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God’s Welfare Plan

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Welfare: Financial or other aid provided, especially by the government, to people in need.

God’s Welfare Plan

Yes, God had a welfare plan. He is inherently concerned about those who struggle, so he implemented stipulations regarding gleanings. He instructed landowners not to reap to the corners of their fields or to pick up grain that dropped on the ground during harvesting. They were to leave these for the poor, the alien, the orphan, and the widow. (Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19)

There is extraordinary wisdom in his “welfare” system:

  1.  This system required the poor do their part. Gathering the gleanings required physical labor.
  2. This system allowed people to enjoy the deep satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work.
  3. It honored their dignity.
  4. Landowners were given the opportunity to experience the joy of helping those in need. Some landowners even left as much as 1/4 of their crops for the poor who worked so diligently to gather the gleanings. (Proverbs 22:9)

Because God cares about the needs of widows, he also instituted a levirate law that saved widows from poverty and preserved the name of the deceased husband.. That law commanded the nearest relative of a deceased husband to marry, care for, and have children with the widow. This man was known as a “kinsman redeemer”.

Ruth’s Needs

When Ruth became a widow she had no inheritance or property rights. This put her in a really tough position. She had huge needs!

Naomi and Ruth had no other relatives in Moab who could serve as their kinsman redeemer.

They left Moab vulnerable and penniless. They reached Bethlehem at the time of the barley harvest – a time of hope.

In chapter two, we learn that Naomi’s deceased husband had a distant relative in Bethlehem. His name was Boaz. Boaz is not close enough to fall within the levirate responsibility.

Ruth’s Initiative

With no money and no food, something needed to be done. Rather than sit around feeling sorry for herself, Ruth took initiative to care for Naomi in the only way she knew – by picking up leftover grain in a stranger’s field. This was called “gleaning.”

“Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Ruth 2:2

Naomi didn’t demand that she go. Ruth went on her own out of respect and love for Naomi.

Ruth didn’t wait for God to solve her problem or lay out the plan. She took the first step and God guided her steps into a field owned by Boaz. In the next post, we’ll discover why that was so significant.

How has God provided for you? What do you think of his welfare system in the Bible?



  1. […] took the initiative to go to the fields to gather grain under God’s welfare plan in the Old […]

  2. […] God’s welfare plan, Ruth went to the fields to glean. God directed her steps into a field belonging to a distant […]

  3. […] believed in Boaz’ kindness and ability to redeem her (As a kinsman redeemer, Boaz could choose to fulfill the Levirate law as a distant relative – although he wasn’t required to. That law commanded the nearest relative of a deceased husband to marry, care for, and have children …) […]

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