A Surprising Proposal
Bethlehem is starting to feel like home. It has been several weeks since Ruth began to glean in the fields of Boaz. Ruth has shown determination, strength, and tenacity as she makes her way to the fields. God has given them favor and provided for them through the generosity of Boaz. Naomi has a loyal daughter-in-law who shows her love and care for her every day. The return to Bethlehem and the harvest must have provided some comfort to Naomi, as she seeks peace and rest for Ruth. Naomi knows that Boaz has taken notice of Ruth, so she proposes a daring move. Naomi longs for Ruth to have the security and protection of marriage, so she seizes the opportunity to persuade Boaz that it was time for him to fulfill his obligation as a redeemer. Naomi knew that Boaz would be at the threshing floor that night, protecting the harvest and she intended to send Ruth. She gave detailed instructions to her daughter-in-law about what she needed to do in preparation. Ruth was to wash, anoint herself and put on different clothes which may have included removing her widow's garments. Ruth was to go to the threshing floor, but she was not to make her presence known. Ruth would need to wait until Boaz finished his meal and then observe where he went to sleep. After Boaz had fallen asleep, she was to uncover his feet and lie awaiting his instructions. Ruth would be vulnerable, alone, and laying next to a powerful man outside of town at night. The situation was precarious, and the risk was significant. These widows could lose their source of food and suffer great humiliation within the community. Ruth's response is extraordinary. She submits to every detail with no protest.
The Man Will Not Rest
Ruth followed Naomi's instructions, and after Boaz had finished his meal, his heart was merry. He laid down on a heap of grain with his belly and his heart full. After Boaz was asleep, she emerged from the shadows uncovering his feet and laying down. At midnight, Boaz is shocked to find a woman at his feet! He demands to know who is there and Ruth is humble but direct. She does not mince words and states that he is a redeemer and asks him to pledge marriage that she may find shelter. Boaz praises her conduct and responds favorably. Ruth has done what is right, and Boaz promises to do the same. He tells her not to be afraid because he intends to do all that she has asked of him. He speaks of her reputation in the community acknowledging that the people knew her to be a worthy woman. Boaz reveals that there is a Redeemer that is nearer and if they are to do what is right, he must be given the first right of refusal. Boaz assures Ruth that no matter what, she would be redeemed. He tells Ruth to stay because it would be safer for her to remain than to travel in the middle of the night. Early the next morning, Boaz instructed Ruth not to tell anyone and then he protected her reputation by sending her away with barley so that others could assume that she had gotten an early start on her work. Ruth must have rushed back to the city where she found Naomi waiting. Ruth tells Naomi all that happened. Naomi tells Ruth to be patient because she is confident that Boaz, "will not rest but will settle the matter today."
Things To Consider:
- How does God work through the natural rhythms and relationships in our lives?
- Do you think Ruth and Naomi did anything wrong? Why?
- Why do you think Ruth went along with Naomi's plan?
- Do you think Boaz knew that he was a redeemer? Why?
- How does Boaz act honorably toward Ruth?
- How do you think Ruth felt after Boaz revealed another redeemer?
- How can we protect the reputation of others?
- How much sleep do you think Boaz, Naomi, and Ruth got that night?
- How do you think Naomi felt when she saw Ruth?
- Why do you think Naomi is so confident about what Boaz will do?