Do Not Let It Be Known
The story of Ruth is one of the most heartwarming accounts in all of Scripture as it tells of a young Moabite widow choosing to leave her family and journey to Bethlehem with her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi. In Bethlehem, the young widow met an older man named Boaz who eventually became her husband and their son Obed was in the lineage of David and the Christ. While the purpose for the book being written almost certainly involves this history of the family of David, I want to back up to the wedding proposal that brought Ruth and Boaz together as husband and wife and notice an important lesson from the threshing floor.
While it is usually the man who drops to a knee and proposes, on this occasion, Naomi hatched the plot and Ruth carried it out to perfection. Boaz and his men were celebrating the end of the wheat harvest and were sleeping on the threshing floor. After Boaz had gone to sleep, Ruth quietly uncovered the feet of Boaz and lay down at his feet. When the startled Boaz awoke during the night, Ruth asked him to take her under his wing, that is to say, become her husband and protector. Because of the customs of the day, Boaz could not marry Ruth without first getting permission from a kinsman of Ruth’s late husband, but he was flattered and promised to make it happen if he could. Ruth lay back down at his feet and then before it was light enough for anyone to recognize her, Boaz sent her away saying, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:14). Why was he so concerned that she get away without being seen since he and Ruth had done nothing ungodly or immoral? While she was a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:11), Boaz knew her presence on the threshing floor could be misinterpreted by some and the reputations of both of them, but especially Ruth, damaged.
“Abstain from every appearance of evil.” So reads 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in the King James Version and through the years some have cited this passage to restrict many different types of conduct. Some argued against “spot” cards because certain people gambled with them. One man told me of a time when people were told that they should not drink soda from a can lest someone think they were holding a beer can. A person, oftentimes a preacher, would object to something and when asked to show why it was wrong would simply cite the “appearance of evil.”