Asking for Help at the Right Time

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

Asking for Help at the Right Time


The third chapter of Ruth gives us some indication about its historical meaning. We must remember the story is set in the days of the Judges (1.1). This has often been seen as a dark period of time in the history of Israel. They continued in generational cycles in which each new generation would do the same as the previous one did. Ruth is a bright spot in the midst of darkness. The idea of Kinsman Redeemer gives a minute picture of the activity of God with his children.


The time of harvesting the grain was complete. Now it was time for the process of winnowing the barley. When the grain was threshed, it was winnowed by throwing it up against the wind (Jer. 4.11). Afterward, it was tossed with wooden scoops (Isa. 30.24). The shovel and the fan for winnowing are mentioned in Ps. 35.5; Job 21.18; Isa. 17.13. The refuse of straw and chaff was burned (Isa. 5.24). Now freed from impurities, the grain was laid up in granaries till it was used (Deut. 28.8; Prov. 3.10; Matt. 6.26; 13.30; Luke 12.18).

In Naomi’s mind, it was time for her to help Ruth find a husband and get on with her own personal life.


The stirring question is: when is the right time to ask for help?

Ruth 3 looks like a pretty straightforward story for the average reader of the English Bible. Naomi tells Ruth her plan for finding her a husband and Ruth carries out the plan. She does what Naomi told her to do. Find Boaz after the harvest party, uncover his feet and he will tell you what to do. With a simplistic reading of Ruth, we miss the undergirding of the idea of kinsman-redeemer and the cultural situation which allowed this plot of Naomi’s to work.

We must understand that Scripture is filled with different kinds of literature that suggest different pictures and figures of speech which are often missed by contemporary readers of the Bible. It is often difficult for us living in the Western world with Western customs to realize that other parts have different traditions within their culture. This is the case in chapter three of Ruth.

We must deal with two figures of speech. First, is the word feet in our English Bible. In a natural reading, we make that mean those two appendages that attach the bottom of our legs to the ground. However, in Scripture feet is often a metaphor for male genitals, (Ex. 4.25; Judges 3.24; Isa. 7.20) when the context allows for such. The actual Hebrew word that is used here means to uncover him from the waist down. One can understand why he woke up startled! There was no immoral impropriety in the act of Ruth. This is demonstrated by the meaning of the second figure of speech “…spread the corner of the garment over me…,’ which is a figure of speech in which a person in the ancient world asks for marriage to occur. In short Naomi’s plan was to send Ruth to ask Boaz to marry her according to the law. What he did in the next part of the story was an honorable playing out of his role. It is difficult for us to imagine this story occurring this way, only because of the worldview we presently have.

The Old Testament ultimately paints God as the kinsman who redeems Israel.

The kinsman-redeemer is the greater part of the story of chapter 3 which is often not seen. The Old Testament ultimately paints God as the kinsman who redeems Israel. The supreme example of this idea is found in the redemptive activity of God in the Exodus, a powerful redemptive act to deliver Israel from the impairment of slavery in Egypt (Deut. 7.8; 2 Sam. 7.23).


  • Think about the times you needed help and you did not ask, in comparison to the times you did ask. What were the differing results?
  • Think about following the suggestions of those close to you who have your best interest at heart.


  • Choose someone who you can help this month and offer them the help they need.
  • Ask God to send you the help you need via someone in the body who is searching for someone to help. When it arrives, give God praise for it!

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)