When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 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, verses 7 – 9.
So much to unpack here.
Don’t be mistaken: it wasn’t a party on the threshing floor. ‘Eating and drinking’ does not equate a Snoop Dogg kind of party. It would have been mostly men working there, mostly young men, farmers or farmers’ sons. After a hard day of beating grain from stalks, then collecting, sifting, sorting, and bagging it, they would have been dirty and tired; some things about farm work never change. Anyway, they ate a farmer’s dinner and had a farmer’s drink of beer or wine. But it wasn’t a party. It was a typical night.
Spread the garment over me; what a beautiful picture of being covered in God’s grace. On that threshing floor, those same young men were, well, young men and both virile and familiar with taking pleasures from women as they saw fit. Yet Ruth goes confidently, faithfully but humbly to Boaz and asks for both his protection and his devotion in this simple symbol. When we pray to God even today, don’t we ask for the same thing? And He gives it. Just as Ruth understood Boaz would honor and protect her, we can always know that God will honor and protect us, even when He does things we don’t expect or even want.
Finally, let’s talk ‘servant.’ It wasn’t that Ruth was wanting to become Boaz’s slave, and it wasn’t as if she was signaling her intention to wait on him constantly. She was submitting herself to another person in humility. She, who had already lost one husband, known privation, and lived in sad desperation, found hope in humble submission. Ruth wasn’t signing up to become Boaz’s slave: she was submitting herself to her husband’s love. In my opinion, no word in Scripture is more misunderstood than “submit.” It’s not slavery or compulsion: it’s an act of giving and devotion. That’s what Ruth did. Boaz understood this and didn’t press his advantage. As we’ll soon see, he did the right thing.
So should we.
Father, thank you for being our guardian-redeemer
Read Ruth 3.