In my study of Ruth this month, I learned that in the Hebrew Bible, Ruth follows Proverbs. If you think about it, that makes sense. The last chapter of Proverbs (31) highlights the godly/wise woman. We then have four chapters about a wise woman (Ruth) and her wise mother-in-law (Naomi). Not to mention how Boaz is the epitome of wisdom throughout the book. In that sense, the book of Ruth can be considered Proverbs 32.
I grin as I type this because I have always called my mom “The Proverbs 32 Woman.” Similarly, I joke that one of the Proverbs in chapter 32 should include the sentence: “Keep talking until you say something good.” That’s my mom. She’s going to talk. A lot. Usually, she will talk so much that something good will leak out. Not all the time, mind you. But most. If the Spirit had inspired her to write a chapter in the book of Proverbs, one of the lines of wisdom would have been: “Keep talking until you say something good.” The Spirit didn’t. But if He had. . .
There are two scenes in the book of Ruth that, again, cause me to chuckle a bit. Two scenes that I cannot help but think about my mom every time I read them. Both are found in chapter 3. The first is when Naomi encourages Ruth to “make her move” with Boaz. Naomi says, “Wash, put on perfumed oil, and wear your best clothes…” (v. 3a). I cannot read that without hearing my momma’s voice. I grew up with two sisters in the house. Mom always wanted them to look good and demonstrate their “availability” for a date. I can hear mom say, “Make sure you are clean, put on some smell good, wear that cute little red thing, and always put on bright lipstick.” I know the times, circumstances, and context in Ruth is totally different. But I hear Connie Pearson’s voice every time I read that verse. For what it’s worth, I can also hear her voice and see her face light up when any of her children did get cleaned and “prettied” up for a date or event. “Wooo-weee I’ve got pretty children!” she’d say. I wonder what Naomi said to Ruth before she left that night???
The second scene is at the end of the chapter after Ruth “made her move.” Naomi is at home and eager to find out how things went. She said, “What happened, my daughter?” (v. 16b) Thanks to my mom’s influence, I don’t picture Naomi yawning, wandering through the kitchen, eventually remembering to ask Ruth how her date with Boaz went. No, no. I envision a woman who has been up all night, pacing. I imagine a woman who was waiting on the front porch, fingers frantically tapping the coffee cup. The picture in my mind is, before Ruth can get close to the door, Naomi peppering her with questions. “How did it go?” “How did he like your dress?” “What did y’all eat?” “Did he feel the same way about you?” “Did y’all kiss?” “What’s with all the barley?” “How ugly was his feet?” (Read Ruth 3 to understand the last questions.) My momma, the Proverbs 32 woman, is known as the “Queen of Questions.” I know the author of Ruth only included one question from Naomi, but if you grew up in the same house I did, you just KNOW there were at least 20 more.
I’m not sure the point of all this other than communicating to anyone who has made it this far down in this post that I find it funny (appropriate?) the Hebrew Bible places the book of Ruth after Proverbs. Ruth is Proverbs 32. In Proverbs 32 (particularly Ruth 3) I think of my mom – the woman I have referred to for years as “The Proverbs 32 Woman.”
Mom, you’re the best. Oh, and by the way – Happy Birthday.
I love you,