Book of Ruth (Part 3): A Heart of Courage

Book of Ruth (Part 3): A Heart of Courage

By Cheryl Mah

Read: Ruth Chapter 3 & Watch “Questionable Actions? Can or Cannot?” sermon

Back in Ruth Chapter 2, we learned about the Moabite widow Ruth’s encounter with Boaz – a wealthy man of God – when she gleaned in his field. Ruth was humble and respectful towards Boaz, and in return, he treated her with exceeding kindness. Later, Ruth learned from her mother-in-law Naomi that Boaz was their kinsman-redeemer (a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need*).

Naomi’s plan for Ruth

In the third chapter of the book of Ruth, Naomi saw an opportunity and devised a plan for Ruth to attain Boaz’s hand in marriage. She instructed Ruth to wash herself, put on perfume and dress in her nicest clothes. Ruth was to go to the threshing floor where Boaz slept, lie down at his feet, and uncover him (an act suggesting that Ruth wanted to be his wife).

[Note: The threshing floor was a flat area near the fields where wheat and barley sheaves were threshed, and where grain was winnowed. When it got dark at the end of the day, the foreman – or in this case, Boaz – would literally sleep on the threshing floor to protect the grain from thieves and animals. Additionally, the threshing floor was also notorious as a place of illicit sexual activities.]

In the middle of the night, Boaz awoke and was startled to find a woman lying at his feet. When he asked who she was, Ruth replied that she was “his servant Ruth” and offered herself to him as a bride. Boaz was flattered by her attention as he was much older than her. Although he knew that she had a good character, he informed Ruth that there was – in fact – another closer relative who could do his duty as a kinsman-redeemer to marry her.

Nevertheless, Boaz made a solemn oath that if the other relative were unwilling to do so, he would marry Ruth. Boaz asked Ruth to stay at the threshing floor until morning came, and then he sent her home with six measures of barley (a very huge amount).

When Ruth reached home and told her everything that Boaz had done for her, Naomi assured her that they were to be patient and wait for the answer. Although Ruth could have said no to Naomi’s plan and Boaz could have said no to Ruth’s proposition, neither of them did so. Instead, they chose to trust and take the step forward with courage in these ways:

1.Ruth’s complete trust

Naomi asked Ruth to approach Boaz at night and offer herself to him as a bride (Ruth 3:1-4). Boaz could have felt uncomfortable and rejected Ruth because he had no interest or found her actions morally inappropriate. On the other hand, Boaz could also have been tempted and taken sexual advantage of Ruth. Either way, the situation that Naomi put Ruth in was a risky one, but Ruth was so committed to Naomi that she put her complete trust in her and merely responded, “All that you say I will do.” (Ruth 3:5-6)

2.Ruth boldly sought Boaz’s help

In Ruth 2:12, Boaz observed that Ruth had taken refuge under the wings of the Lord. Now, it was Ruth who fearlessly broke cultural expectations when she asked Boaz to be her husband and protector in these ways: by proposing to an Israelite man as a Moabite woman, by proposing to an older person as a younger person, and by proposing to a wealthy field owner as an impoverished field gleaner (Ruth 3:10-11).

3.Boaz’s integrity

When Ruth asked Boaz to take her as his wife, instead of agreeing or taking advantage of Ruth in that situation, he revealed that there was another redeemer/relative who could marry Ruth if he so chose. However, since the other man had no obligation, Boaz declared that he would redeem/marry Ruth if the other man did not want to (Ruth 3:12-13).

In this scenario, we can see how Boaz acted with pure courage and integrity in his thoughts, actions, and decisions. Boaz could have chosen not to tell Ruth about the other redeemer, but he was honest towards her. He had the utmost faith in God that if this marriage was meant to be, then God would work things out.

God desires for us to follow His plan for our lives with purity and integrity. While Satan will always attempt to attack us with temptations and distractions that will push us off the path of righteousness (1 Peter 5:8-9), we must remain faithful to God’s will and plans for us (James 1:12) – and on top of that, possess purity and integrity in our thoughts and actions (Proverbs 3:5-6). May God grant us the courage to always take the righteous step in our lives.

*As defined by


Reflection Questions:

  1. What was Naomi’s intention in devising a plan for Ruth to solicit a marriage proposal out of Boaz? What did she hope to gain out of it?
  2. Why was Boaz willing to marry Ruth if the other kinsman-redeemer did not wish to?
  3. Reflect on your life in the past months. Was there any instance when you were too afraid to take the righteous step, or was tempted to act dishonourably? If you had, did you seek forgiveness from God?