Pastoral Commentary for Ruth 3-4
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Knowing that she was too old to marry and bear children, Naomi urged Ruth to adorn herself as a bride and go to Boaz at night, when he had laid down following the threshing and winnowing of the grain, and after the harvest celebrations were over for the night. Ruth's act of uncovering his feet and lying down by him was tantamount to asking Boaz to fulfill his role as kinsman-redeemer by entering into a levirate marriage with her. When he awoke at midnight Boaz was startled to find a woman lying by him. Ruth identified herself and put her request into words: "Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer." The "wings" Ruth referred to were not only the corners of his robe, but also his protection and care. Boaz was flattered by Ruth's proposal, undoubtedly remembering that he had commended her for taking refuge under the "wings" of God. He was pleased that she had sought him out instead of chasing after younger men who were closer to her own age. Nevertheless, Boaz knew that there was a closer relative than him who could serve as her "kinsman-redeemer." He told Ruth to remain by him until the morning, when he would give the other relative an opportunity to fulfill that role. Boaz gave Ruth a generous amount of grain and then went to the town gate to wait for the other relative. Boaz sat down with the man and gathered the ten elders required for a legal proceeding to be recognized. He offered the relative the option to buy a piece of land formerly owned by Elimelech so that it would remain in the family, but in addition Boaz let him know that with the land he would also acquire the responsibility of marrying Ruth to perpetuate the name of Elimelech's son. The relative refused and Boaz exercised the role of kinsman-redeemer himself, buying the land and marrying Ruth. For his kindness, the elders of the town blessed Boaz. Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of King David, and she also became one of four women named in the genealogy of our Lord.