May 16th Devotion

The Tapestry of God’s Providence
Alistair Begg

She set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. Ruth 2:3-4

What often appears to us to be a mess of knots is just the back view of the tapestry God is weaving.

Naomi and Ruth had experienced their share of frayed threads in life. They arrived in Israel widowed and penniless—a perilous position for women in a lawless society (see Judges 21:25). In Old Testament Israelite society, the law allowed for the poor to enter the fields and pick up (glean) leftover grain as they followed the steps of the official harvesters. This law was established by God Himself and revealed His care and concern for the needy. But God’s law was not always—not often—observed in this period.

Yet when Ruth resolved to go into the fields, God worked through this law to tangibly provide for her and Naomi. Ruth’s seemingly mundane decision became an illustration of God’s providential plan for the two women—and for all of redemptive history!

Ruth ended up gleaning on the land of Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi’s deceased husband and a man of means and high standing. Ancient Israelites understood the family to be the basic unit of society, with members of the wider family having obligations to support and protect relatives who were struggling like Naomi. All of this hints at God’s hand in providing generously for Ruth and Naomi, even in ways that seem unremarkable at first glance.

In fact, as we read Ruth’s story, we notice that many of its details unfold as if by accident. Ruth happened to decide to glean that day. Naomi happened to encourage it. Boaz happened to pick that time to harvest his field. Ruth happened to pick his field. But when we look at the story as a whole, we see that all of these happenings were the instruments of God’s providential care in unfolding His purpose of redemption. After all, out of Boaz and Ruth’s lineage would come King David and, eventually, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—a greater provider and protector who also “came from Bethlehem.”

As God wove these threads into His beautiful story of provision, Ruth and Naomi surely would have thought they looked knotted, disconnected, and frayed at times. Satan often wants us to stay focused on such seemingly jumbled and discouraging circumstances, doubting God and His good provision. We so easily forget that what appears to be a mess is just the back view of the tapestry God is weaving. One day, though, when we get the chance to see His handiwork from the front, all of those strange and dark threads will prove to have been part of His glorious pattern. Today, remember that “coincidences” are no such thing, that uncertainties and difficulties are opportunities to trust in God, and that behind all of them He is working out His plans to prosper His people in faith and godliness, and to bring them home.
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