Special Blessings The Story of Ruth
Lesson 4 (Wait Upon The LORD)
When we left the lesson last week, Ruth had gone to the threshing floor in the night to lay at the feet of Boaz and as she lay at his feet she asked him to make her his wife. She had arrived at the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22) which would have been late April and she stayed with Naomi and worked in the field of Boaz till about early June, so some months had passed. GOD was bringing forth a change in the lives of Ruth and Naomi but it wasn’t happening overnight, it took time and they had to be patient. Ruth did not just sit idly by while she was being patient, no she was in the field doing what she could do to provide for Naomi and for herself. Sometimes we step out by faith in obedience, doing whatever we have been instructed to do and we trust that The LORD will take care of us as we wait patiently for HIM because HE is always on time!
Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Psalm 25:21 “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”
Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for The Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
Handout: The Story of Ruth
Lesson 4 (Wait Upon The LORD)
I wonder in that time of waiting did Ruth feel lonely and out of place? I was recently in a situation where I felt very out of place. It is a horrible feeling. Some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you want so much for someone or a group to accept you and they are nice and polite but for whatever reason, you just don’t fit in. I wonder if that is how it was the moment Ruth began to glean in the fields? A foreigner in the land, I wonder if she felt out of place and insecure. I wonder if she wanted the other maidens to accept her and like her and I wonder if she just fit right in or did she feel unaccepted? We know the outcome of her story, but at that time she did not…She had left Moab by faith, she had gleaned in those fields with no guarantee of a harvest. Day after day she went faithfully to the field, then when the time was right, Naomi had instructed her to go to the threshing floor, she was to wash and anoint herself and change her clothing…
Ruth 3:3 “3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor:”
Let’s just stop right here and hover over this verse for a minute…It was time for her to wash, and anoint herself, and change her clothing…perhaps it was time for Ruth to take off her mourning widow’s garment and put on something new and fresh. It was time to cast off the dark garment of weeping and sadness and everything it represented and to put on something with a little color in it! It was time to leave the slavery of grief and the shame of her past life of paganism and it was time to start over new. It was time to leave the old way behind, it was a new day. She had met her redeemer and so she humbled herself down and in all vulnerability gone in the night alone and lay at the feet of Boaz and she had left all her pride behind risking rejection and she asked him to redeem her…she did not know if he would say yes or no but she did it anyway by faith and in obedience to what Naomi had instructed her to do.
I wonder what was going through her mind as she walked in the night to the threshing floor alone in the dark. Don’t you know the devil was in her ear telling her to go back, not to make a fool of herself…what if she had misunderstood his kindness toward her? What if he wasn’t really interested in a further relationship with her other than that of her boss in the barley fields? Maybe she had thoughts of guilt in thinking about her husband who had died. Maybe doubts and fear tried to creep in but put it all behind her and she walked through the night anyway. She pressed on through the darkness keeping her focus on Boaz. She was a woman on a mission and she had been given instruction and she was going to obey! She didn’t know what the outcome would be but she was going to give it her best shot! Sometimes the journey is long, it’s dark but we are not alone, we have a Savior encouraging us forward and HE will never leave or forsake us. Walk on Beloved, through the tears and the pain, through the doubts and fears walk on.
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Leave the past in the past and move forward. Isaiah said
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
There comes a time, to let it all go and just follow JESUS…to lay off the old garment of mourning and slavery and to put on that garment of praise! Even when you don’t feel like it, Praise HIM! Even when it looks hopeless…Praise HIM! Praise HIM no matter what situation you are going through simply because HE is worthy to be praised! HE inhabits our praise…where there is praise…there is GOD! Leave the past behind, press on toward the mark of the high calling in CHRIST JESUS!
Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
“I’ll tell you the best thing I ever did do, I laid off the old coat and I put on the new!”
Praise HIS Holy name.
Now, there are many times when I feel like a square peg in a world full of round holes…maybe many of you have felt the same way, so I’m thankful that with JESUS we are accepted. Just as we are. That is what Ruth found in Boaz. He looked past where she came from, he looked past her differences and he just showed favor and mercy to her. He had compassion on her, by pure amazing grace. He wanted to redeem her, it was his great joy to make her his bride!
Ruth 3:7-14 “7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.
