Finding a New Spirit in a Broken World
I’m going to invite you to the book of Ruth Chapter 3. If you’re in the Old Testament, it’s eight books into the Old Testament. Ruth is a small book. It’s only four chapters, right after Judges, easy to pass by it. Anyway, as you find that, let me just give you a little backdrop as to where we’re going and in how the story has unfolded. We’re four weeks into this series together. Today we’re going to get our hands a little dirty in what we discuss, but if you remember the story of Ruth, it starts with a man named Elimelech who takes his family out of God’s promised land with God’s people and into a land where God told his people not to be.
They’re in Moab, which is about 30 to 50 miles from Bethlehem, where Elimelech and his family was. As they made that, they made that journey, Elimelech and his family find sickness and death. Elimelech, his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion die, and he leaves behind his wife and his two daughter-in-laws. They’re all widows, which is Naomi, who was Elimelech’s wife, Ruth and Orpah, his two daughter-in-laws. Orpah goes back to her people. Ruth stays with Naomi and they journey back to Jerusalem with faith in God.
Ruth puts her faith in the Lord, trusting that he will provide. Ruth knew if she left Naomi to herself, she would inevitably, most likely she would die. She was older in years, not able to work land and help provide for herself in that way and she owned nothing. She was poor, destitute, without provision in life. So Ruth joined her on this journey back to Bethlehem, in order to help provide for her life, in hopes of finding redemption.
Then we’re introduced to this man named Boaz. His name literally means strong man. He’s the antithesis of Elimelech. Elimelech’s only interested in putting food on the table. Boaz is interested in the wellbeing holistically of a human being. He’s a godly man. He inevitably marries Ruth, which we’ll get to next week and becomes kinsman-redeemer. It’s a foreshadowing of the future of the messiah. It’s kind of the story of Ruth, but when you get to Ruth chapter 3, this is kind of one of those places that makes your grandmother blush. This is not sort of the story that you’re going to sit down and study together because of the contents.
You remember the book of Ruth is in narrative form, which means the bible’s not always interested in keeping everything just roses and peachy for you. It shares the events as they took place. Just because it shares a narrative doesn’t mean it’s prescriptive for your life. Everything that we’re saying today, I’m not saying now go duplicate Ruth chapter 3. It just happens, the gracious hand of God intervenes and prevents something bad happening in this circumstance, but in Ruth chapter 3, what we’re going to find is it’s not the most beautiful story when you think of godliness.
If you’re reading the bible, and you’re thinking I only want perfect things, don’t read Ruth chapter 3. Someone asked me once, when it comes to the bad parts of the bible, what do you do when you have your kids and you read the bad parts of the bible. They’re expecting, you know I’m a pastor, so I’m going to say, “Oh we just skip over those. We’re not going to read that.” We want everything to look perfect in your life. I just said to them, “I read it.” They’re like, they were blown away. You read it? Yes I read it. It’s in the bible for a reason. I want my kids to know that.
Now I will tell you, there are certain things that are a little more age appropriate than others, like this little, maybe this is a little TMI here, but we watched that movie Star with our kids the other day, which is like the coming of Jesus, the birth of Jesus. Mary’s walking around pregnant, and they cut to the place where Mary’s about to have the baby, and the next time they cut back, Mary has the baby. Our youngest one opened up and says, “Man I really wanted to see when her belly opened up and the baby,” so we’re like, so we’re wondering how are we going to navigate this with kids. They just think the baby comes out there.
Anyway, interesting things with kids, and there are certain things that are appropriate and not appropriate with how you handle it. Like, when you read a children’s bible for example. The life of Noah, you usually see these animals just hanging out in the boat. Everyone’s happy, but when you think about the story, I mean it’s like death, destruction, man. It is not the rosy peaches that you might read in the kids’ bible. There’s certain things at different times that you just kind of get a little more detail.
