In our study of Ruth chapter three, we see how she continues to be shown favor from God because of her humility. We look at this traditional marriage proposal and examine how it relates to our Christian walk today.
One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, 'My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.'
This passage may seem very strange to us unless we examine what was happening and the culture of this time. Ruth had humbled herself since the beginning and had found favor with God. Naomi felt that it was her duty to see that her daughter was provided for and she knew that it was a husband's duty to provide for his wife. Therefore, she shared with her the procedure for a younger woman to propose marriage to an older man. (Although it may not be politically correct to say so, the biblical pattern of a husband providing for his wife is as true today as it was in Ruth's time.) A woman had the freedom to ask a man to marry her and she could be his helper (just as Eve was described in Genesis) but it was and is the man's duty to provide for his wife. At first, the idea of a woman of this time period proposing marriage may surprise us but it was a part of life at this time. Naomi tells Ruth where to find Boaz (he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor). The process of winnowing (separating the chaff from the grain) was simple. The grain/chaff mixture would be tossed into the air and the breeze would carry away the chaff as the grain fell to the threshing floor. Then, Naomi gives her instructions on the proper way to propose marriage.
'I will do whatever you say,' Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
Once again, Ruth humbled herself to do as her mother-in-law said even though she may not have understood the custom as she was a Gentile instead of a Jew.
When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.
Many so called experts take this verse to mean that Boaz got drunk and Ruth tricked him into an encounter but that is not what it is saying. Boaz simply ate and drank as normal and, when he was full and content, he went to sleep for the night. If he was drunk and Ruth wanted to trick him, she would not have "approached quietly". Also, as we will see later, there was no encounter and a drunk man most certainly would not have let the opportunity pass.
In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. 'Who are you?' he asked. 'I am your servant Ruth,' she said. 'Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.'
Boaz awoke in the middle of the night to find Ruth at his feet. Although the words may seem strange to us today, Ruth asked him to marry her by asking him to fulfill the role of the kinsman-redeemer. It was the duty of a kinsman-redeemer to marry the widow in order to continue the family name of the deceased husband.
'The Lord bless you, my daughter,' he replied. 'This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.'
This passage is a great example of how God lifts up the humble just as he promises. Ruth humbled herself in asking Boaz to take care of her and he agreed to all that she asked. He also tells her that all of the men in the town know that she is of "noble character". This is very big as we remember that we are talking about the Jewish people realizing that this gentile woman was of noble character.
'Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.'
Now, Boaz tells Ruth that he is willing to be the kinsman-redeemer but he does not have the right. There is a relative that is closer and he has the right to redeem or to refuse. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer in that he paid the debt we could not pay but, unlike Ruth's relative, there is not anyone that Jesus will refuse to redeem.
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, 'Don't let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.'
There are some scholars that say Ruth seduced Boaz and he married her so that she would not be shamed. This verse shows us that they are mistaken as we are told that she "lay at his feet until morning". They did not come together and violate God's word instead we see that Boaz didn't even want it known that she had come to the threshing floor. He wanted to preserve her dignity and honor. The same is true for us as we become Christians. We do not want to be in situations that do not bring honor and glory to God (at least that should be our desire).
He also said, 'Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.' When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her. Then he went back to town.
Here, we see another example of how God pours out his favor on Ruth. She had asked for Boaz to be her redeemer and she is granted that but also received six measures of barley. The same is true for us today as Christians. When we are walking in God's will for our lives, he blesses us in many different ways.
When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, 'How did it go, my daughter?' Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, 'He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, "Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed."' Then Naomi said, 'Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.'
Ruth could not wait to share the blessing with Naomi and to tell her all that had happened when Boaz agreed to be her redeemer. The same thing should happen to us when we accept Christ as our redeemer. If you look at all of the examples of people believing in Jesus, you will see that, in every case, they immediately wanted to share the good news with those around them.