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As the history advanceth in its progress, the several particulars of it become more interesting. In this chapter we are introduced into the acquaintance of the hero of the subject, Boaz: and informed how Ruth became first brought acquainted with him. The events of a day are circumstantially related, and the consequences of it, in Ruth's conduct during the season of the harvest follow.
(Ruth 2:1 ) And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
As the main hinge upon which the whole of this sweet history turns, considered in a spiritual and typical sense, is centered in the character of Boaz, here spoken of, it will be proper, in the opening of the chapter in this place, no attend particularly to what is said of him. Boaz by name signifies strength. And he is said to be a rich kinsman's of Naomi's husband. Now it is a point which should never be lost sight of through the whole of this history, that the self-same word which in this place is rendered kinsman, is in some other scriptures rendered Redeemer. The original word is Goel. Thus for example: If the man have no (Goel) kinsman to recompense the trespass. So it is rendered Numbers 5:8 . So again in this same book, Ruth 3:12 . I am thy (Goel) near kinsman. But in the book of Job 19:25 , the same word is rendered Redeemer. I know that my (Goel) Redeemer liveth. So again in the book of the Proverbs 23:11 . For their (Goel) Redeemer is mighty. So likewise in the prophecy of Isaiah 47:4 . As for our (Goel) Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is his name. And what is the evident conclusion from the comparative view of all these scriptures, but that the Goel-kinsman of our nature is one and the same person, the Goel-Redeemer of his people: of whom Boaz, in whom is said to be strength, is a lively type. Moreover, he is said to be the kinsman of Elimelech. And may we not, without violence to the sacred text, consider this certain man (as Elimelech is first called in the opening of the Book of Ruth), a lively type of our whole nature, to whom the Lord Jesus is indeed both our kinsman and Redeemer; being in his humanity bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; and in his Godhead our Redeemer, mighty to save, the Lord of Hosts is his name. And as it is a subject of the most interesting nature, to trace the affinity after the flesh of Boaz with the Lord Jesus, as well as to view him as the type of Jesus, I detain the Reader to make a further remark concerning his pedigree. And if the Reader will consult the opening of the Gospel by St. Matthew, he will there discover how that our Lord after the flesh sprung from Boaz and Ruth; and thereby manifested his connection both with the Jewish and the Gentile church. See Matthew 1:5 . Hence, thou blessed Jesus, I may truly say thou art the Goel, the kinsman Redeemer, of thy people! thou art of our family, for thou didst take our nature upon thee, when thou becamest man for our sakes. And surely thou art a mighty man of wealth, for in thee dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and in thee are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3; Colossians 2:3 .
And Ruth the Moabitish said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Reader! if we apply this passage in a spiritual sense to the state of the soul (and I see no reason why we may not) it will open a subject both pleasing and profitable. When a sinner is brought by the Holy Ghost out of the world, as Ruth was out of Moab, though the world promiseth plenty of enjoyments, and a fulness of all sensual pleasures, yet the poor in spirit desires rather to glean of the bread of life, even though but in the smallest portion of the ears of corn, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. But then the desire of the awakened soul is also to glean after him in whose sight is found grace. And in whose sight but Jesus can sinners find grace? In the field of his word, his scriptures, his ordinances, there is plenty indeed to glean; and if the Lord Jesus gives grace, he will give the soul to find and inherit substance, and he will fill their treasures. Proverbs 8:18-21 .
And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
Are not these reapers similar to the ministering servants of Jesus, who while gathering fruit for the Lord, leave sweet gleanings for the people that come after them? But Reader! do not overlook what is said concerning Ruth in this verse, that unknown to her it was her hap to light upon the field of Boaz. To her indeed it appeared casual, but not so in reality. Most graciously doth the Holy Ghost direct sinners to Jesus; and not only leads therein to Jesus, but brings them in his own time and way acquainted with Jesus. John 16:13-14 .
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.
What a beautiful picture is here given of the simplicity of ancient times, in the pious salutations which passed between Boaz and his servants. What an evident proof it affords, that both were living under divine influences. Oh! how exceedingly to be desired, that such was the usual salutation between masters and servants in the present day! How lovely that house, that family, that service, which is endeared to one another in the several members of it, and cemented in God's blessing. There is another charming instance of it recorded in Psalms 129:8 .
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
The enquiry of Boaz so immediately concerning Ruth, may serve to teach us how very early the eye of Jesus is upon airy and every poor stranger that comes under the ministry of his word, to glean instruction in the fields of salvation. Yes! Reader, depend upon it, however any poor sinner may fancy himself overlooked, unnoticed, or unknown, his case, as well as his person, become the immediate object of attention in the view of Jesus. How doth the Lord wait to be gracious; and even before his people call, to answer. Isaiah 30:18 and Isaiah 65:24 .
And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: (7) And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
There is a great beauty, in this relation, and yet more real religion. if the Reader will please to consult Leviticus 19:9-10 , he will discover the law of God concerning the poor gleaner. So that the servant of Boaz, if necessary, justified the permission he had given Ruth to glean in his master's field by this law. But is there not a spiritual illustration of this report of Benz's servant to his master concerning Ruth, yet far more interesting? Are not the stewards of God's mysteries supposed to encourage gleaners to traverse over the field of scripture, and attend to the ministry of the word'? And are they not supposed to gain all possible information concerning the spiritual state and circumstances of their followers in the ministry, and then in prayer And praise to spread the whole before the Lord? Oh! how truly lovely is it to behold the faithful servant in Jesus' house, imitating his divine master; and when having in public ministered in the word, in private to know that he spreads all the wants of his people before the throne: When Jesus had sent the multitudes away he went up into the mountain apart to pray. Matthew 14:23 .
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: (9) Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
How sweet and precious are all the tokens of Jesus to his people! Doth he not, as in the case of Boaz to Ruth, speak personally to everyone of them? Is it not Jesus himself that doth in reality speak when his word comes home with power to the heart'? And is not this the longing desire of every truly awakened soul? Let me hear thy voice, The companions hearken to thy voice; cause me to hear it. Song of Solomon 8:13 . My sheep (saith Jesus) hear my voice, and they know my voice. A stranger' will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:3-5 . But this is not all. Jesus bids the poor seeker not to glean in another field. No, blessed Lord! there is no other we need to glean in, nor any other in which the true bread of life can be found, There is salvation in no other, neither is there any. other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we mast be saved. Acts 4:12 . But in Jesus there is all fulness, all-sufficiency. Bread for the hungry, and water for the thirsty. We may go therefore to the earthen vessels which the ministers hold the sacred treasure in, and draw with joy from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3 .
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
How surprising are 'the first manifestations of the Lord Jesus to the heart of the sinner! While the poor creature, under the convictions of sin, is approaching with a mixture of great fear and little hope, to hear Jesus speaking in the ministry of his word, and by the sweet constraining tokens of his grace, to discover that his case is known, and that the Lord hath mercy in store for him. And still more, if possible, in the distinguishing grace which the soul feels, as shewn to a poor Gentile stranger. Oh! how very low will the soul lie in the dust of the earth, under the deepest self-abasement, crying out, How is it, Lord, that thou hast manifested thyself unto me and not unto the world. Reader! do you know anything of these precious soul-transactions in your own case and circumstances? John 14:22 .
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. (12) The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Might I be permitted to paraphrase those gracious expressions with an eye to the rich mercies of Jesus, I humbly conceive that the language of our dearest Lord to a poor sinner seeking his face, might be supposed to breathe a tenderness like this. It hath fully been showed me, all the state and circumstances of those awakenings by my grace in thy soul I have long known and viewed the struggles you have encountered. The death you have experienced in your first husband, to whom you were wedded in a covenant of works: and the workings of grace, in prompting you to leave and forget your own people, and your father's house, to cast yourself wholly on the sovereignty of my salvation, and to come to a people you knew not before, to be espoused to Christ; these are things with which I am fully acquainted. A full satisfaction shall be given thee, And thou shalt not be disappointed of thine hope. Oh! how inexpressibly sweet and precious is it to the mind of every poor seeking sinner, when Jesus thus speaks peace, and satisfies the desires of the soul! But how strange doth it seem to the heart, that in the moment when we fear that our case is overlooked, and that neither our person, nor our cries, attract the divine attention, Jesus gives us to understand, that every secret desire, every tear, every sigh of the soul, he lath been a witness to, and knows us better than we do ourselves. That of Nathaniel is a delightful instance in point: See John 1:48-49 .
Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.
Such, Reader, will be the invariable consequence in the soul's view of grace. Never doth a soul lay lower before God than when the Lord is comforting that soul with the manifestation of himself. See Job 42:5-6 .
And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
The Lord Jesus delights that his table should be filled. He commands all seeking souls to come at mealtime to his ordinances. He hath made a feast of fat things in his holy mountain, and there the souls of his people may delight themselves in fatness. And how sweet is it to see, that while his people sit beside his ministers, Jesus himself reacheth to them their corn and meat in secret. They have (as he had when upon earth) meat to eat that others (even disciples) know not .4. And they not only eat and are full, but leave abundance for others, Eat O friends, (is the call of Jesus) drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. Song of Solomon 5:1 . Precious Redeemer, though thy people eat and are full, thy fulness is not diminished, neither is thy table ever empty.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: (16) And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
There is a great beauty in this scripture, still viewing it spiritually. When a soul is risen up from the table or ordinance of Jesus, it is only to follow up one means of grace after another. Believers are continually gleaning, wherever they are, or however they are occupied. In the market or in the house, as well as in the temple, like Enoch, they walk with God. Reader! do you find this in your experience? But what a beautiful and endearing trait of character is it in our Jesus, that he commands his servants to let his people glean, even among the richest sheaves of grace; and from his abundant fulness, there shall he handfuls scattered everywhere, as if to surprise poor sinners with the abundant riches of his grace. Grace shall exceed all things, even sin and our undeservings: for so saith the apostle - Where sin abounded grace doth much more abound. Romans 5:20 .
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
So do all laborers in the vineyard remain in their employment until .the evening of their day; and when the even of life is come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, call the laborers. Blessed Jesus! grant, when the evening of my day is come, and thou commandest me to return, that I may be of that happy number, whom the voice from heaven pronounced to be blessed. See Revelation 14:13 . It is evident how diligent Ruth had been, for an ephah is not less than between three and four pecks, forty omens: see Exodus 16:36 .
And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.
Believers love to spread abroad the savor of Jesus' name; and, as the apostle speaks, are ready to distribute, and willing to communicate. 1 Timothy 6:18 .
And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she showed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought today is Boaz.
The enquiry of Naomi, and the pious acknowledgment of the Lord's hand in Ruth's success for the day's labour, suggests to us a most useful examination, which believers in Jesus should always make at the chose of the day. Where hath been my gleanings today? In what part of the field of scripture have I wrought? Hath Jesus indeed taken knowledge of me, and hath my soul eyed him? Do I know his name so as to lean upon him, and put my whole trust in him? Psalms 9:10 .
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
How very sweet and interesting is this even as an history, considered in' the way of God's providence. There was but one man in Israel by right of inheritance, as the Goel-kinsman of the decayed house of Elimelech, that could repair their broken circumstances, and redeem their mortgaged land. And the Lord in his providence sends Ruth, wino was altogether unconscious of all this, into the very path by which this blessing might be accomplished. But how infinitely more precious And interesting is the subject, when viewed spiritually, and in a way of grace. There is but one man under heaven which can repair our desolate ruined state of nature, by redemption of our long-forfeited inheritance, and he is indeed our next kinsman, for Ire hath married our nature for this very purpose. Precious Jesus! am I indeed conic, unconscious as I was at the time of my ruined state by nature, out of the country of Moab, a poor awakened Gentile, to glean in thy fields? Hast thou eyed me and took pity on me in my lost estate, for thy mercy endureth forever? Hast thou commanded thy servants, the ministers of thy gospel, to suffer me to glean in thy fields of truth and to rebuke me not; and even to let fail handfuls of the bread of life on purpose for me? Have I indeed wrought under thy eye, and in thy favour, and found an ephah? Is this the man, even the Lord of the country, the God-man Christ Jesus; unto whose cornfields I am come? O blessed be Jesus JEHOVAH! who hath not left off his kindness to dead sinners, whom he hath quickened, nor to the living, whom when quickening he hath called!
And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.
Delightful thought! Jesus not only gives plentifully and suitably to his distressed relations, but he enjoins them to come again and again, and not to go to glean in the fields of another. He that overcometh (saith Jesus) shall inherit all things: and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son. Revelation 21:7 . We need not go elsewhere. We have all and abound. Blessed (saith the apostle) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Our persons are accepted in Jesus, and all grace must flow in him and from him. Hence it is, perhaps, with this view, that Jehovah in a covenant relation is called El-Shaddai, that is, God all-sufficient. A sufficiency to live upon to all eternity. So that all blessedness is wrapped up in this one comprehensive mercy of our Jesus.
And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.
Believers in Jesus are sometimes called virgins, for their chaste and close adherence to him, as well as also for the singleness of their affection to his person, And the inviolable purity of their doctrine. See Song of Solomon 1:3 ; Revelation 14:4 . It is well, therefore, for all such to be found nowhere else hut in the society of true believers. 'That is a sweet direction to every enquiring soul, who 'wishes to know where Jesus feeds, And where his people are to be found. Song of Solomon 1:7-8 .
So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.
It is one of the most important precepts of the gospel as well as the law, cleave unto him (that is, the Lord) for he is thy life. Deuteronomy 13:4 . And certain it is, that if Jesus be our chief joy he will have our chief company. We shall stand fast by him and his people, and not be found in the field of the world, nor seeking our comfort from carnal pursuits. From one harvest to another, and from one full moon to another, if the Lord be our portion the Lord will be our delight.
READER! pause over this chapter. Are we not, hike Naomi and Ruth, returned out of the country of Moab, brought by divine' grace to seek sustenance in the land of Bethlehem? And have we not, hike them, a kinsman of our first parent, a mighty man of wealth indeed, whose name is Jesus? Yes, dearest Lord! let it be our hap to glean in thy fields, for all the world beside thee is but us a wilderness. All other sustenance is but as the husks which the swine do eat. And wilt thou not, dear Lord, though we are strangers, eye us when we seek to glean in thy pastures, and bid thy servants, the ministers of thy word, to drop suitable supply to our need? Conscious of our nothingness and poverty, we have reason indeed, like Ruth, to come with trembling and with apprehension. And should our Lord but graciously condescend to speak to his servants, Oh! what holy joy with it afford, that One so great, so glorious, should regard creatures such as we are. Surely the most becoming language of our hearts must be, like Ruth: Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger. Oh, Lord! let a poor Gentile, whom thou hast taken into thy church and family, find grace in thy sight: and let thine Holy Spirit give to me such strength, that I may never glean in other ground, nor seek comfort from other resources. No! blessed Jesus! there is enough in thee to live upon forever. Oh! may I abide in thee, and keep fast by the companions of my Lord's service. And let thine eyes be upon me from harvest to harvest, and from one end of the year even to the other end of the year, until the whole of thy dispensations concerning thy church on earth are ended: and then may it be my lot, with all, the ransomed of Zion, to return with songs and everlasting joy upon our heads; then s/tall we obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ruth 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25