“under whose wings you have taken refuge”

I love the story of Ruth and I particularly love this verse:

The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!  [1]

The context is that Naomi and Ruth have come back to Bethlehem following the death of their husbands in Moab.  Ruth is Naomi’s daughter in law, a Moabitess.  She goes to glean in Boaz’s field, a landowner from Bethlehem.  There, he instructs his workers to treat her well and provide for her generously. This prompts Ruth to ask him why he has shown her such favour when she is not part of God’s people.  He answers that it is because he has heard of her loyalty to her mother in law and her willingness to leave behind her people and her gods to live with God’s people in his land under his rule.

Ruther has sought the care and shelter of the living God. Notice two things here. First of all notice that she experiences God’s compassion, provision and care through his people. Notice too the beautiful imagery of finding refuge “under his wings.” The imagery here is of the hen, sheltering her young against harm. The image of God, like a mother hen placing his wing over his people is a frequent and significant one in the Bible.

This image points to God’s strength, he is able to protect us at the same time as it points to his gentleness, his compassion, his kindness and care.  These were the things that Ruth was discovering as Boaz acted righteously towards her,

So, two comments here. The first is just a reminder of the gratitude and love we should have towards the God who shelters us. Through Christ’s death and resurrection we experience God’s kindness and love. God rescues us from sin, evil, Satan and death. We can hide ourselves in him against the threat of the evil one.

Secondly, if Ruth discovered something of what it meant to find refuge in God through her experience of Boaz’s generous righteousness, then our behaviour too will either point people towards Christ or away from him. Do people find that we and our churches offer shelter and refuge. This must surely include refuge against the dangers of the life. Many we meet will be fleeing abuse, racism, bullying etc. They should find refuge from those things in the church not encounter them.  Even more importantly, they should find refuge, the true refuge that counts as we offer them the hope, assurance and refuge of the Gospel.

[1] Ruth 2:12 

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