It had all come to this. Last night, my whole world changed, and it all started with the encouragement from my mother-in-law, Naomi: “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
Although I had witnessed Boaz’s fine character and his kindness toward me and the workers in his field, I was the slightest bit reluctant. I had loved my deceased husband, and it was difficult to imagine myself wedded to another. But I trusted Naomi and loved her dearly, so I found myself consenting.
So I went down to the threshing floor that night, following her instructions. I lay awake at his feet, trembling in the face of the unknown. What would he say? What would he do when he awakened and saw me there? But I had no reason to fear, for when he startled in the middle of the night, he turned to me with a whisper, seeking to know my identity.
I told him I was his servant Ruth, and I asked him to spread the corner of his garment over me, as was the Hebrew custom. His response was more than I could have ever hoped to dream: “The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
To stay with him that night would risk my reputation, but I was willing to lie at the feet of this kinsman-redeemer. I had committed to keeping my word to Naomi, and in potentially marrying Boaz, I would be able to provide for her needs. So upon waking the next morning, I returned to Naomi with a smile on my face and a shawl brimming with grain. Now it was time for Boaz to do his part.
At the town gate, Naomi and I waited in eagerness for the outcome of our future. There was another kinsman-redeemer who was nearer than Boaz, and I grew nervous as we awaited the legal transaction.
Boaz said to the kinsman-redeemer: “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”
My heart skipped a beat when I heard the reply: “I will redeem it,” the other man said. Could this be God’s will? I didn’t understand. I was certain Boaz would act as kinsman-redeemer. But before I could lose hope, Boaz spoke again.
“On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”
Tears filled my eyes as the kinsman-redeemer took off his sandal and handed it to Boaz, making the transaction final. “Buy it yourself,” he said, and rose to go on his way. The deed was done, and Boaz had come through for us!
He had sacrificed his own estate and future in order to redeem the lives of his widowed relatives. His kindness was more than I could fathom in that he chose to provide for me, a foreigner, in addition to my mother-in-law. With gratitude in my heart, I looked to the man who would soon be my husband. What would the future hold for us? Only God could make that clear. But for now, I simply knew what it felt like to be blessed.