Wednesday, December 18, 2019

2019.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 3:1-6

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking to Ruth (Ruth 3:1)? For whom does she say that she will seek rest (“security” in NKJV)? What does she ask about Boaz in Ruth 3:2? What does she tell Ruth about him? What does she tell Ruth to do to herself in Ruth 3:3? Where does she say to go? For what does she say to wait? For what else does Ruth 3:4 say to wait? Where should she go then? What should she do? What will Boaz do? How does Ruth respond to all of this advice from Naomi (Ruth 3:5)? What does she do in Ruth 3:6?
Back in Ruth 1:9, Naomi had urged Ruth and Orpah to go find rest in the house of a new husband, but Ruth had chosen instead to stay with Naomi. Now, Naomi uses the same word to tell Ruth that she will seek rest (security) for her. It’s pretty plain that these instructions are an effort to secure for Ruth a husband.

They’ve been back some three months. Harvesting and threshing are done. Boaz is now onto winnowing, the removal of the chaff that remains after threshing. Ruth has not been approached yet, perhaps as a result of Naomi’s instruction in Ruth 2:22. In fact, she has continued up to this point to behave according to the practice of mourners: not washing or anointing, and wearing mourning clothing.

Now, Naomi tells her to change all of these things. It is very important that we read this passage in light of the custom at the time, and especially in light of what Boaz says in Ruth 2:11 and Ruth 2:14—recognizing that she has conducted herself in a godly manner, and acting to preserve this accurate reputation of hers. The change in behavior is a declaration that she has completed her mourning. Perhaps Naomi suspects that Boaz has not approached Ruth because he was respecting her grief.

It’s also important to note where Naomi tells Ruth to lay down—not next to him, which would have been an inappropriate invitation, but at his feet. There is a statement of availability, which she will make explicit in Ruth 3:9 (asking him to be a goel/redeemer). But, it comes not as an act of seduction but as an act of submission. The passage emphasizes her submission and obedience to Naomi, and presents her as offering the same to Boaz, if he is willing to take her as a wife.

Such situations are difficult to navigate. In a similar one in Genesis 38 (which is brought to mind by Ruth 4:12), Tamar conducted herself immorally (but was still more righteous than Judah). Here, however, Ruth is protected both by her own grace-sustained character, and by having the good counsel of her mother-in-law.

How often, in the church and the Christian life, people have ended up making sinful choices in desperate situations, or out of sincere and good intentions! Let us learn to be committed first and foremost to living rightly before the face of God, and let us avail ourselves of the help of the godly in doing so.
How do you maintain and grow a godly character? Whom has He given to help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP119A “How Blessed Are Those” or TPH119E “Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way of Truth”

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