it just so happens

Have you ever noticed the sarcasm of the book of Ruth?

Watch closely.

There’s this family living in Bethlehem: Elimelech, Naomi, and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

Oh, by the way. They have this relative named Boaz. He lives in Bethlehem, too.

The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. 1:2

Boaz came from Bethlehem. 2:4

Problem: famine. Famines are highly unfortunate events which make for a good story.

The famine sends the family to Moab where there is food.

Boaz apparently finds a way to survive without relocating, because he stays in Bethlehem.

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 1:1

They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 1:2

Second catastrophe: Elimelech dies. Now Naomi has only her two sons.


But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 1:3

Thanks to growth spurts and convenient marriageable ages of the day, Naomi’s boys marry rather quickly, and they enjoy ten years in Moab.


These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years. 1:4

Catastrophes three and four: both sons die. We now have three widows deserted in Moab.


And both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

At this point, Naomi is feeling pretty hopeless. She started out with an abundance, but now God has left her with nothing (1:20).

She comes up with a plan. Her daughters-in-law might as well stay in their homeland and leave Naomi to return to Bethlehem on her own. In this way, all three would have a better chance of kind reception and helpful provision.

But, after a little semi-friendly “where you go I will go” speech of persistence from Ruth, Naomi shuts her mouth and allows Ruth to follow her back home. Orpah is already out of sight, no persuasion needed.


Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to return to the land of Judah. 1:6-7

But Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Go, return each of you to your mother’s house.” 1:8

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 1:14

When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. 1:18

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. 1:19

{Time out. At this point, the author decides to introduce us to Boaz. Naomi knows Boaz. Ruth is not aware that Boaz exists.}

Being the kind-hearted and loving daughter-in-law she is, Ruth decides to go to the fields to gather grain so she can provide food for herself and for her mother-in-law. Ruth will preferably find a field owned by a man who will show kindness to her, in spite of the fact that she isn’t from these parts.

Naomi doesn’t bother to tell Ruth that Boaz has such a field and is such a man.

No worries. Ruth just so happens to come upon Boaz’s field. Boaz is from Bethlehem. He’s been in Bethlehem all along. {Ah, coincidence.}

Boaz finds out about Ruth, speaks with her personally, and is especially kind to her, lavishing gift upon gift.

Ruth is a bit puzzled. Why is this man so nice to her? He has no reason to do that. She doesn’t even belong here.

She eats dinner with Boaz, and heads home with an overabundance of grain.

Ruth tells Naomi about Boaz, and Naomi is like, “Oh, that’s right. Boaz, my relative. I remember him. Oh, yes, you should definitely keep going to his field. I mean, look how kind and wonderful and thoughtful he is.” {Obvious, much?}

A few weeks and a sketchy night at the threshing floor later, Ruth has managed to ask Boaz to marry her.

{Side note: the unnamed other relative just happens to walk by as Boaz is sitting at the gate waiting to talk to him. I just feel like that had to be planned.}

Back to the story. Boaz and Ruth get married.


Now Noami had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2:1

So 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. 2:3-4

So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law . . . “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers . . . It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” 2:19-22

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth, the Moabite, I have bought to be my wife.” 4:9-10

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. 4:13

Nine months later: Obed.

. . . father of Jesse, father of David . . . Jesus.


My point?

Nothing just so happens. Not famines. Not relocations. Not deaths. Not marriages. Nothing.

Everything just so happens as the all-knowing One would have it. For our good.

[image credit:]

5 thoughts on “it just so happens

  1. Love the little diagrams! Does a great job of illustrating the back and forth of the journey and what happened when.
    It is so helpful to really get in depth on the story of Ruth. Never know what you will discover.


    1. Thanks! I was attempting a timeline, and this is as far as I got. I thought the pictures were fun, because Boaz is just hanging out over there in Bethlehem like nothing’s gonna happen, and then an amazing woman shows up outta nowhere! And it’s interesting that it took quite a few “unfortunate events” for her to get there.


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