In the following verses, Boaz meets Ruth, but first Boaz speaks to his servant (vs 5-7) and then Boaz speaks to Ruth (vs 8-9). From his conversation we get a wonderful glimpse into the character of this man. When Boaz arrives we see the way in which he greets those that serve him and the way they greet him. (vs 4). Now Boaz takes note of who is gleaning in his field and notices someone new. He notices everything!
Ruth 2:5 – Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
Who does Boaz speak to? He speaks to his servant and he asks a question and it is an important question. The word for servant here is “steward” or “one who managed the estate.”
What was this servant’s responsibility? He was “set over the reapers.” Here we see the details of his stewardship. The reapers were the laborers in the field, these are those bringing forth a harvest. The responsibility of this servant is to see that the work is well done and that each person performed his task.
This was a man who had great responsibility. Eliezer was the steward of Abraham’s house (Gen 15:2), and as his steward he “ruled over all that he had” (Gen 24:2). He was given a great responsibility also, he was sent to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. Joseph became the steward of Potiphar while he was in Egypt and “his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” Joseph’s testimony was that “he served him” and as a result of that faithful service Potiphar “made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.” (Gen 39:4-5). There we see the great responsibility of the steward and the faithful service.
Sister Erline Spickard taught two types from this portion, one concerning the servant and one concerning the reapers. She taught that this steward, this servant of Boaz, can picture the Apostle Paul. Paul was a steward “of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1-2). As a steward he had great responsibilities, and exercised them faithfully. Just as this steward watched over the reapers, Paul watched over the saints. He “visited the brethren in every city” (Acts 15:36) where he preached. He traveled everywhere “confirming the churches” (Acts 15:41). He “went over all the country…strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:23). He felt the burden and the “care of all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28). Paul watched over the saints to see that the work was done well. He still watches over us today for it is his gospel that instructs, corrects and guides us! She also taught that the “reapers” can picture the church officials. These are those that the Lord has set in the Church for “the perfecting of the saints” (Eph 4:12). These are the bishops, elders, deacons, pastors and teachers that are mentioned throughout Paul’s epistles. They are laborers, they are helping to bring forth a harvest in the Lord’s fields!
What did Boaz ask his servant? Boaz asked, “Whose damsel is this?” This is an important question. Boaz notices Ruth immediately. We see how he views her, she is a “damsel,” which was a “maiden” or a “young woman” that was of marriageable age or untouched. He saw her from a distance and noticed two things. He saw her labor, her service and he saw her need! Sister Mary Bodie says: “And then he beholds Ruth, and his heart is won immediately, by the poor Moabitess who has nothing in herself to command his attention except her helplessness and need.” This was love at first sight. He loved her first. He had heard about her (2:11), now he is about to meet her. Christ loved us first and heard about our need and came to meet that need. He came “to minister, and give his life as a ransom” (Mt 20:28). It is through our relationship with Christ that we begin to see and realize the depth of that love and to know the “love of Christ that passeth knowledge” (Eph 3:19). For Ruth, this is a love she is about to know and comprehend. She will begin to understand that love as Boaz meets her needs. We begin to understand and love Jesus as He meets our needs!
What is the answer to the question Boaz asks? She is his damsel, she belongs to him! She doesn’t know it yet, others don’t know it yet, even Boaz doesn’t know it, only God does, for He has brought these two together for a purpose. This is a picture of God’s provision and purpose for Christ, that He have a Bride. Just as God took a rib from Adam and builded a wife for him (Gen 2:20-23), God is taking a rib from the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 5:30-32), the Last Adam, and building a wife for Him, a Bride. Just as Adam’s body was asleep, many in the Body of Christ are asleep today (1 Thess 5:6-8) and God will take from that sleeping body a group of saints that are awake and watching. This unique relationship with Christ is that “espousal” that Paul speaks of, these saints are that woman he describes, that “chaste virgin.” (2 Cor 11:2). That topic in itself is another lesson.
The point I wanted to emphasize is the question “Whose damsel is this,” it reminded me of something said in Song of Solomon. Solomon describes the one he loves (Song 6:9) and says: She is Gentle: “My dove;” She is Pure: “my undefiled is but one” – Notice that she is his! She is Unique: “She is the only one;” She is Chosen: “the choice one.” When others hear his description, they ask: “Who is she?” doesn’t that sound like “Whose damsel is this?” When they see her, they describe her (Song 6:10). They see her faithfulness: “looketh forth.” They see her fairness: “fair as the moon” (constant). They see her glory: “clear as the sun” (Christ’s glory). They see her strength: “terrible as an army.” What is so striking about this woman is that when you see her in the beginning, she doesn’t see herself in this way. She sees only her service and suffering, she says, “I am black, but comely…Look not upon me, because I am black (sun burned), because the sun hath look upon me.” But this is what makes her beautiful, her labor, her suffering, her service! This is what Solomon sees, this is what Boaz sees, this is what Christ sees! What happens is that she is changed by her service and suffering, when she is seen later on, she is no longer “black” and ashamed to be looked at. She is seen as “the king’s daughter” who is “all glorious within” (Ps 45:13-14). Her inward beauty shines forth and overshadows everything else!
To be continued