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The history is prosecuted through this chapter, and of consequence in its progress and drawing nearer to a close, becomes more and more interesting. Naomi gives instructions to Ruth how to conduct herself in her deportment towards Boaz. According to the laws of Israel, Ruth had a claim upon Boaz to do the kinsman's part and marry her. Naomi directs hen' towards the attainment of this great end. This chapter relates also Ruth's obedience to Naomi's direction, and the noble behaviour of Boaz towards her.
Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? (2) And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. (3) Wash thy self therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. (4) And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. (5) And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
If there were no other evidences in the whole history of the Book of Ruth, to lead to the conviction that the grand scope of it is of a spiritual signification; the circumstance here related, together with what follows in consequence thereof, would incline me to this opinion. To persons not conversant with Jewish customs, and especially if ignorant of the Jewish laws, in reference to that grand point, the expectation of the Messiah, Naomi's advice to Ruth, and the deportment of Ruth in obedience to that advice, must appear highly reprehensible and indecent. But if the Reader, before he prosecutes this chapter any further, would pause, and consider what the Lord appointed Israel concerning the marriage of widows in relationship; neither the conduct of Naomi nor Ruth will be found indecorous or improper, but agreeable to the written law. Let the Reader first, therefore, be told, that with an eye to what God had promised concerning the redemption of our fallen nature, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head: e very Jew, unconscious from what womb this child should be born, became extremely solicitous to have a numerous offspring: and the going childless was considered as one of the most awful punishments of heaven. Write ye this man childless, (saith the Lord) a man that shall not prosper in the earth. See Jeremiah 22:30 . Hence the distress of Jephthah: Judges 11:34-35 . I would desire the Reader, when he hath made his own remarks on this part of the subject, to go on and consider yet further, how the Lord himself, as if to encourage this laudable desire of children among his people, with an eye to the Messiah, appointed certain laws to keep up the stock of families. Thus the precept ran, If brethren dwell together, and one of them die and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And observe what follows: And it shall be that the first-born which she beareth, shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. See Deuteronomy 25:5-10 . And if the Reader will consult the whole passage, he will see that the object was considered so important, that the refusal subjected the man which objected to do the brother's part to an opprobrious name in Israel. I do not detain the Reader in this place, with adding the sweet spiritual truths which arise out of it, in reference to our blessed brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, these will meet us in their proper place, before we close our observations on this chapter. But what I am chiefly desirous of at this time, in opening the view of Ruth's conduct and Naomi's advice, is to remove from the mind of the Christian Reader every idea of indelicacy and improper behaviour in Naomi's counsel to Ruth. It is worthy remark, that this law was considered so universally binding and so sacredly attended to, that it was not lost sight of in the days of our blessed Lord. See Matthew 22:23-24 .
And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
After the former observations I have made concerning both Naomi and Ruth, I conceive it would be superfluous to add any further considerations, by way of justification of their conduct. Neither would I detain the Readier from attending to what is infinitely. more important, in the view of the subject considered in a spiritual light. May we not then behold in Ruth, the representation of every poor sinner, brought as she was, from the ignorance of Gentilism into an acquaintance with the God of Israel, and seeking grace and favour with the Lord Jesus: and will not everyone of this description, when under a sense of sin, and the ruined state of our poor fallen nature, desire to be united to Jesus, when we have learnt that he is our Kinsman-Redeemer, and nearly allied to us, by reason of his taking upon him our flesh for the purposes of salvation'? Psalms 9:10 .
And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.
An ordinary Reader might be tempted to conceive unfavorably of Boaz from this account; but the expressions here used concerning Boaz, favour no such ideas. It should be recollected, that in the seasons of harvest in those warm countries, it was very common to sleep in booths and tents, to avoid the excessive heat. Boaz doing this in his corn chamber, corresponded to the same. And that he had committed no excess in his supper seems evident from what is said soon after, that he blessed the Lord. Indeed the expression, that his heart was merry, means no other than that his heart was cheerful. The Chaldee paraphrase translate it that his heart was good, meaning that he was cheerful in his own mind, and thankful to the Lord for the plenty of his harvest.
