Redeemed: Lessons on Courtship from the Book of Ruth



Redeemed:
50 Lessons on Courtship From the Book of Ruth 

Have you ever grown tired of Christian subculture dancing around the subject of dating and courtship?? Either not providing any answers, providing contradictory answers, or just taking the world´s model-slapping some Christian Jargon on it, and saying repeatedly -Don’t have sex and if you think a girl is beautiful that is lust, and if a girl tries tolook nice she is being a stumbling block.

Reading the Book of Ruth, we can find it seems YHVH's model for courtship and honor. A clear model, no aims at pleasing a post-modern culture, no watering it down for fear of offending feminist women or passive-metro-sexual men. No shaming women for being beautiful or men for noticing beauty, just a simple love story that lays out the way things should go. So, on to the Story.

Chapter 1

The situation and the character of Ruth- Ruth begins with a nearly worldwide famine, very similar to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl that our grandparents experienced. Times were very hard and a woman named Naomi was an Israelite (at the time, Israel was much similar to America in that it was a very wealthy country). Naomi and her husband and their two sons had gone to live for a while in a country called Moab, which was much like Mexico was to America economically. While in Moab, Naomi's sons marry native girls, one has the name of Ruth. Afterwards, Naomi’s husband dies, as well as her two sons. This is a tragedy not just because all 3 women are widowed, but also because they are 3 women stranded in a very much lawless and Elohim-less country where women have no rights, and are not protected by YHVH's Law (Torah), with no father or husband to protect them physically or Spiritually. (Much like the situation of girls today, with divorced parents or Dads that care, or are never home).

Economically all 3 women are destitute, no food in the land, and even if there was food, there was still no bread winner and women were rarely given much pay, and to work the fields would leave them in a very vulnerable situation because they are out in the middle of nowhere with the day laborers (Much like many women today, living in large cities by themselves, forced to rely on mace and dialing 911 for any sort of physical protection). Most women of the times (a few hundred years before Rome came to Power) would end up begging or in prostitution, or selling themselves as slaves unless they found a husband.

Naomi realizes the severity of the situation, and also knows that if one of her daughters in law were to be remarried, the man they married would become responsible not just for her daughter in law, but for Naomi (who is elderly and can’t work) as well. Few men would be willing to marry a widow to begin with, much less a widow with a mother-in-law that couldn’t work (and would have to move in the house with them and need constant care), during a Great Depression and famine when few people could afford to eat. So Naomi tries to send both of her daughters in laws away so they could find new husbands easier or go back to their original families. One willingly leaves, but Ruth chooses to stay with her mother-in-law, no matter what happens.

Ruth says in Chap 1 Verse 17 -"Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Adonai deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

Ruth knows that her decision will make finding another husband nearly impossible and that it means certain starvation or slavery, but she refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Once they arrive in Israel, Ruth finds a job working in the hot sun as a day laborer, without any honor, comfy chair, or fancy title, and goes out into the fields to support herself and her mother in Law. There she meets Boaz.

Lesson 1. So, from the beginning we see the character of Ruth. Even though her husband (the only tie she has to Naomi) is gone, and Naomi is no longer technicality her responsibility, Ruth choses to stay with her. Even if it means wiping out her savings account and taking a factory job or a job picking apples all day to support her. She chooses not what is permissible, but what is best. Ruth was doing as YHVH would have her do, even while finding a mate wasn’t even a possibility due to circumstances. Chapt 1- Verse 14.

Lesson 2. Ruth has more courage than 10 common men put together. She understands the honorable thing to do, and does it knowing full well the sacrifice it will require. She understands what -Till Death Do Us Part- entails, and doesn’t just say the words, but stands behind them. Chapt 1. Verse 17

Lesson 3. When Ruth met her kinsman Redeemer, the one to protect her, Love, her, and provide for her. She was doing what needed to be done, she was carrying out her commitment, and she was living with honor and courage. She was not twiddling her thumbs, reading Modern Bride, and waiting for -Mr. Perfect to fall from the sky.

Chapter 2. Boaz meets Ruth.

Ruth goes and humbly asks to be allowed to glean behind the Harvesters (YHVH gave a Law in Torah that said if you are picking fruit from your field and miss some, don’t go back for it, but leave it for the poor to eat). Boaz, being a Righteous Man, had been following YHVH's Law as he apparently often let the poor glean the fields as well. This is witnesses by the workers giving their approval without having to ask their boss. They knew what kind of man Boaz was. Had he not being doing as YHVH Commanded, he never would have met Ruth. Boaz also was a Believer and didn’t hide the fact from his workers, as he greets them with -Adonai Be With You- and they also thought well of Him for they responded -Adonai Bless You- Chapter 2- Verse 4. Boaz also made sure that his fellow believers were taken care of during the famine by supplying them with jobs, he also comes onto the scene greeting the employees as friends, not as 2nd class citizens.
Lesson 4. Let your character speak for itself and the right people will notice.
Lesson 5. Be good to the people around you, even the ones in service jobs who can’t do you any good. Lesson 6. Greet all Believers are Brothers and Equals.

