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Ruth 3:1-5

Boaz Will Redeem Ruth

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek [a]security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our [b]kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down, that you shall [c]notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.” She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”

It’s interesting that Naomi tells Ruth to wash, anoint herself (probably with some sort of aromatic oil or perfume), and to put on her best clothes. One would think she’s going out to wow Boaz and seduce him with her beauty and finery.

Naomi’s next advice seems strange in contrast. She says “do not make yourself known…” Ruth is instructed to wait until Boaz is asleep before she makes a move. It would be rather difficult to seduce anyone who is asleep!

One thing is clear, Naomi is not interested in attaching Ruth to a man who would be seduced. She wants a husband for her dear daughter (in-law) who will be honorable and do the right thing simply because it IS the right thing, with no motive.

Boaz did not have much to gain (financially or in status) by taking Ruth as his wife, yet Naomi had a hunch that this was a man of character and would make a good husband.

In American culture especially (but no doubt in others also), we put far too much value on appearance, and only think of character as an after thought. Alas, we have things sadly backwards. Do not be seduced (to marriage, or in any relationship, business, socially, etc.) by appearance, but look for people of character to associate with. And along the way, perhaps you’ll learn a few things and develop better character too.

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Ruth 2:14-23

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “[i]Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he [j]served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left. 15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. 16 Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”

17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18 She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave [k]Naomi what she had left after [l]she was satisfied. 19 Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is [m]our relative, he is one of our [n]closest relatives.” 21 Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “[o]Furthermore, he said to me, ‘You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field.” 23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

It’s not clear, but Ruth might have been a little naive here. But her mother-in-law is under no such illusions. She saw the kindness of Boaz and knew exactly what was going on. This was family looking out for family, and holding nothing back.

While it seemed the workers/owners of other fields might have been less than reputable when it came to women who were gleaning in the fields, that was not the case with Boaz.

Don’t be one who would take advantage of those less fortunate than yourself, raise the bar of kindness and charity. Go above and beyond in your generosity, and do what you can to relieve the plight of those around you.

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Ruth 2:1-13

Ruth Gleans in Boaz’ Field

Now Naomi had [a]a kinsman of her husband, a [b]man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and [c]she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his servant who was [d]in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” The servant [e]in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “[f]Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the [g]water jars and drink from what the servants draw.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken [h]kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”

In the very first verse we find that Boaz was very wealthy. Boaz understood something very important about those blessings. They were not meant to be hoarded, but to be shared.

When we are blessed, it is not for us alone. God created us to have relationships, and part of that relational nature includes sharing our sorrow and our blessings.

A hoarded blessing ceases to be a blessing and will instead become a curse. Elsewhere we see the idea of a cup of blessing running over. For what purpose does it run over? To spill on the ground and be wasted?

No, the cup runs over to be shared with those who do not have full cups (or perhaps empty cups). When you are blessed, look first at how you can share it. Only then can you safely look at how to benefit from it yourself.

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Ruth 1:14-22

Ruth’s Loyalty

14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she [e]said no more to her.

19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and [f]the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me [g]Naomi; call me [h]Mara, for [i]the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has witnessed against me and [j]the Almighty has afflicted me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

It makes one wonder, what kind of woman Naomi was? What was it that made Ruth so committed to following her mother-in-law to a foreign land. What made her so sure that Naomi’s people and Naomi’s God were worthy of her devotion?

Whatever it might have been, most folks have someone that looks up to them. Someone who wants to follow in your footsteps. It might be your children, might be someone else’s, nephews/nieces, friends, or other family.

Whoever it is, live a life worthy of being imitated. Even if you don’t know that someone is watching your life, it is highly likely that someone IS watching. Keep your steps inline with God, so that you can say as Paul did, “follow me as I follow Christ.”

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Ruth 1:1-13

Naomi Widowed

Now it came about in the days when the judges [a]governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab [b]with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. Then [c]both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the Lord had visited His people in giving them food. So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is [d]harder for me than for you, for the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.”

Something that has come up over the last few months is the idea that our trials are not from the enemy of our souls. No, he would rather we be fat, merry, and content. For then we might be too proud or too busy to pay any mind to God our creator.

Rather, our trials, our testing, our strife is often brought about by God, to show our character, to build more character, to make us more into His image. Our whole lives we are like a block of marble, but God is the master sculptor, and He has a plan to bring out the masterpiece in us. That’s not easy, or comfortable. If you could ask the marble, I’m sure it would agree 🙂

Naomi had it right, “the Lord has gone forth against me.” But whether she knew it or not, He was going against her for her good. She would see things she could not have imagined at this sorrowful time in her life. And amazing things (even kings) would come of her suffering that she would never see.

When you are struggling, hurting, and in pain, keep your eyes on Him, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Trust Him through it all, and know that He will make beautiful things out of all the mess in your life.

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Judges 21:16-25

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18 But we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”

19 So they said, “Behold, there is a feast of the Lord from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to [h]take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin [i]a wife in battle, [j]nor did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23 The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24 The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

In this last act of “provision” for their brothers, they had to take a bit of a chance. There was no guarantee they would find wives, and even if they did, the men of Shiloh might have raised arms and pursued the sons of Benjamin.

