Favor to the Humble
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Favor to the Humble

From Series: God of the Ordinary

Ruth 2:4-13  (ID: 2241)

Sometimes we’re called to step out in faith, not knowing the destination or the outcome. Ruth literally had to step out in faith as she went to the barley fields seeking someone in whose eyes she could find favor. As she proceeds in a seemingly random direction, God is actually ordering the events of Ruth’s life, leading her to work, food and a dramatically different future. Ruth had committed herself to the God of Israel, and she would soon discover that He was able to do immeasurably more than she could ever ask or imagine.


Sermon Transcript:

Ruth chapter 2, and we’ll just read again from the first verse:

“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, from the clan of Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz.

“And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.’

“Naomi said to her, ‘Go ahead, my daughter.’ So she went out and began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.

“Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, ‘The Lord be with you!’

“‘The Lord bless you!’ they called back.

“Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, ‘Whose young woman is that?’

“The foreman replied, ‘She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.” She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.’

“So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. [I’ve] told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.’

“At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, ‘Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?’

“Boaz replied, ‘I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 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.’

“‘May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,’ she said. ‘You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.’”

Amen, and may God bless to us the reading and the study of his Word.

Now, let’s pray together before we turn to the Bible together:

Father, we remind ourselves that you, our God, are an awesome God. You reign from heaven above, with wisdom and power and love. You, O God, are an awesome God.[1] It is you that “makes [the] clouds rise from the ends of the earth.” You are the one who “sends lightning with the rain.” You “[bring] out the wind from [the] storehouses.”[2] Therefore, it is right for us to bow down before you.

And on this first day of a new week, and on the evening of that first day, with our lives opening out before us, we’re glad that you have so ordered our path and directed our steps that we are here in these moments in the company of each other. And we thank you, most of all, that the promise of your Word is that when we gather in this way, we gather in the company, in the presence, of the risen Lord Jesus himself.[3]

And we pray that that truth may stir our hearts in worship, may create attentiveness within our minds as we look at the Bible, and may urge within us a genuine desire to follow the path of your appointing. We pray, too, that as we have our Bibles open, that you will teach us from the Bible and that, learning, we may put into practice, so that we don’t simply become those who are the listeners to the Bible but that we may be those who are doing what the Bible says. We come humbly and expectantly to seek you in our prayers. And we pray in the name of Jesus and for his sake. Amen.

Well, I hope you kept your Bible open, or at least that you will turn once again to the verses that we read in the second chapter of Ruth. As I said last Sunday evening, it was my intention, I thought that maybe we’d do four studies in Ruth—and how all occasions do inform against me in that respect. But anyway, I trust that we’re finding this profitable.

We’re picking things up essentially in the fourth verse with the arrival of Boaz. And as I reread this passage again this week and thought about the nature of Ruth as a servant, I found my mind going to Paul’s word to the Thessalonians, when in encouraging them he says to them, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands … so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.”[4] It’s a very practical word from Paul to these people in Thessalonica. And sometimes I think we’re tempted to feel that the way in which we will make an impact on outsiders is as a result of perhaps our talk or perhaps our desire to pressure them in some way. And certainly, there is a time to be silent, there is a time to speak. But Paul here is suggesting that the quietness of a life—the minding of your own business, which is the opposite of nosiness; the working with your hands, which is an expression of endeavor—all in all, a daily life that causes outsiders to say, “I wonder what it is about that fellow,” or “I wonder what it is about that girl.”

Now, I wonder, if we’d had the occasion to say to Paul, “Give us an Old Testament illustration; you can choose one man and one woman that fits the pattern that you’ve just exhorted us to in 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12,” I wonder, and I would hope, perhaps, that he would have said, “Well, the lady is no problem at all. Because the lady that meets this is none other than Ruth the Moabitess.” Because she certainly provides for us here an illustration of these principles at work all these years before ever the words were written.

Those of us who’ve been tracking with these studies know already that Ruth was a widow by this time. She was “a foreigner”; this is mentioned again. And although she had had her life transplanted from all that was familiar to her, although she was in the company of her mother-in-law, who by dint of age, would perhaps be the one that she might have anticipated would be able to be providing for her, we discover that Ruth does not sit around waiting for someone to care for her or to enter into her circumstances, nor does she wait for some kind of dramatic intervention.

