We’re halfway through the book of Ruth. Life is looking better for the two widows. It is likely they have enough food to last until the next harvest thanks to the generosity of Boaz and hard work of Ruth, but that’s it. Life is more than just food although it is a very important part of life – just ask my children.
1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
I’ve mentioned before that Naomi is a strong personality who doesn’t mind speaking her mind. Here we see her doing just that in love for one she calls “daughter”. Naomi is taking steps to answer her own prayer from 1:9 – “The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.” When we pray sometimes God wants us to take action on our prayers not just sit around waiting for things to happen.
Perhaps Naomi was worried about what would happen to Ruth if she died, or perhaps she just wanted to see Ruth happily married. Whatever the case, Naomi has given this some thought.
The Bible is quiet on whether or not Boaz and Ruth were attracted to each other and whether or not this was noticeable to anyone else. I like to think that they were attracted to each other from the things they say later. It is obvious that they both had given thought to what the other was like.
Naomi has come up with a plan where Ruth can talk to Boaz privately but in company as it were. Harvesting and winnowing were joyous times. People would camp out at the threshing floor. Ruth could talk to Boaz in the dark without anyone realizing who she was, and yet her virtue would be kept.
Naomi goes on with her plan – a plan she had obviously put a lot of thought into. “Put thy raiment upon thee” may refer to Ruth leaving off either her every day clothes or widow’s clothes. Naomi wanted her to dress up, perfume herself, be special. She also told Ruth to wait until Boaz was finished eating and drinking. We all know that there is no point in talking to a hungry man. He won’t hear a word we say.
Ruth was to carefully mark where Boaz laid down. It would be super embarrassing if she were to approach the wrong man in the dark. Uncovering Boaz’s feet would be a signal to Boaz of what Ruth wanted. Then the final step would be up to him – the one part of Naomi’s plan that she could not control. Even without Ruth’s reassurance of her obedience Naomi already knew Ruth would do what she said. Ruth trusted Naomi to only work for good in her behalf.
Letting go of control can be so hard. Trusting God no matter what can be scary, but the results are so worth it. I’m sure we can all think of times when we faced some difficulty. The sweetest memories of those times are when we just let go and gave God total control of the situation. Those are the stories we like to tell our children. Stories of God’s grace and mercy in our time of need. Stories that increase our faith the next time we face a difficulty.
I’m so glad the Bible is full of examples of women who trusted without knowing what the end result would be. Rebekah leaving home to marry Isaac, Jochabed putting her baby in a tiny ark in the river, Hannah giving her son to serve God and live away from her, Esther marrying a heathen king, Mary giving birth to Jesus. Quiet, unquestioning trust.