Ruth 3:1 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.
Ruth had been caring for Naomi, but now Naomi was caring for Ruth. Her intuition told her that the kindness of Boaz was more than mere compassion. But Boaz may have been shy since he apparently never married. If Naomi and Ruth waited for Boaz to act, they might have waited forever. So Naomi gave her daughter-in-law some bold advice.
Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but do not 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 (Ruth 3:3-4).
To modern readers this seems extremely forward, and in fact, it was. But there is nothing inappropriate here. Ruth was simply proposing marriage. Boaz was the kind of person who was good at many things, but not courtship. He may have been turned down in the past, and feared being rejected again. For whatever reason, Boaz did not seem to have the courage to take the initiative with Ruth. If she did not make her intentions clear, nothing was going to happen. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do (Ruth 3:6).
Ruth 3:7 Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.
Boaz soon woke up, due to cold feet, and he was startled. Who are you? he asked. I am your servant Ruth, she said. Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family (Ruth 3:9).
Boaz could hardly believe his ears. He was older than Ruth, and assumed that she would be attracted to younger men (Ruth 3:10). Perhaps he prayed for a wife in the past. Perhaps he even prayed for Ruth to be his wife. Now God was doing all that he had hoped for.
By calling Boaz her guardian-redeemer, Ruth was appealing to his obligation to care for her, due to the loss of her first husband. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law (Deuteronomy 25:5), wrote Moses. Boaz was not her brother-in-law, but he was happy to accept the responsibility.
Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, do not be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.
The Bible never describes Ruth as beautiful, so she may have been rather plain. What mattered most to Boaz, however, was her noble character. A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown (Proverbs 12:4). A wife of noble character . . . . is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30), says Proverbs.
As Ruth and Boaz looked into heaven that night, we can imagine tears of praise streaming down their faces for the goodness of God who brought them together. Ruth had found a husband, and Boaz had found a wife.
Ruth 3:12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I.
In great romantic stories there is often a third-person conflict, and this story is no exception. There was someone ahead of Boaz who could have cared for Naomi and Ruth if he wanted to. Boaz could have ignored this fact, but he preferred to handle the situation with integrity. If God had brought them together, God could work this out as well.
Ruth 4:1 Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along.
The Bible does not tell us the time of day, but it was probably early morning. Boaz went to the town gate, where business was conducted, and there he found the one person ahead of him with the right to care for Naomi and Ruth. Boaz said, Come over here, my friend, and sit down. So he went over and sat down. Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, Sit here, and they did so (Ruth 4:1b-2).
This was serious business, and the presence of elders would ensure that it was properly conducted, and formally witnessed. At first, the gentleman involved showed some interest, but then he gave the right to Boaz.
What joy and relief Boaz must have felt when he was given the legal right to care for Naomi and Ruth. Today you are witnesses [he said]. Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, We are witnesses (Ruth 4:10-11). And they gave Boaz their blessing.
Ruth 4:13, 17 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. . . . The women living there said, Naomi has a son! And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
This made Ruth the great-grandmother of the future king David. In fact, this story may have been told to the little boy David by Grandma Ruth herself. We can only imagine how this may have shaped the future king’s faith in God.
Because Ruth was the great-grandmother of David, she was also an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). By choosing a Moabite woman to be an ancestor of the Messiah, God was showing that participation in his family is not determined by birth, but by genuine faith. Ruth is a model of genuine faith throughout the story.
Boaz is also an ancestor of Jesus Christ, but he is even more. As Ruth’s guardian-redeemer, Boaz foreshadows Jesus Christ as our Redeemer (Titus 2:14). As one who took a Gentile wife, Boaz foreshadows Jesus who gladly receives Gentiles (Matthew 28:20). As Boaz brought a reversal of fortune to Naomi and Ruth, Jesus brings a reversal of fortune to all who believe in him (John 5:24). God provided a husband for Ruth, and he provided a Savior for us.
Reflection and Review
Why does the Bible recommend a wife of noble character?
How did Boaz demonstrate his faith?
How does Boaz remind us of Jesus Christ?