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Naomi Seeks Rest for Ruth
In the fifty days that Ruth has been near Boaz, Boaz has told her nothing about his love for her. It was neither the time nor the opportunity for it. Ruth must initiate it. He waits, as it were, for her to call upon his grace. Grace is present, but she only will receive it and it will only be experienced when she appeals to it. In addition, Boaz can’t ask her to become his wife, because there is another redeemer closer than he is. The law also states that it is forbidden for a member of God’s people to marry a Moabitess (Deuteronomy 23:3).
This means that everything comes back to the basis of grace. If this is appealed to, grace will prevail. We see that, in a wonderful way, expressed in the appeal of a Canaanite woman to the Lord Jesus for the sake of her daughter (Matthew 15:21-Hosea :). Whosoever comes to God in this way is heard by Him.
Naomi knows that for Ruth, there is only one way to get rest and that is when she marries the right man. Therefore, she is now taking the initiative, while in Ruth chapter 2, Ruth is taking the initiative to provide food (Ruth 2:2). The rest that Naomi is looking for is that Ruth will marry Boaz and find rest in her own home, her own family with children.
Earlier she had desired for Ruth another rest, but that was when she had wanted to send her back to Moab with the inappropriate wish that Ruth would find rest in the house of a Moabite man (Ruth 1:9). If Ruth had listened to her then, she would never have known Boaz and would have continued to serve the idols of Moab instead of being brought into contact with the true God, the God of Israel.
A practical lesson can be learned in view of the desire for and search for a spouse. It is important to learn the will of the Lord in this, trusting Him that He knows who suits whom. Whoever does his own will in these things will not find rest in marriage, but unrest. Marriage is meant as an oasis of rest, despite the activity that can be present, especially if there are several children to raise and care for. Yet the man who follows the will of God in this finds the inner peace that God has connected to marriage.
It is important that parents seek this rest for their children, as Naomi does here for Ruth. Parents’ selfishness can lead them to seek a good partner for their child, i.e. someone with whom they can create an impression without thinking about the source of unrest they may create for their child.
Another remark in connection with current events is that finding rest in one’s own home is not in keeping with the generally present urge of women to work outside the home. Here too, whoever follows the will of God will find true satisfaction.
The wish that “it may be well” with someone is also found in the law and in the commandment for the children to honor their parents (Deuteronomy 5:16). Paul cites this commandment in the letter to the Ephesians, emphasizing that it is the only commandment that is not followed by a punishment for transgression, but that it is “the first commandment with a promise”. This promise is that it may be well with the child who honors his parents (Ephesians 6:2-Leviticus :).
Naomi Knows Who Boaz Is and Where He Is
Naomi indicates to Ruth that Boaz is “our kinsman”. With this Naomi is saying that she and Ruth have a common family member. This is reminiscent of the Lord Jesus, who therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 8:3), yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). By mentioning the blood relationship, Naomi also seems to think of the duty of a husband’s brother (Deuteronomy 25:5-2 Samuel :). The appeal to the duty of a husband’s brother cannot be made in a direct sense, because Boaz is not a brother of Mahlon, the deceased husband of Ruth. Nevertheless, the idea of the duty of a husband’s brother may have played a role.
If there is a way for a marriage between Boaz and Ruth, it should be by that way, with grace bridging the distant relationship. Naomi would also know about the prohibition to marry a Moabitess (Deuteronomy 23:3). However, she knew herself to be an object of the grace of God Who brought her and Ruth back into His land. She understands that where in this case two laws seem to conflict, God is greater and goes the way of grace. That is the way from which the blessing can be obtained and that is the way she proposes to Ruth.
The awareness of the blood relationship between them and Boaz is the starting point of her plan that she will introduce to Ruth. Boaz has already shown his affection so much that she feels invited to act. Faith and acting in faith belong together. Faith does not make you passive, but leads you to action. Faith in God’s goodness is a great stimulus to activity. An action done in faith is not a leap in the dark with an uncertain outcome. An action done in faith happens in the confidence that God will reward faith.
