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Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” 5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded 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 grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. What did Naomi mean when she said she wanted to “seek rest” for Ruth?
2. In order to understand what is about to transpire between Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 3 and 4, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Deuteronomy 25:5-10, God’s instructions for levirate marriage. What was the purpose of levirate marriage? Why is it significant that Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s? (2) How was he related to her family? What did it mean that Boaz was a “redeemer,” and that there was a nearer redeemer than he? (9, 12-13)
3. Naomi’s instructions to Ruth (1-8) may seem a little odd, even inappropriate, to our Christian way of thinking. This is why it’s important, when studying God’s word, to understand, as best we can, the culture and customs of the audience of the book we’re studying. Read this commentary on Ruth 3:2-4. Were Ruth’s actions in any way immoral or inappropriate, biblically, or in her culture? What did Ruth mean when she said, “Spread your wings over your servant”? What was Ruth trying to convey to Boaz by her words and actions?
4. What are some ways Ruth demonstrates submission and humility in this passage? Compare Ruth’s demeanor with 1 Peter 3:4. How does Ruth model a “gentle and quiet spirit”?
5. Examine Naomi’s wisdom and counsel to Ruth in this chapter. How does Naomi exemplify the older “Titus 2 Woman“? How does Ruth exemplify the younger “Titus 2 Woman”?
6. If Boaz is a type (symbol, foreshadowing) of Christ, who does Ruth symbolize? Did Ruth have anything to offer Boaz that would make this marriage materially beneficial to him? When we come to Christ as sinners, do we have anything to offer Him that would make us “worthy” of saving? Compare Ruth’s humility and dependence on the good graces of Boaz to redeem her to our humility and dependence on God’s grace and mercy to redeem us. Compare verses 13b-14 to Ephesians 2:1,4-6. If Ruth represents us as sinners, what does her lying down for the night and rising at dawn symbolize?