In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.” (Ruth 3:8-9 NIV)
It’s good to have a sense of purpose. It’s also helpful to have the vision to see how to pursue and fulfill our purpose. But along the way, things we don’t know about may hinder our way or become obstacles to overcome.
This is true for all of our lives. We make plans based on what we know. However, we don’t know all there is to know. But God does. He is omniscient—all-knowing. God knows all there is to know—past, present, and future—because He is eternal in nature.
What is amazing to me is how the Lord works in concert with us. He neither ignores nor rejects our free will but includes it as He orchestrates how His will is worked out.
This short segment of the story of Ruth gives some insight into how God incorporates and works with our free will and plans in conjunction with His will (see Ruth 3:6-13 for context).
When Different Plans Converge
As this chapter begins, Naomi lays out her plan for Ruth to follow. Ruth does what she’s told but also has her idea of how things should go. Our third person in this story, Boaz, brings to light new information Naomi and Ruth are unaware of and sets in motion his own plan.
Each of these three main characters has their own view of things and what they see in the future, but God has an overarching plan that reaches beyond their lives.
But there’s more to this short story segment than grand plans. This encounter between Boaz and Ruth on the threshing floor further reveals insight into each of their characters.
This scene unfolds late in the evening after Boaz finishes his work of separating the grain from the husks. It was hard but rewarding work to prepare the final product of the harvest for sale to others.
Once the work is done for the day, Boaz eats his evening meal and drinks to a point of contentment to rest for the night. Ruth watches for her cue to set Naomi’s plan in action. Once Boaz is asleep, Ruth quietly tiptoes to where he is laying and uncovers his feet and lays down in the darkness.
Later in the night, Boaz wakens because of a chill and realizes someone is lying at this feet. Startled, he asks who it is. Then Ruth sets her plan in motion. She tells Boaz why she’s there and requests him to cover her with his garment.
Now we see the character of these two people come to light while they’re alone in a dark room.
The character of this man and woman come to light in a dark room.
Ruth submits herself first to Naomi then to Boaz with the innocence and trust of a child.
Instead of taking advantage of this young foreign woman, Boaz upholds her integrity of character, as he expressed in verse 11—All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character.
A Nearer Kinsman-Redeemer
Boaz also expresses his willingness to be the kinsman-redeemer (guardian-redeemer in NIV) for Ruth and Naomi but shares some new information that interrupts all their plans. There is a family relative more closely related to Elimelech’s family line than Boaz.
This puts everything on hold but not for long.
Boaz vows to resolve the dilemma the next morning and assures Ruth of his commitment and willingness to take her as his wife and preserve the legacy of the property and lineage of Elimelech and his sons (Ruth 3:11-13).
This nearer kinsman-redeemer will be addressed in chapter four as the story comes to a climax. In chapter four, this dilemma is resolved and more insight is given into the role of a kinsman-redeemer.
Consider What This Short Story Reveals
Naomi’s plan was to set Ruth in a situation she hoped would develop into a marriage relationship to preserve her husband’s and son’s legacy and their family share of the property.
Ruth looked to Boaz as a provider and protector, not just for herself but for Naomi, as well. Her request of Boaz reveals this when she says—
Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer. (Ruth 3:9 NIV 84)
It is more than an attitude of submission. It is an expression of trust. It reaches back to her commitment to Naomi and trust in the God of Israel. It looks forward to a hoped-for union with Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer, which foreshadows the Kinsman-Redeemer of all.
Although Ruth would have no concept or understanding of a future redeemer, what she says to Boaz echoes the confidence Job had in God when he said—
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25 NIV 84)
We all have plans within any given day—whether small or great—intentional or routine. But life tends to interrupt our plans and reality breaks into our daydreams and ideal intentions.
We can allow these interruptions to throw us into fretting, worrying, anger, and resentment, or rest in the Lord’s peace and trust. It depends on what or where or who we put our trust in.
So, the question is—
How do you handle the interruptions of life?
We can allow the interruptions that come in our lives to throw us into fretting, worrying, anger, and resentment, or peace and trust. It all depends on what or where or who we put our trust in.
When you find your life interrupted, choose to lift the eyes of your heart and the thoughts of your mind to the Lord. Not to question but to listen and in trust. Learn to trust in God as a first resort rather than in desperation or frustration.