…so that we may have rest
At the moment I’m reading through the book of Ruth, so our reflection posts are on this wonderful book. These posts are short and unpolished! Let me know your own thoughts on the book of Ruth in the comments; I’d love to hear your encouragements from God’s Word. If you’re looking for a commentary on the book of Ruth, try this great book by Barry Webb, * covering several of my favorite Bible books.
This chapter begins and ends with rest.
First, Naomi is committed to seeking rest for Ruth. We know that in Boaz, Naomi has seen the hope of greater security and provision. Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer for their family. He has a responsibility to offer protection to Elimelech’s inheritance.
Ruth is part of God’s covenant people and her security comes from being under the shelter of the Lord’s wings. And the covenant specifically provided for Ruth through the land and inheritance of Elimelech, because she had been married to his son.
A kinsman-redeemer was someone to maintain the land and family line of the one who had passed away. Elimelech’s part of the Promised Land was not to be forgotten. He and his family would enter God’s promised rest.
Naomi is seeking rest for Ruth through the promises of God. Promises of God to remember His children; promises of God to defend the widow; promises of future rest for all who put themselves under His wings.
Naomi’s trust in the promises
Naomi has a plan for Ruth, and Ruth does just what she says. It’s the end of the harvest time, so Boaz is sorting out the barley at the threshing floor. Ruth is all prepared and she watches where Boaz lies down to sleep. Then she uncovers his feet and lies down too. Much to the surprise of Boaz, who wakes up at midnight to find a woman lying at his feet.
I can’t help but smile as I read this passage. I’m sure there are so many puzzles about exactly why Naomi and Ruth planned this way to reach Boaz. I know there have been some wonderful Christian courting theories expounded from Ruth 3.
But the interesting thing is, Boaz knows exactly what Ruth is doing. She surprises him, but it doesn’t puzzle him. She is asking Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer. “Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
Boaz sees her kindness
Boaz isn’t confused and his admiration for Ruth continues to grow. He says “this last kindness is greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.” I suppose he means that Ruth is again being kind to Naomi. If she had married into another family, Naomi would not have been taken care of. But if Elimelech’s inheritance is maintained, Naomi will be protected as well as Ruth.
It strikes me that in the Book of Ruth, people are often praised for character that mirrors the character of God. And Ruth’s kindness is certainly a reflection of the Lord, “whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead”.
Boaz wants to reassure Ruth; he respects her and he is a redeemer. But there is another man who is also a kinsman-redeemer, apparently with a closer claim on Elimelech’s inheritance. It’s a twist in the story.
Boaz is a righteous man. He will let the closer claimant have the first refusal. But his intention to help Ruth is not in doubt: “But if he is not willing to redeem you then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you.”
The Redeemer will not rest
Ruth has to wait.
I can’t imagine that she slept. Boaz is as considerate as ever, sending her away before she is seen, and sending her home with six measures of barley. It’s a reminder to Ruth and to Naomi that they are no longer empty. It’s a reminder to keep trusting in the Lord’s provision.
But still Ruth has to wait.
Naomi has this confidence in Boaz: “the man will not rest but will settle the matter today”. So the chapter closes with a kinsman-redeemer who will not rest. He will work, until he is able to secure rest for Ruth.
Boaz is such a beautiful type of Christ – the One who did not rest until He had redeemed us. One who persevered through suffering to secure our salvation. One who worked perfectly so that we can enter God’s promised rest.
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