Centuries ago a man by the name of Octavious Winslow wrote these words.
“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.”
Winslow’s quote defines what many call the “Providence of God.” Simply stated, God’s providence is His care and guidance over His creation. God’s providential guidance can best been seen in the way He worked in the life of a man and woman named Boaz and 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. It was God guiding her to a special field at a special time for a special blessing. Though Ruth understood little about the providential care of God, scripture reveals that God was orchestrating events that would change not only her life, but the course of human history.
Many things concerning Boaz help us to see God’s providence in this matter.
1) Boaz was a Landowner
(see yesterday’s devotional)
2) Boaz was of the Kindred of Elimelech, Ruth’s Father-in-law
(see yesterday’s devotional)
3) Boaz was a Man of Integrity
The KJV says that he was a man of wealth which could mean not only that he was very rich, but also that he was a man of great valor. No doubt Ruth and Naomi had other relatives in Bethlehem, yet none exceeded Boaz in his 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 often as much a part of God’s providential care as what does.
4) Boaz was 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 this was little more than an everyday 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 seem like a casual greeting; yet how valuable it is when it comes from the lips of someone who truly believes it!
5) Boaz was 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)
Perhaps this is pure speculation, but I have always pictured Boaz as 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 this is true, then 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 great gems of Jewish history. Matthew chapter 1 teaches us that kings such as David and his son Solomon came through the lineage of Ruth and Boaz. But greatest of all their descendants is the Lord Jesus Christ.
6) 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 seems disturbing; yet to me it is very comforting.