She was with the “maids” of Boaz. That time is over. She does not return to them. Now she is ready for a meeting and relationship with Boaz personally. The most suitable opportunity for this is when the harvest is gathered. Then the harvest is taken to the threshing floor to be fanned by the owner. They also eat and drink to celebrate the rich harvest. There is joy with the owner, with Boaz.
The Lord Jesus will also fan His harvest (Matthew 3:12). He will fan His people in the future to distinguish between chaff and wheat. The chaff is the godless, renegade mass of the people who are in revolt against Him. The wheat is the God-fearing part that, in the great tribulation, undergoes heavy trials to purify their faith.
We can also apply this to ourselves. The Lord Jesus says to Peter that Satan has demanded to sift (that is another word for fan) the disciples like wheat. It will be clear that Satan is only interested in the chaff (Luke 22:31).
A “threshing floor” appears several times in Scripture and is a significant picture. On a threshing floor, the wheat is beaten out of the ear and the wheat is separated from the chaff. A threshing floor therefore speaks of judgment, distinguishing between those who belong to the Lord and those who do not. In our personal lives we also are fanned. The Lord does this or allows it to happen, for example, through something that happens in our lives and in which we recognize His hand. He is working with us to remove from our lives all features that are not His. All features that are not His features prevent His life from becoming visible in our lives.
Instructions From Naomi for Ruth
Before Ruth can go to Boaz, she has to do a few things: she has to wash herself, anoint herself and put on her best clothes. Someone washes himself to become clean or pure. This is also the case spiritually. In spiritual terms, washing means that one is cleansed in one’s heart and mind by reading God’s Word (John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 1:22). Only when someone is cleansed, he can have part with the Lord Jesus (John 13:8). Ruth must wash herself to be clean and then have part with Boaz.
Then she has to anoint herself. Ointments are made with anointing oil. Ointment with oil is a picture of the anointing with the Holy Spirit. God’s children are anointed with the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). He who is anointed with the Holy Spirit – and that is every child of God! – will also show this in his life by showing the fruit of the Spirit.
It is about being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is a command. It is our responsibility to give the Holy Spirit room in our lives. That is, our whole life is to be permeated by Him. That we live and walk through the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). As a result, our lives will spread a pleasant aroma (cf. John 12:3). With Ruth it means that it is no longer the smell of Moab that hangs around her (Jeremiah 48:11), but the smell of the new relationship she wants to enter into. We can ask ourselves the question: ‘What smell do we spread?’
She is putting on the best clothes she has. Clothes indicate behavior. What the people see of us is our behavior and actions, just as they see our clothes. It is God’s intention that through our actions we should “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). What the Word of God and the Holy Spirit do with us becomes visible in our appearance, our way of speaking and acting.
Our contact with the Lord, our desire to be with Him and to live with Him and for Him, will have a cleansing effect on our lives (1 John 3:3; cf. Revelation 22:11-2 Kings :). Do the people around us see that we are clothed with the Lord Jesus? God “has taken us into favor in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). The intention is to show that too. We are urged to show the features of the new man (Colossians 3:12; Romans 13:14). Externally, this happens when we are baptized (Galatians 3:27).
After these three actions she can go to Boaz. But she is not allowed to make herself known to Boaz until he has eaten and drunk. This shows that we can only come into contact with the Lord Jesus after He had completely fulfilled the Father’s will. The Father’s will was His food (John 4:34), His ‘eating and drinking”. This advice also infers that she must not behave conspicuously in order to be seen by him. Everything speaks of humility and modesty.
Naomi has given Ruth advice for her ‘personal care’. She also pointed out to Ruth that she should be modest and not impose herself. That’s not necessary with Boaz. Even when she now tells Ruth how to approach Boaz, it speaks of modesty. Ruth must first find out where Boaz will spend the night. That means she has to pay close attention to where Boaz is and where he is going. She has to follow him with her eyes, she has to keep an eye on him constantly. This also applies to our connection with the Lord Jesus. The contact with Him, every word we read about Him in His Word, makes us familiar with His ways.
