‘Refuge in the Providence of God’

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“The Lord is with His saints, ordaining and shaping their every step. The man of God advances in no uncertain, unprepared path in life. His whole career, from his cradle to his grave, is a divinely constructed map, prepared in the eternal mind, purpose, and counsel of Jehovah. Nothing is left to contingency. There is no divergence in his path, no event that bends, or shades, or burdens it; but the Lord is in it; ordering, arranging, and controlling all.”

That quote is from a Baptist preacher of the 1800’s by the name of Octavius Winslow who was a friend of Charles Spurgeon.  His quote defines what many call the “Providence of God.”  Simply stated, God’s providence is His divine guidance and care over His children.  It is best been seen in how He worked in the life of a young woman named Ruth.

So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.  (Ruth 2:3)

Ruth’s gleaning in the fields of Boaz was no accident.  God’s providential hand was guiding her to this special field at a special time for a special blessing.  Though Ruth understood little about how God was working, scripture reveals that the Lord was orchestrating the events that would not only change her life, but the course of human history.

Many things concerning Boaz help us to see God’s providence in this matter.  Boaz was a landowner; something that Ruth needed at that moment.  He was also a relative of Ruth and Naomi and therefore qualified to be their Kinsman Redeemer. Today we see that he was also a man of integrity.

The KJV says that he was a man of wealth which could mean that he was a very rich man, but also that he was a man of valor.  No doubt Ruth and Naomi had other relatives in Bethlehem, but none exceeded Boaz in integrity and character.  How different the story of Ruth would be if she had found herself in the field of someone who was evil.  It is a blessing to know that – what doesn’t happen to us is as much a part of God’s guidance as – what does.

Boaz was also a man who believed in God.

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they called back.  (Ruth 2:4)

Perhaps that was little more than a greeting; yet how important it was that Boaz be a man who believed in the goodness of God and sought His guidance.  “God bless you” may be a casual greeting; yet how valuable it is when it comes from the lips of someone who truly believes it!

Boaz was also a man in need.

Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, “Whose young woman is that?”  The foreman replied, “She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi.  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’  She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”  So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”  (Ruth 2:5-9)

Forgive me if this is pure speculation, but it seems that Boaz was a middle-aged man who had been studious with his career, but squeamish with his courtship.  There is no indication that he had ever been married.  If that is so, his loneliness must have at times been very discouraging.  Yet little did he know that one day he would find in his field one of the gems of Jewish history.  Matthew chapter 1 teaches us that kings such as David and Solomon came through the lineage of Ruth and Boaz.  But greatest of all their descendents is He who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Through the lineage of Ruth and Boaz came the Lord Jesus.

Lastly let me say that Boaz was a man who lived by the providence of God.

At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me– a foreigner?”  Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband– how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.  May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”  (Ruth 2:10-12)

“Under whose wings you have come to take refuge”; what a wonderful way to describe God’s providential care.  Octavius Winslow believed that God has a divinely constructed map by which guides our path from the cradle to the grave.  Perhaps to some that is disturbing, to me it is very comforting.  Let me encourage you today to form your prayers in such a way that you take into consideration the providential hand of God.  I can assure you that life will become a lot simpler and even more exciting when we chose to follow instead of lead.

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