Take the Initiative

Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in 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.”

“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.

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. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was 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 guardian-redeemer[b] of our family.”

10 “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. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t 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. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”

15 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 placed the bundle on her. Then he[c] went back to town.

16 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 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”

What scripture stood out to you in today’s passage?

What is your initial reaction to Naomi’s advice to Ruth?

What do you think Ruth thought of this advice? She knew Naomi’s character, so what does she do?

Turns out Naomi is telling Ruth how to go about getting a guardian-redeemer. “A guardian-redeemer was a relative who volunteered to take responsibility for the extended family. When a woman’s husband died, the law provided that she could marry a brother of her dead husband.” Based on this we can see that Naomi wasn’t telling Ruth to seduce him or try to show romantic feelings toward him, but rather this was an “act in accordance with Israelite custom and law.” (application)

How does Boaz react?

I love what our application has to say about Boaz here. “Boaz, too, must have already considered marrying Ruth because his answer to her shows he had been thinking about it. One man in the city was a nearer relative than Boaz, and this man had the first right to take Ruth as his wife. If he chose not to, then Boaz could marry Ruth.”

What’s a trait you would use to describe Boaz here?

We can learn from this how important it is to be a trustworthy person. Naomi was just that, plus kind and God loving, so even when it seemed weird to Ruth, she knew Naomi would never put her in a bad moral position. Not only that but Boaz teaches us how to treat others. Since the beginning he went above and beyond for Ruth because she was a relative. tomorrow, we will see more into his character, too.

Our application gives us a good place of reflection. “[Boaz] obviously had a reputation for keeping his word and would not rest until his task was completed. Such reliable people stand out in any age and culture. Do others regard you as one who will do what you say? Keeping your word and following through…should be high on your priority list. Building a reputation for integrity however, must be done one brick, one act at a time.” What is a way that you see this as valuable for how others see you?

Heavenly Father, thank you for including the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz in your word. There is so much that we can learn from these people. We see the importance of having others trust us, the importance of keeping our word and most of all in trusting in you and following you and the people you put in our lives. Help us to have open eyes and ears for those you want us to encourage or be encouraged by. Help us to be keepers of our word and look to you when we struggle to do so. Lord, guide us as we grow in our faith. In your trustworthy name we pray, AMEN!

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