When she has ‘localized’ him, as it were, she has to go to him. What she then has to do – uncover his feet and lie down – means as much as asking him if he wants to marry her. By lying under the same blanket she offers herself to become his wife. However, she does not lie at his side, she does not (yet) have the right to do so, but at his feet. She wants to be his maidservant. A sense of grace leads her to this plan. She is dependent on grace.
Naomi has already gained so much insight into Boaz that she knows how he will react. She tells Ruth that Boaz will tell her everything she must do. Ruth has the right mind for that and Boaz has the wisdom to notice it.
From a spiritual point of view, what Ruth is doing here is to unite herself with the death of the Lord Jesus. Here it is not the sinner who comes to Christ to get new life, but the believer who sees more and more of the truth about what Christ has done and wants to experience it in his own life. Thus, from a spiritual point of view, the result of all her previous actions – which show the believer’s mind – is that the Lord Jesus will show what His will is (cf. John 7:17).
The Obedience of Ruth
Ruth wants to be obedient in everything. She doesn’t realize what it all means, nor does she know what the consequences are, but she listens to the wise advice of her mother-in-law who has also grown spiritually. She is aware of Boaz’s activities. This enables her to give Ruth the right instructions.
Here we can learn practical lessons about the blessed effect of a good relationship between children and parents. If, through one’s own fault, there is a poor relationship with the parents, there can be no good relationship with the Lord. There is no Scripture that calls on children to disobey their parents.
Also, in the relationship between the elderly and young people in the church, the task is that the young people are submissive to the elderly: “You younger men, likewise, be subject to [your] elders” (1 Peter 5:5). In a good spiritual atmosphere where elderly people have real care for young people, this will not be a problem for young people. But even if the elderly do not behave as wisely and thoughtfully as is appropriate to their age and life experience, the task remains to young people to be subject. Submission is an attitude, a mindset.
What Ruth says here to her mother-in-law recalls what Mary later says to the servants at the wedding in Cana (John 2:5). There it is related to what the Lord Jesus says, while this is about Naomi. But the attitude that lies in both statements is the same. Only complete trust in the commander leads to complete obedience.
Ruth makes no reservations. She doesn’t say: ‘I can’t do that.’ There is also no ‘Yes, but … ’ from her mouth. Without a hint of self-confidence, she resolutely declares that she will do everything that Naomi has asked. This is because she is sure that Naomi is right in what she asks, and especially because Naomi knows Boaz.
Ruth not only says she will do everything Naomi has said, but she also does it. She does not answer from an impulse, but from the determination she also showed when she accompanied Naomi to Israel.
Ruth Lies Down at Boaz’ Feet
As indicated in Ruth 3:3, Boaz’s eating and drinking is a picture of the Lord Jesus doing the will of the Father. With Boaz we see that after he has eaten and drunk, he has a happy heart. We also see this joy in the Lord Jesus. He has looked forward to “for the joy set before him“ (Hebrews 12:2). After completing the work on the cross, He speaks of praising God (Psalms 22:23; Psalms 22:26). In that joy He lets His people share. This is a joy that belongs to the harvest: “They will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest” (Isaiah 9:3; Psalms 126:6).
Just before completing the work, He sings “a hymn” with His disciples (Matthew 26:30). He can do so, because He has just instituted His Supper and has revealed its meaning to His disciples. Paul can therefore speak of “the cup of blessing which we bless” (1 Corinthians 10:16). This also speaks of the wonderful results of the work of the Lord Jesus.
Boaz goes to lie down “at the end of the heap of grain”. This is the result of the fanning. There is only wheat left. Wheat speaks of the fruit of the work of the Lord Jesus, Who Himself is the grain of wheat. He fell into the earth and died (John 12:24). Therefore, there is much fruit. This fruit consists of countless grains of wheat. All these grains of wheat are the result of the one grain of wheat that fell into the earth and died. All these grains of wheat have the same nature as the one grain of wheat. In this picture we see that the Lord Jesus is eternal life, and that all who believe in Him possess Him as eternal life. The eternal life that the believer possesses is no other life than the Lord Jesus Himself. To share this life, He gave His life, He died.
