Naomi Makes Plans
1One day, Naomi said to Ruth:
It's time I found you a husband, who will give you a home and take care of you.
2You have been picking up grain alongside the women who work for Boaz, and you know he is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be threshing the grain. 3Now take a bath and put on some perfume, then dress in your best clothes. Go where he is working, but don't let him see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4Watch where he goes to spend the night, then when he is asleep, lift the cover and lie down at his feet. He will tell you what to do.
5Ruth answered, “I'll do whatever you say.” 6She went out to the place where Boaz was working and did what Naomi had told her.
7After Boaz finished eating and drinking and was feeling happy, he went over and fell asleep near the pile of grain. Ruth slipped over quietly. She lifted the cover and lay down near his feet.
8In the middle of the night, Boaz suddenly woke up and was shocked to see a woman lying at his feet. 9“Who are you?” he asked.
“Sir, I am Ruth,” she answered, “and you are the relative who is supposed to take care of me. So spread the edge of your cover over me.”
The Lord bless you! This shows how truly loyal you are to your family. You could have looked for a younger man, either rich or poor, but you didn't. 11Don't worry, I'll do what you have asked. You are respected by everyone in town.
12 It's true that I am one of the relatives who is supposed to take care of you, but there is someone who is an even closer relative. 13Stay here until morning, then I will find out if he is willing to look after you. If he isn't, I promise by the living God to do it myself. Now go back to sleep until morning.
14Ruth lay down again, but she got up before daylight, because Boaz did not want anyone to know she had been there. 15Then he told her to spread out her cape. And he filled it with grain and placed it on her shoulder.
When Ruth got back to town, 16Naomi asked her what had happened, and Ruth told her everything. 17She also said, “Boaz gave me this grain, because he didn't want me to come back without something for you.”
18Naomi replied, “Just be patient and don't worry about what will happen. He won't rest until everything is settled today!”
Here’s where it gets hard to identify with Ruth. She abandons all fear, steps out in faith and places herself in a position of complete vulnerability. Let’s admit it: that sounds like a crazy idea.
Ruth has already left her country, her family and her people and has risked being raped by going alone into fields to pick up leftover grain (2:8-9, 22-23). The ancient world was not kind to women; just by being a foreigner and a widow, she was at risk.
But now, Naomi wants her to go to the threshing floor. It’s an area of tamped-down ground near the field, usually located where the breeze would help separate the grain from the chaff. It is a place for men (v 14), and here, they are drinking alcohol (v 7). The only women who would come are prostitutes (Hosea 9:1). The plan risks her safety and her good reputation (v 11). Pause for a moment to consider the scene from Ruth’s perspective.
She could have said “no” to Naomi—she’d done it before (1:16-18). But she willingly agrees (v 5) and, further, confidently proposes marriage (v 9)! Her faith and her humility are rewarded. Boaz needs to work out some details, but this is a woman he wants for a wife (vv 10-11).
What was it about Ruth that made her trust in God so completely? Christians are often aware that we have experienced the grace of God at various points in our lives. Plus, we have the benefit of the Bible to learn more about his character. Yet, our faith can be so cautious, our friends and co-workers may not even know we are Christian.
What would our daily lives look like if we actually trusted the Lord with all our hearts and let him lead us?
Heavenly Father, you are all-loving and all-merciful. We can trust you. But sometimes, we know this only in our heads and not our hearts. Lord, show us how to be vulnerable and how you will care for us when we are. In Christ’s gentle name, Amen.