Ruth – Lesson 4

Posted on: May 02, 2016 Written by
Ruth – Lesson 4
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WEEKLY WORD

 

RUTH – LESSON FOUR

CHAPTER 3

 

INTRODUCTION

Time had passed.  Ruth’s gleaning was coming to an end.  Yet Boaz had not stepped forward to offer his redeeming services to his relatives.  No reason is given for this delay.  We can wonder what might be causing the lack of action.  Some possibilities come to mind.

  • He was not the nearest relative so he had no right to act as redeemer.
  • Elimelech’s widow, Naomi, had a first claim to marry a close relative. She had not requested help or claimed her rights.
  • Mahlon’s widow, Ruth, likely will want to marry a younger man and secure her future in another family.

 

Whatever Boaz’s cause of inaction, nothing had happened.  In a culture of arranged marriages, the parents took the initiative to find husbands or wives for their children.  Since Ruth had no parent in Israel, Naomi stepped up to act as matchmaker.  She had a potentially wonderful plan!

Sometimes it is difficult to know when to wait patiently and when to do what we can to help our situation. We often devise a plan and pray for “closed doors” if God is not in it.

 

 

DAY ONE:  NAOMI COUNSELED RUTH REGARDING MARRIAGE.

READ: Ruth 3:1-4

A. NAOMI SUGGESTED BOAZ AS A HUSBAND FOR RUTH.

Ruth had given up on the idea of remarriage when she pledged herself to spend her life caring for her aging mother-in-law.  But now Naomi has a plan that could provide a future for them both.  She asked Ruth to consider asking Boaz to be a kinsman redeemer to her.  In, effect, she would be asking him to marry her.  If he would marry her, she might produce a son to carry on the family name and reclaim the family property.  This would mean that Ruth would be well provided for rather than living a life of poverty as a gleaner.  This would also mean a good future for Naomi.

A kinsman redeemer was an extended relative who volunteered to take responsibility for a widow in the family.  The levirate law required a brother of a widow’s dead husband to marry her if she had no sons.  If there were no brothers to take this responsibility, the nearest relative could become a kinsman redeemer – but he didn’t have to.

Since Boaz had shown an interest in Ruth, Naomi was willing to surrender her prior rights to marry the nearest relative in order for Ruth to marry Boaz.  If a son was born to Ruth, he would inherit Mahlon’s land rights and carry on the family name.

 

B. A PLAN WAS DEVISED.

A threshing floor was a public place where the grain was separated from the stalk and then crushed.  This separated the inner kernels (grain) from the outside shell (chaff).  The threshing floor was usually located on an elevated site outside the village where the wind could blow away the chaff when the crushed wheat was thrown into the air.  This process was called winnowing.  Winnowing was usually done late in the evening after a day of harvesting.  Boaz spent the night on the threshing floor possibly to prevent theft and to be on hand quickly to do his part in the threshing and winnowing.

Naomi instructed Ruth to clean herself up, put on her best clothes, wear perfume, and go to the threshing floor.  She was to arrive after dark so Boaz would not see her.  When Boaz went to bed, she was to uncover his feet and lie down.  This advice seems very strange to us and even seductive.  But this was an Israelite custom according to the Law.  It was common for a slave to lie at the feet of a master and even share part of his cover.  For Ruth, it was a way of asking Boaz to act as her kinsman redeemer – by marrying her.  As Naomi said, Boaz would understand what was happening and would take it from there.

Mating rituals are always interesting – in both the human and animal kingdoms.  They may seem strange, even comical in some cases.  This one is mysterious, to say the least.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What are some reasons you can think of for requesting marriage in this way instead of a direct request from Naomi, the surrogate matchmaker parent?

 

  1. What qualities made Boaz a suitable candidate for marriage to Ruth?

 

  1. Describe the normal “mating ritual” in your culture.

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. If you are married, describe how your marriage proposal came about.

