the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“The Lord be with you all.”
She had been absent ten years, but her character in her better days had stood high with the people; and therefore they were glad to see her return, though they wondered at her poverty. Her many griefs may have so altered her that even her former acquaintances asked, “Is this Naomi?” Such changes may come to us: may faith and patience prepare us for them.
Naomi sweetness or pleasantness
Mara or bitter
God can soon change our sweets into bitters, therefore let us be humble; but he can with equal ease transform our bitters into sweets, therefore let us be hopeful. It is very usual for Naomi and Mara, sweet and bitter, to meet in the same person. He who was called Benjamin, or “the son of his father’s right hand,” was first called Benoni, or “the son of sorrow.” The comforts of God’s grace are all the sweeter when they follow the troubles of life.
When she had her husband, and sons, and property, she was full, and went her way to a foreign land, perhaps wrongly; but now she was bereft of all, she felt that God was with her in her emptiness, and had himself brought her back
It is most wise to observe and own the appointment of God in all that befalls us. Naomi here kissed the rod, and the hand which smote her. This is a most fitting spirit for a chastened believer, and our Lord is the great example of it, for he cried, “The cup which my Father hath given me shall I not drink it?”
If it was good for Naomi to have a wealthy relation, how blessed it is for poor sinners to have a rich kinsman in the person of the Lord Jesus.
These good women were not ashamed of honest and humble labour. They did not take to begging, or idling; but desired to eat the bread of industry. Ruth had been a wealthy lady, but she was not above working to support her mother and herself.
It seemed to her a chance, but the hand of the Lord was in it, and directed her to the very best place to promote her future prosperity.
What a blessing when master and servants commune together on such holy terms. Is not this holy fellowship a very scarce thing?
Boaz was a good master to his servants, and he was also kind to the poor; those who excel in one direction are generally excellent in others. Happy was Ruth to come in the way of such a man. She had given up all for God, and the Lord took care of her. She was busy in the path of duty, and Gods love was watching over her.
God is love, his mercy brightens
All the path in which we rove;
Bliss he wakes, and woe he lightens;
God is wisdom, God is love.
Chance and change are busy ever,
Man decays and ages move;
But his mercy waneth never;
God is wisdom, God is love.
“The Lord recompense thy work.”
Boaz having asked his servant concerning Ruth, he approached the damsel and addressed her most kindly.
Boaz’s chief and special reason for doing good to Ruth was that she was a guest in Israel, a dove nestling beneath Jehovah’s wings. Religion was uppermost in his soul, and therefore he rejoiced in the woman who had left all to fallow the living God. Meanwhile Ruth behaved in the most modest and humble manner, never ceasing to be herself. She toiled on happily all day, supported by the love which she felt towards Naomi at home, for whom she esteemed it to be a great pleasure to work. When children are kind to their parents they are in the way of blessing. Little did Ruth imagine that she would one day be married to the owner of the fields in which she gleaned: there are good things in store for those who walk before God aright.
Matthew Henry from this passage has drawn the following lessons. “Ruth finished her day’s work, (Ruth 2:17) She took care not to lose time, for she gleaned until even. We must not be weary of well-doing, because in due season we shall reap. She did not make an excuse to sit still, or go home till the evening. Let us ‘work the works of him that sent us while it is day.’
She scarce used, much less did she abuse the kindness of Boaz, for though he ordered his servants to leave handfuls for her, she continued to glean the scattered ears. She took care not to lose what she had gathered, but threshed it herself that she might the easier carry it home, and might have it ready for use. ‘The slothful man roasteth not that which he look in hunting,’ and so loseth the benefit of it; ‘but the substance of a diligent man is precious.’ Ruth had gathered it ear by ear; but when she had put it all together, it was an ephah of barley, or about four pecks. Many a little makes a great deal. It is encouraging to industry, that ‘in all labour,’ even that of gleaning, ‘there is profit;’ but ‘the talk of the lips lendeth only to penury.’ When she had got her corn into as little compass as she could, she took it up herself, and carried it into the city, though had she asked them, it is likely some of Boaz’s servants would have done that for her. We should study to be as little as possible troublesome to those that are kind to us. She did not think it either too hard or too mean a service, to carry her corn herself into the city; but was pleased with what she had got by her own industry, and careful to secure it. And let us thus take care that ‘we lose not those things which we have wrought,’ or which we have gained.”
O Lord how happy should we be
If we could cast our care on thee,
And glean our portion day by day
In fields where thou dost bid us stay.
O teach us this choice way of life,
Serenely free from anxious strife,
To do our heavenly Father’s will
And trust his love and bounty still.
Jesus, spotless Lamb of God,
Thou hast bought me with thy blood,
I would value nought beside
Jesus Jesus crucified.
I am thine, and thine alone,
This I gladly, fully own;
And, in all my works and ways,
Only now would seek thy praise.
Help me to confess thy name,
Bear with joy thy cross and shame,
Only seek to follow thee,
Though reproach my portion be.
Jesus, our Kinsman and our God,
Array’d in majesty and blood,
Thou art our life; our souls in thee
Possess a full felicity.
All our immortal hopes are laid
In thee, our surety and our head;
Thy cross, thy cradle, and thy throne,
Are big with glories yet unknown.
Oh, let my soul for ever lie
Beneath the blessings of thine eye;
‘Tis heaven on earth, ‘tis heaven above,
To see thy face, and taste thy love.
Thou, who a tender Parent art,
Regard a parent’s plea;
Our offspring, with an anxious heart,
We now commend to thee.
Our children are our greatest care,
A charge which thou hast given:
In all thy graces let them share,
And all the joys of heaven.