Instead, she seizes the opportunity that is afforded her by the law. She’s obviously a bright girl, she’s paid attention to what’s going on. She’s already discovered by this time this process that takes place in the act of harvesting that is referenced in Leviticus chapter 19. And she had requested of her mother-in-law that she might “go to the fields,” verse 2, and “pick up the leftover grain.” And she said that she hoped to be able to do this “behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” And we said last time that the point of departure for her here was, “I’m going into the field to find favor.”

We also noticed that “as it turned out”—and we took some time on that little phrase in verse 3, “as it turned out.” Somebody paraphrased it “as luck would have it.” The King James Version has a very interesting statement. But from a human perspective, it appeared as though it was pure happenstance that she ended up in this particular field, only to discover that God was ordering the events of her life. And she was working in a field behind those who were the servant girls of Boaz, who we already had been introduced to in verse 1 of this chapter.

We also saw, in noticing that Boaz was around, that he was a man of standing; we said that he was marked by integrity, that as a result of his integrity and his social status he had influence, and his influence was not least of all directed to the fact that he was a man of means.

Boaz walked with God, and his walk with God was not compartmentalized from the daily routine of his life.

We now learn that he walked with God, and his walk with God was not compartmentalized from the daily routine of his life. When we read of his arrival here amongst those who are under his employment, we realize that for Boaz the presence of God, the presence of Yahweh, was something that was immediate to him in his everyday life. It wasn’t that he kept his relationship with God in a box marked “Sabbath,” and then when the Sabbath was over in the late afternoon, he would then proceed to return to the secular world and do things in a very secular fashion. One commentator says, “Even the ordinariness of daily work is seen by Boaz and his men in the context of faith” in a God who provides.”[5]

And what we discover in Boaz is what we find in the Old Testament all across the board: that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular, but rather, the Old Testament saints lived the whole of their lives before the face of God. You have it in the psalmist: “O Lord, you’ve searched me and you know me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know the words of my mouth before I even speak them. Where can I go from your presence? If I go up into the sky there, there you are; if I make my bed in the depths, you’re there; there is nowhere that I can possibly go.”[6] So this sense of the immediacy of God, which was pervasive in all of the activities of their lives, marked Boaz as we find him here in this encounter.

Now, we’re able to say that because it comes across quite clearly in this greeting, and the response to the greeting that we find in verse 4. There’s surely a lesson here for employer and employee relationships. There is a practical word here about how you go into your office or into your lab or into your factory in the morning, because all of us bring something with us in walking into these circumstances. Whether we are the employee or the employer, we bring with us some kind of aura, we certainly bring with us some form of greeting, unless we are unfortunate souls who simply wander in and out, choosing not to greet anyone at all.

But Boaz arrives to meet those who are under his employment with a blessing on his lips. He arrived with the workers there and he greeted them, “The Lord be with you!” He’s essentially saying, “May God’s presence and favor satisfy your souls.” And what he requested for them, they in turn returned to him: “‘The Lord bless you!’ they called back.” What a wonderful place to work. I’m not suggesting that all of you are going to be able to pull this off tomorrow, and I’m not even suggesting that a number of us ought to go in and say, “The Lord bless you!”—although where we can, we probably should.

But what a wonderful place. “The Lord bless you!” And they all called back, “Blow it out your ear. Look at us slaving away here, and you came up in that big fat car of yours, and you expect us to be as excited as you are.” No, you see, because where the blessing of the Lord attends a life—whether you are the manager or whether you are the sweeper—where you have a spirit of contentedness about your lot and your position, then you will be able to return blessing with blessing. However, no matter how established we may be in employment, if we do not understand that the blessing of the Lord, the attendant blessing of the Lord, is what gives significance to our employment and what gives benefit to all that we do—unless we understand that—then we will never be particularly useful to ourselves or to anyone else.