The reason I say, when we get to those places in the bible, the reason we want to read it is because if you don’t, someone will. Someone will influence your children. It’s better one who walks with God, to be able to produce wisdom in the midst of a scenario in the life of your child, than to rely on somebody else. God’s got you there for a reason, and you have an opportunity to speak into their lives, not just shy away from things when they aren’t going that well, but to show them how to walk with wisdom and navigate the adversity of life. They’re going to encounter it, right.
You think, statistically in our society, a lot of young people leave the faith around their college years. They get to these places with these professors in these secular universities that challenge some things in their Christian faith. They may not have heard it before. They’re thinking, their pastor lied to them. They didn’t tell them all this, and so this guy must be true because they trusted in this teacher that has this authority. All of a sudden they start following. I had a young man tell me once, he was in this class where the professor was trying to tell them that the miracles in the bible, they weren’t really miracles. They were just sort of romanticized things that took place. He went back to the Exodus. He was talking about how when people of Israel were coming out of Egypt and they were slaves and they come to the Red Sea, it’s actually translated Reed Sea, so they got it wrong, and if you look at the Reed Sea, it’s only three feet deep so it’s not that miraculous that God’s people walked across three feet of water. Anyone can do that.
The young man said, just all of a sudden he started praising God in the midst of that circumstance, and the professor was just blown away. Why are you praising God for something that’s not that miraculous? They crossed three feet of water. That’s not that big a deal. The young man said, “Yeah but he drowned all of Pharaoh’s army in three feet of water. How amazing is that, right?” We don’t always have those clever responses in the midst of those challenges, and so having people walk life with you is important.
Parents, when you get to the difficult places of the bible, as your child grows and matures in life, being there to show them wisdom in the midst of their circumstance is good and godly. I’m going to tell you, some of the things your kids are going to throw at you, you’re probably not going to know the answer to. But man, consider it a great place for your faith to grow. Like go look it up man. Email me. I don’t care. But it’s a good spot for you and the challenge of your walk with God.
That’s the case here with the book of Ruth. It’s messy. Ruth in this circumstance is in an environment that has brought great turmoil and adversity to her. I think it’s kind of worn her down. In fact, when you start in Ruth chapter 3, verse 1, Naomi gives a little insight to what’s leading them to the decisions and the wisdom Naomi’s about to give to Ruth. She says this.
Ruth chapter 3, verse 1, “Then Naomi her mother-in-law, said to her, my daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?” So remember Ruth’s circumstance. She comes out of a pagan idolatry background. She’s new into this community, into this faith and learning what it means to walk with God and now she’s trusting in her mother-in-law, who was a part of these people. Naomi says to Ruth, this is what we need to pursue now, Ruth. We need to pursue security. Like the God of our lives in this moment is security, so much so that they’re going to leave behind their integrity in order to receive it.
You think about the situation Ruth’s in right now. The harvest is coming to a conclusion of the land, so agriculturally, everything’s been produced. They’d gone through the fields and they’ve gleaned it, and now the fields are barren. How are you going to make it tomorrow? Naomi looks at this moment and realizes, we’ve been able to find enough to provide for the day, but now it’s important we think beyond. Ruth, you need some security. In this security, Naomi’s going to find security.
They’re looking for a long term solution. This is the advice that Naomi gives to Ruth in verse 2. It says, “Now is not Boaz our kinsman? With whose maids you were? Behold he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.” So Naomi goes back to this law in the Old Testament about a kinsman-redeemer, where if someone in the family perishes, that a relative can marry that individual and it helps provide for that person so that they can have the basic sustenance in life. So they are in mind of these moments. Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer. Now Ruth is a little bit outside of those terms because she’s not technically Jew by birth, but Naomi is. She knows Boaz is related to the family and so therefore he can operate as a kinsman-redeemer. He can come in and redeem the family in that hardship.
So she goes on in verse 3, here’s the plan, “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes.” This is the college version of the smell test, right? Some of you adults probably still do that. Okay, no one will be repulsed around me, but go wash yourself, you dirty woman. You’ve been out in the fields all day, and get some nice clothes on, “And go into the threshing floor. But do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down. Then he will tell you what you shall do. And she said to her,” again, mothers, parents, I’m not telling you that this is prescriptive, but this is what the advice is. “All that you say, I will do.”
