Common decency - Hope 103.2

Common decency

By David ReayThursday 11 Jul 2013LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Ruth 2:4-9

4 Just then Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers,”The LORD be with you.” They answered,”The LORD bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers,”To whom does this young woman belong?” 6 The servant who was in charge of the reapers answered,”She is the Moabite who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said,’Please,let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.’ So she came,and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now,without resting even for a moment.”

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth,”Now listen,my daughter,do not go to glean in another field or leave this one,but keep close to my young women. 9 Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped,and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty,go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” (NRSV)

In an age which too often demeans women and sees them mistreated by sex-obsessed men,the example of Boaz is worth considering. Ruth needs to get some food for herself and Naomi,her mother-in-law. So she gets to work picking up the leftover grain during the barley harvest in the fields belonging to Boaz. It is hard work,and a single young woman like her might be subject to some harassment from the male workers.

Boaz takes care to warn her against this and provide protection for her. He is a great example of old-fashioned chivalry. He has no desire to exploit her or see her exploited by others. He is a man of the world who knows how things can go wrong and doesn’t want this woman to be wronged-even though at this stage she was a stranger to him.

Rules of etiquette change. The old-fashioned gestures of men towards women (think giving up your seat on a train) are not generally practised. But our Scriptures remind us that men are to treat women with respect and not to see them as inferior or mere objects of sexual desire. And Boaz,living as he did in a patriarchal society,reminds us that while cultural practices may change men are to treat women with dignity and respect.

Little did Boaz know that he would do a lot more than merely treat Ruth with respect. He would marry her.

David Reay