The COURTSHIP

Boaz FIRST inquires of someone in authority before he approaches Ruth. He doesn’t want to get her hopes up, or start something he can’t finish. So, he asks his foreman (the person there that is the most trusted and in highest authority). The foreman tells Boaz that she came humbly asking NOT for a hand-out, but for a job, and that she has been working steadily all day (Showing her work ethic). Then we see the Character of Boaz more.

Lesson 7. Don’t start something you can’t finish, it is -Defrauding your brother or sister in Christ. Don’t lead people on.
Lesson 8. Find out a person’s character before you try to start a courtship.
Lesson 9. Ask someone who KNOWS the other person. Part of why parents were often heavily involved.

AFTER having made sure that she was not married, or engaged, and finding out about her character to make sure she is the kind of woman he would like to know better, then he approaches her. He doesn’t use a silly pick up line, or brag about how many employees he had or that his horse is a thoroughbred.

Lesson 10. Make sure that you are not trying to steal someone else’s blessing, or gleaning in another man’s field.

Boaz invites Ruth to stay and work in his fields and tells her not to glean in another man’s fields (saying, I want to get to know you, EXCLUSIVELY). He lets her know that he isn’t joking around. He also tells her to be always in the company of other women that he is employed by. He is not afraid of Ruth knowing the other women he has contact with, his other employees, because he has treated them honorably and has nothing to hide. If he had tried to take advantage of his wealth or authority, Ruth would hear it through the grapevine and go somewhere else. Boaz also doesn’t try to pull her away from other women and people in her life, but allows her the Protection and Support of Community. Chapter 2- Verse 8.

Lesson 11. If you are serious, make it known that you are serious. State your Intentions.
Lesson 12. Don’t try and remove the other person from the protection of their community (family, trustworthy friends, etc.).
Lesson 13. Carefully guard your reputation by not doing anything to endanger it.

He then lets her know that he won’t let anything bad happen to her. He has informed his workmen that if they lay a hand on her, that there will be hell to pay (Boaz isn’t very metro-sexual of effeminate), notice he didn’t scream or yell it seems, but also, didn’t have to repeat himself because they believed him the first time. He also probably made sure that his servant girls were safe, as he had them in a separate part of the field from them men. He also provided for her immediate physical needs. He didn’t wine and diner her, or buy her expensive jewelry, which he could have being a rich man, but he knew that if they got married there would be time for that later. He also knew that if he did all of that, and he didn’t want to be with her, it would have been leading her on (He doesn’t try to be her sugar daddy). He simply makes sure that she is safe (walks her to her car, keeps an eye out, sees to it that nobody takes advantage of her poverty, or her being a foreigner). He also makes sure that she has daily food and water (as we are commanded to ensure all believers have in the Book of James/Jacob).

Lesson 14. Talk softly but carry a big stick. Be the kind of person that people expect to take a stand. And never make empty threats. You only have to show once that you mean business and after that, it doesn’t take a lot of Drama, but just a look. Your reputation will precede you and in the end, being rough is rarely needed because nobody will want to test your resolve.
Lesson 15. Don’t try to be a sugar daddy. If you lure someone in with money, they will be swimming in someone else’s Jacuzzi when your money is gone. Real relationships are based in Real, not superficial values.
Lesson 16. Treat all women with respect, and realize that some level of protection is your duty to any woman in your life, for the one you love above all others, what you already give is expected, plus a little extra care. Some level of provision is also your duty to all believers, but to your immediate family is an even higher priority (He who fails to provide for his family has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. 2 Timothy).

Chapter 2- Verse 11. Here we find Ruth completely overwhelmed, and probably very suspicious, of the good treatment of Boaz. This is a very common response of women that have seen a lot of abuse or experienced it, when a man of Honor comes along. She asks," -Why have I found such favor in your eyes, ME and FOREIGNER??"- Basically, I appreciate everything, but are you trying to take advantage of my situation. Chapter 2. Verse 10.

Boaz doesn’t tell her how hot he thinks she is or that he could take her from the field to living in luxury, he doesn’t play Prince Charming, and she doesn’t ask him too. He lets his YES be YES and NO be NO. He tells her the truth. That he heard about what she had done for her mother-in-law, and THAT caught his attention (she was probably very beautiful, but also were his other servants girls and him being rich could marry any of them, Ruth’s CHARACTER set her apart from all the other beautiful women).

Lesson 17. Expect some reaction. If the other person doesn’t find the way you treat them a little strange in contrast to the world, then you probably aren’t treating them as you should. We are called to be different, and to go -Above and Beyond- as they say in the Air Force.
Lesson 18. Smooth words leads to a Bitter Heart. Just be honest, being honest in a poetic way is good, but just be honest. Jesus warned of the danger of many words. Boaz simply told her how it is.
Lesson 19. Pursue the person for things worth pursuing, so your HONEST answer will leave them feeling appreciated.