And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. (9) And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
It is for the most part midnight in the soul, when first the Lord Jesus is revealed to the heart of a poor sinner. Here, as in the former instance, we have the most decided evidence, that the subject is intended to be spiritual: for we find the Lord expressing his covenant love And redemption unto his people, under the very figure here made use of, when having described our lost estate, under the similitude of aim infant east out to perish from its birth, the Lord saith, I spread my skirt over thee, and thou becamest mine. Ezekiel 16:8 .
And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast showed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. (11) And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. (12) And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. (13) Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.
The generosity and greatness of mind in Boaz, to condescend to the situation of this poor creature, is not more to be admired in the history, than the obedience also which he thereby manifested to the law of God. Boaz knew that the law of God had made provision for such cases; and as such, he took no shelter under the disparity of circumstances, but declared himself ready to do the kinsman's part, if him that was nearer of kin, and therefore had a prior claim, refused to do it. And though, no doubt, the first and principal motive which operated upon the mind of Boaz in this concern, was obedience to the divine law, yet he very graciously remarked to Ruth, that her attachment to the family and house of Israel, in leaving all the relations of Moab, and the gods of the place, since her husband's death, were such evidences of her virtue, that this weighed much upon his mind, and was well received by all the city of his people. These are very interesting points, simply considered as an history, and deserve to be noticed. But when the Reader hath paid all due attention to them on this account, I would call upon him to remark with me, those far more important points, which strike us in the passage, considered in their spiritual signification. When a poor cast-off sinner is brought by the Holy Ghost into an acquaintance with the Lord Jesus, hath beard of his grace, and lies down at his feet, desiring to be covered with the skirt of his mantle, the Son of God takes immediate notice of the poor creature, and as he knows all his state and circumstances, intimates for the poor creature's encouragement, that he is not a stranger either to his wants or desires; and promiseth, in the assurance of the covenant-engagements of his Father, that he will perform the Kinsman-Redeemer's part. Perhaps the nearer kinsman here alluded to 1 might mean the angels, which in one sense, considered in the scale of creature existence, might be said to be nearer. But of these there could be no help, for the Lord Jesus is introduced by the prophet, as saying, I looked and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me. Isaiah 63:5 .
And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. (15) Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
Following up this sweet history in a spiritual point of view, how beautiful And interesting every event in it appears. Awakened sinners will lie at the feet of Jesus until the morning, in which grace shines in upon their souls, and Jesus hath given them an assurance of his love. And yet how often in their rising up, though everything tends to assure them that they have been with Jesus, do they seem, from the remains of doubt and! unbelief in their hearts, to come forth as in the dark, and before the twilight hath given the soul a glimpse of the Redeemer's presence? And doth not Jesus say to all his people in the personal manifestations of his love, Let it not be known what I have showed thee! At least, they cannot communicate to others, all the gracious things they have seen and known of Jesus. They have bread to eat, which others know not of: and a stranger cannot intermeddle in their joy. But, Oh! what a fulness of grace cloth Jesus in his visits dismiss the praying soul with! This is, indeed, strengthening the believer with strength in his soul: not only as much as they can carry, but sometimes their cups running over. But, Reader, do not overlook the expression, that as Boaz measured out to Ruth of his bounty; so Jesus imparts the graces of his Holy Spirit. Of him only can it be said, that God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. John 3:34 . But of all others even the highest and most plentifully supplied servants of Jesus, unto everyone is given. grace, according' to the measure of the gift of Christ. Ephesians 4:7 .
And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. (17) And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. (18) Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
Still spiritualizing the history of Ruth, we may remark on these verses, how strikingly they set forth the assurance seeking souls ought to have, so that it is impossible any of the praying seed of Jacob should ever seek the face of God in vain. When a poor awakened sinner hath been with Jesus, sought his face, implored his favour, and determines by grace to hang on him and his great salvation, until the Lord shall answer in mercy: as to Israel at the sea, the direction is, Stand still and see the salvation of God. We may in every instance, and upon every occasion, consider that prayer as good as a answered, which is asked in faith; founded in grace; and is resting upon covenant promises. And I do not know any passage in the whole bible more interesting, considered in reference to the person of the Lord Jesus, and his love and attention to his people, than this; in which Naomi saith: the man will not rest until he have finished the thing this day. A word which every true believer may use. The God-man Christ Jesus will not cease; doth not even now in glory remit one moment his priestly office, in the carrying on, and completing that redemption in his people, which on earth he finished for his people; when by righteousness he. justified them, and by the one offering of himself once offered, he perfected forever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14 . Lord! help both Writer and Reader to believe the record which God hath given of his Son! 1 John 5:10-12 . And there is one circumstance more in those precious words, considered as applicable to the person of the God-man Christ Jesus, which I could wish ever to keep in view myself, And which I would affectionately recommend to every hover of Jesus: namely, that the seeking soul is not more earnest for a speedy issue in his treaty with Jesus, than the Lord Jesus himself is. Reader! it is equally true in the case of every humble follower of Jesus, as in the instance of Boaz and Ruth, and may be said with equal truth and confidence, the God-man will not rest, until he have finished the thing, in this day of salvation. And what a relief would such a thought bring in every dark and trying hour, if cherished with full faith and affection under the influence of the Holy Ghost in the heart, that the soul is not more desirous to win Christ, than Christ to reveal himself to that soul, and to form himself there the hope of glory.
My soul! In the perusal of this chapter, I would say to thee, as Naomi did to Ruth, Shall I not seek rest for thee? And can there be any rest on this side the grave, but in Jesus? is he not the rest wherewith the Lord will cause the weary to rest, and is he not the refreshing! And as an encouragement to go to him, may I not say as sine did: Is he not of my kindred? Hath he not married our nature: united it to himself, and become bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh? And can I go to one nearer and dearer than he? And doth he not hold a constant feast in his harvest seasons? And are they not in his church perpetual? Oh! for grace to anoint myself, and the sweet washings of the Holy Spirit, that I may go forth and lie low at his feet, and seek from the blessed condescensions of his love, that he may spread his skirt of righteousness, and his garment of salvation, over me, and betroth me to himself forever, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies: yea betroth me unto himself in faithfulness and that I may know the Lord
And, dearest Jesus! give me grace while I wait at thy feet, that I may lie passive until the morning. Oh! for the lively actings of faith to believe what my God hath promised, and that he will do the kinsman's part, for he hath said it. He is the Holy One of Israel, and all the saints of God have borne testimony to his faithfulness. Help me, Lord, to believe under every event: to trust and depend upon thee, how discouraging soever circumstances may seem. And do thou, blessed God, grant me such a degree of faith, that I may be enabled to make an application of thy general promises to my own particular circumstances: and if needful, hike the patriarch, against hope to believe in hope: and like him, to be strong in faith, giving glory to my faithful God.
And Holy Spirit, of all truth! as thou art the glorifier of Jesus, do thou by thy blessed influences, SO glorify the Lord Christ to my view, that I may behold in him the very Saviour my soul stands in need of, And in myself may I behold the very circumstances which renders Jesus so suitable a Saviour for me. Oh! for thy constraining grace, to fix my soul firm in this most unquestionable truth, that my desires for Jesus are not more earnest, when those longings are at the highest, than the desires of Jesus are for me. The God-man, my husband, brother, friend, will not rest, until he hath finished the thing he hath begun in righteousness. He will save; he will rejoice over me with joy. He will rest in his. love: he will rejoice over me with singing. His name is Jesus: he is, he will be Jesus. he will save his people from their sins.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ruth 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25