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

When Ruth returned home that night after her first day of gleaning and recounted all that had transpired, Naomi began to see the merciful providence of God breaking through the dark clouds of her bitterness and poverty. As she listened to Ruth tell of the kindness of Boaz, and when she saw the material blessings Ruth brought back, Naomi blessed the Lord “who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Especially when Ruth told her of Boaz, whom Naomi knew to be one of her closest relatives (kinsman), did she see that it was the Lord who had led Ruth to Boaz’s field. The fact that Boaz was a kinsman is especially the reason for Naomi to rejoice in the kindness of God’s providence.

Why? Because she sees in Boaz a potential redeemer, one to marry Ruth and redeem Elimelech’s inheritance. According to the decree of the covenant (Deut. 25:5-10), the redeemer’s duty was not only to buy back the field she had been forced to sell, but also to take Ruth as his wife. Ruth’s firstborn son would then be counted as a son of Elimelech’s line. In that way Elimelech’s name and inheritance would be preserved among his people. The family of Elimelech, including Naomi, would be brought back to its rightful place among Israel.

Would the Lord be willing to do that? This had been more than Naomi could have dared hope for. Although the law of the kinsman clearly stipulated the duty of the nearest of kin to marry the widow and raise up children to his brother, thus preserving the brother’s name and inheritance in Israel, Naomi could have little confidence this would happen. First, she knew it was a sinful day in which few took the law seriously anymore. (Already in the days of Jacob, Judah had ignored it—Genesis 3:8.) Second, Ruth was a Moabitess, which would provide more than ample excuse for anyone who wished to avoid his responsibilities under the law (Deut. 23:3-6).

But now there suddenly burst forth a small glimmering of promise and light. Naomi has no objection when Ruth proposed to continue gleaning in Boaz’s field. Looking to the Lord in this matter did not mean Naomi remained inactive. She gives the instruction of chapter 3:1-5, with the prayer that it would be Boaz who would exercise the right of redemption.

There are two things we should note about this instruction of Naomi to Ruth. First, by seeking rest for Ruth, Naomi meant more than seeking a husband for her. What Naomi had in mind was that Ruth have a place within the nation of Israel as a full-fledged member of the covenant. Second, it must not be thought that Naomi was encouraging Ruth to be improperly aggressive in her relationship with Boaz. The law specified that a widow of a deceased and childless man was free to press her claim for marriage to his kinsman publicly before the elders of the people (Deut. 25:7). This Naomi hesitated to have Ruth do. To press such a public demand would be tantamount to accusing him publicly of neglecting his obligations under the law of God. Although she would not understand why Boaz had as yet not done what they hoped from him, she felt sure that if he were reminded of his obligation, he would willingly do it. The course of action which she outlined to Ruth was designed to remind him privately and meekly how they felt dependent on him to preserve for them a place in Israel.

Memorize Ruth 2:20

“And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, the man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.”

Points to Ponder

1.Explain Naomi’s confession: “Blessed be the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead.”

a. What specifically occasioned this confession?

b. What does it mean to “bless the Lord” (Ps. 103)? (God blesses, us. What do we mean when we say, “Blessed be God”?)

c. How had God shown his kindness to the dead?

2.Naomi and Ruth decide that Ruth should continue to glean in Boaz’s fields.

a.Could the poor gather enough to last through the winter? If not, what other ways could their income be supplemented?

b.Who are the “maidens” of verse 22? (Boaz’s servants, or other poor?)

3.Note that Naomi speaks a prayer of blessing upon Boaz before she even knew who their benefactor was, and again when he is named. What should be our attitude toward those who help us? Do we need to know their identity? Should we? Job 29:13Job 31:20.

4.What “rest” did Naomi seek for Ruth? (Is there a lesson here that encourages parents or fellow believers to aid others in finding godly spouses? Any Scriptures that speak about this?)

5.Was Naomi aware that Boaz was not the nearest kinsman?

6.Was Naomi right in having Ruth take the initiative in approaching Boaz? Isn’t this more properly the man’s place?

a.Is there a lack of patience shown on Naomi’s part? Or are Naomi and Ruth showing faith by willingly placing themselves at Boaz’s mercy?

b.Was Boaz lax in not coming forth as a kinsman?

7.Is there significance to the washing, anointing and dressing of verse 3?

8. How is your memory work coming?!!!