Then we find Boaz already being a Spiritual leader and Protector. He pronounces over her a Hebrew Blessing, which was not something you throw around like -YHVH Bless you! _ when someone sneezes. A Hebrew Blessing someone was much like what happens when a Pastor is Ordained, a Wedding is blessed, or the Prayer a Rabbi says over newborn child. Boaz also gave a similar Blessing to his Workers, being a Spiritual leader to them as well as a boss. Chapter 2. Verse 12. He was Calling upon the Name of YHVH for Protection and Provision for Ruth even when he himself couldn't be there.

Lesson 20. Be a Spiritual Leader, even if you aren’t the highest ranking person in the room, or the most Spiritual, just be who you are called to be. Even the Servants of Boaz responded by being a Spiritual Encouragement to him by returning the Blessing.

Then in Chapter 2 Verse 13. We find Ruth responding in a very feminine way to be Boaz. She doesn’t try to play the man in the relationship, take charge, interrogate him, try to take HIM to dinner, she simply responds graciously and lets him take care of things. Then Boaz offers her to have lunch with he and his friends (once again, allowing her to know the people in his life-maybe to get their input, and thus also, making his intentions know to the other men around him. Also letting them know -Hands off-without saying a word). Afterwards Ruth gets up to go back to work. She doesn’t treat Boaz as her instant Sugar Daddy and doesn’t expect him to wine and dine her daily, or to pay her rent. She goes to dinner with him, and keeps on providing for herself as much as she can. To ask him to take care of everything, all the time, would be a premature commitment. It would be like sex before lifelong commitment. If they didn’t end up together, Boaz would have been cheated.

Lesson 21. Ladies, respond graciously. It’s all that is needed; you don’t have to pay for us the next time. It kind of takes away a man’s self-esteem but so does being broke, ask him what he likes.
Lesson 22. Guys, it’s important for the woman to also go through your family in a way. You also have blind spots when it comes to relationships.
Lesson 23. If a woman starts immediately wanting you to pay for everything, all the time, especially frivolous things (like shopping sprees). Or, expects to not provide for herself and wants to leech on you, then she isn’t going to be a good wife. It is good of you to offer, but if it is demanded then you may have a problem. Be a provider when she is in your presence, but don’t be a sugar daddy or a sucker.

Chapter 2. Verse 15.

When Ruth gets back up to go to work again, Boaz, in private (not showing off his authority or power) tells his men in a calm, polite way, to not embarrass her or make her uncomfortable. He protects her not only physically from other men, but also emotionally. He told them that even if she accidentally picks up the wrong grain (the grain that is not to be left over for the poor) then don’t embarrass her in public and to show her some grace. Boaz wouldn’t put up with anyone mocking or gossiping about the woman he was courting, not even his friends.

Lesson 24. Protection is also emotional. Don’t put up with any slander or gossip.

Chapter 24- Verses 17-20. Ruth takes care to bring some food home to her mother-in-law instead of saving it for her lunch the next day, after she works overtime (preparing the grain she spent all day picking), because Ruth realizes that the clock striking 5pm doesn’t end her duties and mean it’s time to party. Naomi, the former mother-in-law and mother figure in Ruth’s life asks about her day, and instead of keeping the courtship a secret, Ruth tells her about all that happened.

Lesson 25. Look for someone who doesn’t believe in clocking out and then becoming couch potatoes, looks for someone who makes sure everything and everyone is taking care of before considering their duties done.
Lesson 26. Find someone who watches out for others, not just themselves.
Lesson 27. Let everything be brought into the light, and nothing be done in darkness.
Lesson 28. ALWAYS seek wise counsel.

Chapter 2- Verses 20-23.

Naomi gives Ruth some wise advice, mainly. This man is good to you, and to everyone else in his life. Give him a shot! Naomi also adds that -This man is our kinsman redeemer, our close relative- Meaning that Boaz, due to him being related to the them, should have the first chance at courting Ruth instead of other men. He was in the family of Believers, of the same Culture as her Mother-in-Law in the Land and of the Elohim, that Ruth has chosen to come to. They also knew people in common. She was basically saying that Boaz is a very eligible Bachelor! But she only said this after stating that -He has not stopped showing kindness to the living and the dead. Ruth also stayed close to Boaz’s servant girls, and lived with her Mother in Law. In short, she stayed close to her family and friends, throughout the courtship, and Boaz encouraged her in doing so.

Lesson 29. Choose character first. THEN other considerations such as having grown up in the same town, knowing the same people, being of the same socio-economic backgrounds, etc. Without character, compatibility means nothing.
Lesson 30. There is a proper order for selecting mates, it’s not a -Free for All- there is a certain order in which potential suitors should be evaluated. With anyone who qualifies as a -Kinsman Redeemer- at the front. This would include long time male friends you may not have considered before, or people family or friends would like you to meet. Then strangers.
Lesson 31. Stick close to their people you knew BEFORE the new person in your life came along. Anyone worth having will respect that.

Chapter 3.