Now go lay down to a guy who’s partied all night, and as you’re laying there in the middle of the night with him, utter these words. It’s not wise. I mean when you think about the context of this moment, she’s saying, Boaz has a stable job. You should doll yourself up a little bit and go down to the threshing floor. Now the threshing floor is the place where at the end of the season, everyone celebrates what’s taken place over that year, the course of that year. All the labor that went into the harvest, and so now the harvest has finally taken place. You get to see the produce, and you get to celebrate the provision that’s there, and how that has helped your family economically.
Now when you consider the context of Ruth, in Ruth’s day, they have had a famine for 10 years. So you can think, okay, there are these guys out here. They’re on the threshing floor. They’ve worked all summer long. At the end, they’re reaping the benefits of this, and they’re celebrating. This hasn’t happened for 10 years. This is a crazy place. Now I’m not implying in this story that Boaz gets lit and wasted, but I don’t have any doubt in my mind Boaz is a man of integrity, that people around Boaz, lacking some of that, might just not remember this day, right?
What’s happening, they’re at this threshing floor. Historically the threshing floor is not the place you typically want to see a woman. In fact, traditionally what’s taught about the threshing floor in this time period is the type of women you see at this threshing floor might be culturally labeled in our society like a lady of the night, a gold digger, prostitute, something along those lines. Whatever your intentions are in being there, it is not good.
So when a woman goes to this place, especially during this time period, it’s not the type of place you find a lady of integrity. So this is maybe where the phrase was invented, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? The threshing floor. What happens at the threshing floor stays at the threshing floor. This is not the kind of thing that you go home and share around the dinner table.
Naomi knows exactly what this environment is like, and yet she encourages Ruth in this moment, in the cover of night, to not really make herself known until Boaz has had enough to drink. Then watch where he lays down and go lay down with him. Then utter these words. “Whatever you want,” that’s not the wise … I mean when you think about Ruth and her environment. Remember chapter 2. Ruth’s people did not get along with Naomi’s people. Ruth in coming to Israel, she would have been the target for how everyone felt about that people group. She would have been the representative.
We looked at that in chapter 2 verse 9, verse 15, verse 16, verse 22. Over and over, Boaz and Naomi say to Ruth, you better walk under the protection of some people when you go out into these fields because some real harm could happen to you. Boaz had to tell his people, don’t saying thing bad to this girl. Let this girl drink from the same place that you drink, please. Ruth would have faced a lot of hardship.
Now you have this lady at night time going to the threshing floor at a place where men are not in their right minds. This is risky for her. This is not a place that you would want to find a lady who wants to pursue God. This circumstance leads to a lot of shady moments. Now, I’m going to tell you, some commentaries, when they talk about Ruth chapter 3, they try to give Ruth the benefit of the doubt and say that she’s pursuing the Lord. I think to a degree, I’ll show you how I think that that might be true, but I just don’t think she’s doing it wisely.
I’m going to tell you this is a narrative. Feel free to differ with me on this. At the end of the day, I’m not losing any sleep over that. But when you have a lady going to a place like this that’s traditionally known this way, at the cover of darkness, you’re going to see at verse 14, that she even flees in that darkness, so that she’s not recognized. It’s saying to us she probably knows this is not the place to be.
Verse 6 to 8, it continues on, “So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain and she came secretly,” like why do you have to come secretly? “And uncovered his feet and lay down. It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward and behold a woman was lying at his feet.”
Now Boaz being a man of integrity, no doubt he’s shocked here in this moment, but let’s just think for a second of what Ruth is going through. Ruth is a woman that pursues God. But just because you start the journey in pursuing God doesn’t mean you’re always going to live that journey perfectly. There are things in our life that we experience that weigh on us. There are things that we go through in life, maybe you’re thinking this year, 2018 has not been good to me. Whatever it takes just to get this off my back, I’m just willing to do it.
That’s Ruth chapter 3, verse 1. We just need security. Whatever we have to do, just to discover this. She is at a difficult place. It told us in chapter 2 of this book that Ruth worked from morning until evening. She labored hard. Now here she is at the end of the labor, no matter how hard she worked, she only found enough for the day. Have you ever been at that place in your life where you’re like, someone comes to you and they’re, “What’s your three year plan?” And you’re like, “I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow, man. If I could just live through today, if that could just happen, that’s a success. You saying that just stresses me out, okay. How can I just survive in this moment?”
Ruth’s at that place where she realizes, okay I got to have more of a long term plan. I have no idea what I’m going to do. I know Boaz is godly but whatever it takes. That’s where she’s at. She’s raw. She’s worn out. She’s broken. I mean she may still be grieving the death of her husband. She’s trying to follow God. She looks to Boaz in the middle of following some bad advice and says, here’s a man of God, but I’m literally going to say to him, whatever it takes.
Verse 8 kind of lets you know just how taboo this might be culturally because it says in verse 8, and the story is talking Ruth and Boaz, Ruth and Boaz, and she and he, and she and he. When you get to verse 8 it says this, “It happened in the middle of the night that the man,” it’s not even talking about Ruth and Boaz anymore. Like, the man was over here and the woman was over here. The man was startled and bent forward and behold a woman was lying at his feet. It’s just like, we just don’t really talk about this. This is how culturally awkward this is in this moment.
Then it goes on in verse 9, “He said who are you? And she answered I am Ruth, your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative. Then he said, may you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.” So what he’s saying is, what Boaz is saying is, Ruth, if your intentions in coming here were completely impure motives, you could have found any young man out in this place, but I’m not necessarily the best looking, youngest man out of the bunch, right?
So he’s recognizing, she’s at a place of despair. But yet she’s still looking for hope. The person she chooses to come to is the most godly individual she’s encountered since she’s been in Israel. In verse 9, she says something that, in this context is culturally taboo as well. She actually proposes to Boaz. This isn’t something that ladies did, but she says, “I am Ruth your maid, so spread your covering over your maid.” What she’s saying in this passage isn’t, I’m cold, make me warm. That’s not what’s coming across here. What she’s saying is a cultural statement of will you betroth yourself to me? Will you enter into covenant marriage with me?
The way that we know this, there’s a couple passages in the bible, the same illustrations that you use in your small group notes in the bulletin, tell you to look at Ezekiel chapter 16, but if you look at Ruth chapter 2, if you just look one chapter over, when Ruth comes into the land of Israel, Boaz replies to her in verse 11. Let me read, starting in verse 11, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth and came to a people that you did not previously know.” Then he says in verse 12, “May the Lord reward your work in your wages. Be full from the Lord, the God of Israel,” look at this, “Under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
Boaz is using covenantal language here. He’s saying, you’ve abandoned what was familiar by faith to pursue God in relationship in the promised land. May you take refuge under his wings. May God be your shelter. May you become a part of this people, right? So if you think in terms of bible, we think in terms of covenant. God’s desire for his people is to be a covenant people in belonging to him. The only other context we relate covenantally in relationship to, in our society is marriage. Everything we base in our society is contractual except for in marriage it’s covenantal.
Contractual, we obligate two people to something. If one person doesn’t uphold the deal, then the contract is broken and there’s punishment. There could be a retribution for breaking a contract. Well in covenantal language, it’s about one person letting themselves 100% down for the benefit of someone else. That’s covenantal language, and so what’s happening in Ruth chapter 2, is Boaz is talking in covenantal language towards Ruth based on her faith in coming to the land of Israel in pursuit of this God.
Now in chapter 3, Ruth turns it around and uses that same language as if to say, okay, since God is now my covenantal provider, why don’t you, Boaz, be the source of his covenantal provision by coming into this marital relationship with me? But in the end, whatever you want. I just need to survive.
Sometimes, we get to a place of desperation. I think our convictions can wane. When you get to that place in life where everything weighs on you so much that you can’t even make good decisions anymore because you feel under such pressure. So Ruth looks to Naomi and Naomi gives poor advice. But you know what you need. You need a godly friend. Someone that loves your soul. The identity of who you are before God.
