Ruth 2:9 – “Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.”
In these words of Boaz to Ruth, he sets before her wonderful promises. These promises begin with a choice that he gives her, for he says “Let” and “go.” He will not force her. In Boaz’s promises to her we see his Direction, his Protection and his Provision. If she chooses to “let” him direct her steps, the rest will follow! He has already told her where not to go: “go not” (vs 8) and now he tells her where to go: “go after” and “go unto” (vs 9).
Direction: This direction is two-fold in concerns Looking and Following.
Looking: “Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap.” Boaz begins with looking, he tells her where her eyes need to be focused. It is a gentle command, it is a gentle request, for grace says “Let.” She must let her eyes see only what God wants her to see. It is not just any field but only the field that belongs to Boaz that she must look at. When she sees what belongs to Boaz, she sees several things: she sees his provision, she sees the abundance of the field (the grain) and she sees the activity in the field (the reapers). It is only in the field of Boaz that she will find true blessing. A child of God receives this same command to look. We look at what belongs to Christ and see His provision, we see His “field” and His fields are rich with what will nourish and sustain us. His fields are filled with His promises, His words; this is the grain that feeds us. As a child of God what we look at is important, and how we look is important. As we look we want to obey Him and as we look we learn love Him more and fall more deeply in love. (John 14:21,23). This is not a casual look or a quick look, it is an intense look. We look with purpose, we look knowing we will find what we need. “Let thine eyes look right on (with fixed purpose), and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Prov 4:25). We look away from what distracts us to what attracts us – “Looking unto Jesus” (Heb 12:2). We look to what is before us (our future) and not what is behind us (our past), we look “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil 3:13-14). Grace shows us wonderful things, glorious things, if we will only “let” and look! That look gives us a different view, it affects how we live and how we love. We look at “eternal” things (2 Cor 4:18); we look “on the things of others” (Phil 2:4); we look “for the Savior” (Phil 3:20).
Ruth is to look at two things and only look at those things. She is to look only at the field of Boaz, it is only in his field that she will find blessing. She is to look only at the servants of Boaz, his reapers, for they lead the way. Boaz figures Christ and his field those blessings He sets before us. They are the “promises of God” which “are in Him” (2 Cor 1:20); they are “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Pet 1:4). When we look at Him and His promises we are blessed beyond all measure. We are “enriched by him” (1 Cor 1:5) and blessed “with all spiritual blessings” (Eph 1:3).
Following: “and go thou after them.” This is an important step in going in the right direction, the first step is to look, and the second is to follow and Boaz tells her who she is to follow. We need to do more than look; we need to act, to react, to respond in a positive way. We can look all we want but if we don’t take a step forward we won’t go anywhere. This is what happens after her eyes look in the direction Boaz points. She will act, she will respond, she will “go after” those individuals and those things because Boaz has told her to. The word “go” means “to walk” or “to follow” and the word “after” means “behind” or “beside.” Both are necessary, we may begin by following “behind” others but there will come a time when we are walking “beside” those servants, serving just as faithfully and zealously. This is to be her purpose of heart, for she will start and not stop until she is finished. Jesus calls us to “go after” or “follow” Him! He said this to Peter and Andrews when He called them (Mt 4:18-20) and to James and John (Mt 21:22) and to Matthew (Mt 9:9) and all followed him. He says this to us today. Jesus did warn that there is a cost to following Him (Mt 16:24) it is the choice of discipleship, of sacrifice, of obedience. But there is an irresistible call when we hear His voice. It is the call of the Shepherd to His sheep, we hear His voice, He knows us and we follow Him and Him alone (Jn 10:27). We follow Him not just as sheep following their Shepherd but also as servants following their Master (Jn 12:26) – we follow so that we may serve Him. This is what Ruth did, she followed Boaz’s instructions so that she might better serve him!
Protection: His protection begins with his charge to others and ends with her consecration.
