OT History Part 1 – Ruth 3-4

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. 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 of our family.”
“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 the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 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.”
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.”
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 went back to town.
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 3:1-18

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. 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. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”
“I will redeem it,” he said.
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)
So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”
Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
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 said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 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, then, is the family line of Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

  • Ruth 4:1-22

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ruth 3 ‘Introduction’: “Encouraged by Ruth’s day in Boaz’s field, Naomi instructed Ruth in the way she should go to insure a brighter future. Ruth carefully followed Naomi’s directions to solicit redemption by Boaz, while the Lord had prepared Boaz to redeem Ruth. Only one potential obstacle remained—a relative nearer than Boaz.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ruth 3:1-5 ‘Ruth Prepared to Meet Boaz’: ”There were other men who would gladly have married Ruth (v. 10), but they could not have redeemed her. Only a kinsman could do that, and Boaz was that kinsman. Since Naomi knew that Boaz would be using the threshing floor that night and staying there to guard his grain, she instructed Ruth to prepare herself to meet him. Ruth made a fivefold preparation before she presented herself to Boaz.
“(1) She washed herself.
“(2) She anointed herself.
“(3) She prepared by changing her clothes.
“(4) She prepared herself to meet Boaz by learning how to present herself to him.
“(5) Finally, Ruth promised to obey.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3:6-9 ‘Ruth Submitted to Boaz’: ”Four times in this chapter there is mention of feet (3:4, 7-8, 14). Ruth had fallen at the feet of Boaz in response to his gracious words (2:10), but now she was coming to his feet to propose marriage. She was asking him to obey the law of the kinsman-redeemer and take her as his wife.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3:8-10 ‘He accepts us’: Just as Boaz spoke to Ruth, so God speaks to us from His Word. Boaz might have refused to have anything to do with Ruth, but in his love for her, he accepted her. He even called her ‘my daughter’ (see 2:8) and pronounced a blessing on her (see Eph. 1:3). Our heavenly Father and our Redeemer is seeking for a closer relationship with us, and we should not be afraid to draw near and share His love (John 14:21-24; James 4:7-8). If we could only realize in even a small way the great love our Kinsman-Redeemer has for us, we would forsake everything else and enjoy His fellowship.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3:11-13 ‘He assures us.’: ”In the midnight darkness, Ruth couldn’t see the face of Boaz, but she could hear his voice, and that voice spoke loving assurance to her: ‘Fear not!’ (KJV). Our assurance is not in our feelings or our circumstances but in His Word.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
“ ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’ (Rom. 10:17 NKJV).
“ ‘Fear not’ is the word of assurance that the Lord gave to many of His servants: to Abraham (Gen. 15:1), Isaac (26:24), Jacob (46:3), Moses and the nation of Israel (Ex. 14:13), Joshua (Josh. 8:1; 10:8), King Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:17), the Jewish remnant returning to their land (Isa. 41:10, 13-14; 43:1, 5; 44:2), the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 3:9), the prophet Daniel (Dan. 10:12, 19), Joseph (Matt. 1:20), Zacharias (Luke 1:13), Mary (1:30), the shepherds (2:10), Paul (Acts 27:24), and the apostle John (Rev. 1:17). You and I can say with these spiritual giants, ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear’ (Heb. 13:6 NKJV).”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3:15-17 ‘Ruth receives gifts from Boaz.’: During her days as a gleaner, Ruth had received generous treatment from Boaz. His workers had allowed her to follow the harvesters; they protected her from harm; they deliberately dropped sheaves for her to pick up. Boaz had shared the noon meal with Ruth, even handing her the parched grain with his own hands (2:14). On that first day of gleaning, Ruth had gone home with a little more than half a bushel of grain, but now Boaz filled her cloak with two bushels of grain, which would be more than two weeks’ supply.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3:18 ‘Ruth Waited for Boaz to Work.’: It is ‘through faith and patience’ that we inherit the promises (Heb. 6: 12; 10:36). Since Naomi and Ruth believed that Boaz would accomplish what he said he would do, they waited patiently until they received the good news that Ruth would be a bride. ‘Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it” (P5. 37:5).
“I confess that waiting is one of the most difficult things for me to do, whether it’s waiting for a table at a restaurant or waiting for a delayed flight to take off. I’m an activist by nature, and I like to see things happen on time. Perhaps that’s why the Lord has often arranged for me to wait. During those times, three phrases from Scripture have encouraged me: “Sit still” (Ruth 3:18 NKJV), “Stand still” (Ex. 14:13 NKJV), and “Be still” (Ps. 46:10 NKJV).
“ ‘Sit still’ was Naomi’s counsel to Ruth, and wise counsel it was. Ruth would have accomplished nothing by following Boaz around Bethlehem, trying to help him keep his promises. ‘Their strength is to sit still’ (Isa. 30:7 KJV). Our human nature gets nervous and wants to help God out, and when we try, we only make matters worse.
“ ‘Stand still’ was the command of Moses to the people of Israel when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. There was no need to panic, for God had the situation well in hand. Then the Lord commanded the people to ‘go forward’ (Ex. 14:15), and He led them safely through the sea. There is a time to stand and a time to march, and we must be alert to know which one God wants us to do.
“ ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10 NKJV) is a wonderful antidote for a restless spirit. The Hebrew word translated ‘be still’ means ‘take your hands off, relax.’ It’s so easy for us to get impatient with the Lord and start meddling in matters that we ought to leave alone. He is God, and His hands can accomplish the impossible. Our hands may get in the way and make matters worse.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 3 ‘Reflection’: “I’ve often wondered why women were willing to change their name when they get married. When if Marcia Smith marries Mortimer Jones, one of the first things he’ll say to her as they ride away with their hair full of rice is, ‘Well, Mrs. Jones, how are you?’ And she giggles—she’s delighted to take his name. I know many a newlywed husband who has had his wife paged at the hotel—’Paging Mrs. Mortimer Jones’—and she says, ‘Oh, this is wonderful!’ She’s taken the name of the man she loves and doesn’t mind it at all.
“Well, your maiden name was Adam, don’t forget that. But the Lord wanted to give you a new name. He said, ‘I’ll be your husband and you’ll be called Christian.’ The love of God has made us Christians and has joined us to Him in the warmth of affection.
“What a mechanical business marriage would be if there was no love in it! What a mechanical business rearing children would be! Wouldn’t it be awful getting up five times a night to give them a glass of water they don’t need, fixing bumps they never should have had, looking at those awful report cards? Raising a family would be terrible, except for one thing: the lubrication of love.
“Whenever love is there, everything is all right.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God

