Pastor Debra Isenbletter
Ruth 3:17 – “And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.”
First Ruth tells Naomi what Boaz had said (vs16), now she shows Naomi what Boaz did (vs17). She shows Naomi what Boaz gave her: “These six measures of barley gave he me.” Ruth “counted her blessings and named them one by one,” she knew what they were, she appreciated every one of them! She knows what she has been given is a Gift – it is a picture of Grace. She didn’t work for what he gave her, she didn’t ask for what he gave her, she only had to receive what he gave her! What wonderful GIFTS we receive from our Boaz! The Gift of Righteousness (Rom 5:17). The Gift of Eternal Life (Rom 6:23). The Gift of Salvation (Eph 2:8). The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:45). Spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:1) seen in the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:8-10). The Gifts given for the “perfecting of the saints” (Eph 4:8,11-12) (apostles; prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers). So many gifts, so many blessings and all we are asked to do is to receive them and then joyfully tell others!
After showing Naomi what Boaz gave to her, she repeats the words of Boaz to Naomi: “for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.” On her first day in Boaz’s field she shared what she had received with Naomi (2:18-19). On her last day in Boaz’s field she again shared with Naomi (3:17). Ruth shared her blessings! From the first day to the last day Naomi has been blessed through Ruth. Naomi had come back saying that she was “empty” (1:21). Boaz wants her to know that her circumstances have changed! This verse is a wonderful companion verse and explanation of 3:15. In 3:15 we see the six measures given to Ruth. In 3:17 we see the six measures were for Naomi also. So what did Ruth do with the blessings she received from Boaz? She passed on those blessings to Naomi, she tells Naomi that this is also for her.
Naomi had given to Ruth, who in turn gave back to Naomi and then Boaz gave to both of them. They are both being rewarded for giving to each other. Jesus said “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over…” (Luke 6;38). The abundance of these blessings shows that they are meant to be shared, not hoarded away but given to others. Ruth who had been taught by Naomi shared now what she had received with Naomi. How wonderfully this pictures what Paul wrote: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate (share) unto him that teacheth in all good things.” (Gal 6:6). And I can see in Ruth’s giving to Naomi, not only an obedience to the words of Boaz but also it was part of her “sacrifice of praise,” it was both a verbal and physical sacrifice. Paul describes two kinds of sacrifices, one that is verbal and one that is physical. We do both by Christ, just as Ruth did this by what Boaz had supplied: “By him (Jesus, our Boaz) therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God (verbal) continually (and at all times), that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (verbal). But to do good and to communicate (share, give) forget not (physical): for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Heb 13:15-16). Ruth both said something and she did something and both are counted as a sacrifice of praise!
So what do these six measures given to Naomi mean to her? I believe Naomi will understand the true meaning of Boaz’s gesture and generosity. First his words “as the Lord liveth” (v13) were an oath. Next his actions in giving the “six measures of barley” (v15) were a promise. Boaz did not want Ruth to return empty but to carry back a visible blessing, proof of further blessings. For Naomi this was proof Boaz would do what he had promised, what he had sworn an oath to do. I thought of two wonderful examples of how God’s people are not sent away empty. First when they left Egypt, they did not leave empty! They left with the bounty of the Egyptians and they left with the promise of the Lord that “when ye go, ye shall not go empty” (Ex 3:21). The other example is when a Hebrew was freed from service, he did not go away empty. God told them “when thou sendest him out … thou shalt not let him go away empty…” (Deut 15:12-14).
In both these examples there is a coming out of bondage and out of adversity, out of suffering and not coming away impoverished they are enriched! So also are we. Boaz’s gift to Ruth and Naomi will both enrich and enlighten them. Naomi will be enriched with the six measures of grain and she will also be enlightened, for this tells her something. She will know this is a promise from Boaz that they will be taken care of. What a wonderful reminder to us that we will never go away empty from the presence of the Lord, we leave both enriched and enlightened!