Now, to take the name of the Lord upon his lips was a significant thing, because you remember that one of the commandments is that “[you] shall not take the name of the Lord [your] God in vain.”[7] Therefore, Boaz is not showing up and simply throwing the name of the Lord around in a casual and haphazard fashion. The name of God is profaned when it is employed without due consideration. And there is a word of warning for some of us here: even within the framework of Christendom, we’re tempted to use the name of the Lord in a flippant fashion. Boaz is not doing that. He would have been as one who it was said of him of old that “he never mentioned the name of God without making a visible pause in his discourse.”[8] And therefore, a fear of profaning the name of God ought to serve as a prevention to glibness and to superficiality. But at the same time, it ought not to stop us from seeking God’s blessing in every circumstance of our lives—when we lie down and when we get up and when we walk along the road.[9]

And this is the wonderful thing that comes out of this simple little statement: “Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters,” and what did he say? You see, if you’d been there and you say, “Well, what is Boaz like? What makes him tick? Is he big, is he small, is he fat, is he thin? What is he?” “Well,” you say, “the thing that struck me was, he showed up and he just said, ‘The Lord bless you!’ And the people all shouted back, ‘And the Lord bless you too!’”

Well, unless this was contrivance on the part of Boaz in order to make himself look good—and there is no indication of the same—then what he is doing is, he is simply bringing to the circumstances the one with whom he has been spending time. Why would you ever mention the Lord unless you know him? Why would you ever long to extend his blessing upon those who are under your care unless you know that it is the blessing of the Lord which has given significance to your rising and to your making your journey to this place?

When a genuine fear of God governs the hearts of his children, then we will be able to acknowledge his presence at all times and in all things.

When a genuine fear of God governs the hearts of his children, then we will be able to acknowledge his presence at all times and in all things. So instead of looking at achievement and congratulating ourselves, we’re able to look at it and say, “This is the Lord’s doing; [and] it is marvelous in our eyes.”[10] As a result of his goodness to us within the framework of ministry or family, we may be tempted to take to ourselves some credit, but if we understand the blessing of the Lord, then we will say, “You know, unless the Lord had built the house, we would have labored in vain in our building.”[11]

Now, I know I’ve mentioned to you before the importance of a good hymnbook. And that is not rhetoric on my part; I actually mean it. Many’s a day I’m saved by my hymnbook, if that doesn’t sound like a heresy. And so you come to something like this, and you say, “Now, Boaz clearly lived with God. I want to live with God too. Now, how can I cultivate a spirit within me that will be pervasive in the comings and goings of my life? Well, let me read of those who have achieved it in the past, and what’s the kind of way in which they have approached things, and how have they left it for me?” Well, in certain cases the hymn writer has left it in poetry. Let me give you an illustration of it.

Incidentally, I was thinking about this again today and saying to myself, “What an immense benefit to my own soul has been the hymnody that is my heritage!” And again, it makes me fearful, for despite all of the wonderful songs that we sing, the vast majority of this hymnody is dead to the contemporary generation. And there is apparently no likelihood of them ever singing it unless we determine that we must sing it.

So, for example,

O Lord of heav’n and earth and sea,
To Thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to Thee
Who givest all?

The golden sunshine, vernal air,
Sweet flow’rs and fruits [Your] love declare;
[Where] harvests ripen, [You] are there,
Who givest all.

For peaceful homes and healthful days,
For all the blessings earth displays,
We owe Thee thankfulness and praise,
Who givest all.[12]

Now I’ll only read these first three verses; it goes to six verses and advances from there.

Let me give you another indication of it:

New every morning is the love,
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.[13]

In other words, teaching ourselves how to wake up in the morning. And the hymn writer helps us. “Every morning,” he says, “that you wake up, the love of God is new to you.” It’s Lamentations 3: his faithfulness, his mercies never come to an end.[14] And as a result of his love towards us, he has restored to us through the darkness of sleep—through that strange transition—our life, our power, and our thought.

New mercies each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils passed, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

Now, listen; here’s where it gets good:

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,

if our minds are set on hallowing everything, dealing with it in the light of God’s provision and protection,

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

Like what?

The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we [ought] to ask,
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
Fit us for perfect rest above;
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray.[15]

In other words, cultivating the presence of God. Not seeing an encounter with God as some element in the scheme of a Day-Timer. Because the danger is, for some of us, that we view a relationship with God in a very strange way, in a way that we would not view a relationship with others. We don’t get up in the morning and say, “Now, here is my beloved, and I’m going to try and find fifteen minutes today when I can actually communicate with her or spend time with her.” The obvious desire is, “I’d like to have her with me all the time and in every circumstance.”

