Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? “Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. “It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.” She said to her, “All that you say I will do.” So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a redeemer.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. “Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. “Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”
For most of this story Naomi had been depressed, and for good reason. Depressed people move into the future with no sense of purpose or direction. But Naomi seems to be moving with purpose in chapter 3, why? Because she began to praise God in 2:20. Naomi has purpose now, and she’s planning and being strategic about finding a husband for Ruth. Perhaps Naomi is aware of the emotional baggage Ruth is now carrying over Boaz. She’s been gleaning in the field for almost 2 months now, and her and Boaz haven’t had a second date. They ate dinner together when they met, and nothing since, so you could imagine that Ruth was thinking all sorts of things about where they were in their relationship.
Naomi gives her a risky strategy! This is the point in this Ruth series where I have to say that this plan is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Meaning that this story is only supposed to tells us what happens, not tell us how to find a spouse.
So, what’s the strategy?
Naomi walks up to Ruth and says, “Hey Ruth, I heard there’s gonna be a party, and you know who’s going to be there? Boaz! So, wash up, take a shower, get dressed up, put your face on, because every time Boaz has seen you you’re dirty and covered with barley, clean up and go to this party to see Boaz.” Some girls may be thinking that Naomi is telling Ruth to chase after Boaz and therefore also think that I’m saying you should do the same thing to the guy you like, I’m not. I don’t think any girl should pursue a guy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in his way, or get in front of him. That you should do. And this is what Naomi is telling Ruth to do. “Get in front of Boaz, look nice, smell like something other than grain and B.O., go see him, but don’t let him know you’re there until he’s done eating and drinking.”
Notice that Naomi doesn’t tell Ruth to walk up to Boaz and unload all of her emotional baggage and say “We need to talk; I don’t know where we’re at in our relationship! She does not walk up to him and say, “I’m so confused! You’ve sent me mixed messages, we went on a date, I dipped my bread in your vinegar, and you don’t call even once? Where are we?! Do you even like me?” No, Ruth is going to just chill, and play it cool. She’s gonna let him be, let him eat, let him drink, let him hang with his friends, and go to him at night.
This is the risky part, she says, “When Boaz lies down to sleep, after he’s eaten and drank, go to him, uncover his feet and wait for him to tell you what to do.” WHAT! This is risky counsel Naomi! Remember this is in the days of the judges, a time when people did whatever they wanted to do, they weren’t the most moral people, and Ruth’s a Moabite, an alien to Israel who isn’t treated well by others. You can’t help but wonder why Naomi tells her to do this.
Go to Boaz, he has a full stomach, he’s been drinking, it’s the middle of the night, take his covers off, and wait for instructions.
This is risky for sure.