Ruth 3:1–18 – The Unexpected Kindness of God (Series in Ruth) – Aug 14, 2022
A reading from Ruth 3:1–5.
I mentioned Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice last time. There’s another moment from the book that fits our passage today.
In Austen’s book the prideful Darcy gets smitten by the very prejudiced Elizabeth Bennett. In fact, he’s so smitten that he proposes. It’s a surprise and comes halfway through the book.
In such a proposal, there’s some risk. He’s confident Elizabeth will say yes, but he certainly doesn’t know if she will. The risk is that she’ll say no, which would mean embarrassment and maybe some humiliation, but not much more.
But some things sabotage the proposal. One is something he did earlier, which was to stop the marriage of Elizabeth’s sister to a worthy man. The man was Darcy’s friend, and Darcy didn’t think Elizabeth’s sister a worthy enough woman. To Elizabeth this was unforgivable.
And then there was the fact a character in the book spread a lie about Darcy which put Darcy in a terrible light. Elizabeth believed the lie and thought Darcy an unworthy man.
But what really kills the proposal is what he actually says to Elizabeth. The more he talks the worse it gets. He explains his love for Elizabeth—but also that his desire to marry her is really against his better judgment, against his character, contrary to the advice of friends and family, and makes no sense in light of his own superior connections and the inferiority of Elizabeth’s condition in life. Yet, he still loves her and wants to marry her.
If you’re trying to win a girl’s heart, don’t say that. Not surprisingly she says she wouldn’t marry him if he were the last man on earth.
But in the second half of the book Austen orchestrates circumstances to help the fictional Elizabeth and Darcy truly know each other. Their opinions change—and the story ends with their marriage.
Our passage this morning is from the Old Testament book of Ruth. Like Pride and Prejudice it also has a couple experiencing orchestrated circumstances that eventually lead to their marriage.
But where Jane Austen writes fiction, Ruth is biblical history—God’s inspired written history of what God orchestrated in actual historical events.
We call God’s control over all things his providence. The book of Ruth teaches us much about God’s providence and how to live in light of it.
Last week Chip quoted from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10
Providence and how to live in light of it: “be patient” with hard things, “thankful” for good things, “have good confidence” in all things.
Our series on Ruth has highlighted The Unexpected Kindness of God. This morning we’re reminded that he works that “unexpected kindness” in our lives through his providence.
Sermon: Three sections: A Risky Plan (3:1–5); A Shocking Proposal (3:6–9); A Firm Resolve (3:10–18). Teach us about Living in Light of God’s Providence.
Remember where we are in the narrative: In this four-act drama, we’re in Act 3. Act 1: Return from Moab. Act 2: Gleaning in the fields of Boaz. Act 3 is this morning.
Ruth 3:1 – Naomi: “Should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you”
Ruth 3:3 – Naomi’s directives: “wash… anoint…put on your cloak”
Ruth 3:3 – Naomi’s directive: “make yourself known to the man” when “he has finished eating and drinking”
Ruth 3:5 – Ruth’s response: “All that you say I will do”
Providence and Faith:
Sending Ruth into such a situation is filled with risk.
A deep knowledge of God’s providence doesn’t take away risk.
Read Ruth 3:6–9.
A Shocking Proposal: Shocking Marriage Proposal, that is.
This is another passage where the strength and character of Ruth is revealed. Her commitment to Naomi and her God and people (chp 1). Diligence in gleaning (chp 2). Now this.
The moment is the threshing of the grain, where the grain and chaff are separated. Involved hours and hours of tossing the harvest grains up in the air. Letting the wind blow away the chaff. Grain falls to the ground. Done in the evening to take advantage of the evening breezes.
Time of celebration, too, because this was the last stage of the harvest. After this the grain could be sold or eaten.
Ruth carefully makes her plans. Watches things unfold. Lifts the blanket or garment off Boaz’s legs and then waits. It’s cool night. Eventually Boaz will get cold and wake up because of the chill.
There is a lot of discussion about whether this was a romantic action or not. The best reading is that it wasn’t a romantic action.
BUT—it was absolutely something that could be interpreted that way. Ruth was doing things that have a perfectly good explanation as being done by a woman of purity and integrity—but also would be believable as actions done by a sinful woman trying to seduce a man.
So, in some ways this was a test for Boaz. He would make up in the middle of the night after a day of hard work and celebration with a young woman at his feet. Ruth had already been married, so maybe she’s in her 20s.
Ruth 3:9 – Then in v9 is her powerful statement, a mere 10 words in Hebrew.
“You are a redeemer” (Ruth 3:9)
In these 10 words, Ruth has said A LOT.
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.
Daniel Block, Judges, Ruth
God's providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people.
Jerry Bridges, Trusting God
Read Ruth 3:10–18.
Ruth 3:10 – Ruth’s hesed—“this last kindness greater than the first”
Ruth 3:11 – Boaz: “I will do for you all that you ask.” Now Boaz is becoming her servant.
Ruth 3:11 – Ruth worthy: “All my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman”
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land….
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Prov 31:23, 26–31)
Boaz the Redeemer
Then he does something a bit curious.
The kindness of Boaz—taking care of his wife’s mother-in-law from her first marriage.
And then Naomi adds the final comment—a comment that indicates she gets men: “The man will not rest but will settle the matter today” (Ruth 3:18).
PROVIDENCE AND MARRIAGE
ACTIVE FAITH IN GOD’S PROVIDENCE—Things to strive for…
“All things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question 27).
The Book of Ruth shows us what it is to live in light of this: “Patient with the hard things, “thankful” for the happy things, “good confidence” in all things.
In Ruth, just like Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there’s a wedding at the end. A couple gets together.
And with God’s providence, there’s also a wedding at the end. A couple gets together.
The end of God’s providence is also a wedding—Rev 19 and 21:
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Rev 19:6–8)
But this wedding won’t happen without a great redemption. A greater redemption than Boaz paying a sum of money and buying back land and gaining a wife.
To accomplish the “marriage of the Lamb,” the Lamb “gave himself up”:
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:25–27)
To share in this marriage, you don’t clean yourself up to get ready.
He’s always ready to receive a sinner—no one who turns to him is rejected.
 Chapter 34 of the book. Available at https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/ppv2n34.html.
 Daniel Block, Judges, Ruth, NAC, 692.
 Jerry Bridges, Trusting God (NavPress, 2008), 13.
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