The way we teach people discipleship, we tend to teach them, “Now, you’ve got to have a time with God.” Well, of course you do. But some of us are so perverse that as soon as we’ve done it, we’re on, we’re gone. That’s over. You know, “You’ve gotta tithe.” “Oh good, fine, is it just 10 percent? Good! That means I get 90; this is a great deal.” Some of us are… that’s the way we work. “Tell me what it is I have to do.” “You gotta do this.” “Done it, let’s go.”

No! This is Boaz. He shows up and he says, “The Lord bless you!” “And the Lord bless you!” Why? Because he lives in the presence of God. Remember what Jesus said? “If a man loves me, he will keep my commandments, and we will come to him and we will make our home with him.”[16]

I was listening with one of my friends to Willie Nelson as I drove down the road the other day. I’m not prepared to confess that to just everybody, but I confess it to you. But I was listening to Willie Nelson singing hymns. And he can do to hymns what no one else can do to hymns. But I was thoroughly enjoying them. And he did a rendition of a “I Come to the Garden Alone,” you know: “And He walks with me,” you know, “aaaaaand He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,”[17] you know. And he does that little thing on the top string of his guitar; it looks like he’s never seen a guitar before in his life. But it actually moved me, ’cause I said, “You know, Willie”—I was talking to him in the car, of course—I said, “You know,” I said, “I bet this was your upbringing, man.” Because the only other person on the album was his sister, and she was playing the piano. And she wasn’t hardly as good a piano player as he was a singer, so you can imagine what the album’s like.

We’ll never be able to bring others into the presence of a God in whose presence we do not live.

But I’ve heard my friends saying, “Oh, you know, that is sentimental junk, you know. We don’t want to sing that junk or…” No. The psalmist says, “He walks with me, he talks with me, he tells me I am his own.” If we don’t have a relationship with God in which we have this kind of encounter, then we’ll never be able to bring others into the presence of a God in whose presence we do not live.

So if my approach to meeting with God is a fifteen-minute-a-day deal, where you slip then into the secular mode, hoping, as it were, having breathed enough spiritual breaths in a fifteen minutes or ten minutes or five minutes or three minutes in which we have had this encounter, to then sustain us through the rest of our waking hours, then, of course, we’re in difficulty.

“Well,” you say, “you better get on with it, because that’s only verse 4, and that’s dreadful. This is a series? This is as bad as Luke already. Look at this thing.” People are actually moving to Arizona and Russia just to get away from the studies in Luke, apparently. Don’t worry, we’ll still be there when they come back.

Now, as I move on—and I must move on quickly—from this, we’ve said this before, we mentioned it in our studies in the life of Joseph: let us be reminded here of how much is learned about a person in their hellos and in their goodbyes. You say a lot about yourself in the way in which you say hello and the way in which you say goodbye. Remember, there will be a last time for every goodbye. The chances are, we’ll never know when we’re saying goodbye for the last time. Therefore, every time we say goodbye, we should really be saying, “God be with you till we meet again.”[18] Therefore, it’s worth that extra moment to stand on your doorstep and wave the person off, rather than for them to look in their rearview mirror and find that you’ve already moved on with your life. It’s worth standing for that extra moment while they go through the scanner in the airport, in order that you can have one more look and one more wave. We say a lot about ourselves in the way in which we greet, both in the encounter and in the departure.

Now, this greeting leads to the encounter which then follows with Ruth. It would be understandable, would it not, that he would know his team? That he would take a personal interest in his workers is apparently obvious, and consequently, he would be aware of the arrival of a new face. And seeing this new face—and perhaps a pretty face—he says to the foreman, “Whose young woman is that?” And the foreman’s reply tells us a lot about Ruth; it tells us of her humility. Although it was her right as a foreigner and as a stranger in poverty to go in and glean among the sheaves—although it was her right, she actually came and said, “Please let me glean.” We learn not only of her humility but also of her responsibility. He says, “[When] she went into the field … [she] has worked steadily from morning [until] now, except for a short rest.” So what we find is that the devotion of Ruth which she displayed to her mother-in-law is now following in action: “Let me go [in]to the fields and pick up the leftover grain.” And having said that, she now has follow-through; she’s out there, and she’s doing what she says.

So Boaz intervenes in her life, verse 8. He speaks to her in a paternal fashion: “Listen to me,” he says, “I don’t want you to be going into any other field now. I don’t want you to leave here. I’d like you to stay with my servant girls.” And as you read this little section, you realize his concern for her, his protection, and also that he would provide for her. He essentially takes her around the office and shows her where the watercooler is, as it were, and he says to her, “Now, I know you’re going to be a hard worker, and any time you need to get a drink of water, you just come here and get yourself a drink of water.” Because he’s a savvy kind of guy. There are certain people you don’t want to show them where the water is, because they’ll be there all the time just hanging around. “Oh, what are you doing here again, Bill?”

“Oh, you told me I could come over and get a drink of water.”

“Yes, but not every five minutes, Bill. When you’re thirsty.”

“Oh, I’m a very thirsty person.”

So there are some people to whom you don’t want to be showing these little things, and there are others that you can safely show them to. And Ruth was the kind of person that you already recognized on the word of your foreman, “This isn’t somebody that’s going to be taking advantage of me. Therefore, I want to do everything that I can not only to protect her but to provide for her.”

There was going to be more to follow, as we will see in the story. But it’s a lovely picture, isn’t it? “Whenever you’re thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars that the men have filled.” If I was making a movie of this, at this point I’d morph both of these faces. Boaz and Ruth would become the face of another man and the face of another woman—and another man telling another woman about a drink of water. “If you knew who it was,” says the other man to the other woman, “who asked you for a drink of water, you would ask him for a drink of water and you would never thirst again.”[19] You see, because already there is a foreshadowing in the activity of Boaz here of one who will fulfill all of these emblems in their totality. He is the one who provides protection; he is the one who makes provision.

And notice Ruth’s response, verse 10. “Of course, this is nothing more than I expected,” she said to Boaz. “I’ve always been a very good worker, and I was well respected in Moab, and I’m glad that you have immediately recognized how good I am. I wonder if I might become one of your senior girls in the process.” No, there’s nothing of herself in it: “She bowed down with her face to the ground.” She’d left in the morning; she said to her mother-in-law, “I’m going to go into the fields and see if I can’t find favor in someone’s eyes.” Now she has found favor in someone’s eyes. Instead of congratulating herself for her endeavors or suggesting that it was a stroke of genius on her part that made her work in the field belonging to Boaz, she considers what she’s done is nothing more than her duty. And furthermore, she says, “I’m a foreigner. Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner? I’m surprised you even speak to me, Boaz. This is my first day on the job. And look at you: you came and said these gracious words to me.” Remembering what she had been, she receives these ordinary favors with a warm sense of gratitude.

See, because Ruth would have been processing this in her mind. She’s saying to herself, “You know, as a foreigner, I worshiped strange gods. I would still be worshiping strange gods if Elimelech, on account of the famine, had not said to his wife, Naomi, ‘I think we ought to get out of Bethlehem, “the house of grain,” and go over to Moab.’” And even though that might have appeared to be the doubting of the providence of God—even though that might not have been, from a human perspective under God, the right thing to do—it was the thing that he did. And it was the thing that, under God, the exercise of his own human will was being used in order and part to bring this girl Ruth to a knowledge of Yahweh himself. And she says, “You know, this is an amazing thing. I was a foreigner; I am actually a foreigner, I served foreign gods. If the people of God had not made their way to Moab and had not spoken to me of God, then I would never, ever have come to know him in this way. And therefore, this is incredible.”

Humility and thankfulness sleep in the same bed. A thankless heart goes with pride, and a humble heart will always be thankful.

Let me say to you, let me say to me: humility and thankfulness sleep in the same bed. A thankless heart goes with pride, and a humble heart will always be thankful. If a person is humble, they will be thankful for everything. When a person is thankful for nothing, you may be assured that he or she is proud. A proud person, if you give them a very excellent gift, they simply say, “Well, this is the kind of thing that someone like myself expects.” If you give them a lousy gift, they say, “This is the kind of gift that is beneath me.” But a humble person can get excited about a pair of socks that both have holes in the toes, because it is amazing to them that somebody ever remembered their birthday or cared about them at all. And incidentally and in its fullness, the question in verse 10 is the question that ought to be on the lips of everyone who has discovered in God his provision and under whose protective custody we are living. “Under the shadow of your [wings],” verse 12, “your saints have dwelt secure; sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”[20]

“Well,” Boaz says, “the reason I’m doing this is because I’ve heard about your kindness to Naomi.” Listen, all of our works will be known on the last day, and more than we understand will be known before that day. And so he says, “I pray that you might know the blessings, that you may be richly rewarded by the Lord.” This is not an uncommon notion. Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love [you’ve] shown him as [you’ve] helped his people and continue to help them.”

So off she goes. “I’m going into the fields to find favor.” Verse 10, “Why have I found favor?” And in verse 13 and in closing, “May I continue to find favor.” “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord.” Here she is, and her circumstances are uncomfortable. And she looks at him and she says, “You have given me comfort.” Here she is as a foreigner in the context of potential antagonism, and she says, “You have spoken kindly to [me]—[even] though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.”

Well, again, there ought to be something there for us, I think. I hope I’m not just spiritualizing things. I hope that there is a sense of typology in this. Look at that: “Though I do not have the standing,” in verse 13—and this is my concluding thought. Go back up to verse 1 with your eyes, and look at to whom we’re introduced. There was Boaz, “a man of standing.” And here comes this one who does not have standing. What does she need? Well, she needs to be put under the protective custody of someone who does.

She wasn’t looking for entitlement. She regarded the intervention of Boaz as an act of unmerited goodness. And so for us. We have no standing. We have no standing. The things that we use to get us places in our earthly pilgrimage mean nothing in terms of the gates of heaven. We have no standing. Therefore, we need one who has standing. And so “on Christ, the solid rock, I stand,” and “all other ground is sinking sand.”[21]

Do you get this progression? “I’m going to go into the fields to find favor. Why have I found favor? Let me continue to enjoy your favor.” The favor that is ultimately expressed in the provision that God has made in the person of his Son.

Father, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts may be acceptable in your sight.[22] I pray that there may be those who, without realizing it, have been out in search of favor—the grace which transforms life and human destiny. And when it grips a life, it doesn’t make us arrogant or smug or proud or self-assured; it leaves us always saying, “Why is it that I should find favor?” My God, what love is this that reaches down to me? And then as we look out on Monday, we find ourselves saying with Ruth, “And if it’s okay, could I please continue to live in your favor?” Grant then that we might live in the favor of God through the hours of this night and into tomorrow and all of our tomorrows. For it’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


[1] Rich Mullins, “Awesome God” (1988).

[2] Psalm 135:7 (NIV 1984).

[3] See Matthew 18:20.

[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 (NIV 1984).

[5] David J. Atkinson, The Message of Ruth: The Wings of Refuge, The Bible Speaks Today (1983; repr., Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1991), 64.

[6] Psalm 139:1–2, 4, 7–8 (paraphrased).

[7] Exodus 20:7 (KJV).

[8] George Lawson, Practical Expositions of the Whole Books of Ruth and Esther (Philadelphia: Wm. S. Rentoul, 1870), 68.

[9] See Deuteronomy 6:7.

[10] Psalm 118:23 (KJV).

[11] Psalm 127:1 (paraphrased).

[12] Christopher Wordsworth, “O Lord of Heaven and Earth and Sea” (1863).

[13] John Keble, “New Every Morning Is the Love” (1822).

[14] See Lamentations 3:22–23.

[15] Keble, “New Every Morning.”

[16] John 14:23 (paraphrased).

[17] C. Austin Miles, “In the Garden” (1913).

[18] Jeremiah Eames Rankin, “God Be with You till We Meet Again” (1880).

[19] John 4:10, 13–14 (paraphrased).

[20] Isaac Watts, “O God Our Help in Ages Past” (1719).

[21] Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” (1834).

[22] See Psalm 19:14.

Copyright © 2020, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.