I've been thinking about Ruth chapter 3 over the past week and am pondering these questions ...
#1 Risky plans for Love don’t always have happy endings. How can we know when to ‘play it safe’ and when to ‘dance on the edge?’
#2 It’s not uncommon for people to need help to get a relationship started. But what is ‘appropriate help’ in our context?
#3 'Sexual Purity' is a clumsy phrase & value in both our town AND our church culture. Why don’t we find it easy to talk about pursuing sexual purity?
A risky plan (v1-6): Some passages of the bible are descriptive, others prescriptive, these verses are the former! Naomi’s plan for her daughter in law was very risky, the outcome was by no means certain (She could have been raped, rejected or redeemed). Her plan centred on Boaz, a close relative of her late husband, who was in good standing with God’s people and ready for marriage! Ruth was to put herself in his way, discretely but without ambiguity.
A midnight proposal (v7-9): The threshing floor, unused in famine, is now buzzing with harvesting & feasting. Boaz sleeps on the far side of the grain pile but wakes to find Ruth at his feet. She asks him to spread the corner of his garment over her, an echo of Boaz’s words (2v12) and Ezekiel 16v8. Ruth, the foreigner with a history, is proposing that Boaz propose!
Choosing purity (v10-15): Presumably, Ruth would follow Naomi’s advice and do whatever Boaz tells her to do (v4). Ruth is incredible vulnerable at this point; what would Boaz ask her to do? Yet in that secret moment, Boaz chooses the purposes of eternity and pursues purity. He does not have sex with her, rather he guards her reputation (14) and promises to secure her marriage, hopefully to himself!
Love not duty (v16-18): Although Boaz is a close relative, he has no duty from the Mosaic law to marry Ruth (Dt25v5 does not apply). Rather, because of love, he gives freely to gain favour with Naomi and devices a plan that risks his own estate (4v6). True love has little concern for money.