Words of Wisdom come in various forms. For some, reading Scripture informs their thinking. For others, culture teaches them. For many, the teaching of family is foundational. Do you remember as a child, chanting with friends as you walked to school, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Step on a line, break your mother’s spine”? I can hear my mother saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!” meaning I should treat my boss with respect. Likewise, “The client is always right” were words of wisdom for dealing with cranky customers at Woolworths.
Naomi comes to Ruth in the book of Ruth with a plan to “catch a husband,” a possible “long-term care plan” to give Ruth a long-term home in Bethlehem and to provide security for Ruth’s future. The rest of chapter 3 has intrigued readers. Is Naomi suggesting Ruth enticing Boaz into a sexual encounter in the middle of the night after he has threshed, eaten, and is drunk? My husband votes for this interpretation. The modern day equivalent might be living together hoping for a proposal. I find it incongruent with the tone of the whole book to boil this down to a sexual encounter. I would rather see the plan as a culturally acceptable way for Ruth to signal Boaz that she is open to a proposal. Naomi suggests that Ruth go to the threshing floor and note where Boaz is working and then after dinner and drinking and when the men settle down to sleep, note where he is sleeping, “then go and uncover his feet and he will tell you what to do.” That advice is cloaked in history and culture.
Advice. A possible question to ponder today is to reflect on our criteria for the people we listen to as we make long-term care plans. Determining reliable advice for actions to be undertaken is a genuine challenge today. Television and Internet ads certainly try to convince us who are the best lawyer to plead our case, the best insurance company to look after our car or health, and even the best products for whatever our concern. Having just lived through the barrage of political lingo about who can insure our future, we may turn to government…as we hope to make it to Social Security age. Friends and family counsel. Having just moved to a new state, all the choices about care and all the words of advice are overwhelming. Ruth did not have the advantage of modern media but she did have a concerned mother-in-law. Ruth agrees to go to the threshing floor.
Who do you turn to for advice when you need care? OR, if someone comes to you, are you an honest and reliable friend? Take some time today to reflect on people who have been there for you, to help you chart your future. A note of gratitude to them might be considered. Was there a specific incident or piece of advice that sticks in your mind? In a different column you might list places where you need reliable advice at this point in your life as you look into the future seeing dimly. Prayer is always part of the solution. God answers but we must be listening. He does not always give the answer we are wanting or expecting. Looking at the back of your Bible in the concordance for a key search word not only provides ideas to ponder but often stimulates creative thinking. “Lord speak into the silence today as we wait on you!” Blessings.