But they trusted in the goodness of the men of Shiloh, who still held a feast every year for the Lord. Somewhere in each of us, though we often forget it is there, is the goodness of God. Though our flesh may suppress it, hide it, and try to eliminate it. There is in each of us the original design of the Creator.

And when someone appeals to our conscience, to our common sense of what is right and proper, then we know what to do. Not that we always obey that sense of right that God put in our hearts, but it is there regardless.

When we do what is wrong, that is why there is no excuse. It is for this reason we are cannot claim ignorance in many sins, because in our heart we know better. And we know that we need someone to help us become who we were meant to be.

Without God, the men of Shiloh would have been no better than their brothers, doing what was right in their own eyes. Instead, they chose to listen to the voice He had placed in them, and they chose to allow the men of Benjamin to “steal” their daughters away to have as wives.

When you really seek what is right and true, you will find Him. Above and in all, you will find the God who made you who you were meant to be. Choose Him, follow Him, and let Him show you what He created in you.

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Judges 21:8-15

Provision for Their Survival

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the Lord at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. For when the people were [d]numbered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 And the congregation sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11 This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has [e]lain with a man.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with [f]him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word and spoke to the sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14 Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; yet they [g]were not enough for them. 15 And the people were sorry for Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

There is a less-than-obvious lesson here. After all the fighting, and nearly wiping out all traces of the sons of Benjamin, the other tribes did not neglect their family bonds in the end.

Though Benjamin had been unfaithful, had become detestable and shielded the wicked from punishment, they were still family. So after all the fighting, their brothers did everything they could to make peace with their brothers, even going and finding wives for them.

More often than we’d like, we have conflicts with our fellow man (and woman). Far more than we’d like, those conflicts are with those who are family (by blood or through Jesus). When the dust settles, don’t neglect your family bonds. Make peace with them, and do everything you can to show that peace is your heart’s desire.

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Judges 21:1-7

Mourning Lost Tribe

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin [a]in marriage.” So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept [b]bitterly. They said, “Why, O Lord, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel?” It came about the next day that the people arose early and built an altar there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” For [c]they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” And the sons of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel today. What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”

Lest we think the sons of Israel had rushed into the battle in a hurry, we see here that they took the time to plan and also to take oaths as to how things would be handled afterward.

But so complete was their victory, that it now made them regret some of those oaths. Perhaps they were a little hasty in some of these things, and it is a reminder to us. Don’t make oaths (promises) you aren’t prepared to keep. We’ve seen death before because of an oath, even things that sounded great at the time.

But when it comes time to stick to a promise, you may find yourself in a sticky situation. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be someone of your word. However, you shouldn’t need to make oaths or promises, as those are often signs that you haven’t been true to your word in the past.

Be straightforward and honest in your dealings, be consistent, and let God take care of the rest. Ultimately, when you put things in His hands, you can trust they will turn out better than you planned. So avoid foolish promises, and trust God to help you with the things you commit to.

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Judges 20:36-48

36 So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were [v]defeated. When the men of Israel gave [w]ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah, 37 the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush also deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38 Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. 39 Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike [x]and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, “Surely they are [y]defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40 But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. 41 Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that [z]disaster was [aa]close to them. 42 Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43 They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the [ab]east. 44 Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. 45 [ac]The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they [ad]caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them [ae]at Gidom and [af]killed 2,000 of them. 46 So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who draw the sword; all these were valiant warriors. 47 But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48 The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.

This reminds me of something that will be emphasized later with either David or Solomon, how it seems that sometimes the wicked seem to get away with what they are doing. And not only that, but they seem to prosper.

But there is a double-edged truth there. First, the enemy of our souls does not want the evil to suffer in this life, so he will afford them every luxury to keep them complacent in the mud and filth of their rebellion. Second, that physical success is temporary, and the wicked will be blown away like chaff. That is, of course, unless they can be reached with the truth before it is too late.

It is often in our suffering and defeat that God will finally break through our facade and draw us back to Him. We get things backwards if we get our perspective drawn away from God, giving credit to Him for things that are pulling us away from Him, and giving the enemy credit for the difficult times in our life. Thank God in all things, and you’ll be able to draw nearer to Him in good times and bad.

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Judges 20:18-35

Civil War, Benjamin Defeated

18 Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”

19 So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20 The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. 21 Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and [k]felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. 22 But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23 The sons of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Go up against him.”

24 Then the sons of Israel [l]came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25 Benjamin went out [m]against them from Gibeah the second day and [n]felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26 Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 The sons of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

29 So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30 The sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah as at other times. 31 The sons of Benjamin went out [o]against the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike [p]and kill some of the people as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32 The sons of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33 Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. 34 When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became [q]fierce; but [r]Benjamin did not know that [s]disaster was [t]close to them. 35 And the Lord struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all [u]who draw the sword.

Perhaps they should have asked God for a battle plan rather than simply asking if they should attack Benjamin. But whatever the case, they DID ask if they should attack Benjamin, and God told them to do it.

And even after 2 resounding defeats, when God said they would win the victory, they trusted God and set out for battle once more. Are you tempted to give up easily when things get too tough, when you’ve been knocked down?

When God is in the battle, don’t give up, don’t be dismayed, but trust in Him to give you the victory. It isn’t by your strength, but His, that you will be victorious in whatever challenge God has put in your path.