Read Ruth 3:1-10
1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”
5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.
7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. (NLT)
Proposals of marriage come in all shapes and forms. This one is rather different in that the woman does the proposing. Naomi reckons Boaz is the right man for Ruth. So she tells Ruth to go and lie at Boaz’ feet to get his attention and put the marriage question to him. This she does. The idea of spreading the corner of the covering over her is a phrase that is actually a request for marriage.
Some have seen this episode as Ruth taking advantage of Boaz having drunk too much and even having sexual relationships with him. The text doesn’t suggest this and it seems out of character for both of these people of integrity.
God may be sovereign, but we are to act as free agents who make choices and decisions and even take risks in order to see his purposes worked out.
What the text does suggest is that human beings are not passive robots who sit back and wait for God to do his stuff in order for good to come about. Naomi is thinking and planning. Ruth is willing to do something that might seem risky. What if Boaz rejected her? What if others saw her as some brazen hussy? As for Boaz, he is willing to take Ruth on as his wife even though he reckons she might have found someone more desirable.
The insight of Naomi, the humility of Ruth, the kindness of Boaz, all come together to accomplish God’s purposes. God may be sovereign, but we are to act as free agents who make choices and decisions and even take risks in order to see his purposes worked out. God works, we work; God plans, we plan. God usually works out his purposes through the purposeful actions of his people.