Summary: Ruth moves boldly to establish a relationship with Boaz. Her boldness is rewarded.
Ruth 3 1-18 "Bold Steps"
The world has always been captivated by stores of great love. Stories such as Romeo and Juliet, the star crossed lovers, or their modern day counterparts Tony and Maria in West Side Story. There are the love stories of Hollywood royalty such as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, or Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Of course there are the modern day adventure film love stories with Princess Leah and Hans Solo, or Clark Kent and Lois lane.
The story of Boaz and Ruth might also be listed as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Time has passed. It is now the end of the harvest. The scene shifts from the field to the threshing floor. Neither are safe places for women.
God has moved in the lives of the three main characters--Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. The harvest has been good. Ruth has been able to supply Naomi and herself with enough grain to stave off starvation. Also, Ruth has been kept safe from the dangers of the harvest and the unwanted advances of the male farmer workers.
Though God has been present throughout the story, greater action is needed in order to bring forward God's desired will for God's people. Naomi is the instigator for what happens. Naomi's role in the story becomes that of a matchmaker, and she directs Ruth to go to Boaz on the night of the big harvest feast.
The harvest has been a good harvest. The men really pull out all of the stops in their celebration. By the time sleep overtakes them the men are pretty well inebriated. It is at this time that Ruth approaches Boaz. It is not a place for a woman. Being around drunken men is never safe for women.
Ruth comes to Boaz in the middle of the night. The storyteller writes that Ruth uncovers Boaz's feet and lays down next to him. We are quite sure what that means, but we do know that more was involve than "This little piggy went to market."
Boaz awakes and Ruth proposes to him. She says, "Spread you cloak over me," which is a metaphor for "marry me."
Boaz agrees to marry Ruth, if the first responsible relative does not seek to carry out his responsibility to Ruth and marry her. Ruth stays with Boaz until the early morning hours and then sneaks away before anyone notices her.
We can shake our heads in disgust and say that such stories should never be included in the Bible, but to do so would miss one of the points of the story. What I get from this story is that sometimes we need to break the rules in order for love to happen and God's will to be done. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be Spirit driven, faithful, obedient, creative and at times daring.
Boaz takes a greater step than abundantly providing for Ruth and Naomi. He agrees to make the relationship official and commits to marrying Ruth and carrying for Naomi.
Evidently Boaz didn't consider himself to be a desirable candidate for marriage. He looks at the age difference between he and Ruth and probably says to himself, "This ain't going to happen." But it does.
Boaz does follow protocol. He seeks out the nearest relative and asks it that person is willing to care for Naomi and Ruth.
Because of daring, creative, love God's will moves forward. We know that Boaz and Ruth will have a son named Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse and Jesse was the father of David, who became king over Israel and Judah. Jesus can trace his lineage to Dave. God's will in being accomplished bit by bit.
Once again we see a demonstration of God's will being accomplished through acts of love. In this story, the love goes beyond the realms of acceptance. So too, we are called to love and to allow God's love and grace to shine brightly in our lives--realizing that there are times we are called to keep the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.