Ruth 3:1 – “Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?”
“In chapter 1, Ruth doesn’t even know that Boaz exists. In chapter 2, Ruth is a poor laborer, gleaning in the field of Boaz and receiving his gifts. To her, Boaz is only a mighty man of wealth who shows kindness to her. The turning point is in chapter 3 where Ruth yields herself at the feet of Boaz and believes his promises.” (Warren Wiersbe)
There are several wonderful titles for this chapter: The Bible School – “An Obedient Heart”; Scofield – “Ruth Resting”; Warren Wiersbe – “Submission: Ruth Waiting”. In this chapter I see three wonderful things: Subjection – Seeking – Satisfaction. We see Ruth’s attitude toward Naomi and Boaz and what she does by faith and the beginning of her reward, her rest, how she is satisfied by simply resting and waiting.
This chapter begins and ends with rest. In the beginning it is what Naomi seeks for Ruth and in the end it is what Boaz will not do until he can obtain it for Ruth. In this chapter Naomi takes action and takes charge, we see this at the beginning and end of this chapter. Naomi is no longer helpless and hopeless, she is a changed woman. She is no longer looking at herself and her losses; she looks at Ruth and makes provision for her through the promises of God. In doing this, Ruth will provide for Naomi through Boaz. Naomi begins her instruction to Ruth with “My daughter,” she is not called “daughter in law” but “daughter,” for Ruth has shown the love and devotion of a true daughter. Can you not see the close, personal relationship between these two women? It is more than a relationship of blood; it is a relationship of shared suffering and shared devotion. They had taken a journey together and the trials they shared had forged a precious bond, the same holds true in our lives. We form a bond of affection and love with others who journey with us, like Ruth and Naomi. There are shared experiences, sufferings, persecutions, sorrows but also shared devotion and faith, when we are discouraged others encourage us. I believe this is what happened between Ruth and Naomi, and the love and affection they had at the beginning of the journey from Moab had grown and blossomed into something deeper and more lasting at the end of the harvest season.
What was Naomi’s desire for Ruth? – It was Rest: “shall I not seek rest for thee?” Naomi is going to do something, she has a purpose and a goal, and she knows what she is going to do and who she is going to do it for. Naomi sees how she can fulfill her responsibility to Ruth. Ruth has been taking care of Naomi, now Naomi will take care of Ruth. This is more than duty, more than obligation, this is love. The word “I” shows that Naomi realizes now what she can do. She will instruct and prepare Ruth, she will teach Ruth what to say and do. Naomi will fulfill her obligation to Ruth, not through her works, but through the Word of God, through the promises of God. How different this is from her words to Ruth in the first chapter, in that chapter it was all about what she could not do, in this chapter it is about what Boaz can do. Naomi says she will “seek” rest for Ruth. The word “seek” comes from “to search out” and it means “to search out in worship or prayer,” “to beg, to beseech, to make request.” Naomi will do this through prayer to God and through the Word of God. Naomi makes a “request” of God, she “beseeches” and asks for guidance, and God has shown Naomi what to do and when to do it. Ruth will then “beseech” and “make a request” of Boaz. Two make a request: Naomi and Ruth and two hear the request: God and Boaz.