Ruth 4 ‘Introduction’: “God’s divine plan fully blossomed as Boaz redeemed Naomi’s land and Ruth’s hand in marriage. Naomi, once empty (1:21), is full; Ruth, once a widow (1:5), is married; but most importantly, the Lord has prepared Christ’s line of descent in David, through Boaz and Obed, back to Judah (Gen. 49:10) to fulfill the proper messianic lineage.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ruth 4:1-10 ‘The Bridegroom’: ”The law of the kinsman—redeemer is given in Leviticus 25:23-34, and the law governing levirate marriage is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. God owned the land and didn’t want it exploited by rich people who would take advantage of poor people and widows. When obeyed, these laws made sure that a dead man’s family name did not die with him and that his property was not sold outside the tribe or clan. The tragedy is that the Jewish rulers didn’t always obey this law, and the prophets had to rebuke them for stealing land from the helpless (1 Kings 21; Isa. 5:8-10; Hab. 2:9-12). The nation’s abuse of the land was one cause of their captivity (2 Chron. 36:21).”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 4:11-12 ‘The Bride’: ”It’s a wonderful thing when the covenant community sincerely rejoices with the bride and groom because what they are doing is in the will of God. In my pastoral ministry, I’ve participated in a few weddings that were anything but joyful. We felt like grieving instead of celebrating. The popular entertainer George Jessel defined marriage as ‘a mistake every man should make,’ but the last place you want to make a mistake is at the marriage altar. Contrary to what some people believe, marriage is not ‘a private affair.’ This sacred union includes God and God’s people, and every bride and groom should want the blessing of God and God’s people on their marriage.
“The people prayed that Ruth would be fruitful in bearing children, for in Israel, children were considered a blessing and not a burden (Ps. 127:3-5). Alas, that’s not the attitude in society today. In the United States each year, a million and a half babies are legally destroyed in the womb, and the pieces of their bodies removed as though they were cancerous tumors. A Christian nurse said to me one day, ‘In one part of our hospital, we’re working day and night to keep little babies alive. In another part, we’re murdering them. What is God going to say?’ ”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 4:13-22 ‘The Baby’: ”God had been gracious to Ruth back in Moab by giving her the faith to trust Him and be saved. His grace continued when she moved to Bethlehem, for He guided her to the field of Boaz, where Boaz fell in love with her. God’s grace continued at the town gate, where the nearer kinsman rejected Ruth and Boaz purchased her. After the marriage, God poured out His grace on Ruth and Boaz by giving her conception (Gen. 29:31; 30:1-2; 33:5) and then by giving her the safe delivery of a son, whom they named Obed (‘servant’).
“God would use this baby to be a source of blessing to many.”
“Obed was a blessing to Boaz and Ruth. This was no ordinary baby, for it was God’s special gift to Boaz and Ruth, and what a blessing little Obed was to their home! But every baby is a special gift from God and should be treated that way. Every baby deserves a loving home and caring parents who want to raise the child ‘in the training and admonition of the Lord’ (Eph. 6:4 NKJV). What a great privilege it is to bring new life into the world and then to guide that life so it matures to become all that God has planned!
“Obed was also a blessing to Naomi. His grandmother informally ‘adopted’ him as her own son and became his foster mother. The women of Bethlehem shared Naomi’s joy when they said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer’ (Ruth 4:14 NIV). The reference is to Obed, not Boaz.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed

Ruth 4 ‘Challenge’: “Some people consider the hour of physical birth, when we begin to breathe and live and function as unique people within the human race, as the most important moment in life. Others mark their marriage as the most meaningful lifetime decision. But many, many have testified to the great importance of their spiritual decision—the act of faith whereby they committed themselves and their entire futures to God.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Jesus, Author of Our Faith

 

My Thoughts

While God did not wish for anyone to lose their inheritance in the Promised Land and God wished to ensure that the rich or powerful did not take advantage of the poor, the concept of a kinsman-redeemer is repeated in the sacrifice that Jesus made to save us.  For Him to be our kinsman-redeemer, He has to be a close relative.  Thus, there can be no dividing lines among the so-called “races” of the earth.  We may have different colors of skin.  There may be other facial and bodily features that are distinctive, but we are all relatives of Jesus.  Or He could not be our kinsman-redeemer.

Another way to look at Boaz and Ruth following the Law of the first five books of the Bible is that they did things the right way.  The encounter on the threshing floor was hushed to keep tongues from wagging.  Nothing immoral occurred, but the town’s people would not have seen it that way.

And another factor is inescapable.  For us to come to Christ, the Holy Spirit must be working within us ahead of time.  Naomi jumps out of her depression and thinks up this grand scheme for Ruth to meet Boaz on the threshing floor.  But none of that would have worked if Boaz had not already fallen in love with Ruth.  The work of the Holy Spirit, a truly God-made marital union in this case, had Boaz already prepared to be the kinsman-redeemer.  He already knew that one other person had first choice in being the kinsman-redeemer.  Is it possible that he had already given it thought?

The legal actions all went the way Boaz had planned and Ruth married Boaz.  They had a son, and Naomi stepped up to be chief babysitter.  Naomi had a family.  Boaz and Ruth were happy together, but the significance of the story of Ruth is seen generations later.  Her son, Obed was the father of Jesse and grandfather of David.  God’s plan for the kingly line of Jesus was going to be done, and while we may have free will, God’s will is being done today.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Ruth 3: 1. If this love story were re-made for TV, what liberty with the script might the director take to appeal to viewers? How might that obscure the main point? For whom is this story most appealing, ‘as is’?
“2. In your circle of friends, what ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of sexual morality prevail? Which ‘rules’ are the first to be bent or broken?
Ruth 4: 1. How large a problem are your poor, your hungry, and your homeless? How could the biblical principle of gleaning (salvage or recycling) be applied to your situation?
“2. When have you faced great physical need? How did God provide for you? How is your story like Naomi‘s and Ruth’s story of how God cares?
Ruth 4 (summary): 1. When have you seen God as your kinsmen-redeemer like Boaz?
“2. Where have you seen the God of Ruth and Boaz act providentially and redemptively on your behalf? Where have you seen the God of Israel and Moab concern himself equally for any and all people who put their trust in him?
“3. Who is the ‘untouchable Moabite’ in your life—the one whom you keep at arm’s length? How will you bridge the gap between you?
“4. How would your association with the ‘Moabites’ of today affect your status with your peers? How would that affect your status with God?
“5. Who among your friends and relatives suffers: (a) Because of their ‘suspect associations’ (e.g., with modern ‘Moabites’)? (b) Because of their physical needs? (c) Because of their personal emptiness? What will you and your group do (this week) to demonstrate God’s concern for these people?
“6. There are two books in the Bible bearing the title of women’s names. Both experienced successful cross-cultural marriages. ls there a lesson to be told with respect to this activity? If so, what?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for Ruth 3 and two sets of questions for Ruth 4, although the second set of questions touch on the entire book.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

3 Comments

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  1. I love reading your posts

    Liked by 1 person

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