She welcomes the poor and helps the needy.
~New Century Version
When I was a girl, I remember wonderful playtimes at my very best friend’s house. To my eyes, Sarah’s home—with its two stories, and even a balcony--was practically a castle. Going there meant the opportunity to spend hours jumping on the trampoline, having underwater tea parties in the swimming pool, or playing house in what I referred to as “the forest”—a patch of trees (a rarity in our Texas Panhandle town) which lined her family’s yard.
Sometimes there would be another little girl at Sarah’s house—a child from her school—and the three of us would play together. I remember Abigail joining us on many occasions, and it was always fun to include her in our escapades.
At some point during my growing-up years, I became aware that Abigail came from a family where food, clothing, and perhaps encouragement were in scarce supply. Her presence was the product of Sarah’s mother’s determination that Abigail not only have nourishing food and kind friends to play with, but also the reassurance that comes from being welcomed into a home and family. Ruth could have taken meals, clothing, or even money to Abigail’s home. Instead, though, she welcomed this child into her family’s lovely home, included her in our play-dates, invited her to stay for meals. She was our friend.
Perhaps Sarah knew about Abigail’s difficult circumstances, but for years, I did not. Even now, I don’t know the details. This, to me, is a credit to Ruth, who wanted to make certain that Abigail’s experience in their home was free of the condescension that can often accompany even the most well-intentioned acts of kindness.
Decades later, this mother's actions continue to remind me of the kind of generosity associated with the woman in Proverbs. Ruth's kindness to Abigail reflects what I think the wisdom writer may have meant when he says that this woman welcomes the poor. The implication is that she sees them not as someone to be pitied as “less than,” but instead as God's beloved children, just as worthy as any one of us to be received, accepted, and valued.