Before it was the City of David, Boaz called it home.
Bethlehem, ‘the house of food,’ and he was but a mere farmer turning the soil to satisfy the hunger of his countrymen. Living off the grace of Providence, in famine and in plenty.
There are seasons when Providence appears low on rations and grace arrives in short supply. Times when extra muscle will get you just barely what you need to survive. The farmer’s hands were still calloused and his forehead still furrowed from concern for those who suffered because the land failed to satisfy.
He’d been so consumed with surviving, he’d forgotten to live. Too burdened to laugh. Too busy to marry. To distracted with today to notice how many yesterdays had filed themselves into the pages of history.
Now, with the famine past, the demands were no longer for starving mouths to feed. Yet his days were no less bossed around by work to be done: Fields to harvest, workers to manage, weighing, selling, and finishing tasks only to begin them again. He was okay with it really. The busier he was, the less time he had to listen to the loneliness of his heart. Surely his great wealth was a happy consolation prize for being alone.
That is until the first day he saw her. From the moment she and her mother-in-law entered Bethlehem they’d been the talk of the town. “Did you hear what happened?” “What a pity.” “Now what’s going to happen to them?” “I knew it was a mistake to go to Moab.” “How Naomi has aged.” Or so the talk among the women went.
But the men took a more practical approach to the situation, “Did you get a look at the young one?
Yes, Boaz had. Every opportunity he got. She had been coming to his field to glean what his reapers left behind. He made sure they left plenty for her.
Of course, he noticed her beauty, but there was more to her than that tangling round his heart. Her loyalty to Naomi, his relative. Her faithfulness to her deceased husband’s family. Her hard work. Her bravery. The way her eyes fell shyly when he spoke to her. There he goes again. Why must his heart deceive his mind into believing one such as Ruth would ever want him for anymore than the grain in his field? Such silliness coming from a man his age.
Was it silliness? Or was it love? Doesn’t love change you in ways that in former days would only be seen as silliness? Giving away grains for free when their market price was at a premium. Offering water to refresh a dry heart. Adding a chair to the table for one hungry for acceptance, dignity, and worth. Calling the city elders to witness between him and his kinsmen for the legitimate rights to give belonging to one displaced in a foreign land. Yes, that is what love does.
Love changes the loved and the loving. Love finds what is missing. Love fills what is empty. Love declares, “The old is gone, the new has come!” Only love can make a place a residence a home. Finally, their hearts had found a home in the future City of David. The Farmer’s gentle hand, no longer toiling but resting upon the fullness of his wife’s belly memorizing the contours of new life that only love can make. Yes, love changes us all forever.
“ But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” ~Micah 5:2