“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, should I not seek rest for you that it may be well with you?'”Ruth 3:1
After returning to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth had worked in the fields of Boaz, “gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests.” She had worked tirelessly to provide for herself and Naomi. Both were widows. Jewish law and custom allowed the needy to pick up the stalks that dropped from the hands of those who were harvesting the grain. This was women’s work. It was tiring. Now, Naomi wishes to find rest for her daughter-in-law, right? Wrong!
What Naomi was actually saying is, “I’ve got to find you a husband!” And she had already picked one out—Boaz. He was a near relative of hers, the one in whose fields Ruth had gleaned. The duty of a near relative under Mosaic Law and Jewish tradition was to buy back the land of his relation that might have fallen into other hands because of debt or other reason. If that relation had died childless, then it was also the duty of this “kinsman-redeemer” to marry his widow and have a son who would be heir to the property and carry on the dead man’s name.
As interesting as that part of the story is, the phrase that caught my attention is what Naomi said to Ruth, “Should I not seek rest for you?” thus equating marriage with rest. The cynics among us would respond, “Marriage? Rest? Ha! I’ve never worked so hard in my entire life.” The old adage that goes, “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done,” is largely true, but does that negate what Naomi is saying? I don’t think so.
While marriage brings to a close those carefree days of “go where I want, when I want, with whom I want and spend my money how I want,” it also brings closure to the restless seeking for someone to share life with, the looking for someone to bring completeness to one’s life. Or at least it should.
Marriage does not mean that now there is someone to wait on me hand and foot. Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition either. Marriage is two people totally committed to each other—100%—to help each other become all that God intends them to be. And if that is truly how one enters marriage, there is a sense of security—there is the prospect of rest.
At least that is how I see it. What do you think?