Observation is the most important aspect of studying the Bible. Throughout our study so far we’ve mainly been observing. When we have observed well enough interpretation and application naturally follow.
The Psalmist prayed that God would open his eyes to see (Psa. 119:18). It’s interesting that he does not pray to interpret but to see, what we are calling observe. When we see we interpret. There is no interpretation apart from seeing.
One helpful way to study a chapter is to form an outline to help you frame your thinking. Our outline for Ruth three revolves around the word plan.
In Ruth 3 we see God’s quiet sovereignty at work through three plans.
Naomi's Ambiguous Plan (Ruth 3:1-5)
In chapter two we observed that Naomi’s heart may be softening and the skies were opening for her (Ruth 2:20). Now we see more evidence in the plan she has for Ruth.
Naomi’s plan is ambiguous. There was nothing in that culture that stated this had to happen. Her plan makes us a little anxious. Why would she put Ruth in this position? Why would she put Boaz in this position?
The answer seems to be the character of Boaz, she trusts that he will do the right thing (Ruth 3:5).
Ruth's Clear Plan (Ruth 3:6-9)
Whereas Naomi’s plan is ambiguous Ruth’s is clear. Ruth does what Naomi told her to do but she did not leave Boaz to question anything.
In verse 9 she is clear that she is at the threshing floor for marriage. She is there to propose to Boaz. The text gives us no indication that Naomi told Ruth to do this. Ruth did this on her own. She wanted to be clear and decisive with Boaz. We get this from verse nine. This is marriage language in the Old Testament (see Ez. 16:8).
There are two Old Testament concepts we need to understand here.
- Levirate Marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5)
- Kinsman Redeemer (Lev. 25:25-28; 47-49)
Boaz was a redeemer from the standpoint of the land. It does not appear he was legally obligated to marry Ruth according to the Levirate (brother-in-law) laws. Ruth is asking Boaz to live by the spirit and not the letter of the law.
Boaz's Gracious Plan (Ruth 3:10-15
Boaz says he will do what Ruth has asked. But we encounter a problem. There is a redeemer closer than Boaz. So we must wait for the resolution of the story. All signs seem to be pointing to Ruth and Boaz being married but one obstacle remains.
Ruth Returns Home (Ruth 3:16-18)
We see once again that Boaz sends Ruth home with food. Again she went away empty and came back full. This was Boaz communicating to Naomi he understands and will do what it takes to make sure they are taken care of.
Naomi tells Ruth to wait because Boaz will not rest until he makes good on his word. So we wait too. What will happen? Will the other redeemer redeem his right? Is this the end of Ruth and Boaz?
The first lesson for us from this chapter is that character matters. Ruth and Boaz have pristine character and the author is going to great lengths to draw attention to this. No doubt there was a physical attraction there but the author never mentions it. For those who may be looking for a potential husband or wife look for character. Beauty fades but their character will endure.
The second lesson for us is that God is always working even when a plan is unusual. We must take action no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. God is always working and so should we.