It is significant that Ruth lies down at that place with Boaz. There she identifies with him. In the picture she makes herself one with Him Who fell into the earth and died, to rise up with Him in a new life.
Boaz Discovers Ruth
In the middle of the night Boaz wakes up. He is startled and bends forward. The cause of his surprise is that he notices in the middle of the night that someone is with him. In practical terms, this indicates that Ruth had lain down at his feet without Boaz noticing anything. It shows her great prudence and patience. Naomi did not say anything about waking up Boaz. Therefore, she waits patiently to see what the course of the night will bring. Naomi has said that Boaz will tell her what to do (Ruth 3:4). He will wake up at some point. She is not ashamed of her attitude which speaks entirely of dependency on grace.
Boaz discovers that there is a woman lying at his feet. He asks who she is. It is in the middle of the night, which makes it impossible to distinguish faces accurately. Yet it is not impossible that he has recognized Ruth. He had her in his field for fifty days and loved her. His heart will have been full of her. The question “who are you?” does not necessarily mean that he does not recognize her, but may also mean that he wants to hear from her mouth the confession about herself.
Her answer to Boaz’s question is characteristic of her humility. She is his “maid”. Then she asks him to spread his covering over her. In veiled terms, that is the question of whether he wants to take her to be his wife. Earlier Boaz expressed his appreciation for her because she took refuge under the wings of the LORD (Ruth 2:12). As Ruth speaks she imitates Boaz in her words, but brings it closer. She speaks of the covering of Boaz and thus says as it were that she will experience in the shielding of Boaz the protection of the LORD (cf. Psalms 36:8; Psalms 57:2Psalms 61:5; Psalms 91:4; Ezekiel 16:8).
This protection gets its meaning from the fact that he is the redeemer. She appeals to him as the redeemer. With this she takes over what Naomi said about Boaz in Ruth 3:2, where she calls him “our” blood relative. Boaz is also the redeemer of the Moabite Ruth. But there is no question of her claiming any rights on that ground. On the one hand she acknowledges that he is the redeemer, while on the other hand she indicates that she expects everything from him and perhaps there is a possibility for her to be blessed. She voluntarily calls herself a maid, she confesses her helpless condition, and acknowledges that it will only be grace if he meets what she asks.
Remarkably enough, she does not call herself ‘Ruth, the Moabitess’. She is aware of the family relationship with Boaz. She doesn’t seem to be aware of a redeemer closer than Boaz, although Naomi did allude to it in Ruth 2, where she says Boaz is “one of our redeemers” (Ruth 2:20). In spiritual terms, it means that she no longer sees herself as a poor sinner, but that she knows that she belongs to God’s family.
Whoever remains in the ‘I am a poor sinner’ attitude, will not become a joyful and thankful Christian and will not grow in faith. In such an attitude God is deficient and the work of the Lord Jesus undervalued.
Boaz Encourages and Praises Ruth
Instead of blaming Ruth for an inappropriate action, Boaz wishes her the blessing of the LORD. If anyone of the readers thinks that Ruth is working in a wrong way or with wrong motives, Boaz takes away that impression or image with these words. His appreciation for Ruth goes even further. He brings her into a personal relationship with himself by calling her “my daughter”. In doing so, he gives her access to Israel. That must have been a great encouragement for her.
Her whole behavior and offering herself to him in this subdued way is particularly praised by him. He speaks of “your last kindness”, for he has praised Ruth before for an earlier act of love, namely everything she did for Naomi (Ruth 2:11). The love deed she proved to Boaz is more something she did not do: “Not going after young men, whether poor or rich”. Thus, the Lord Jesus not only appreciates what we do, but also what we do not do out of love for Him.
