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Read Introduction to Ruth

 

8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. 9 And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” 10 Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.

 

3:8

Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet.

In the middle of the night, Boaz “was startled” (literally shivered) due to the chilly night air.

3:9

And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant.

The word “maidservant” is a more elevated term for female servant than the word used in 2:13. In 2:13 Ruth used a term that emphasized her humility, but here she used the higher term because she was aware of Boaz’s role as a close relative. Ruth recognized her place in the social structure.

Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”

Taking a maidservant “under your wing [skirt]” was idiomatic for a marriage proposal from Ruth. The term “close relative” is go’el, translated redeemer. Boaz functioned here as a guardian of family interests by caring for widows of deceased relatives. The spreading of Boaz’s robes over Ruth was symbolic for his making a covenant for marriage. He would protect her in marriage.

Boaz recognized Ruth’s appeal as a request for marriage and not solicitation for sex.

3:10

Then he said, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter [reminder of their age difference]! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich.

Boaz responded that this act of Ruth was better than her care of Naomi in her old age. She could have stayed in Moab with her own culture and relatives. This act of devotion to the line of her father-in-law, Elimelech, was an act of sacrifice; she could have married a younger or richer man.

3:11

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.

Boaz’s response was to accept her marriage proposal if the necessary legal course was completed. Everyone in town knew that Ruth was a woman of strong character. The term “virtuous woman” is used of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10. These are not the words of a man seduced by a woman in the middle of the night.

PRINCIPLE:

Maturity of character is important to a stable marriage.

APPLICATION:

I used to say to young couples considering marriage that the best thing they offered their mates (outside of spiritual considerations) was their own maturity. Mature people know their strengths and weaknesses. They operate on their strengths and take account of their weaknesses. Weak people are accusatory because they do not have confidence in their strengths. They shift blame and transfer problems to others. No wonder a virtuous wife is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31: 10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

 

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