So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” – Ruth 3:14-18 ESV
Ruth had gone to the field of Boaz, looking for protection, refuge and rest. She had been sent there by Naomi, her mother-in-law. The goal had been to get Boaz to step up and accept his role as her kinsman-redeemer. Naomi seemed to sense that there was an attraction between the older Boaz and the recently widowed Ruth. And she determined to encourage this potential relationship along, hoping that it would change the fate of both Ruth and herself. There was no doubt something a bit self-serving in Naomi’s actions and her subsequent counsel for Ruth to approach Boaz directly and rather presumptuously.
Here is a servant demanding that the boss marry her, a Moabite making the demand of an Israelite, a woman making the demand of a man, a poor person making the demand of a rich man. Was this an act of foreigner naïveté, or a daughter-in-law’s devotion to her mother-in-law, or another sign of the hidden hand of God? From a natural perspective the scheme was doomed from the beginning as a hopeless gamble, and the responsibility Naomi placed on Ruth was quite unreasonable. But it worked! – Daniel I. Block, Judges, Ruth
There is much that is revealed in these passages regarding the character qualities of the key figures. We have seen that Naomi had a somewhat negative outlook. There is no doubt that she had been through a lot, but she seemed to think that all of her problems were the direct result of God afflicting her. She saw it all as some form of punishment. This reveals her belief in God’s sovereignty and providence, but seems to indicate that she had a glass-half-full kind of outlook on life. She had a difficult time seeing that all of this could be used by God for her good.
Ruth comes across as a highly diligent and faithful young woman who was committed to the care of her mother-in-law. When given the opportunity to abandon Naomi and return to her own people to begin her life anew, she refused and dedicated herself to Naomi’s well-being and to her God. Ruth was not afraid of hard work and did not suffer from shyness. She was willing to do whatever it took to make sure she and Naomi survived. And she never seemed to see herself as a victim.
Boaz comes across as a kind and gracious man who showed legitimate concern for Ruth. He had been impressed with all that he had heard about her and how she had chosen to sacrifice all in order to care for Naomi. He was a man of high ethical standards who, as a man of means, was generous with those who were less fortunate. And when he became aware of the plight of Naomi and Ruth, he stepped in to do what he could do to assist them. Now, with Ruth’s request that he be her kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 3:6), Boaz reveals his strong spirit of determination and sense of responsibility. He tells Ruth, “Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning” (Ruth 3:13 ESV). And Boaz’s dependability seems to have been well-known, because Naomi tells Ruth, “for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today” (Ruth 3:18 ESV). Boaz could be counted on to do whatever needed to be done. His word was his pledge. He could be trusted.
The Hebrew word for “rest” that Naomi used is shaqat and it refers to peace, quietness or repose. Boaz was not going to have peace or be satisfied until Ruth had the protection, refuge and rest for which she was looking. He would do whatever it took to make sure she got what she needed. He would sacrifice time, sleep, resources and his own needs to make sure that the right thing was done for Ruth and Naomi.
This image of the faithful, dedicated kinsman-redeemer is a foreshadowing of the One who was to come: The Messiah, Jesus Christ. He too was determined and dedicated to doing whatever it took that redemption was made available. Paul reminds us, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV). In his gospel account, Luke tells us that as the time drew closer for Jesus to go to Jerusalem where He would suffer and die, “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 ESV). The Greek word Luke used is stērizō and it means “to turn resolutely in a certain direction” (“G4741 – stērizō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible). Jesus was determined to do what He had come to do.
Matthew records that when Jesus told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem where “he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (Matthew 16:21 NLT), Peter rebuked Him. And Jesus responded to Peter with the sobering words, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23 NLT). Jesus would not be deterred from His task. He would not rest until He had accomplished His God-ordained role as redeemer. Jesus fully understood His role and He took it seriously. He told His disciples, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NLT).
Boaz would not rest until Ruth found the rest for which she was looking. He was willing to put her needs ahead of his own. He was willing to sacrifice His own comfort and convenience for the needs of another. He would do whatever it took to ensure that Ruth and Naomi were taken care of. And as the following chapter will reveal, Boaz wasted no time doing exactly what he had told Ruth he would do. He was a man of his word. And he stands as a type of Christ, a representation of the one who was to come, who would not rest until redemption was made available to a lost and dying world. He would give His life as payment for the sins of men and as the only means of reconciling a lost world to a holy God.
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. – 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT