The Book of Ruth, A Love Story
Handfuls of Purpose
And, behold, Boaz came from Beth–lehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter?....Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens....And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
A GLEANER is one who follows the reapers, to gather up the stray stalks of grain which have been passed by as the reapers tied the sheaves into bundles. The reapers, with their sickles, would first cut the grain, handful by handful, until they had enough for a bundle and then would tie it together to be brought to the threshing floor. Ruth, being diligent in her care of Naomi, was allowed to glean in the field of Boaz. Boaz notices Ruth in the field and asks, Whose damsel is this? A servant answers Boaz and explains; “She is a Gentile widow, a member of a cursed race, the Moabites, penniless, who has come back with Naomi, her mother-in-law.”
Immediately, Ruth discovers how God provides for those who put their faith and trust in Him. God had prepared a field for Ruth, Ruth had prepared her heart; and now both were united by divine providence. Ruth had no ulterior motives in choosing the field belonging to Boaz, only a desire to help in the harvest and have food for her and Naomi. How wonderful is the provision God has made for the stranger, Ruth! How marvelous is His leading to bring Ruth to her future husband, Boaz! This is a true picture of God’s grace to those who are poor and needy. Ruth was a stranger in the land with no inheritance, but through God’s grace He provided a way that Ruth would have what she needed most, REDEMPTION!
Believing and obeying the Word of God brought new life to Ruth. Because she trusted and obeyed God’s Word she was removed from the pagan life she once knew and was placed among the people of God which would protect her, and abundantly supply all her needs by “handfuls of purpose.” When Ruth left home that morning for the barley fields, little did she know she would meet the owner of the field, Boaz or find favor in his sight. Ruth fell on her knees before Boaz and asked, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou should take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?” (vs. 10) What a beautiful picture of God’s grace in our lives. We, too, were strangers, pagans, who believed and obeyed God’s Word. When we turned from our sins to the Savior, we received forgiveness of sin, newness of life and promises that God would supply our every need by “handfuls of purpose.”
Thought: How wonderful it is to know that Boaz commanded his reapers to deliberately let whole handfuls of grain fall to the ground for Ruth to glean. I’m sure this was designed to keep poor Ruth from becoming discouraged or disheartened when gleanings seemed in short supply. Boaz is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the supplier of all your needs. So, when life becomes difficult, and it seems that everything is disintegrating around you, remember, God sees your struggles and is still on the throne to give handfuls on purpose to all whom He loves and all whom He calls His own.