invisible hand of the Lord’s providence. It was the invisible hand of the Lord that “in the fullness of time” sent His Son into the world to be born of a woman and born under the law. It was the invisible hand of the Lord that guided Jesus Christ straight to the cross to give His life for our sins. Finally, it was the invisible hand of the Lord that orchestrated the events in your life to bring you to faith in Christ and to receive the blessings of being in union with Him. So rest in the fact that a sovereign God is working all things in your life for His glory and or your good!