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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Ruth 2



Verse 17


‘So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.’

Ruth 2:17

I. Notice, first, the good providence of God as illustrated in the story of Ruth and Naomi.—Who was more forlorn than Naomi when she set out, penniless and a widow, both her sons dead, to return into the land of Judah? God finds the widow friends, He finds the oppressed and solitary a Ruth to stay by them, a Boaz to see that they have their rights. He is a never-failing helper in the time of trouble.

II. Notice from this history the blessing which waits upon piety for those who are kind and affectionate and helpful in their homes.—Ruth was but a daughter-in-law, yet she acted the part of a real daughter to the widowed and childless Naomi. She clave to her in her trouble, she worked for her in her poverty, and she was rewarded even on earth.

III. Ruth is also an example of maidenly modesty, purity, steadiness of conduct.—She kept fast by the maidens of Boaz unto the end of the barley harvest and wheat harvest.

IV. Notice the diligence of Ruth.—She gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she gleaned; it was a good day’s work, bringing with it a good recompense of reward. Ruth invites us to use all diligence to make our calling and election sure. God has set us in His field, the world, and set us there to glean, to gather up as we are able the precious seed. There is much for every one to do, and the time is short.

—Canon Rawnsley.


(1) ‘If we would glean a heap, we must be content with a little at a time. It is wonderful what may be done by never passing by a thing that is worth preserving. We have trampled under foot during our life that which, if saved, would have done much to make a golden age for ourselves. No one can gleam well who is not able to persevere. If we mean to succeed, we must go on long after we are weary. We shall glean with greater care and industry if we remember that we must live for ever on the results of this life. If men did but think they gather gold for a crown or iron for fetters, they would be more careful what they pick up.’

(2) ‘This incident illustrates the dignity of all honest work. It is well to remind ourselves of this in an age which is often ashamed of work. There are people who cultivate flabbiness. They are happy if only they can pass themselves off as genteel and above the suspicion of work. In society they ignore the factory or the shop. They are ashamed of their trade. It is a bad thing for society when men or women shrink from acknowledging the glory and necessity of work. But in a time when wealth is the only idol, it is not to be wondered at that work should be thought of in shamefaced fashion, for the necessity of work hints the possibility of poverty; and where wealth is worshipped poverty is an unpardonable sin. But this genteel affectation of idleness is not a mere modern vice. It was rife in Solomon’s day, and the wise king satirised it in words which are full of delicate and suggestive irony: “Better is he that worketh and hath a servant than he that honoureth himself and hath no bread.”’

(3) ‘This incident in Boaz’s barley field has a beautiful application to Bible study. Too many Christians never practise a careful gleaning of the inspired Word. In fact, to such careless readers a large and precious portion of the Word is as utterly unknown territory as the headwaters of the Nile. They never search the Scriptures. But when we patiently go through the wonderful domain of truth with open eye bent down humbly to seek for the hidden treasures, Oh! what handfuls of fresh promises and fertile suggestions, and marvellous teachings are dropped in our path. We pick up a truth never dreamed of in many an out-of-the-way passage. In some historical incident, or some neglected verse of prophecy, or some dry chapter about Jewish rites and ceremonies we find a whole sheaf of Divine teaching. God never put one page in His Book without a purpose.’


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ruth 2:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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