Men and women, can I tell you, I don’t expect any of us to be perfect. I know how this Christian walk goes. It’s messy. It’s like Ruth’s story. You start the journey in faith, seeking after God, and things happen, and it weighs on you and you need people around you that love you and care about you to encourage you down the path which you ultimately seek in God. That’s where Boaz is. He says, starting in this verse, look I know, even though this isn’t a place of integrity, you haven’t lost all your integrity by coming here, even though this isn’t a great place because if you were just interested in what you could get from somebody, you could have pursued any of these wasted morons out here, but you didn’t.
That says something about your heart in the midst of your desperation. That’s what James chapter 2, verse 15, 17, the famous passages that say, “Faith without works is dead.” Yeah the evidence of your faith should show a genuine care for the soul of individuals when they’re at this place. 1 John chapter 2, verse 17, says “How can you say you love God if you don’t care for your brother?” That’s what Ruth needs in this moment. She needs an individual that’s not going to take advantage of her, that’s going to be there for her.
That’s what Boaz represents. That’s what strong man is. That’s his character shining through. All of us, all of us when we live lives, we’re going to go through mountaintops. We’re going to go through valleys. When we go through those valleys, we need to find the types of people that aren’t seeking how to take advantage of the moment to get what they want, but rather have your interest in mind. That’s Boaz.
Now, Paul contrasted these types of people in his letter in 1 Timothy chapter 3, in verse 1. Listen to what he says. He says, “But realize this. In the last days, difficult times will come.” Verse 2, “For men will be lovers of self.” So in verse 6, this is what he says, “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women, weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.”
Our culture needs men like Boaz. Let me ask the question. How many guys would find this tempting? All of them that breathe. Okay? But how many of them walk with integrity in it? The one that puts the soul and the interests of the lady ahead of them. We all go through these mountains and valleys. We’re not perfect but community, healthy in the Lord, becomes essential to our walk with God. We could even ask the question in these moments. You look at this and sometimes we read this story like, did Ruth really, did she go too far, did she cross the line?
You ever have someone in life that ever asked that question? Maybe you’ve asked that question. How far is too far, when it comes to my relationship with God? Where is that boundary? Maybe you’ve even got that kid. We might have one in our family, where it’s like, dad, where’s the boundary? Right there? Right here? Is that it? Yeah? Yeah?
There’s just something about human nature that’s like how far can I go? It’s like, but can I tell you, when it comes to marriage, you think of it in terms of relationships that you are supposed to care about in life. Marriage relationship. What if the spouse said to the other spouse, how much time to do I have to spend with you to look like we’re really married? I mean, when I can just spend time with you and just go do whatever I want the rest of the time? If you’re asking that question, we know we’re already asking a question that’s unhealthy towards the relationship. Like if you have to ask, did it cross the line, the indication is you’ve already stepped too far to begin with and your perspective isn’t accurate because what you should drive towards, if your interest is relationship, is how can I pursue your heart?
How can I love you? How can we experience that relationship? Fortunately for Ruth, Boaz pursues the Lord. I think Paul in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, he just reminds us, rather than ask the question how far is too far, he reminds us what God’s desire is. He says this, 1 Thessalonians, 5:19, I’m just going to read a few verses, starting in 19. He says, “Do not quench the Spirit,” meaning the Spirit of God wants to work in your life. If you’re exercising, on the basketball court and you’re thirsty, quench it with some Gatorade, right? But when it comes to the Spirit of God wanting to lead your life, do not quench that. Let God work that out in your life.
“Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophetic utterances. So listen to truth but examine everything carefully. Hold fast to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely and may your Spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” What Paul is saying is, if we’re asking the question, why does God care about what I do? I think the answer is two-fold. One is because he cares about his relationship with you and he wants you to experience holistically the reason for which you were created, to know him and enjoy him for all of eternity. When there’s tension in that relationship, that experience is not there.
