The Beginning of a Love Story

The Beginning of a Love Story
In chapter 3, Ruth’s character is put to the test.

From the narrative, it seems that she and Naomi have been in Bethlehem for quite some time, because Naomi suggests it’s time for Ruth to find a husband.

Naomi instructed Ruth on how she should approach Boaz (3:3-4). Ruth, without question, said, “I will do everything you say.” (3:5) She is respectful and obedient to Naomi. Ruth may have been with her long enough to understand the laws or customs of the Hebrew people. Regardless, she simply did what Naomi told her to do. She could have raised many questions or made demands of her own. But it doesn’t seem that Ruth had even been thinking about her own needs, rather she was focused on caring for Naomi. We also see that Naomi, with her aged wisdom, saw that it was time for Ruth to have a husband. Not only for herself, but also to carry on the family name.

Then Ruth went to where Boaz was going to be sleeping that night and did as Naomi instructed, waited for him to lie down, and then went and lay at his feet. What a sign of submission, to both Naomi and Boaz.

When Boaz realized she was there, he did not chastise her because she had “shown more kindness now than before” (3:10) He said this because he had seen her almost daily for two harvest seasons. He noticed that she had not chased after the younger men, nor had she pursued any man, either rich or poor. She remained steadfast to her commitment to Naomi, because she loved her more than she loved herself. When it came time for her to leave Boaz, the next morning (sleeping at his feet the whole night), she left “while it was still dark” (3: 14) She did not want anyone making assumptions about Boaz. I don’t believe it was for her own reputation. She was conscientious of his reputation.

A word (or 80+) on my thoughts about submission…

According to Strong’s Concordance, to submit means to “to yield to one’s admonition or advice.

How many times has someone, with age and wisdom, told me to do something that was in my best interest and I just thumbed my nose at them? TOO MANY!!!

1 Peter, chapter 5, tells me…”{5} Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” {1 Peter 5:5 KJV} (blueletterbibl.org)

I think the world has told us (women especially) that to be submissive means to be a slave. I believe to be submissive frees me from making mistakes…great big life mistakes! I don’t think God intended me to submit blindly. There has to be some wisdom behind both leading and following. Maybe one day we’ll do an in-depth study on submission…lots of analogies to be made between submission and or relationship with God!!!

The remainder of the chapter speaks about the kindness of Boaz and also his character. He is a man who does not put things off, but gets them done because it is how it should be done. More on Boaz in the next post.  There, you will also read my conclusion about what I feel is Ruth’s most significant characteristic.

 

Photo by Channen M. Sallee

Let Me Make A List…

Let Me Make A List…

The second chapter of Ruth speaks about her ethics.

 

She is a woman who is not afraid to go to work to supply what is needed for Naomi and herself. And she is respectful. She asks Naomi’s permission before she goes into the field; she doesn’t just do something because she wants to. Naomi may have had other plans for how they were going to get by. When she goes to the field, she seeks permission to glean and then works hard, from what I read, just as hard as the hired laborers. She stays in the fields as long as she can in order to take home enough for their needs. Not only does she spend the day, until evening, working; then she beats out the grain before she takes home a bushel (ephah) full of grain (Dictionary.com says this is about 35 liters)

And her character has preceded her (2:11) The owner of the field, Boaz, has heard about how she is taking care of Naomi and how she has embraced God “under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Isn’t that where we all need to be?) Because of her caring reputation, Boaz instructs his workers to leave extra for her to glean. He is impressed that she, a foreigner, would be so willing to care and work for a woman who is the mother of her dead husband.

Then her unselfish nature is demonstrated when she thinks about taking food home for Naomi. A little note here: If a person stopped reading at verse 14, they might think she is keeping it for herself. But her thoughtfulness is revealed in verse 18.

The work that she does continues through two harvests. The commentary (blueletterbible.org) says that Bethlehem has two planting season, so she worked for about a year, gleaning, and thrashing, and winnowing grain so that the needs of Naomi and herself would be met. I imagine that she brought home enough grain so that there was some left over, that they could sell, and that would supply any other needs that they had. Ruth was faithful to Naomi and the Bible never speaks of her questioning her decision to go with Naomi and complains about working.

Ruth continues to put the needs of Naomi before her own, and she is rewarded for it. Although, I don’t see that she does it for reward, but because that is who she is. Her good ethics have given her something she has not sought, but God sees who we are, what we say, what we do. And He sees the heart with which we do it.

My “fellowship friend” commented on this, saying:

Her respectfulness to Boaz was returned by him offering more and instructing his workers to leave extra for her.

Now we see that she did travel with Naomi out of love and dedication, not fear of life without Naomi’s guidance.

 Wouldn’t you love to be able to say: 

“I live your last sentence. I cannot imagine what I might have done right but most of what I have done was with a good intent and GOD knows all and why. That has to be why I receive the massive rewards I receive everyday.” (ff)

 

Photo by Channen M. Sallee

 

 

Loyalty or Obligation?

Loyalty or Obligation?

I’m going to start sharing something that may get me into to trouble with some of you women. Hold on tight…and read each post (there will be four) before you tell me I’m crazy! We are going to look at the life of Ruth.

I had a specific reason for choosing this book. Ruth is a wonderful example of a woman who serves, and puts others before herself. I read this book with that specific mindset.

A little background/refresher: Ruth and Orpah are the daughter’s-in-law of the widow Naomi. Famine in the land of Moab. Both of Naomi’s sons die. Naomi decides to go back to her homeland (Bethlehem). She tells Ruth and Orpah to stay with the Moabites, their people, where they will be able to find new husbands and be taken care of.

The first thing I see about Ruth, is that she is loyal.

Ruth 1:14, 16-17 {NKJV}

“{14} Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. … {16} But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, [Or to] turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people [shall be] my people, And your God, my God. {17} Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If [anything but] death parts you and me.'” (blueletterbible.org)

Ruth thought more of her mother-in-law’s needs than she did her own need for a husband/children/someone to take care of her. Because she would be a foreigner in Bethlehem, there was no guarantee that she would ever again be married, but it seems like that did not even cross her mind when she pleaded with Naomi, begging her not to send her away. Ruth had nothing to gain by going with Naomi, but because of her love and loyalty, she made a journey into the unknown.

The question may be asked, “Was it love and loyalty or fear of change and being without the comfort of those she knows?”

The culture of that time would have said that because Ruth was a Moabite, it would be her duty to stay with her people and find a new husband…like Orpah did. Ruth chose to put that cultural rule aside. I can only speculate, but the opening verses sort of explain her feelings toward Naomi. And her desire to be with her to take care of and comfort her in a strange land.

I often think about my “comfort level” when God tells me to do something. That is what I admire about Ruth. She put that aside and put Naomi’s comfort and wellbeing ahead of her own. In the following chapters, that is exemplified even more, but I don’t want to ruin the suspense for you 🙂 🙂

Did Ruth go with Naomi because she felt obligated?

I would not say that Ruth felt obligated to Naomi. Naomi had shown her who God was (although this can only be assumed by what Ruth “said”) and Ruth wanted to follow Him instead of going back to the pagan religion of Moab. Just part of why she went with Naomi. Not a lot is said about the character of Naomi, but she must have been a good woman for Ruth to want to stay with her, and she was well thought of in Bethlehem as well. The people there were excited when she returned home (1:19)

The favored daughter and her friend return. Good reception for good loyal people.

Thanks to my “fellowship friend” for the questions and comments!