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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Ruth 3



Verse 11


‘I will do to thee all that thou requirest.’

Ruth 3:11

It was the Eastern custom for the farmer to remain all night on the threshingfloor, partly to protect his goods, and partly to make the most of the evening breeze for the purpose of winnowing.

I. Boaz, industrious and prudent as he was, slept out among his own work-people.—This is the time chosen by Naomi when Ruth should claim his protection. The busy day, when the labourers were working and the master’s attention was required in one part of the field and then in another, offered no fitting opportunity; but in the quiet night she may gain an opportunity of putting forward the claim. Ruth accordingly goes to where Boaz is lying, with his head resting upon a heap of corn and his long robe gathered round his feet, and lifting the skirt of the ample robe, lies down at his feet. A man who is sleeping out of doors purposely to watch his corn and protect it from robbers would soon become dimly conscious that some one was near. Boaz turns; there is some one there; he reaches out his hand; there is some one; and seriously he asks, ‘Who’s there?’ ‘I, Ruth,’ is the answer, ‘come to seek your aid, for you are one who has the right to redeem,’ i.e. the land; but Boaz knows that the duty extended to marriage as well as the buying of the land. Was there any secret sorrow in the life of Boaz? Had he met with bitter experience of womanhood? Is there not the ring of an ancient sorrow in his words? (Ruth 3:10.) Has he found woman self-seeking and frivolous? or is he one of those men who, though rich, has such a lowly opinion of himself that he thinks no young woman will care to cast in her lot with his? and why should they, when there are young and warmhearted men around them? Something of this kind seems to be suggested by the glad way in which he welcomed Ruth’s claim. He felt that there was some sacrifice on her part, and valued the gentle goodness and loyal obedience which Ruth had displayed.

Accordingly, while Ruth, laden with corn, trudges back to Naomi, Boaz is on his way to the city to put the law in motion.

II. And so Boaz became a shelter and protection to Ruth.—The dignity and force, the gentleness and self-restraint of his character made him as one who became a shelter indeed to the lonely exile from Moab. His name meant strength; and like the pillar (also called Boaz) which stood at the entrance of the Temple, he was a tower of strength to the heart of the fair Moabitess whom he had made his wife. The Temple pillar itself must have given voice to some memories which lingered in Israelitish minds of that high-minded, gentle-souled, and courageous Boaz, who had not been merely mighty in his own day, but who was the very one from whom sprang a race of heroes and of kings. The secret of his strength lay in his faith. To him the thought of God was no mere formal thing. God, to him, was a protector, the shelter, the guardian of human life; beneath His wings all human beings were safe. He welcomes Ruth to that shelter which he knew and which he had tried—the shelter of the God of Israel, under whose wings she had come to trust.

It is this high confidence and faith which gives to men strength. It is this which calms the emotions of the heart and softens the asperities of the character. For faith in its very nature strengthens and soothes, and the man who possesses it can not only meet the dangers of the world with courage, but the trifling anxieties of life with calmness. Circumstances may do much to soften the manner, and ease and wealth, perchance, do give placidity of disposition and foster quietness of demeanour: but faith alone can give that confidence of heart which remains calm amid the waves of this troublesome world.

—Bishop Boyd Carpenter.


(1) ‘There was no such indelicacy in Ruth’s approach to Boaz as would appear if judged by our Western habits. In the East men and women sleep in the garments which they wear by day, and servants frequently sleep in the same chamber or tent with their master. Besides which, in the eye of Hebrew law, Ruth could account herself as bound by marriage ties to Boaz, who, as the supposed next of kin to her deceased husband, was bound to take her to wife.’

(2) ‘Few lives have been governed more in little things by the simple sense of right than those of Ruth and Boaz. “Is it right? Then it must be done.” This is the word of duty; and faith comes in with another word: Then it must be best, too. It is not right to leave Naomi to go to Bethlehem alone; therefore Ruth goes. It is not right that we should live by begging; therefore Ruth works for her living. “I might glean, but is it right?” so, to make sure, she asks permission of the bailiff. Is it right to claim the protection of Boaz? Then she will claim it.’

(3) ‘The third chapter we may entitle, “Rest,” and the word is found in both the first and last verses of the chapter. The manner in which the betrothal of Ruth and Boaz is brought about must not be judged by Western ideas of propriety. There was doubtless purity and delicacy in every particular. When a follower of Jesus lies at the feet of our Blessed Kinsman, Christ, listening to hear what He shall say, true rest of heart will assuredly be found.’


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ruth 3:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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