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The Loving Kindness of our God

At our Young Adults Retreat 2019, we were studying the book of Ruth and I was reminded by the loving kindness of God. The word for loving kindness is the Hebrew word “hesed”.

Hesed is difficult to translate because it stands for a cluster of ideas—love, mercy, grace, kindness. It wraps up in itself all the positive attributes of God.  Hesed is one of the Lord's most treasured characteristics. Hesed is a quality that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering ‘what's in it for me?'" More details

In Ruth 2, we see the hesed love of God expressed in Boaz’s generosity towards Ruth and Naomi.

First in v8 & 9, Boaz offered Ruth security to glean and water to drink.

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” (ESV)

Next in v14, Boaz gave Ruth a good lunch.

14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. (ESV)

We know that it was a good lunch because Ruth ate til she was satisfied and she even had some left over. As a Chinese, if we invite guests for a meal, we usually know that our guests are satisfied if there is some left over. Ruth ate til she could eat no more.

Finally, in v15 & 16, Boaz went out of his way to ensure that Ruth picked up sufficient grain.

15 When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. 16 And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” (ESV)

Under Israelite law, the poor would only be allowed to pick up the left over grain that dropped on the ground during the harvesting process. Here, Boaz allows Ruth to pick up even from the sheaves that have been nicely collected and bundled up. And if Ruth feels embarrassed to collect from the sheaves, then the young men are to deliberately drop some grain from the bundles for her to pick up.

When a person goes to glean from the sheaves or pick up good grain, they are usually reproached or rebuked because it is seen as taking advantage of the landowner’s generosity. But yet, Boaz is very happy to be taken advantage of. Indeed, there is no limit to Boaz’s generosity.

Later in v18 – 23, Ruth returned to Naomi, showed Naomi her gleanings and explained to Naomi that she had been gleaning at the fields of Boaz, Naomi’s response was quite remarkable.

20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (ESV)

Naomi sees in Boaz, the ‘kindness of the LORD’ or the hesed love of the LORD. Boaz’s generosity is the embodiment of the LORD’s generosity to Ruth and Naomi. And Naomi is filled with wonder, amazement and grateful thanks.

As I reflect on Naomi’s response, I realised that her response of grateful thanks should be the response of every Christian to the loving kindness of God, expressed towards us in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Ephesians 1, Paul writes:

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (ESV)

Indeed, God deserves all praise, adoration and blessing because of the blessing that He has generously poured out on us through Christ our redeemer. Ephesians 1 records the blessings as blessings of being chosen, of adoption, of forgiveness and of redemption. How amazing it is for undeserving sinners like us to receive grace upon grace from God.

Indeed, as we reflect on the hesed love of God in Ruth and in Christ, we cannot help but echo the words of the hymn writer:

I stand amazed in the presence

of Jesus the Nazarene.

And wonder how He could love me,

a sinner condemned, unclean.

How marvelous, How wonderful

and my song will ever be

How marvelous, How wonderful

is my Saviour's love for me.


 
 

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