His Charge: “have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee?” This is the next promise we see in Boaz’s words to Ruth. We see here two things, his Charge and her Consecration. In his charge we see his authority, this is his command, this is his word, this is his protection, and none can touch her or hurt her, verbally or physically. By staying in his field, she is protected and by following his servants, she is protected! It is both his word and her obedience becomes her protection. There is now a “hedge” around her like there was around Job (Job 1:1) and unless it is removed nothing can penetrate it. His words become her refuge and guard her, it is as though the angel of the Lord “encampeth round about” her. (Ps 34:7). This promised protection will give her time to learn and to love; a time free of battles with others. His promise becomes a protection from what others say, none can condemn Ruth! Like Ruth, we have a Boaz, Christ and He protects us from those who would condemn us! He says “our iniquities are forgiven” and our “sins are covered” (Ro 4:7-8). There is “no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1). Ruth hides herself in Boaz’s promises and nothing can penetrate, just as we are “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).
His Promise: “they shall not touch thee”. This is the result of her obedience to his words and the result of his protection, it is this wonderful promise to Ruth, and this promise reveals the full fruitfulness of what her obedience brings forth. This promise concerns her separation and consecration; it is her preparation; it is why they cannot touch her. This is also a declaration that she belongs to him, he has claimed her! During this time he will watch her conduct and he will find it satisfies all his expectations. He will see that she doesn’t follow after the young men (3:10) and that she is a virtuous woman (3:11). The Bride of Christ will have this same testimony, she is consecrated, she is separated, she is “espoused,” she is called a “chaste virgin” (2 Cor 11:2). The Lord’s provision and purpose is that we be “holy” with no “spot or wrinkle or blemish” (Eph 5:27), and it is the Word of God that does this work, that prepares us so that when the Lord sees us, He can say “Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.” (Song 4:7) Ruth by her obedience, like the Bride, will have the testimony that she “hath made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7-8) Ruth’s submission and obedience to his words will change her life forever.
Provision: “and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” Finally at the end of Boaz’s promise we find a wonder provision for Ruth, we see her need and how he satisfies it. We see what she does and what he does. He knows her need and because she is now his servant, he can provide for her need. This is the Lord’s promise to all His servants, it is a promise of full provision. In Isaiah God gives a comparison between what His servants have and what those who are not His servants don’t have. He says, “Behold, my servants shall eat … behold, my servants shall drink … behold, my servants shall rejoice, behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart.” (Isa 65:13-14). This is a full, glorious provision, and this is what Ruth will be able to do because she belongs to Boaz. This is the offer Jesus made, it was to come to Him when they were thirst and that He would satisfy their thirst and the result would be joy. (Jn 7:37-38).
Ruth was thirsty, Boaz knew of her thirst: “and when thou art a thirst” (her need)– he told her where to go to quench it: “go unto the vessels” (his provision) – He told her to drink freely – “and drink” (her obedience) – others would provide for her – “of that which the young men have drawn.” (his providers). In type this is not a thirst for salvation but for sanctification. This is a thirst for the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. The Lord tells us where we can go, it is to those vessels belonging only to Him. The provision can be found nowhere else! The satisfaction can only come if we drink. For Ruth, has a right and a privilege, to be refreshed and satisfied, but she must “go” and “drink” in order to enjoy that privilege. How many of God’s people don’t do this? Boaz not only provides the water but the providers, who have drawn the water. Christ’s true ministers, who preach the “gospel of Christ,” the “glorious gospel,” the “word of truth.” This gospel is the only foundation (1 Cor 3:10-11) and His servants will help Ruth to be that “virtuous woman” that he will see at the end of the harvest. Just like Boaz, Jesus knows our need. He alone is able to provide for that need and satisfy us fully, but we, just like Ruth, need to come and to drink!
Boaz rewarded Ruth (a stranger) with much more than the law required. This is grace! Grace goes above and beyond what we need, Paul describes what grace does five times in Romans 5, it is there we see the word “much more” repeated five times! This is what Boaz provided and what Jesus provided for us. The provision is there, the rest is left up to Ruth, to accept or reject, to embrace or turn away. She will accept what Boaz offers with humility, humbleness and gladness! Let us do the same!