But God created you to belong to him. It’s like, when you have relationships in this world. When you and your spouse fight, I appreciate you sitting together today, but maybe you feel even though you might be shoulder to shoulder, a distance apart because there’s tension there and that’s what it creates. So God very much cares, and on top of that, he cares about the way you display him in this world. God wants his glory to be made known in you and through you, that you with the mouth to proclaim the glory of God could point other people to the goodness of who he is.
So yeah, he cares. So Boaz, knowing this, I think he meets Ruth in her time of need and it says in verse 11, “Now, my daughter, do not fear.” Let that phrase rest of a minute. Remember how verse 1 started? Ruth, you need security. And Boaz sees it. Ruth, do not fear. Ruth you’re acting out of worry. That’s got you to a place where you’re low, but I want you to know who I’m going to be for you. I’m going to be a person of integrity. Do not fear. There’s trust here. Ruth, you have my heart because God has my heart. Do not fear.
“I will do for you whatever you ask. For all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. Now it is true that I am a close relative, however there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you good. Let him redeem you, but if he does not wish to redeem, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.” Ruth, let your soul rest. The law of the land was that the kinsman-redeemer had to be the closest relative, but if the closest relative didn’t want to assume that position, then another relative could.
So Boaz is following the law, but what he says to her at the beginning of the ending of this, I want to be a friend, to allow your soul to rest. You know, one of the good things that we see in this relationship, we know that Boaz and Ruth are going to get married, but we see this equal yoking between the two of them. Yes, Ruth may be at a spot where she’s low but they’re going to be looking out for the interests of others, each other, because they’re pursuing God together.
Guys, can I tell you this? I think it’s good for us to walk in life with integrity, especially for women, but there comes a place, sometimes in life, where we want something for someone that they don’t even want for themselves, right? So in their marital relationship, they’re pursuing this relationship just because Boaz may want a godly spouse, doesn’t necessitate that she’s always going to pursue godliness. You can’t want it for someone else. They’ve got to want that relationship with the Lord, but then you see in this context, that in the middle of this, because he sees the type of integrity and desire that she has in her life. They use this to pursue that relationship.
In so doing, Boaz passes his test of temptation. You think about what your testimony is in life. Your testimony comes out of testing. So if you want to know what you actually might proclaim that you live for, the answer is by the evidence of what your life has already demonstrated, that is your testimony. Boaz, in this moment, honors with integrity, Ruth and her position. It goes on and continues to show us, rather than preying on Ruth, he’s praying for Ruth. It says in verse 14, “So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another and he said, let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
So he’s saying again, this was not the best decision, but in verse 15, again he said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it. She held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, how did it go, my daughter? She said to her all that the man had one for her.” So what you see in the life of Boaz, in this moment, is he’s literally pouring life into Ruth. He’s taking the sustenance of what he has and he’s meeting her need in this moment out of love and care for her life.
God through Boaz provides grace to Ruth. Then it goes on, in verse 17 and 18. She said, “These six measures of barley, he gave to me, for he said do not go to your mother-in-law with empty hands. Then she said, wait my daughter until you know how the matter turns out for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” He’s not going to leave her hanging. He’s a man of integrity, cared about her and he’s getting this done to make sure that this young woman is provided for. So he doesn’t just leave her hanging but he shows care for her.
Let me just point out one of the good things about this relationship early on, is that trust is built from the beginning. The reason I know that is, 10 years from now, if Ruth and Boaz are in a place where Boaz might have to go out of town for business, Ruth doesn’t have to worry about what Boaz is up to. The reason she doesn’t is because she witnessed the way he treated her in a moment where his integrity could have been compromised.
Trust is built. God uses the life of Boaz to honor Ruth, but it’s messy. It’s messy. It says to us, as people, we need encouragement. We need people around us in encouragement, but what do you do … I mean you read a story like this, and you see the messiness of the situation. If any part of your life, living life you know that you cannot escape life unscathed. Temptation is around you all the time. What do you do? If you think about Ruth, her moment, her situation. It’s compromising. It’s not good. It doesn’t look good. She has to sneak away at night, to kind of cover this up.
