Ruth 3:3 – “Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.” In this verse we see three important instructions that Naomi gives to Ruth that she must do before coming into the presence of Boaz. She is to: 1) Wash; 2) Anoint; and 3) Dress herself. This is Ruth’s responsibility, three essential things that she must do, it is a personal preparation. No one can do this for her, and the same holds true for us when we prepare to come into the Presence of our Lord, there is a personal preparation that each of us is responsible for in our own lives, no one can do it for us.
Washing: Notice the order, washing is the first thing she does, it is the foundation for everything else. This washing speaks of cleansing. She has finished her labors in the fields and she washes off the dirt of the day, she washes and is cleansed and is refreshed. Many times taking a bath and changing the clothes were done before an important event. Jacob did this and told his family to do this when he returned to Bethel and where he remembered and renewed the covenant God made with him. It was there that Jacob told his household to put away their gods and “be clean” (wash yourselves) and “change your garments” (Gen 35:2-3). He did this and told them to do this before coming into the Presence of the Lord. In Ezekiel 16 the Lord describes His relationship with His people (Ezek 16:8-13) and there He describes how He saw her, claimed her as His wife, cleansed her, entered into a covenant with her, and clothed her and her beauty was seen by all those around her. Here in Ruth we see Naomi telling Ruth to “wash thyself,” this is how she prepares to come into the presence of Boaz and there she will lay claim to a promise and he will lay claim to her.
This washing speaks of consecration and sanctification, of a cleansing of our walk. The priests did this before entering into the Holy Place (Ex 30:18-21). They had to wash their hands (speaks of their service) and their feet (speaks of their walk). Before entering into God’s presence in a more personal way, they washed! Aaron and his sons had to wash before putting on their “holy garments.” They had to wash before they could “minister unto (God) in the priests office” (Ex 40:12-15). They had to wash because it was what the “Lord commanded” (Ex 40:32). Ruth is about to enter into the presence of Boaz and a deeper relationship and she washes herself. And just as Ruth, we have the same responsibility to cleanse ourselves before we enter into the presence of the Lord. We wash our hands and our feet, we wash before putting on our priestly garments and when we do this, we come into His presence as priests, ministering in a deeper way. The Apostle Paul describes the necessity of this washing, this cleansing and the responsibility that we each have to do this. He said we are to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor 7:1). We’ve been out in the world, and no matter how good our intentions the world will leave a stain, we need to cleanse ourselves. The Psalmist asked the question of how do you do this and gave the answer “by taking heed to thy word” (Ps 119:9). It is by the “washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26), by our obedience to the Word and subjection to the Word that we are cleansed. The result will be a “glorious church” without “spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27). When we do this, we acknowledge the Lord’s great work in our lives and let Him finish His work in our lives. Paul told the Corinthians “ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6;11).
Anointing: This anointing was a fragrant oil or perfume that was added after cleansing, a personal unique fragrance. Ruth anointed herself as Naomi asked but I believe she chose the fragrance, something she knew that would please Boaz. It is the fragrance of obedience, of subjection, service and submission. This is a fragrance unique to the Bride of Christ. The Shulamite speaks of the fragrance she uses in Song of Solomon, she calls it “good ointment” (Song 1:3) and says “my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof” (Song 1:12).
This anointing speaks of the anointing of the Spirit, of His enabling and power. It is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This also speaks of the fragrance of Christ, of His growth in us. Brother Art Eggers writes that this is “the odor of Christ’s death” – the fact that we died with Christ. I also believe it is the odor of Christ’s life – the fact that our life is in Him and our factory is in Him. No one but the New Creation can wear this fragrance, it is the fragrance of grace (not works), it is the fragrance of obedience (not disobedience); it is the fragrance of a life fully surrendered to the Lord. Paul describes this fragrance. He says that this fragrance reveals the knowledge of Christ to others; it is “his knowledge by us” (2 Cor 2:14). It is the fragrance of victory, Christ’s victory for us, in us and through us. It is a fragrance to God and to the saints and to the world and to God it is a fragrance of life, it is a sweet fragrance because it is all of Christ and nothing else.
Dressing: Ruth is to “put on” a garment after she has been washed and anointed which must be done before she can do this. She is to “put on” what is already hers “thy raiment.” She has the garment of salvation, which is inward, now she puts on the garment of sanctification, which is outward. This is a picture of putting on the testimony of Christ, the testimony of the New Man. She is putting on another garment, a new garment. She will put off the garment of a widow, and put on another garment, it is a special garment for a special occasion, and this garment is a picture of a wedding garment.
Ruth’s actions were preparation for meeting Boaz and for presenting herself to him. The same preparation is seen in Esther when she first met the king. She spent twelve months preparing to meet him, for six months “oil of myrrh” (which was bitter) was used and for six months “sweet odors” were used for purifying. First that which was bitter was applied, then that which was sweet, first the suffering then the sweet fragrance that was the result of the suffering. When Esther finally met the king it is said that she “obtained grace and favor in his sight” (Esther 2:17). She had been prepared and presented and the king was pleased. Later Esther would prepare herself to come before the king and make a petition, there her preparation was different. She first prepared herself by prayer and fasting (Esther 4:16) and then she prepared herself by dressing in royal apparel (Esther 5:1). Ruth had spent months in Boaz’s fields as preparation for this moment. Those months were the “myrrh” and “sweet odors.” Now Ruth comes before Boaz, like Esther, with a petition. This is also what we are doing now, we are preparing and getting ready to meet our Boaz. When we do this, we are accepting our espousal to Christ (2 Cor 11:2); we are “making (ourselves) ready” (Rev 19:7). The Holy Spirit shows us how to prepare ourselves to come before the Lord!
After the preparation, Ruth is to do two things, First she is to GO: “get thee down to the floor” and second she is to WAIT: but make not thyself known unto the man.” She is to hurry and then wait. The going is easy but the waiting is hard. The word “get thee down” means “to run down,” don’t delay. Ruth must go in boldness and faith and without doubts. But then once she arrives, she must wait, not to rush in. The conversation between her and Boaz is private not public. Wait: “till he have done eating and drinking.” She is to give Boaz time to be refreshed and made glad. The Lord’s timing is always perfect. The preparation has been made by Ruth and the heart has been made glad in Boaz (Ps 104:15). The scene is set for a conversation, a petition and a promise that will be made!
To be Continued