1. WHAT WOULD NAOMI SEEK FOR RUTH?
Whereas previously Naomi
had desired and prayed that Ruth would find rest
with a new husband (Ruth 1:9), presently Naomi would proactively seek out
her daughter-in-law’s security with a new husband. “Then Naomi her
mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you,
that it may be well with you?’”(Ruth 3:1).
Ruth had pledged her loyalty
to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), so now Naomi would
return the kindness.
2. WHOM DID NAOMI HAVE IN MIND TO FULFILL HER QUEST ON RUTH’S BEHALF?
Naomi specifically had her
late husband’s wealthy kinsman (Ruth 2:1) in mind
to provide security for her daughter-in-law, saying, “Now Boaz, whose young
women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing
barley tonight at the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:2).
Naomi aimed high. She chose
someone apparently out of her daughter-in-law’s
league, a man both wealthy and aged, yet eligible. Before she spoke with
Ruth of her intentions, she already planned the encounter, knowing where he
would be that night.
3. HOW WAS RUTH TO PREPARE HERSELF TO MEET BOAZ?
Naomi instructed her, “Therefore
wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on
your best garment and go…” (Ruth 3:3). In other words: take a bath, put on
some perfume, and get dressed. Ruth was encouraged to make herself
physically attractive. Although a godly woman’s genuine appeal should be
her internal, spiritual attributes (1st Peter 3:3-4), neither is it
inappropriate to appeal to a man’s senses of sight and smell. And, even
though she was of severely limited financial resources, the costs involved
in preparing herself in this way were not to be regarded as either wasteful
or extravagant. The pursuit of an honorable marriage to a righteous
individual is worthwhile.
4. WHEN WAS RUTH TO MEET BOAZ?
Ruth was directly advised,
“Do not make yourself known to the man until he
has finished eating and drinking” (Ruth 3:3). Boaz was a busy, hardworking
man who did not need to be distracted or disturbed, so she was not to
approach him until his day was over. This was not only considerate of the
man, but also improved her opportunity to be dealt with carefully and
Furthermore, Naomi told
her, “Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you
shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in…” (Ruth 3:4). Ruth
was specifically to seek out this opportunity for privacy. A marriage
proposal is not only an intensely personal moment, but a potentially awkward
one for any person; how much more so in the case of a poor foreign woman
proposing to a rich man?! All the words that would be exchanged between
Boaz and Ruth on this occasion needed to be guarded, not exposed for all to
know and gossip about. If he were to turn her down, this privacy would at
least spare her the embarrassment of a public rejection.
5. WHAT DID NAOMI TELL RUTH TO DO IN THE PRESENCE OF BOAZ?
She was to “go in,
uncover his feet, and lie down”, then wait for his
response (Ruth 3:4). There was a certain symbolism to this action that will
be revealed shortly, but here take notice of the significant risk Ruth would
be undertaking in this endeavor. Although there was nothing at all untoward
about her actual behavior and nothing unchaste in her conduct, it could
appear that way to one who might happen upon them: a man and a woman, not
married to one another, lying down in the same place at night, without
It is a mistake to interpret
the command to “Abstain from every appearance
of evil” (1st Thessalonians 5:22 KJV) to mean that a Christian must avoid
doing anything that may look bad to someone who did not know better. The
real meaning is that evil is to be abstained from whenever it appears, or as
other versions translate it: “Abstain from every form of evil” (NKJV), or:
“Abstain from every kind of evil” (NIV).
Ruth would commit no sin
on this occasion, but even in her efforts to be
discreet she could expose herself to shame. It would require courage to be
6. WAS RUTH COMPLIANT WITH HER MOTHER-IN-LAW’S INSTRUCTIONS?
True to her loyalty toward
Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), “she said to her, ‘All that
you say to me I will do.’ So she went down to the threshing floor and did
according to all that her mother-in-law instructed her” (Ruth 3:5-6).
7. HOW DID RUTH APPROACH BOAZ?
“She came softly,
uncovered his feet and lay down” (Ruth 3:7). While some
readers may suspect a breach of chastity on this occasion, her approach was
so tip-toed the man didn’t even notice her. She did not slip in under the
covers with him; she uncovered his feet. She did not caress, grope, nor
fondle the man; she lay down at his feet.
8. WHEN DID BOAZ ADDRESS RUTH?
“Now it happened at
midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself;
and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, ‘Who are you?’”
Ruth had come in softly
(Ruth 3:7) and was waiting for him to tell her what
to do (Ruth 3:4). She was probably so nervous that she dared not disturb
him at all. It just so happened that during the night, possibly hours after
she had come in, he woke up on his own and found her there, not knowing who
9. WHAT REQUEST DID SHE MAKE OF HIM?
After identifying herself
to him, Ruth asked, “Take your maidservant under
your wing, for you are a close relative” (Ruth 3:9). “Wing” is the most
accurate translation here, as opposed to “skirt” as it is rendered in some
versions, a rendering which is both confusing and potentially misleading.
Boaz had earlier commended
Ruth for taking shelter under the “wings” of the
God of Israel, Jehovah (Ruth 2:12). Jesus used the analogy Himself once
(Matthew 23:37). Now, Ruth asked to take shelter under Boaz’s wing, as his
wife. The phraseology is employed in one instance by God toward His people
in a marriage analogy: “’I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and
you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed,
your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and
looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing
over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and
entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord God”
This was clearly a marriage
proposal. As unusual as it is today for a woman
to propose to a man, consider how strange it would have been then. Evidently,
such a breach in custom is not wrong for Ruth was virtuous in every way, yet
this stands out as an exceptional occurrence. This is not how it would
normally be done.
10. WHAT DID SHE CALL HERSELF AND WHAT DID HE CALL HER?
She humbly identified herself
twice as his “maidservant” (Ruth 3:9), but he
affectionately called her his “daughter” twice (Ruth 3:10-11).
Her submissive demeanor
is reminiscent of Sarah calling Abraham “Lord” (1st
Peter 3:1-2, 6).
His term of endearment toward
her reminds us that he was significantly older
than she was, by at least a generation. It may not be practical on multiple
levels, but there is nothing inherently wrong with a vast age difference in
11. WHY DID HE BLESS HER?
He blessed her for her kindness
because she did not pursue a young man (Ruth
3:10). He regarded it as a compliment that she would choose him over other,
more youthful suitors.
12. WHY WAS HE WILLING TO COMPLY WITH HER REQUEST?
He would marry her because
she was an honorable person. Boaz said, “And
now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for
all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman” (Ruth
women have always been in short supply and should always be regarded as
valuable in the sight of decent men (Proverbs 31:10-31).
Boaz was honored to have
the interest of a young woman, but he would not
marry her for her beauty or youth. He returned interest in her because of
her godly qualities.
13. WHAT NEWS DID HE INFORM HER OF?
He said, “Now it is
true that I am a close relative; however, there is a
relative closer than I” (Ruth 3:12). It is uncertain whether Ruth would
have been aware of this or if her mother-in-law had considered it. Perhaps
Naomi bypassed everyone else for the choicest of all possible suitors;
perhaps Ruth’s established interaction with Boaz and his evident fondness
toward her put him at the top of her list; perhaps Naomi was unaware of the
status of the other kinsman – whether married, buried, or relocated; or
perhaps she simply had not thought of him.
Regardless, Boaz would seek
out that man and give him the opportunity to
redeem Ruth (Ruth 3:13), even though he would prefer to have her himself.
14. WHAT DID HE INSTRUCT HER TO DO?
He told her, “Stay
this night” and “Lie down until morning” (Ruth 3:13). He
could not walk her home for he was guarding his harvest at the threshing
floor, which is why he was sleeping with a “heap of grain” (Ruth 3:7). Nor
could any decent man allow a woman to walk home alone in the dark. Thus,
she would need to stay there overnight. Nevertheless, this was not an
invitation to behave immorally. She was simply told to lie down, nothing
15. WHEN DID SHE DEPART?
“She lay at his feet
until morning, and she arose before one could recognize
another. Then he said, ‘Do not let it be known that the woman came to the
threshing floor’” (Ruth 3:14). She left before dawn, when she could do so
without being known. Boaz was concerned that if she left after sunrise that
their encounter might appear to others as something it was not. He
protected his and her reputations.
16. WHAT DID SHE BRING TO NAOMI?
She brought six measures,
possibly ephahs, of barley that she carried in her
shawl because Boaz would not allow her to go to Naomi empty-handed (Ruth
3:15-17). Whether or not Boaz would be the one to marry Ruth, he wanted to
provide for her and Naomi.
17. AFTER RUTH RELAYED TO
HER THE EVENTS OF THE PREVIOUS NIGHT, WHAT DID
NAOMI TELL HER?
“Then she said, ‘Sit
still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will
turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this
day’” (Ruth 3:18). Naomi knew Boaz to be a man of diligence. He would tend
to the matter at hand promptly. Ruth could only be patient, so Naomi
advised her accordingly.
Go to part four
Return to the OT study of Ruth
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