Read Ruth 2:8-12
8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”
10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” (NLT)
In a time when it seems women are exploited and abused by predatory men, this encounter between Ruth and Boaz offers some ray of hope. For sure, Ruth might have been in some danger in the fields from some of the men: our problems in this regard are not new! But Boaz is a different sort of man, we would hope like the majority of men who are considerate to women and because of that don’t hit the headlines.
So Ruth finds protection and some meagre income as a result of Boaz’ kindness. In this foreign land she no longer feels like an alien or outsider. The kindness of another human being has made the difference. So often this is what it takes for us to find acceptance in a new job, a new neighbourhood, a new community group.
When we ask for God’s protection and care, it so often comes in the form of another person. Boaz tells Ruth she has found shelter under the wings of the God of Israel. A promise for each one of us too. And a reminder that those wings of refuge will very likely take a very human shape.