The fact that he calls her “my daughter” and talks about “young men” indicates that Boaz is a lot older than Ruth. By this “last kindness” Boaz means that Ruth did not follow the desires of her own heart and lusts, but that she wanted to be with Boaz. She did not seek the attractiveness of youth, but the quiet contemplation and protection of the man in whom strength is, after the meaning of the name Boaz. She could have followed a poor young man because of a natural attraction and the rich young man because of his possessions. She didn’t do either because she loved Boaz. That is not because of his appearance or his wealth, but because of everything he has become for her. She wants him for himself, not because of what he owns.
Boaz encourages Ruth. She doesn’t need to fear. He also gives her a great promise that he will do everything for her she has asked. His name is not Boaz for nothing, with the impressive meaning ‘in him is strength’. He is “a man of great wealth” (Ruth 2:1). He will do everything for her because she is “a woman of excellence”, a valuable or worthy woman, a woman who is good and trustworthy (Proverbs 31:11). The whole city knows that right up to the city council. Therefore, because she is worthy, then so will he do everything for her. He rewards her virtue and praises her for it (Proverbs 31:28; Proverbs 12:4). This is the language of Boaz’s love for her. While Ruth calls herself his maid, saying ‘I am nothing’, he says to her, as it were, ‘you are everything’.
After Boaz has declared Ruth his love, he responds to her remark that he is the redeemer. He is, but he is not the sole redeemer. The other redeemer is even closer to Naomi and her relative than he is. But he doesn’t need Ruth to solve that problem. Ruth will not need to deal with the relative who is closer than he is. Boaz makes it his business by talking about “a relative closer than I”. He mentions him, however, not in relation to Ruth, but in relation to himself.
In this closer redeemer we can see a picture of the law. First of all, the way according to the law must be followed. If the law can redeem, then that’s good and it should indeed redeem. If the law does not do it, the second Redeemer will do it. When someone comes to faith, there is often a period in the development of the life of faith when there is a desire to keep the law. But it soon turns out that it is not possible to keep the law.
Salvation is only through Christ, and serving God can only happen through the Spirit of Christ. When that is seen, it becomes day, in the believer’s life. So, we read here that Boaz will redeem her in the “morning” when it will become clear that the first redeemer does not want to.
The order of redemption is clear: first the other redeemer and only if he does not want it, Boaz takes over the redemption. He confirms his commitment with an oath. Then he tells her to stay with him until morning. Boaz is not only able to redeem, he wants too also, and will do it. His firm intention is seen in his comment to Ruth: “Lie down until morning”. It radiates rest. She may entrust herself entirely to him. She doesn’t have to do anything until morning. He knows what he is going to do.
Thus, the Lord Jesus is occupied with the soul of a man who has entrusted himself to Him, but with whom the claims of the law must first be settled. Anyone who wants to resolve this issue himself will be in great need. In the experience of the believer this is often the case. We see that illustrated in Romans 7. There we find someone who wants to keep the law and thereby ends up in hopeless misery, so that he finally exclaims: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). When that cry of despair has been uttered, we read in the next verse how the morning dawns. He turns his eye to God and thanks Him through Jesus Christ, the second and final Redeemer.
Back to Town
Ruth does everything Boaz asks. She stays at his feet all night. Earlier we read that she “until evening” gleaned ears on the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:17). That means that she has been busy all day with gleaning. Here we see the two sides of Christendom. On the one hand we are working as sons of the day (1 Thessalonians 5:4-Ruth :) “as long as it is day” (John 9:4). On the other hand, we live in the night of this world (Romans 13:12) in the awareness that we are connected to a rejected Lord. In the night it is important to be close to Him, at His feet, which indicates fellowship with Him, to listen to Him (Luke 10:39).
Before the sun rises, Ruth rises. She does because Boaz asks her to go. He does so out of care for her, for the sake of her good name. The relationship with Boaz is growing, but has not yet been fully established. Therefore, for his part, there cannot yet be an open declaration of his love for her.