In our lives, just like Ruth’s narrative is messy, our narrative is messy. As people, we carry that stuff around. It weighs on our hearts. You wonder how God might think of you in those moments. Does God love you? Does God care about you? I mean, you might reflect on it in your mind, years down the road, of just the stupid decisions that we could make as people. What is there for you in that moment? It’s great Ruth had Boaz, but what about you?
What do you do? The reason Ruth is in the bible is because Ruth’s story is our story. Ruth is telling the way God works in our life to bring about the promise of the messiah and he’s using Boaz in this story as a picture of a redeemer, which Jesus can ultimately be in our lives. In the midst of Ruth’s hardship and knowing we’ve walked like this, and life can weigh us down. We get to places, I don’t even want to think about tomorrow, but I know tomorrow’s important and the pressure of that leads me to places I might just compromise just to be done with it.
If I’ve stepped into that in my life, what does God do? Does God love me? How do I respond? The weight of life. I want to read to you Psalm 51. I don’t have it on the screen, but Psalm 51 is the psalm David wrote. Interesting thing about Psalm 51 is David did not have that gracious step of Boaz in front of him to prevent him from going further. So when David writes Psalm 51, it’s on the backdrop of adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah, to try to cover that affair.
So David writes this psalm because his soul is grieved. You get to that place where you know you’ve blown it. And even though, you might have been with the person that you’ve been with that person in the situation with and they forgive you, you still wear … Like Psalm 51 is that Psalm, so I would say to you today, you want to find some freedom and you want to figure out what that next step is. Let your soul rest in Psalm 51 this week. This is your prescription. Listen to this. Psalm 51.
David starts off his prayer like this, “Be gracious to me O God, according to your loving-kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from iniquity and cleanse me from my sin, for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” Verse 4, “Against you, you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight so that you are justified when you speak and blameless when you judge.” It’s interesting, I mean I just told you the backdrop. Adultery and murder. Then you read verse 4, and David says, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” Like, wait a minute. We’re talking about adultery and murder. How can you come to verse 4, and make a statement like that?
But can I tell you, what makes the violation and adultery? A lot of times in life, when we think about those things, we think about getting caught and how bad we feel or we think about the way it might make other people feel. You think of Uriah’s family now. That whole family has to move forward without Uriah. How bad of a thing I’ve done because of the way I’ve made them feel. No doubt, that’s not a healthy thing for people to walk through. It’s a difficult thing to experience. It’s sin, it’s wrong, right?
But do you know what makes it wrong? It’s that God is the God of life. When you take a life, you violate the very nature of God. It’s that God is the God of purity. When you go outside the bounds of purity, you violate the very nature of God. God is the God of truth, and when you lie to someone else, you don’t just harm them. You violate the very nature of God. You know why, even when you lie and you get caught in a lie and someone might say something to you and you apologize and they forgive. You know why your soul still wrestles with that? It’s because what made that wrong, though it is against another individual, is ultimately it’s against God.
So your soul finds no peace in that. They can tell you they forgive you all day long, but you need a deeper reconciliation. Now listen. Pursue reconciliation with people. That’s a godly thing, but ultimately the person that gave you value, the person that gave humanity value, the person that gave us truth and life and meaning and worth and purity and holiness, all of that is God, so anything that we ever do and act against someone else, ultimately is a violation against God himself.
So when David is making this heart cry, no doubt David recognizes what it’s done relationally between him and people but his soul is not finding rest. This is something that torments him. He wears it on his innermost being, though other people don’t see it. The countenance is on the inside and so he still walks with this in life. So what does he do? Psalm 51. He cries out to God.
Let me just skip a little bit ahead. If I started in verse 7, listen to this. He says to God then, “Purify me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” He’s saying, in Israel’s day, when they would sprinkle the blood of an animal sacrifice, they would use the hyssop branch and the sprinkling of the blood, which is a reflection of the forgiveness of sins, which Jesus ultimately does for us.
