Rev. Haak is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Lynden, Washington.

Ruth, under Naomi’s tutelage, has decided to bring to Boaz her request that he do the part of a kinsman, believing Boaz to be the first in line for this duty. It was of vital importance to them that the inheritance of their husbands not be blotted out in Israel. In spite of Boaz’s great kindness, he had not taken the initiative; and so they decide to press the matter themselves. They do so, however, in the most reserved and unpretentious way possible. Ruth is walking the way of godly discretion. She does not wish that Boaz be put in a bad light as if he had neglected his obligation as a kinsman; nor does she wish to reprove him. But her actions are intended to remind him tactfully of the law of the redeemer, as well as to express her own desire to be his wife. 

Two truths shine forth in this part of the narrative. First, the chaste conversation of Ruth. Her approach to Boaz (and thus her approach to the whole matter of marriage and children) is one of deep consideration for Boaz, of modesty, of chastity, and yet of forthrightness. Ruth is the living example of the character of the godly woman described in I Peter 3:2-5. Her actions and request, namely that Boaz would look upon her in her need and provide that which only a kinsman could, are expressed in as gentle and discreet a way as possible. Second, Ruth’s chaste conversation is coupled with fear. There is the need to “sit still,” that is, wait upon the Lord in those matters most dear to her heart. For, Naomi and Ruth are mistaken, there is a nearer kinsman. Thus their request cannot be answered at that moment and they must wait to see what the Lord will do. 

In understanding this passage, we should note the importance of the threshing of grain in Israel. It marked the climax of the harvest and was one of the most joyful seasons in the year. As another year’s supply of food was secured, the believing Israelite realized that all they had they had received from the hand of the Lord. It was a gift of His grace and the assurance of His covenant. Psalms and hymns were sung as they labored together in the last stage of the harvest, winnowing, the separation of the chaff from the grain. Numerous feasts of thanksgiving were held with prayers of gratitude to God.

Also, do not fail to note that Ruth for ‘the first time laid aside her widow’s garments and dressed herself in the customary clothing of a young woman in Israel. This in itself was a public declaration of her intentions to seek another husband. 

Boaz’s reaction and words reflect the fact that he had given much thought to the whole situation. Boaz loved Ruth, and he had wanted for a long time to do the duty of a kinsman to her. But there were other consider- at-ions under the law which he could not ignore. There was yet living in Bethlehem a closer relative to Ruth than he. Boaz knew exactly what had to be done, and Ruth’s initiative in which she reflected her feelings are his signal to proceed. He promises to contact the nearer kinsman and redeem Ruth if he would not. Their parting is done before the rising of the sun, for Boaz is jealous that none suppose he would take Ruth to wife without the consideration of the closer kinsman. 

Patiently, Ruth explains to Naomi all that has happened and presents the gift of barley which Boaz had given her. Now they must sit still that day, committing their hearts’ desire to a faithful Jehovah.

Memory Work—I Peter 3:2-5

“While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”

Points to Ponder:

1. Describe the scene that evening at Boaz’s threshing floor. What was being done? Why at night? Who were present? 

What was the significance of the eating and drinking, and of “his heart was merry”? 

2. Was it proper for Ruth to go to Boaz secretly and lie down there? 

Why did she uncover his feet? Did this action have special meaning? If so, what? 

In verse 9, is Ruth asking Boaz to marry her? 

3. Boaz’s reaction (vss. 9-13) 

Why did Boaz bless Ruth? (What thoughts were going through his mind?) 

In verse 10, when he commends Ruth for showing “more kindness in the latter end, than at the beginning,” what does he mean? 

When he says that Ruth “followedst not young men,” does he mean that his being older than she did not bother her (by the way, what was the age difference between them?), or does he mean that as a widow Ruth had not been out looking for young men to marry but rather took care of Naomi? 

In his vow to “do the part of a kinsman to thee,” was Boaz promising to marry Ruth if the nearer kinsman would not? 

4. Why did Ruth tarry the night? Why did she leave secretly? 

5. “Who art thou my daughter?” Naomi asks. (Matthew Henry adds, “art thou a bride or no?”) What does this question mean? 

6. What does Naomi mean when she tells Ruth to “sit still”? 

Apply this to our own lives of patient waiting for God to make known His will. How do we “sit still”? What temptations are present when we are at such a point? 

7. What more do we learn (about the character of Ruth and Boaz in this chapter? List qualities and cite examples. 

8. How are you doing on your memory work?!!