Naomi has been blessed by Ruth, and we see here she wants to bless Ruth as well by securing her future in a marriage. Naomi then lays out the seemingly bizarre procedure to Ruth to begin this process, which Ruth trusts implicitly and immediately goes and executes on, and is blessed by the success of the result of that initial trust, and action. Isn’t our relationship with God strikingly similar to this? God lets us know what we need to do through prayer and His Spirit, and we have the option of trusting His often ‘bizarre-to-us’ plan or not. We then have to act on it in faith that God has or best interests at heart and will reward our obedience and faith.
Ruth followed the instructions of Naomi exactly, including the uncovering of Boaz’ feet for what would seem no reason. Boaz is chilled awake by a shiver/tremble (possibly caused by this exposure) and sees Naomi humbled at his feet. When he asks her identity she identifies herself as his servant (using the term ‘amah) and as eligible for marriage, also clarifying Boaz role in case he was unaware as her near kinsman. When I am trying to follow God’s plan do I pick and choose how I go about that, leaving out parts that don’t seem important to me, or do I follow through with it fully? We don’t know what wonders God can work with the least of our situations and shouldn’t refrain from trying to glorify Him in everything.
Despite her beginnings as a foreigner more likely to be shunned, Ruth has made a name for herself in her new home as an honourable, hard working, virtuous woman amongst all the people of that area. Boaz knows she is not putting on a front at his home, because word of her righteousness has spread. It seems that her honour has spread as most peoples dishonour usually spreads. It seems more rare for people to talk and gossip about the positive traits a person has, she must have made quite an impression!
Boaz shows here that he was aware of his relationship to the family of Naomi, and also that there is another with closer family ties. Although he may have had an attraction to Ruth he did not pursue her, instead waiting until she was ready. He promises that “as the Lord lives” he will be her redeemer if the other kinsman revokes his right, this was a binding oath as serious as they come for Boaz to say, and he would become a blasphemer for failing to fulfill it (Jer 5:2). He also decides to follow the laws of kinsman redeemer and ensure his claim would be valid by approaching the others with a right, showing his honourable character. Trusting in God’s provision can bless us more than we could hope for on our own. Sometimes what He gives us is greater, and better, and more wonderful that what we’d ever think to ask for, or what we may be restricted in thinking we deserve. I think about the marriage I have to my wonderful husband: we could see God’s hand throughout our dating relationship and into marriage and are constantly blessed at how perfect a match we are, despite what we would have chosen or settled for in our relationships without God’s intervention.
Ruth stayed the night, likely because it would not have been safe for her to leave, and Boaz acted as protector for her that night. To ensure it was not perceived that she was by his bedside for any other reason, he again protects her honour by having her leave before she would be seen and at risk of gossip, but also supplied her provision that day (possibly equal to about 44L of barley – 6 Seahs/2 Ephahs; double that which she first gleaned in Ruth 2), acting already as her provider. When Ruth tells Naomi of the events she counsels Ruth to be patient and trust Boaz will do his best to take care of things. Naomi put her reputation at risk by visiting a wealthy landowner at his bed at night. Tongues wag and one person seeing her there could have easily gotten the wrong impression. Thankfully God worked in that situation for their good. When we pray for Gods help, and feel as though we are being called to task by Him we can trust that despite the circumstances seeming hairy, it is not outside of God’s ability or control to manage.
1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.#uncover: or, lift up the clothes that are on 5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. 6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. 10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. 12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. 13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning. 14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. 15 Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. 18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.