Ruth 3:1-18 (Part 2) – Ruth Laying At Boaz’s Feet: More Than Just A Place to Lay!

Posted: October 31, 2017 in Book of Ruth
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Ruth 3:1-18 (Part 2 of 3)
Ruth Follows Naomi’s Plan

Usually, I will relate a personal experience to the passage at hand. That’s my schtick! That’s how I make the Bible relatable to my life … to take the meaning and truth from a passage and find an experience in my life that I can use as proof of that truth. However, today, there is just so much beautiful symbolism in this story that I would not want to ruin it with some profane attempt to relate it to my mundane, ordinary life. There are two things that we have to, have to talk about here. First, the “laying at the master’s feet” and, second, the covering.

In Israelite custom, it was not uncommon for a servant to lay at their master’s feet. It was for the security of the servant and it was also for the convenience of the master. Usually, when outdoors, it was necessary to sleep with the availability of one’s weapons nearby. There were thieves and murderers in the last millennium before Christ just as there are today. When you go camping today, it is not uncommon for a dad to have a weapon nearby to protect his family from what evil person may lurk in the night or some wild animal that may approach because of the smell of some previously eaten food. As a father of a wife, two daughters, and a stepdaughter, these women are my life. All four of these ladies, I would lay my life down for. It was the same back in the day in Boaz’s and Ruth’s time. A servant who was normally unarmed would lay at their master’s feet because their master would usually “be packin’!” They would have had their choice weapon of the millennium before Christ – a sword, a club, a rod or a staff, some object of defense against marauders or wild animals.

Ruth laying at Boaz’s feet meant that she (1) was telling him that she was his servant and (2) that she wished to be under his protection and care. It takes humility to admit that you need help and become someone’s servant. It take humility to lay at someone’s feet as if they are superior to you. I know that mindsets of people about their own human rights were different back then but still there is some sense of pride swallowing to humble yourself to lay at someone’s feet. In Israelite culture, feet were considered profane in the sense that they encountered dirt and filth more than any other part of the body. Thus, feet washing when a person entered a home was not just a honorable gesture it was one considered necessary to keep one’s home holy and set apart from the profane and dirty world outside. So, to lay at someone’s feet was a recognition of one’s lowly state in relationship to the person at whose feet you were laying. Is this not symbolic of our relationship with Jesus Christ? We will come back to that thought.

Laying at his feet was recognition of the servant-master relationship but it also recognized that she was now under his protection. As a servant, she became part of which Boaz would now defend with his life. He was now responsible for her. He would make her a part of his household. He would defend her from things in the night that could hurt her. By laying at His feet, she would be protected by his weaponry that He had available. By laying at his feet, she was in proximity to the source of her defense. How symbolic is that in relation to Christ’s defense of us? We will come back to that thought.

As well, because of being a servant, they, when traveling with their master, did not necessarily have everything they needed for a night’s sleep. Everything was about the master’s comfort and not the servant’s. Thus, when sleeping outdoors and sleeping at the master’s feet, the master would often cover their servant with their blanket or covering. It demonstrated the master’s care for the servant’s well being. There is nothing worse to a master than a sick or dead servant. Through the covering, the master ensured the health and continued service of the servant. It is the same with us and Jesus. How symbolic is that? We will come back to that thought.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage for the second of three times that we will write about it – how this scene is symbolic and forward pointing to how we are in relationship to our Master, Jesus Christ. Let’s read the passage together for the first time this morning, Ruth 3:1-18:
3 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. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops[a] of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he[b] returned to the town.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

In this passage, we see that, in v. 4, that Naomi’s advice seems strange to us 21st century Americans, but she was not suggesting a seductive act. In reality, Naomi was telling Ruth to act in accordance with Israelite custom and law. It was common for a servant to lie at the master’s feet and even share a part of his covering. By observing this custom, Ruth would be symbolically informing Boaz that he could be her family redeemer and that she was his faithful servant. As her family redeemer, he would take responsibility for her and find someone to marry her or marry her himself. It was family business, nothing romantic. However, this story would later become beautifully romantic as Ruth and Boaz developed an unselfish love and deep respect for one another.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, we must humble ourselves and lay at His feet. We cannot be in relationship with Him until we recognize his vast superiority to us. We must humble ourselves before the Creator of the Universe. We must recognize that Jesus is God. We must recognize that He is perfection and we are sinners. We must recognize that in the absence of Him, we are destined to hell. We must recognize that He was humble enough as the God of the Universe to come to earth and live as a man, live the perfect life so that he could become the once and final perfect sacrifice for man’s sins, and that He as God in the flesh was able to conquer sin and death. That is recognition that Jesus is pretty freaking awesome! And then there’s us. It takes humility to recognize that we are not in control of our lives and that we need an intervention from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, the One through whom all things were created. We must humble ourselves to recognize that we are nothing compared to Him. We must humble ourselves and lay ourselves at His feet and beg simply to be His servant.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, when we accept that we are his lowly servants and accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer and Lord, He gives us His covering. He gives us his cloak of righteousness. Our best attempts at holiness are but filthy rags in comparison to the royal robe of righteousness of Jesus Christ. In His love for us, when we accept Him as our Savior, Redeemer, and Lord, we are cloaked in his royal robe. We are covered by His righteousness. He ensures our eternal future as His servant when He covers us in His perfect royal covering. We are no more filthy rags that are exposed to the elements of sin. We are covered in His impenetrable warm covering of righteousness.

In our relationship with Jesus Christ, when we sleep at His feet in recognition of His Lordship over your lives and His covering of righteousness, we gain access to His protection from all that can hurt us and drag us down. Under His covering, we are most protected against the evil of this world. We can renounce evil and have victory over through Jesus Christ who is completely victorious and completely superior to all that is evil in the world. We cannot do it alone. We must be near and close to the Lord so that we are within His protection. When we do not sleep at the Christ’s feet, we are susceptible to the marauder and the wild animal known as Satan who wishes to ensnare us and capture us and devour us in sin so that He can say He has another one! When we rest at the Master’s feet, He will protect us. He will send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to teach us, correct us, and remind us to stay at the Master’s feet and within His protection.

Oh wow! How this scene in Ruth chapter 3 is so symbolic of what our relationship with Jesus Christ is like. There is nothing like it. There is nothing to compare it to. That’s why today I can give no example from my life other than to say I am at the Master’s feet. I admitted that I needed Him in December 2001 and my life has changed completely since that time. It has not always been easy for this prideful sinner to lay at the Master’s feet but it is at His feet that I can be found for He is my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Lord. I am His servant. I am subject to Him at His feet. He has covered me in His blanket of righteousness. I am His. He is my Lord. He is my Savior. He is my Redeemer.

Amen and Amen.

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