Naomi’s desire is a desire for Ruth, “rest for thee” – rest for Ruth, she says nothing of herself. The word “rest” comes from “quiet” or “a settle spot,” it means “a home” or “a (place of) rest.” It is translated “shall I not seek rest or a home for you” (Amplified) and “should I not try to find a home for you” (NIV); “shall I not see security for you” (NAS). Naomi had first spoken of this rest to Ruth and Orpah while they were in Moab, she had said this in parting, and it was her farewell prayer for them. She had asked the Lord to help them find rest, knowing she could not. She had said that this rest would be in the “house of” a “husband” (1:9). Even then Naomi desired for her daughters in law a home and security and she did ask God to provide it but she didn’t realize that the Lord could not give true rest in Moab! It is Naomi’s lessons from bitter experiences that show her where true rest is found. Yes, it is a “place” and a “home” and it is found in “marriage,” but Naomi will see where and who alone can provide this perfect rest for Ruth. It is through Redemption, through a “kinsman-redeemer.” It is through a Person, through Boaz. It is through a Relationship, through marriage. – “A married state is, or should be, a state of rest to young people. Wandering affections are then fixed, and the heart must be at rest. It is at rest in the house of a husband, and in his heart.” (Matthew Henry)
Naomi seeks by prayer (to God) and by petition (to Boaz) to find rest for Ruth. Again, a reminder, the word “seek” also means “prayer.” Prayer is necessary for rest. Naomi’s prayer for Ruth hasn’t changed, but the place and time of her prayer has. The place is Bethlehem in Judah; she is no longer in Moab. The time is after their return and after the harvest, after labors, their trials, and service. Naomi will still “beseech” and still make a “request” but it will be through Ruth. First her request is to God for guidance, and then the request is to Boaz to fulfill the promise of God and meet the need of Ruth. Ruth will find rest in a Person (Boaz) in a Relationship (Marriage) and the Lord will grant this request through the man He has chosen for Ruth. We find our rest in our relationship with Christ, as Savior, but ultimately we will find rest in our relationship with Christ as our Bridegroom! It is the marriage relationship that will provide the greatest fellowship and reward.
Rest is important; it is something we all seek, especially when we see that rest as security and there are two types of rest that we can enjoy, a rest from within and a rest from without. There is a rest that brings both tranquility and security; both depend upon Promises from the Word of God. We have that tranquility, a rest from within, when we realize that we have “peace with God” (Ro 5:1) and we have the “peace of God” (Phil 4:7; Col 3:14). We have a security, a rest from without, because we know that nothing can take away for the Lord has promised and no matter what the turmoil may be, the promises hold true. We have the security of eternal life (John 3:15 6:68; 10:2); the security of sonship (John 1:12; Gal 4:5-6; Phil 2:15); the security that none can charge (Ro 8:33), condemn (Ro 8:34) or separate (Ro 8:35) us. This rest is an enjoyment of and appropriation of our inheritance, the “inheritance of the saints” (Col 1:12); the “inheritance among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32;26:18); the inheritance given not by law but “by promise” (Gal 3:18); the inheritance revealed by and enjoyed by the Holy Spirit, who is “the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph 1:13-14) and the inheritance that is an “eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:15).
But the rest that is our security is tied to the rest that is our relationship with Christ, the deeper our relationship, the greater the security we enjoy; that rest will culminate in the marriage relationship – the marriage of Christ, as Bride to His Bridegroom. Ruth will first find rest at Boaz’s feet before she finds rest at his side as his bride. This is a picture of how we first find rest; it is in our place of subjection, in our willingness to seek and ask, and our faith in the promises given to us that bring the greatest satisfaction.
Finally we see Naomi describing the full provision of this rest: “that it may be well with thee.” The word “well” means literally “sound, beautiful, happy.” Naomi wants the very best for Ruth, stability and happiness. But there is a wellness that the Lord is working in our lives that produces these three things: “soundness,” “happiness” and “beauty.” There is a spiritual soundness that comes from sound doctrine that leads to a sound walk a sanctified walk. There is a spiritual beauty that comes from within, the Christ life fully matured. There is a spiritual happiness, the joy of the Lord, a joy in every circumstance. The word “well” can also be translated “to be accepted.” Ruth will be accepted by all because of her relationship with Boaz. We are accepted because of Christ, “accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6). The word “well” can mean “to (make) better.” One translation reads: “you will be well provided for” (NIV). Ruth’s circumstances will be made better, she will no longer be a gleaner, but through Boaz everything he owns becomes hers. What a glorious promises and provision we see in Ruth; how it points to what we will receive and enjoy as the Bride of Christ!
Ruth is no longer a gleaner. She is claiming now, seeking the place which has been promised. According to her mother in law’s instruction, she seeks out Boaz as the kinsman, able to do for her what she is unable to accomplish for herself. Ruth must have a resting place, and to find it she must seek it. Ruth is bidden to put forth a personal claim upon him. How touchingly suggestive of the individual seeking after Christ today! We must all come to Him for rest, and find even as Ruth that He is ready to receive us.”