When you think about the cross of Christ, it is a beautiful place where the justice of God and the grace of God just collide. If God weren’t just, he could not be good, and so the justice of God is poured out on Christ, on your behalf. The blood of Jesus, the sprinkling of Christ can be on you. And the grace of God made known because of the sacrifice of him. And so he’s saying sprinkle me with that blood, with the hyssop and I shall be clean. “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones which you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast Spirit within me.”
The Psalm goes on, [inaudible 00:42:12] David before God. Here’s the point guys. Ruth’s life was messy. It was hard. So is life today. Life is messy and life is hard. Not a person in this room is going to go through unscathed. What does God think? Where is your soul right now? Does it grieve? Does it hurt? Is it broken?
Psalm 51 is so beautiful. It says in the midst of the pain, even caused by ourselves, God wants you. No matter how broken, God wants you. God loves you. God renews you. God purifies you. God forgives you. He understands what to do with the depth of your soul when it aches. It’s saying that the ultimate problem doesn’t just rest, though reconciliation is good. It’s God. What your soul needs is forgiven and cleansed by God. What your soul can receive is forgiveness and cleansing by God, so that when you take a step forward today, it’s not because I’m a person walking in condemnation, but as a person walking in freedom.
Here’s the other side of that because sometimes in life, we may not find ourselves where Ruth is. Maybe we find ourselves where Boaz is. Let me just say this. Guys, we need each other. There’s a reason the bible refers to the body of Christ not as individuals, but as a unit, corporately, as God’s people. I hope when you think about church, you don’t think about it as a building but you think about it as God’s individual people redeemed in him. It is a body serving together.
That’s why Galatians 4 and Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 talk about the gifting of God’s body, and the way that we serve each other because at some point, you’re going to be on the mountain and at other points you’re going to be in the valley and we need each other. What the bible is saying to us, is we’re not getting there by ourselves. Where God has called you, we go together.
So we carry that as a community and there is a need for each other. There is a reason scripture says one another over 50 times in the bible. The way you love and care and are there for one another, because you don’t do this alone. You can’t do this alone. Ruth could not make it alone no matter how godly her heart felt. She needed community. She needed people that loved her soul. As we’re thinking about Ruth, I’ll just throw out the passage, the Proverbs 31 woman.
If you’re a lady that’s been a Christian for a while, you know Proverbs 31 ministries, right? I’ve never read anything by it, so I’m not trying to endorse it. We just know a passage in the bible that talks about a godly woman, Proverbs 31, right? I want to tell you, ladies, just to kind of throw the monkey off your back. I don’t think Proverbs 31 is a real woman. I think it’s a description of a godly woman but I don’t think she’s real. When you read her, she’s like a superwoman kind of woman, and I don’t think, like if you look at Proverbs 31 today, and you’re in your 30s, thinking I want to be Proverbs 31 woman. You look at that, and you’re like not a chance in my life. I just want you to know, I think this is described over a lady walking in godliness through the duration of her life, okay?
It’s not saying instantaneous ladies, this is what you need to be, but this is a lady who has walked with God her entire life, if she’s even real, right? But can I tell you something about the Proverbs 31 woman? Let me read a few verses. Verse 10, “An excellent wife, who can find her? For her worth is far above jewels.” Or verse 30, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she is to be praised.” And then in between it describes her.
I’m just going to tell you, behind every godly woman as Proverbs 31, there’s a godly man. You can’t live a life like that without someone around you. It may, it doesn’t necessitate that you need to be married, but you need godly friendships. You need to know when you’re at the threshing floor, someone’s going to show up and say you’re a person of integrity. I’ve seen the kind of life that you’ve lived. I’m here to love you. I’m here for you. Because we need each other.
What I’m saying to us this morning, guys, in the midst of this story, life is messy. God knows it. We don’t have to whitewash it. God’s big enough. God’s big enough. However deep your sin feels, his grace runs deeper still. Psalm 51 is the cry of our soul. God, I need hope. I need rest. God create in me a clean heart. Against you and you only have I sinned. But God restore my soul. In the midst of that healing, God let me find those around me, who care for me as you care. Church, wherever you are today, whether you’re Ruth or Boaz, God can write a beautiful story among us as we walk that path.