 

  1. What is one suitable quality your future husband had?

 

 

DAY TWO:  RUTH APPROACHED BOAZ.

READ:  Ruth 3:5-9

A. RUTH WENT TO THE THRESHING FLOOR AS PLANNED.

Ruth obviously agreed to the plan of Naomi.  There seems to be some risk involved regarding Ruth’s reputation, but Ruth trusted Naomi’s judgment.  Naomi understood the Law and the Hebrew culture.  She also understood how desperate their situation could become after harvest season.

Ruth proceeded on her part of the scheme.  Boaz retired beside his grain pile after eating and drinking.  This was a time of festivity and rejoicing to celebrate a successful harvest, so Boaz was in good spirits.  Often there was dancing and singing along with the evening activities.  Harvest festivals and celebrating were always part of harvest time in the ancient world.

 

B. RUTH ASKED BOAZ TO ACT AS REDEEMER.

When he awoke in the middle of the night and discovered a girl at his feet, he asked who she was.  Ruth gave a humble reply – “I am your servant Ruth.”  She then asked him to “spread his garment over her.”  When a Jewish groom marries a girl, he extends his prayer shawl to cover his bride as a symbol of his protection.  By making this request, she was asking him to become her kinsman redeemer by marrying her.

Boaz had prayed that God would give her refuge under His wings (2:11).  Now she was reminding him that this is the provision God has made for Israelite widows.  He can become the answer to his own prayer.

Often when God shows us a need and gives us a burden to pray for that need, He also gives us a means to help meet the need.

 

D. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. What has God said to us about helping each other in the family of God? (Galatians 6:9-10)

 

  1. What is the test of our faith given in 1 John 3:10, 17-18?

 

  1. How has Boaz already shown loving concern for Ruth?

 

  1. Why do you think Ruth called herself Boaz’ servant?

 

 

E. APPLICATION

  1. When have you become the answer to your own prayer?

 

  1. How does Psalm 25:9 show that God is in this part of the story? How does this encourage you?

 

 

DAY THREE:  BOAZ READILY AGREED TO ACT.

READ:  Ruth 3:10-13

A. BOAZ JOYFULLY RECEIVED RUTH’S PROPOSAL.

Boaz was flattered that she would choose him instead of one of the younger men – either poor or rich.  He spoke of her kindness in this matter by saying that it is greater than her kindness to her mother-in-law.   He graciously told Ruth that he would do all he could.  He acknowledged that all the men know that she is a virtuous woman.  She is worthy to be his wife.  Any man would be pleased to have her.

 

B. BOAZ FOLLOWED ISRAEL’S LAW.

Boaz did not take advantage of Ruth in any way.  He immediately tried to remove any fears she might have had that her actions could be taken in the wrong way or that he would refuse her offer.  However, there might be a problem.  There was a nearer relative who must be consulted first.  If the other man wanted to marry her, Boaz would yield; otherwise he would be happy to marry her.

Boaz protected her by allowing her to remain there until morning.  He calmed her fears by making a vow before God to marry her if the other relative relinquished his rights.  Boaz proved himself again by being kind and gentle with Ruth.  Not every man in his day treated women well.  Ruth must have been grateful.  But what about the unknown relative?  Once again she must remember that she is under the wings of her God.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. Boaz saw Ruth’s choice to marry him as an extreme act of kindness. How do you see it?

 

  1. Many times in Scripture God’s people are told to “be not afraid.” What are some things that might have caused Ruth to fear?

 

  1. What are some of the things that might cause people to fear today?

 

  1. What is an ultimate fear according to Hebrews 2:14-15? How did God help us overcome this fear?   (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

 

  1. What is one thing we are told that we should fear in Matthew 10:28?

 

  1. Peace is the opposite of fear. What did Jesus say in John 14:27?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. What is most likely to cause you to fear?

 

  1. Where do you turn when you are tempted to become fearful?

 

 

DAY FOUR:  BOAZ PROTECTED RUTH’S REPUTATION.

