Okay, we’ve finally come to the big moment, the pinnacle of the entire story of Ruth. The part where Ruth steps out in faith and seeks redemption at the foot of her redeemer. She had time to prepare for this moment, and we know what’s about to happen. But one of the main characters had no clue what was about to unfold. Can you guess who that was?
Boaz had no idea what was in store for that fateful night on the threshing floor. According to his plans the agenda for the night was simply work hard to get the grain processed, have a little party with his employees, and then try to get a good night’s sleep while lying on the floor. None of this included a meeting with the young Moabitess or a marriage proposal!
Poor unsuspecting Boaz! He had no idea what was coming his way…
“And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’ And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.’”
Can you imagine Boaz’s surprise when he woke up in the middle of the night and found a woman lying at his feet? I’m sure that was the last thing he was expecting! One commentator noted the wisdom of Naomi to have Ruth uncover Boaz’s feet so that during the night his feet would get cold and wake him up. Smart woman!
The term “spread your wings” can also be translated “spread your cloak” and meant to cover with protection. Ruth was submitting herself to Boaz’s authority and asking him to cover her with his protection and provision. While Ruth was using this term in reference to marriage and the levirate law, there is a deeper symbolism here for us. Boaz is a picture of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. So may we be like Ruth who lay at the feet of her redeemer, submitted to his authority, and asked for his protection!
Notice Boaz’s reply to Ruth. He obviously wasn’t offended by the fact that she, a foreign young woman was lying at his feet, nor was he disturbed by her request. In fact, he was blessed by it! His immediate response was to pronounce a blessing upon her! To me, this shows Boaz’s affection for Ruth. Even though he kept his affections for her purely platonic, Boaz still loved Ruth and was more than willing to perform his duty as kinsman redeemer.
“And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you.”
Did you catch the word Boaz used to describe Ruth’s character and reputation among the people of Israel? Sound familiar? It should! Back at the beginning of chapter two, Boaz was introduced to us as being a worthy man and we studied the meaning and significance of that description. Interesting that in her short time among the Israelites, Ruth should also gain a similar reputation. It’s a powerful testimony to the influence of living one’s life fully trusting in God’s direction and provision.
So Boaz makes his promise and pledge to Ruth that unless the law prohibits it, he will redeem and marry Ruth. I find it interesting that Boaz makes no slight against the nearer kinsman. He is more concerned about Ruth’s well-being and provision than who will provide it. This is true love—one not based upon romantic feelings or selfish desires, but upon the best interests of the other.
Can the same be said of us? When we make promises, are we thinking of the other person and what’s best for them, or do we really have our own interests in mind? What’s our agenda when we do something good for another?
And what is our response when we’re rudely awakened in the middle of the night by the needs of others? Do we respond with gentleness and grace? Or are we put out at being bothered?
Boaz was just going about his business, finishing up the process of harvesting the crops, and then guarding the finished product at night. He was not expecting a special visitor in the middle of the night, nor a marriage proposal. But when popped the question, he responded with grace and selfless love and acted honorably in the midst of a potentially compromising situation. Boaz didn’t belittle Ruth or put down the other redeemer who wasn’t doing his duty. No. In all ways he acted with honor and grace, and continually referenced the Lord.
May we strive to further emulate the wonderful character qualities of this worthy man! May we seek to do the right thing in all situations, pour out generously the grace of God, and show others unconditional, selfless love.
We’ll continue our look at the unsuspecting groom from Ruth 3 with a bonus post on Friday, but I’ll let you think over the thoughts in this post for now. Until next time…