Why have I found favour in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?
The above verse speaks of the grace of God in saving us who were once his enemies. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. … God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:6, 8b)
The above verse also speaks of God’s mercy to us as Gentiles (non-Jews), once excluded from His covenant people. “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision”… remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13)
One might find it surprising, then, that the above verse comes from the Old Testament; and in particular, from the book of Ruth chapter 2, verse 10. Ruth was a Moabite widow, a foreigner in the land of Israel, and most Jews would have reviled at her Moabite heritage (cf Gen 19:30-38). She had followed her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Bethlehem after the death of her husband and two sons.
While in Bethlehem, Boaz, a ‘kinsman-redeemer’ of her family, showed mercy to her. As a widow Ruth had no social support; and worse still, her only relative (Naomi) was also widowed. But Boaz allowed Ruth to glean in his fields, instructing his men not to touch her (thereby protecting her from any assault or abuse) (2:9); he provided food for her at mealtime (2:14) and water to drink (2:9); and he ensured that she would have enough food to glean (2:15-16).
Later on, as the narrative progresses, we learn that Boaz “redeems” Ruth, taking on her liabilities (and further risks of liabilities) as a widow. He later marries Ruth, taking her as his wife – giving her hope and security for the future.
Striking are the parallels between the narrative of Boaz and Ruth, and the narrative of Christ and us, His church. Christ has redeemed us, we who were unworthy and of no status to speak of whatsoever. He showed us grace. He took our liabilities, ‘by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:14). And He chose us as His bride, loving us and giving himself up for us (Eph 5:25ff).
How wonderful is the coherence of the Scriptures, the Word of God; how beautifully do we see Christ displayed even in this narrative of Ruth! Indeed, all Scripture speaks of Him (Luke 24:27). Together we can pray with Ruth, our forerunner in the faith:
Why have we found favour in your eyes, O Lord Jesus, that you should take notice of us – foreigners?