Pastor Debra Isenbletter
Ruth 3:14 – “And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.”
Where did Ruth stay the rest of the night? She spent it at the feet of Boaz! To “lay” means to “take rest,” “sleep,” “stay,” “lodge.” It is a precious place and can be a permanent place, it is a place we choose to come to and can choose to remain. This is the BEST place – the SWEETEST place – the ONLY place. The feet of Boaz are a wonderful picture of the feet of Jesus, who is our Boaz. We have wonderful examples of women who chose this place. This is the PLACE of Thanksgiving (Luke 7:38) – The woman at Simon’s house is a picture of this. This is the PLACE of Revelation (Luke 10:39) – Mary hearing His Word at His feet is a picture of this. This is the PLACE of Worship (Matt 26:26; Mk 14:3; John 12:3) – Mary anointing Jesus and filling the house with the fragrance is a picture of this. All of these examples are seen in Ruth as she rests at the feet of Boaz.
After all her time spent in preparation for this moment, after all the hours of anticipation, Ruth has finally found her place of rest as she lies down at his feet, it is a place that she has been invited to enjoy. Oh what a glorious invitation! It is a rest from her labors and from ours, for Jesus says: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28). It is a rest as she patiently waits. This is what we do by faith, we “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps 37:7). It is a rest for the soul, a place we return to again and again, a place where we embrace the blessings. “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” (Ps 116:7). It is a rest from sorrow, any sorrow, all sorrow, every sorrow, personal sorrow. “And it shall come to pass … the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow.” (Isa 14:3). It is a rest in hope, this is hope of deliverance. Jesus is our great example as we see in these prophetic words: “my flesh also shall rest in hope…” (Ps 16:9).
She will rest in his presence, in a place of submission and in anticipation! We don’t know any details of what happened during this time. Did she rest and go to sleep? Did she rest in quiet conversation with Boaz? However she rested, it was a time of blessing and refreshing! Notice that this is the fourth time the “feet” of Boaz are seen in this chapter. First in the words of Naomi to Ruth (3:4); then in Ruth’s obedience to those words (3:7); then Boaz’s awareness of Ruth (3:8) and finally in the choice that both Boaz and Ruth make (3:14). Naomi had sought “rest” for Ruth and she found it at the feet of Boaz! But she had to be willing to come to this place and stay. This is the place we come to, the feet of our Boaz, of Jesus and this is the place we can and choose to stay and when we do, what rest we find!
How long did Ruth rest? She rested “until the morning.” The word “morning” means “break of day.” This was early morning, just as the sun began to rise. The night was over, the day was beginning, and it was a day of hope! It is a picture of the trials that have passed. David, who knew about trials and tears, wrote: “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps 30:5) It is in the night that we see God’s faithfulness and in the morning that we see His loving kindness (Ps 92:2), what a beautiful promise is given to us and one that Ruth experienced in the fullest! When it was morning Ruth “rose up,” this means “to stand up” (which is what she did) and also means “to establish” (which is what God did). After a night at Boaz’s feet, she was established and strengthened and able to “stand” and “withstand” (Eph 6:13). I believe this is a wonderful picture of the “heart being established by grace” (Heb 13:9).
How early was this? It was still dark, “before one could know another.” The word “know” comes from “to scrutinize [with recognition implied].” It means “to observe, pay attention to, and notice,” it means to “recognize.” This doesn’t refer to Boaz knowing Ruth in a physical way, this refers to others knowing she was there, to others recognizing Ruth. Other translations read: “before one person could recognize another” (NRSV). “then, before [it was light enough that] people could recognize one another” (CJB).
What did Boaz give as a reason for leaving so early? Boaz says: “let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.” If anyone was awake, she would not be recognized or compromised. Boaz gives this as a reason, as an explanation for leaving so early. It is to protect Ruth. This is an indirect form of speech, Boaz didn’t say “that you came,” he said “that a woman came.” It is as if this is a parenthesis or note added by Boaz. I don’t know why it is phrased like this but I believe Boaz is speaking to Ruth and not to others. This is why she “rose up” so early. He was not ashamed of her being there; he was protecting her reputation and his. Only Boaz would know she had been there, others wouldn’t understand. Boaz doesn’t want there to be anything that would cast a shadow over the legal proceedings that he would start that day. He doesn’t want any misunderstandings about Ruth’s character, which is already known as “virtuous.” He takes steps to protect her. Paul writes: “Let not then your good be evil spoken of” (Rom 14:16) and to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess 5:22). So I believe Ruth leaves the presence before anyone realizes she has been there. She leaves as quietly and silently as she had come. What a wonderful picture of the times we quietly slip in and out of the presence of the Lord, of that personal time, that intimate time that others don’t know about because they wouldn’t understand. We leave refreshed, we leave blessed, we leave rejoicing! I believe this is how Ruth left the presence of Boaz!
To be continued