In Chapter 3 we find Naomi, the typical Jewish Mother, asking. Ruth, what’s taking so long, you found a good man, now let him know that you are interested!! (How counter-cultural can that be in some Churches). Naomi is saying don’t sit around and wait on a proposal out of the blue, this is a good, Honorable YHVH Seeking man, and he needs to know you are open to being married (a lot of women in our culture, even the Church, don’t have marriage in their plans, so men don’t just assume women want to find a husband).

Lesson 32. Let it be known that you want marriage and are open to being pursued.
Lesson 33. Parents often give ALOT better advice than the culture.

Chapter 3. Verses 2-6 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 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. 4 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."

5 "I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.

9 "Who are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment (Tallit) over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer." The "Tallit" is a prayer shawl worn by all men who believed in YHVH at the time, and commanded in the Book of Numbers. In Deuteronomy 6:9 reminded you of the Commands at home, because they were posted on your door. When you are out, the "Tzits" (fringes) on the Tallit (Prayer Shawl), did the same. The Tallit had not only fringes as a reminder of the duties and protections granted all people in YHVH's Law, but it also had embroidered on it the Name of YHVH and a Blessing. Those under the Tallit were under Spiritual authority and protection, so Ruth asking Boaz to pull his Tallit over her was her asking him to be the Spiritual head of the household. A similar story takes place in the Gospels. A woman with bleeding touches the "Corner of Yeshua's cloak", in actuality; it was the "Wing of His Tallit".

In Malachi the prophecy is given "The Wings of the Messiah have healing". The "Wing" is the corner of the Tallit, and when she reached for it she was stating she believed in Yeshua as the promised Spiritual Leader in Malachi. Fitting, since Boaz was a great, great grandfather of Yeshua.
People also get married under Tallits placed on 4 poles, they form the same kind of Chuppah (Wedding altar) as YHVH appearing in cloud over Sinai when Israel agreed to be His Bride by agreeing to keep His Commands (accept His Leadership), in exchange for His provision and protection. This is called a Katubah, a marriage contract stating the responsibilities of husband and wife.

So, Naomi tells Ruth. What is wrong with you??? You are letting a good thing pass you by. Wait until Boaz is in a good mood, put on some make-up, do your hair, wear something you look great in, and go find the man and show him what he has to lose if he doesn’t act soon! She sets up a romantic evening for the both of them where they can be -somewhat- alone, not completely. A romantic dinner, walk, etc. They are still out in the grain field with people in the vicinity. (Basically, she finds Boaz alone on the porch swing, she comes up looking like a million dollars and takes a seat).

She basically tells him, in a very coy feminine way. I need you in my life, protect me. (When a man spread his cloak over a woman that was a universal symbol of him taking on the job of being her protector and provider). What Ruth did is very much similar to a girl wrapping her arms around a guy to share his jacket with him. What Boaz did was similar to a guy taking his coat off and putting it over his girlfriend’s shoulders. She also says -I am Ruth, your servant- (I will follow your lead), and -you are a Kinsman Redeemer- (If only you will man up and be my protector-Provider already, you are warrior, now defend me).

Lesson 31. Ladies, you were CREATED TO BE BEAUTIFUL. You are the crown jewel of creation, trying to NOT be pretty is like putting the sun behind a cloud. People need sunlight, it helps things grow, it makes people smile, it is necessary for life. Your beauty, outward and inward, is the same.
Lesson 32. Guys. Don’t let it get to the point of a lady having to track you down and make it clear that she is interested, as we see later on the story this put Ruth in a bad position Boaz should have wrapped his cloak around her already.
Lesson 33. Ladies, a man needs to know that you will follow his lead, and won’t try to control him. Boaz seems to be in the position of many men, that he needs reassurance of that before he will fully commit to be leading the leader in a relationship.

Chapter 3- Verses 10-11. Boaz is blown away and quickly states that he will do -all that she asks- and thanks for her kindness and shows how much he respects what she did. Showing that a little femininity can get you ALOT further than all of the nagging and controlling in the world. He also realizes that Caliber of woman that she is, and that he is VERY lucky to be the one who is her Kinsman Redeemer.

Chapter 3. Verse 11-13.

Boaz realizes that there is someone else in Ruth’s life that deserves the possibility of courting her, and he offers to take a step back and let the other man decide what he wants to do. In modern terms, this may be a lifelong friend or someone else who has known the girl longer or is favored by her family, or for any reason, is another Kinsman Redeemer. Boaz makes his intentions known, and places his Faith in YHVH to work things out. He doesn’t get jealous, controlling, or try to rush things just to keep her.

Lesson 34. Employ faith, not control in delicate situations.
Lesson 35. Take the higher path for the best results.

Chapter 3-Verse 13-14. The sun comes up; Ruth and Boaz have been sitting there all night talking. And Boaz tells her to go home and wait, and HE not HER, will take care of things with the other guy. He also tells her to come home before anyone can be recognized. So, instead of bragging to his friends. -Guess who came to MY threshing floor last night- he keeps the matter to himself until everything is settled. Boaz is very careful as to not ruin her reputation or give people anything to gossip about. He even ensures that his friends don’t go spreading stories and rumors. -Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor- guarding his own reputations well.

Lesson 36. A good reputation is worth more than silver, guard hers carefully, and yours as well.

Chapter 3 Verse 15-18.

Boaz also takes big step up when he learns that he could be marrying Ruth very soon. As soon as their relationship is official (unless this other man wants to marry Ruth, Boaz is going to marry her VERY soon), he provides not only for Ruth, but also for her mother-in-law Naomi, the mother of Ruth’s former husband, by sending grain home to help feed the woman. (A modern gesture would be flowers for your girlfriends mom or grandmother, or keeping anyone from bullying her little brother-)

Lesson 37. Your future in laws will be just as much your family, and yours to help take care of, as they are for your wife. Two become ONE FLESH in every way, including the same blood family.

Chapter 3 Verse 15-18. As soon as Ruth leaves the threshing floor to go back home to her mom, Boaz doesn’t even go back to BED!!! The man has slept like 2 hours, and he goes to settle things with this other man IMMEDIATELY. He doesn’t ponder for months and months if they should be married or not, they don’t date for 2 years. He knows he wants to be with her, knows what kind of woman she is, and he immediately goes and settles it. -Dating- is a modern invention. Up until the 1950s, if you -Dated a Woman for more than 6 months without proposing, they called you a CAD-, or womanizer, and her Dad and brothers would come outside and beat you with a stick unless you either proposed, or broke up with her. And if you dated a girl for 6 months with no intentions of marrying her, they would probably beat you with a stick regardless.

Lesson 38. Be careful with other people’s hearts, and don’t tolerate those who aren’t careful with yours. Lesson 39.Dont act unless you are certain, and when you have intentions let them be known. YHVH is not the author of Confusion, so then, who is??

Naomi also knows the character of Boaz and reassures Ruth that unlike most women, Ruth won’t be left hanging. Boaz is a man of action and Naomi tells Ruth to just wait and not try to push anything because Boaz will -Not Rest until the matter is settled TODAY- Not in 6 weeks, 6 months, TODAY.

Lesson 40.When you know the right thing to do, do it without hesitation.



Chapter 4. The Conclusion.

So, without sleeping the night before. Boaz goes to where he knows this other guy will pass by and tells him -Sit down, my FRIEND-. No Hostility, no Drama, just two guys with something to discuss in a civil matter.

Lesson 41. Treat all men as brothers. A gentle word turns away wrath.

Then Boaz takes 10 Elders and calls them together. The man is quick. Less than 12 hours later, he has not only the other guy that is interested but 10 Elders. In many cases, the other guy, the Dad, Brothers, a Deacon or Pastor. And he explains the situation to ALL of them, PUBLICLY, and asks the other guy. ..What do you plan on doing- Because you are free to pursue her, but if you don’t, I plan on asking her to marry me- in summary.

Lesson 42. Boaz doesn’t try to control, but gives Ruth and this other guy a choice that he won’t hold against them. It is good for us to do the same.
Lesson 43. Boaz finds ELDERS. People respected and responsible for what goes in the community of Believers, and those responsible for Ruth. And he takes it before them. Much like asking a Father or Pastor for permission to marry a girl they are watching over.

At first the other man says he will -redeem the land- but then Boaz GENTLY reminds him how complicated that will get, probably because the man has another wife and children already (in modern terms, the other guy is tied up with another girl). Then one man took off his sandal and gave it to Boaz (in modern terms, shaking hands and saying, -go for it man- you have my blessing).

Lesson 44. Sometimes putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and watching out for their interest, brings YOU a great blessing. And avoids a lot of conflict in the body of Believers.

Then Boaz says to the Elders (Brothers, Dad, Deacon, etc). You have witnessed what happened here, I am not cheating anyone or doing anything dishonorably. And on top of that, I plan on proposing before sunset and want your Blessing. Then the Elders gave him the parental blessing.

Lesson 45. People respect upfront, and decisive people.

Lesson 46. Having the Blessing of those in authority is very important.

Then YHVH blessed them greatly as well, and all women called Naomi and Ruth blessed and praised them, and Boaz and Ruth pleased YHVH so much, that they became great-great-great, grandparents of Yeshua Himself.

Lesson 47. You never know who in your life your relationship will bless, not just by example.
Lesson 48. This story is in the Bible and still teaches us today. So you never know which strangers you will Bless.
Lesson 49. Ruth had to lose her husband and be widowed to meet Boaz. So we never know what tragedy will turn into blessing.
Lesson 50: They became the Great, Great, Great, Grandparents of the Messiah without even knowing it. Some of the greatest blessings are the ones we never know about.

If you are interested in more solid courtship/marriage advice check out http://www.boundless.org/ from Focus on the Family.

50 Lessons on Courtship From the Book of Ruth

Have you ever grown tired of Christian subculture dancing around the subject of dating and courtship?? Either not providing any answers, providing contradictory answers, or just taking the world´s model-slapping some Christian Jargon on it, and saying repeatedly -Don’t have sex and if you think a girl is beautiful that is lust, and if a girl tries to look nice she is being a stumbling block.

Reading the Book of Ruth, we can find it seems YHVH's model for courtship and honor. A clear model, no aims at pleasing a post-modern culture, no watering it down for fear of offending feminist women or passive-metro-sexual men. No shaming women for being beautiful or men for noticing beauty, just a simple love story that lays out the way things should go. So, on to the Story.

Chapter 1

The situation and the character of Ruth- Ruth begins with a nearly worldwide famine, very similar to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl that our grandparents experienced. Times were very hard and a woman named Naomi was an Israelite (at the time, Israel was much similar to America in that it was a very wealthy country). Naomi and her husband and their two sons had gone to live for a while in a country called Moab, which was much like Mexico was to America economically. While in Moab, Naomi's sons marry native girls, one has the name of Ruth. Afterwards, Naomi’s husband dies, as well as her two sons. This is a tragedy not just because all 3 women are widowed, but also because they are 3 women stranded in a very much lawless and Elohim-less country where women have no rights, and are not protected by YHVH's Law (Torah), with no father or husband to protect them physically or Spiritually. (Much like the situation of girls today, with divorced parents or Dads that care, or are never home).

Economically all 3 women are destitute, no food in the land, and even if there was food, there was still no bread winner and women were rarely given much pay, and to work the fields would leave them in a very vulnerable situation because they are out in the middle of nowhere with the day laborers (Much like many women today, living in large cities by themselves, forced to rely on mace and dialing 911 for any sort of physical protection). Most women of the times (a few hundred years before Rome came to Power) would end up begging or in prostitution, or selling themselves as slaves unless they found a husband.

Naomi realizes the severity of the situation, and also knows that if one of her daughters in law were to be remarried, the man they married would become responsible not just for her daughter in law, but for Naomi (who is elderly and can’t work) as well. Few men would be willing to marry a widow to begin with, much less a widow with a mother-in-law that couldn’t work (and would have to move in the house with them and need constant care), during a Great Depression and famine when few people could afford to eat. So Naomi tries to send both of her daughters in laws away so they could find new husbands easier or go back to their original families. One willingly leaves, but Ruth chooses to stay with her mother-in-law, no matter what happens.

Ruth says in Chap 1 Verse 17 -"Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Adonai deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

Ruth knows that her decision will make finding another husband nearly impossible and that it means certain starvation or slavery, but she refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Once they arrive in Israel, Ruth finds a job working in the hot sun as a day laborer, without any honor, comfy chair, or fancy title, and goes out into the fields to support herself and her mother in Law. There she meets Boaz.

Lesson 1. So, from the beginning we see the character of Ruth. Even though her husband (the only tie she has to Naomi) is gone, and Naomi is no longer technicality her responsibility, Ruth choses to stay with her. Even if it means wiping out her savings account and taking a factory job or a job picking apples all day to support her. She chooses not what is permissible, but what is best. Ruth was doing as YHVH would have her do, even while finding a mate wasn’t even a possibility due to circumstances. Chapt 1- Verse 14.

Lesson 2. Ruth has more courage than 10 common men put together. She understands the honorable thing to do, and does it knowing full well the sacrifice it will require. She understands what -Till Death Do Us Part- entails, and doesn’t just say the words, but stands behind them. Chapt 1. Verse 17

Lesson 3. When Ruth met her kinsman Redeemer, the one to protect her, Love, her, and provide for her. She was doing what needed to be done, she was carrying out her commitment, and she was living with honor and courage. She was not twiddling her thumbs, reading Modern Bride, and waiting for -Mr. Perfect to fall from the sky.

Chapter 2. Boaz meets Ruth.

Ruth goes and humbly asks to be allowed to glean behind the Harvesters (YHVH gave a Law in Torah that said if you are picking fruit from your field and miss some, don’t go back for it, but leave it for the poor to eat). Boaz, being a Righteous Man, had been following YHVH's Law as he apparently often let the poor glean the fields as well. This is witnesses by the workers giving their approval without having to ask their boss. They knew what kind of man Boaz was. Had he not being doing as YHVH Commanded, he never would have met Ruth. Boaz also was a Believer and didn’t hide the fact from his workers, as he greets them with -Adonai Be With You- and they also thought well of Him for they responded -Adonai Bless You- Chapter 2- Verse 4. Boaz also made sure that his fellow believers were taken care of during the famine by supplying them with jobs, he also comes onto the scene greeting the employees as friends, not as 2nd class citizens.
Lesson 4. Let your character speak for itself and the right people will notice.
Lesson 5. Be good to the people around you, even the ones in service jobs who can’t do you any good. Lesson 6. Greet all Believers are Brothers and Equals.

The COURTSHIP

Boaz FIRST inquires of someone in authority before he approaches Ruth. He doesn’t want to get her hopes up, or start something he can’t finish. So, he asks his foreman (the person there that is the most trusted and in highest authority). The foreman tells Boaz that she came humbly asking NOT for a hand-out, but for a job, and that she has been working steadily all day (Showing her work ethic). Then we see the Character of Boaz more.

