Saturday, February 16, 2013

'Under whose wings you have come to take refuge'

It was Naomi’s prayer that God would provide Ruth a place of rest and security ('Menocha' in Hebrew) - that place of rest would be found in the house of her husband (Ruth 1:9); indeed she wished this for both her daughters in law after the death of their husbands. She loved them and gave them all she had available in her power, a prayer that the Lord God would give them a place they can call home. Naomi’s words were: “May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” (Ruth 1:8b, 9).

We know that the blessing which Naomi spoke over Ruth was fulfilled. But though whom did the blessing come to Ruth? The story is familiar to us, she is redeemed by Boaz, an Israelite from the house of Judah – but there is more to the redemption extended to Ruth – who is the redeemer? A closer look at the Hebrew text reveals a richness which is missed in English translations.

Ruth meets Boaz on his field when she goes out to glean for herself and her mother in law – he meets her with kindness and shows her instantaneous favour. When she enquires of him: “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10) he answers her: “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 2:12) In the eyes of Boaz, Ruth is no longer a foreigner, she is of the household of the God of Israel since she has sought refuge under thewings of the God of Israel.

The word for ‘his wings’ is ‘knaphaeo’ – We encounter the same Hebrew root elsewhere in Ruth – Ruth speaks a similar utterance to Boaz ‘kenapheka’ (here rendered as ‘your garment’); “I am Ruth your maidservant,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9) The same hebrew root is behind the words rendered here 'wings' and 'garment'.

In these simple mirroring words, we see the heart and character of God revealed. He is the source of refuge to those who seek him. YHVH spreads his wings over the foreigners who return to him, redeeming them to himself. As a worshiper of YHVH, Boaz is a reflection of this character, one who spreads his garment over those who seek his compassion and provision. As in the words of the Apostle Paul to gentile believers in Ephesus, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Eph 2:19)

Ruth learns to seek refuge under God’s wings, the very God who blesses her and meets her every need, and the God who is faithful. She is blessed by Boaz but first and foremost her greatest gift is in her God and Redeemer.

1 comment:

  1. These words are so very precious to I am a widow and my father has passed..Thank you for this new understand of God's "Wings" Coverings as a garment..thank you for your study on this my sister..I will hide myself under Him..Psalm 91