Boaz favored Ruth. She may or may not have been exceptionally beautiful, the Bible doesn’t say, but I believe that his favor toward her wasn’t about her looks at all. I believe that Boaz favored her because he was a righteous man and because GOD placed that compassion inside his heart for her. He favored her character and showed great kindness toward her. Remember we learned in the past lessons that this story took place during the time of the Judges. It was a dark time when the Bible says that everyone was just doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes. (Judges 21:25) Just the fact that Boaz was obeying the laws of GOD regarding widows and foreigners showed his great character and kindness.
There is just something about a man who is kind, isn’t there? Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but to me there is just something wonderful about a man who uses his strength for kindness, to build up instead of tearing down. There is nothing more endearing than to see a big, strong man gently pick up a child and hold him/her close or tenderly pet a puppy or a kitten. I say that with a smile, but it’s true. There is feeling of safety in a person like that. I think that deep down in Ruth’s heart, she longed for Boaz to be the one that would be the kinsman redeemer, the one that had made her safe and secure, the one that would fill the loneliness. Sure there was another man closer in relation and she would have been obedient and have married him if she had to but I think that secretly Ruth desired for it to be Boaz. She had seen his kindness, she had witnessed it first hand in the fields. He had already been taking care of her, provided for her and protected her. She must have felt safe with Boaz. He was wealthy, powerful, and prominent, but she had experienced his compassion first hand and she wanted that comfort and that security and safety for the rest of her life. Boaz was her home.
Have you made CHRIST your home? Have you made HIM your safe place, your hiding place, your shelter? David wrote that The LORD was his shield and his high tower…his refuge in time of trouble and The LORD will be that and so much more for you as well if you will open up your heart and seek HIM.
Ruth stayed all night at the threshing floor at the feet of her redeemer, I’m sure it was a long night full of reflection, memories and wondering what the future would hold. Still she stayed quietly at his feet and waited for him to take care of everything. He was silent in the night, maybe she longed to hear his voice, or to know what he was going to do. Instead of demanding an explanation, she simply obeyed his voice and waited upon him. That is what you and I must do at the feet of our Redeemer. Sometimes The LORD is silent and we want so much for HIM to show us the outcome when we are uncertain, but if we will just rest at His feet in full surrender and trust, He will take care of everything.
After hours of what might have seemed like days, the early morning hours came, and at last Boaz broke his silence and began to speak.
Ruth 3:14-18 “14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. 15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. 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.18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”
It’s a beautiful picture in that Boaz did not let Ruth go away empty handed. He filled her vail with six measures of barley. She had come to him empty handed, she had stayed quietly at his feet and rested there and she was walking away with enough to feed herself and others. When we stay at the feet of JESUS, resting there and waiting patiently upon HIM, we will come to HIM empty and we will go back out again with plenty to offer and a means to help and be a blessing to others. He is so gracious and generous…I love HIM so…HE is our provider.
Notice at the beginning Naomi had left Bethlehem and when she returned she stated,
Ruth 1:21 “I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty:”
Now here was Ruth doing the opposite, she had gone to her redeemer empty, and was going away with so much to offer. What a wise lesson for us to glean from. There is provision and great benefits at the feet of our Redeemer! Ruth could say, I went out empty, but The LORD hath brought me home again full. She had patiently waited on her redeemer and she had reaped the benefits. Wait upon The LORD!
Psalm 103:1-5 “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
Philippians 4:19 “But my GOD shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Righteous Heavenly FATHER,
Thank YOU for being our provider. Thank You for giving us so much more than we could ever even hope to deserve. LORD we understand it’s by pure grace alone that You show us Your divine favor and Your GREAT LOVE! Where would we be without YOU? Oh LORD I NEVER want to find that out. There is NO ONE like YOU. There is no where else to go but to YOU. O FATHER! Thank YOU for choosing us, for calling us according to YOUR Rich Mercy. GOD we have nothing to offer, and anything good in us is all YOU. LORD, Help us to always remember this and know that we MUST stay at Your feet, to rest in YOU and to trust and obey. Thank YOU FATHER for everything You have done and are doing. I will ever praise You and give You the glory, in JESUS name I pray. Amen.
April 13, 2014