Lesson 7. Don’t start something you can’t finish, it is -Defrauding your brother or sister in Christ. Don’t lead people on.
Lesson 8. Find out a person’s character before you try to start a courtship.
Lesson 9. Ask someone who KNOWS the other person. Part of why parents were often heavily involved.

AFTER having made sure that she was not married, or engaged, and finding out about her character to make sure she is the kind of woman he would like to know better, then he approaches her. He doesn’t use a silly pick up line, or brag about how many employees he had or that his horse is a thoroughbred.

Lesson 10. Make sure that you are not trying to steal someone else’s blessing, or gleaning in another man’s field.

Boaz invites Ruth to stay and work in his fields and tells her not to glean in another man’s fields (saying, I want to get to know you, EXCLUSIVELY). He lets her know that he isn’t joking around. He also tells her to be always in the company of other women that he is employed by. He is not afraid of Ruth knowing the other women he has contact with, his other employees, because he has treated them honorably and has nothing to hide. If he had tried to take advantage of his wealth or authority, Ruth would hear it through the grapevine and go somewhere else. Boaz also doesn’t try to pull her away from other women and people in her life, but allows her the Protection and Support of Community. Chapter 2- Verse 8.

Lesson 11. If you are serious, make it known that you are serious. State your Intentions.
Lesson 12. Don’t try and remove the other person from the protection of their community (family, trustworthy friends, etc.).
Lesson 13. Carefully guard your reputation by not doing anything to endanger it.

He then lets her know that he won’t let anything bad happen to her. He has informed his workmen that if they lay a hand on her, that there will be hell to pay (Boaz isn’t very metro-sexual of effeminate), notice he didn’t scream or yell it seems, but also, didn’t have to repeat himself because they believed him the first time. He also probably made sure that his servant girls were safe, as he had them in a separate part of the field from them men. He also provided for her immediate physical needs. He didn’t wine and diner her, or buy her expensive jewelry, which he could have being a rich man, but he knew that if they got married there would be time for that later. He also knew that if he did all of that, and he didn’t want to be with her, it would have been leading her on (He doesn’t try to be her sugar daddy). He simply makes sure that she is safe (walks her to her car, keeps an eye out, sees to it that nobody takes advantage of her poverty, or her being a foreigner). He also makes sure that she has daily food and water (as we are commanded to ensure all believers have in the Book of James/Jacob).

Lesson 14. Talk softly but carry a big stick. Be the kind of person that people expect to take a stand. And never make empty threats. You only have to show once that you mean business and after that, it doesn’t take a lot of Drama, but just a look. Your reputation will precede you and in the end, being rough is rarely needed because nobody will want to test your resolve.
Lesson 15. Don’t try to be a sugar daddy. If you lure someone in with money, they will be swimming in someone else’s Jacuzzi when your money is gone. Real relationships are based in Real, not superficial values.
Lesson 16. Treat all women with respect, and realize that some level of protection is your duty to any woman in your life, for the one you love above all others, what you already give is expected, plus a little extra care. Some level of provision is also your duty to all believers, but to your immediate family is an even higher priority (He who fails to provide for his family has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever. 2 Timothy).

Chapter 2- Verse 11. Here we find Ruth completely overwhelmed, and probably very suspicious, of the good treatment of Boaz. This is a very common response of women that have seen a lot of abuse or experienced it, when a man of Honor comes along. She asks," -Why have I found such favor in your eyes, ME and FOREIGNER??"- Basically, I appreciate everything, but are you trying to take advantage of my situation. Chapter 2. Verse 10.

Boaz doesn’t tell her how hot he thinks she is or that he could take her from the field to living in luxury, he doesn’t play Prince Charming, and she doesn’t ask him too. He lets his YES be YES and NO be NO. He tells her the truth. That he heard about what she had done for her mother-in-law, and THAT caught his attention (she was probably very beautiful, but also were his other servants girls and him being rich could marry any of them, Ruth’s CHARACTER set her apart from all the other beautiful women).

Lesson 17. Expect some reaction. If the other person doesn’t find the way you treat them a little strange in contrast to the world, then you probably aren’t treating them as you should. We are called to be different, and to go -Above and Beyond- as they say in the Air Force.
Lesson 18. Smooth words leads to a Bitter Heart. Just be honest, being honest in a poetic way is good, but just be honest. Jesus warned of the danger of many words. Boaz simply told her how it is.
Lesson 19. Pursue the person for things worth pursuing, so your HONEST answer will leave them feeling appreciated.

Then we find Boaz already being a Spiritual leader and Protector. He pronounces over her a Hebrew Blessing, which was not something you throw around like -YHVH Bless you! _ when someone sneezes. A Hebrew Blessing someone was much like what happens when a Pastor is Ordained, a Wedding is blessed, or the Prayer a Rabbi says over newborn child. Boaz also gave a similar Blessing to his Workers, being a Spiritual leader to them as well as a boss. Chapter 2. Verse 12. He was Calling upon the Name of YHVH for Protection and Provision for Ruth even when he himself couldn't be there.