READ:  Ruth 3:14-15

A. BOAZ SENT RUTH OUT BEFORE DAYBREAK.

Things are not always what they seem.  It is easy for gossip to get started when all of the facts are not known.  Perhaps at this season of reveling and drinking in the fields, there may have been improper behavior taking place.  So Boaz protected Ruth by sending her away just before daybreak.  They both knew nothing improper had occurred, but it might have been hard to convince others.  It was very thoughtful of Boaz to consider her integrity a thing worth preserving.

 

B. BOAZ SENT PROVISIONS WITH RUTH.

No reason is given for the generous gift Boaz sent home with Ruth.  It may have simply been another act of kindness.  Or it may have had some significance in the negotiations being carried out.  It could have been some kind of surety of his intentions to fulfill his duties as a kinsman redeemer – a kind of first fruits of greater provision to come.  It appears that he left immediately to take care of business for Ruth.

How important it is to be trustworthy.  I worked with women in leadership positions for many years, and I always emphasized the need to not be hasty in making commitments.  Pray first and be sure that God is leading in a certain direction.  But after a commitment is made, it must be honored.  Christians must be people of their word.  Certainly Boaz is quick to do just what he said he would do.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. Do you think Boaz’s haste was just a matter of integrity or was he very eager to see if Ruth would be his wife?

 

  1. What does the Bible say about keeping vows? (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

 

  1. Read the Law regarding vows in Numbers 30:1-2.

 

  1. What did Jesus say about keeping your word in Matthew 5:33-37?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. Consider your reputation. Do people see you as a person who does what you say?

 

  1. What are the warnings about a Christian’s protection of their reputation in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Peter 2:12?

 

 

DAY FIVE:  RUTH REPORTED THE RESULTS.

READ:  Ruth 3:16-18

A. RUTH RETURNED TO NAOMI

Naomi must have been eagerly awaiting Ruth’s return.  So much depended on Boaz’s response.  Perhaps Naomi did not know that Elimelech had another relative that was closer than Boaz.  Now she will have to wait longer.  What does she stand to gain?

  • If a kinsman redeemer will voluntarily take responsibility for Mahlon’s widow, he would buy back the land rights that they had forfeited years ago and would possibly marry Ruth. Ruth’s marriage would secure a new life for herself.
  • Boaz had sent Naomi the barley to insure that Ruth’s mother-in-law would share in Ruth’s future arrangement. Naomi could know that she would not be forgotten and that the matter would be settled with haste.  They must wait to see what would happen.

 

Imagine a time when you had to wait to find out something important – a job opportunity, a test result, the birth of a grandchild, the safe arrival of a plane flight, and the list goes on.  Waiting is nerve wracking unless you have put your life in the hands of God.  Naomi seems to be at peace as she entrusts her future to God’s man, Boaz.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY OR DISCUSSION

  1. How does Jesus instruct us to deal with uncertainties? (1 Peter 5:7)

 

  1. What does Paul tell us about worrying? (Philippians 4:6)

 

  1. Read Psalm 55. David was in the midst of deep dismay.  What was his conclusion in verse 22-23?

 

  1. How is supernatural peace described in Philippians 4:4-7?

 

 

D. APPLICATION

  1. What promise does Paul share with believers that has been a comfort to many? (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

  1. How can you begin to overcome a habit of worrying? (1 Peter 5:7)

 

 

CONCLUSION

Ruth and Naomi had placed themselves back in the land under God’s care.  They were in a place of blessing.  They had done all they could to help their situation.  They had followed the Law as God intended.  Now they could wait expectantly to see what God had planned for their future.  God can be trusted to care for His children.

 

PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK

Learning to trust and obey God is the secret to peace that passes understanding.

 

CHALLENGE

Turn your worry into trust this week by deliberately casting your cares on Jesus when you begin to feel anxious.

 

 

 

©2016 Thrive.



About the author

LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]

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