Have you ever been so excited about what the next day would bring that you awoke quickly and eagerly for its start? That mood was in the air for Ruth and Boaz the morning following her visit. Ruth woke before sunrise, to make the trip home under cover of dawn without being noticed. Boaz cautioned her to keep her visit a secret for the time being. While she took the initiative to come to him, now he took the initiative to guard and nurture their plan.
Before she left, Boaz gave her a gift. He fills her cloak with barley, yet another act of hesed and a symbol of his commitment to both Ruth and Naomi. When Ruth arrived home, Naomi was waiting for a report. The author summarizes Ruth’s response by simply letting the reader know that Ruth told Naomi “everything” (v. 16).
One specific line of their dialogue is highly intentional. Ruth adds: “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed’” (v. 17). No doubt, the use of the word “empty” communicates a key reversal regarding the emptiness Naomi had felt. In 1:21 she told the women of Bethlehem: “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth heard and felt her deep despair.
Now Ruth had the joy of bringing fullness to her mother- in-law—first of all, physical in the form of more food. But there was more to come. They trusted Boaz unreservedly. Naomi articulated that confidence and encouraged Ruth to wait patiently. Boaz would now take center stage. His next actions would show God’s provision on their behalf.
>> God can act quickly, sometimes reversing a troubling situation in a single moment. Consider the problems you are facing that feel unresolved. You can trust God to fill you and to meet your needs. It may happen with a sudden reversal, but if not, know that God is present and holds your future.
“Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:11–13).