Lesson 20. Be a Spiritual Leader, even if you aren’t the highest ranking person in the room, or the most Spiritual, just be who you are called to be. Even the Servants of Boaz responded by being a Spiritual Encouragement to him by returning the Blessing.

Then in Chapter 2 Verse 13. We find Ruth responding in a very feminine way to be Boaz. She doesn’t try to play the man in the relationship, take charge, interrogate him, try to take HIM to dinner, she simply responds graciously and lets him take care of things. Then Boaz offers her to have lunch with he and his friends (once again, allowing her to know the people in his life-maybe to get their input, and thus also, making his intentions know to the other men around him. Also letting them know -Hands off-without saying a word). Afterwards Ruth gets up to go back to work. She doesn’t treat Boaz as her instant Sugar Daddy and doesn’t expect him to wine and dine her daily, or to pay her rent. She goes to dinner with him, and keeps on providing for herself as much as she can. To ask him to take care of everything, all the time, would be a premature commitment. It would be like sex before lifelong commitment. If they didn’t end up together, Boaz would have been cheated.

Lesson 21. Ladies, respond graciously. It’s all that is needed; you don’t have to pay for us the next time. It kind of takes away a man’s self-esteem but so does being broke, ask him what he likes.
Lesson 22. Guys, it’s important for the woman to also go through your family in a way. You also have blind spots when it comes to relationships.
Lesson 23. If a woman starts immediately wanting you to pay for everything, all the time, especially frivolous things (like shopping sprees). Or, expects to not provide for herself and wants to leech on you, then she isn’t going to be a good wife. It is good of you to offer, but if it is demanded then you may have a problem. Be a provider when she is in your presence, but don’t be a sugar daddy or a sucker.

Chapter 2. Verse 15.

When Ruth gets back up to go to work again, Boaz, in private (not showing off his authority or power) tells his men in a calm, polite way, to not embarrass her or make her uncomfortable. He protects her not only physically from other men, but also emotionally. He told them that even if she accidentally picks up the wrong grain (the grain that is not to be left over for the poor) then don’t embarrass her in public and to show her some grace. Boaz wouldn’t put up with anyone mocking or gossiping about the woman he was courting, not even his friends.

Lesson 24. Protection is also emotional. Don’t put up with any slander or gossip.

Chapter 24- Verses 17-20. Ruth takes care to bring some food home to her mother-in-law instead of saving it for her lunch the next day, after she works overtime (preparing the grain she spent all day picking), because Ruth realizes that the clock striking 5pm doesn’t end her duties and mean it’s time to party. Naomi, the former mother-in-law and mother figure in Ruth’s life asks about her day, and instead of keeping the courtship a secret, Ruth tells her about all that happened.

Lesson 25. Look for someone who doesn’t believe in clocking out and then becoming couch potatoes, looks for someone who makes sure everything and everyone is taking care of before considering their duties done.
Lesson 26. Find someone who watches out for others, not just themselves.
Lesson 27. Let everything be brought into the light, and nothing be done in darkness.
Lesson 28. ALWAYS seek wise counsel.

Chapter 2- Verses 20-23.

Naomi gives Ruth some wise advice, mainly. This man is good to you, and to everyone else in his life. Give him a shot! Naomi also adds that -This man is our kinsman redeemer, our close relative- Meaning that Boaz, due to him being related to the them, should have the first chance at courting Ruth instead of other men. He was in the family of Believers, of the same Culture as her Mother-in-Law in the Land and of the Elohim, that Ruth has chosen to come to. They also knew people in common. She was basically saying that Boaz is a very eligible Bachelor! But she only said this after stating that -He has not stopped showing kindness to the living and the dead. Ruth also stayed close to Boaz’s servant girls, and lived with her Mother in Law. In short, she stayed close to her family and friends, throughout the courtship, and Boaz encouraged her in doing so.

Lesson 29. Choose character first. THEN other considerations such as having grown up in the same town, knowing the same people, being of the same socio-economic backgrounds, etc. Without character, compatibility means nothing.
Lesson 30. There is a proper order for selecting mates, it’s not a -Free for All- there is a certain order in which potential suitors should be evaluated. With anyone who qualifies as a -Kinsman Redeemer- at the front. This would include long time male friends you may not have considered before, or people family or friends would like you to meet. Then strangers.
Lesson 31. Stick close to their people you knew BEFORE the new person in your life came along. Anyone worth having will respect that.

Chapter 3.

In Chapter 3 we find Naomi, the typical Jewish Mother, asking. Ruth, what’s taking so long, you found a good man, now let him know that you are interested!! (How counter-cultural can that be in some Churches). Naomi is saying don’t sit around and wait on a proposal out of the blue, this is a good, Honorable YHVH Seeking man, and he needs to know you are open to being married (a lot of women in our culture, even the Church, don’t have marriage in their plans, so men don’t just assume women want to find a husband).

Lesson 32. Let it be known that you want marriage and are open to being pursued.
Lesson 33. Parents often give ALOT better advice than the culture.

Chapter 3. Verses 2-6 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 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. 4 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."

5 "I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.

9 "Who are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread th

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