The Lord Jesus must first complete His work in a soul before He can openly show Himself in the life of such a person. In the life of someone who is not at peace with God through faith in the completed work of the Lord Jesus, He cannot become visible. There may be devotion and faithfulness, but these characteristics, however valuable, show more of one’s own person than of Him. And after all, it all has to be about Him alone.
Although Boaz cannot yet openly acknowledge her as being connected with him, his kindness and grace toward her are not diminished. He gives her six measures of barley. Six is the number of man and indicates imperfection, while the number seven indicates perfection. She will receive the seventh measure in the next chapter in Boaz himself. Then she will have him and she will not only have something of his possession, but himself and in that way also everything he possesses.
The barley she receives from Boaz is an explicit gift for Naomi (Ruth 3:17). It is a sign of his favor. He measured it himself. What Ruth received, Naomi also receives. Here we see again the relationship between Naomi and Ruth and thus a picture of the relationship between the old Israel and the remnant, which is the new Israel. The old Israel will be blessed in the future and that indeed, in the new Israel.
This ancient Israel is not the Israel that God has rejected in His Son, but the Israel as God has always seen it in those who have remained faithful to Him. The old promises that applied to them are fulfilled to the remnant, while all of ancient Israel who have relied on Him will receive everything He has promised them. We see that also when the child that is born to Ruth, is attributed to Naomi (Ruth 4:14-Ezra :). What Ruth gains, Naomi gains too. Ancient Israel receives in the remnant all that God has promised Israel.
Ruth Returns to Naomi
When Ruth has got up, she goes directly to her mother-in-law. She asks her: “Who are you?” [which is the literal translation]. Boaz asked her the same question when she came to him at night and he discovered her (Ruth 3:9). We have already seen that this does not necessarily mean that he did not know her. It was the question that sought a personal testimony. When asked, Ruth answered who she is and what she wants to be for him (his maid) and what he is for her (the redeemer). When Naomi asks who she is, it is certain that this question does not mean that Naomi no longer knows who Ruth is. Naomi’s question refers to how Ruth has returned, in what capacity: ‘Are you an outcast or are you the future wife of Boaz?’ The question is whether she has found the rest that Naomi is seeking for her (Ruth 3:1).
In practical terms, this question can also be asked of us, believers. Have we found rest in the Lord when we have been somewhere? Why am I going somewhere? How am I now? How do I stand before God?
Ruth’s answer, like her answer to Boaz, is a testimony. This time she does not testify of herself, who she is. Now she testifies of Boaz. She tells Naomi everything he had “done for her” and that, while everything has yet to happen. It seems that in faith she sees the whole result of the work that Boaz will do for her.
When she has told everything, she showed what Boaz gave her and what he said when he gave it to her. This encouraged Naomi very much, because she understood the message of hope that is hidden in the sign and the words. In faith, she attributes the right value to this gift and draws the right conclusion. She tells Ruth that she can now wait restfully, wait for him.
Naomi’s advice is in line with what Boaz said at the end of Ruth 3:13. We can see in it the advice given to someone on his way to full assurance of faith. Full assurance of faith is not to be gained by one’s own effort, but by simply trusting the Lord and His Word. It is about being still and seeing the salvation of the LORD (Exodus 14:13). Power is found in it.
That Ruth can have rest is because Boaz, as Naomi says, does not rest before he has brought the matter to an excellent conclusion. Nor does the Lord rest until we have rest in the presence of God. He will complete it for us (Psalms 138:8). We may live in the confidence that He will perfect His work (Philippians 1:6). This applies to our conversion, but also to the practice of our life of faith, in which much can happen that can make us restless. The Lord is dealing with us in this manner because He loves us.
It is also about the rest as a result of His work, and for whom He has done it: His church. If He has her with Him, He will rest in His love. Now He is still busy sanctifying and cleansing the church, us. Therefore, He has given Himself up on the cross and He still gives Himself up for her in heaven, that is to say He is constantly committed to her (Ephesians 5:25-Ezekiel :). As long as we are here, He does not give Himself rest. He will finish His work however, and soon.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ruth 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany