If Elimelech and Naomi had a wealthy kinsman all along, then
why did they go to Moab in the first place, instead of going to him for help?
What foolishness it is in the hour of weakness and need to forget the "near
kinsman" who is strong and able to help! And when we need help, to whom do we
turn? to everything and everyone EXCEPT the One who has promised, "I will never
leave you nor forsake you." We have a "near kinsman" who holds the key to the
universe and all of its treasure! Let us go to his fields, and humbly work
there, and ask for and wait for his blessing! It will surely come.
RELATIVE: Heb "yada", familiar friend, not "gaal" of
Rth 2:20, etc.
MAN: Ish, great man, in ct adam, fleshly. Boaz typ
Christ, in both greatness and humility.
STANDING: Heb "gibbor", mighty (AV), strong, or
valiant: cp Isa 9:6. Used of David in 1Sa 16:8, and his 30 men in 2Sa
BOAZ: Sig "in him is strength". The pillar of 1Ki 7:21.
In ct Ruth's first husband Mahlon (sickly: Rth 1:2).
There was poverty in the household -- two widows with no
visible means of support. Ruth, the daughter of a hated race, and only a
proselyte at best, shows a wonderful knowledge of and dependence upon the Law --
which allows special privileges for widows: ie, to glean in the fields during
harvest. She represents the anxious person in search of truth; forsaking her old
companions and her "gods", she leaves all, and is not ashamed to put on the
apron of the "gleaner".
Ruth did not need to keep her poverty a secret; and it is her
poverty which brings her to the rich kinsman!
And what about us? When we are weak (and when we know it!),
THEN we may begin to find strength in the Lord -- whose strength is perfected,
and finds fulfillment, in our weakness. Frail vessels of clay we may be, but we
can take our vessels to the place where the riches and glory of our Father are
dispensed, and there we can ask for our share!
"Our Master's field is very rich; behold the handfuls. See,
there they lie before thee, poor timid believer! Gather them up, make them thine
own, for Jesus bids thee take them. Be not afraid, only believe! Grasp these
sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy"
IN WHOSE EYES I FIND FAVOR: Ruth must find an Israelite
who is charitable and will not evade his responsibilities.
NAOMI SAID TO HER, "GO AHEAD, MY DAUGHTER": The fact
that Ruth went alone implies that Naomi was too old, or was worn out with
recently experienced privations.
AS IT TURNED OUT: Here is God's hand of providence,
seen also in Ruth 2:12,19,20. Nothing really happens to the elect of God by
blind chance; God is always working -- even if we don't really know how and
when: Mat 10:29,30; Rom 8:28; Pro 3:5,6; Jer 10:23.
"Yes, it seemed nothing but an accident, but how divinely was
it overruled! Ruth had gone forth with her mother's [mother-in-law's] blessing,
under the care of her mother's God, to humble but honourable toil, and the
providence of God was guiding her every step. Little did she know that amid the
sheaves she would find a husband, that he should make her the joint owner of all
those broad acres, and that she a poor foreigner should become one of the
progenitors of the great Messiah. God is very good to those who trust in Him,
and often surprises them with unlooked for blessings. Little do we know what may
happen to us tomorrow, but this sweet fact may cheer us, that no good thing
shall be withheld. Chance is banished from the faith of Christians, for they see
the hand of God in everything. The trivial events of today or tomorrow may
involve consequences of the highest importance... How blessed would it be, if,
in wandering in the field of meditation tonight, our 'chance' should be to light
upon the place where our near Kinsman will reveal Himself to us!"
TO GLEAN IN THE FIELDS: Gleaning was a privilege of
poor and widows (Lev 23:22; Deu 24:19), and also of strangers, or aliens (Lev
19:9,10). (Ruth was all these wrapped up in one: poor, a widow, and a stranger!)
Gentiles today, as did Ruth then, may "glean" in fields of Boaz -- who
represents Christ. Compare the Canaanite woman (the "little dog") in Mar 7:24-30
-- engaged in another form of gleaning! 'Yes, Master, I know I'm an unclean
Gentile woman [not a "righteous" Jewish man!]... but if it's alright with you
I'll just hide here under the table like a little puppy, and be happy to eat a
few of the crumbs that the "children" carelessly drop.' The delicious irony of
that is... the few crumbs are more than enough. The man who turned a few little
loaves into a meal for thousands can turn our few little crumbs into a banquet
to last a lifetime!
AS IT TURNED OUT: "Her hap was to light upon" (KJV).
"Light upon" is sw as "happen" in Eccl 9:11 (time and chance). Suggests divine
Boaz takes his God with him every day, even to the workplace.
Bre dwell together in unity: Psa 133:1. Typ: Christ, the master, notices every
humble worker in field.
THE LORD BE WITH YOU: That is, to strengthen you in
your labor: cp Jdg 6:12; Psa 129:7,8. May mean, in this context: 'The Lord give
you a good harvest.' The words come with that meaning in Psa 129:7,8; Jdg 6:12;
and also in a more subtle sense in 2Th 3:16; Luk 1:28.
THE LORD BLESS YOU: Happy fellowship, prosperous
cooperation -- even in a wicked and chaotic land (Jdg 17:6; 18:1).
What set Ruth apart from other gleaners? Physical appearance?
Mode of dress? Conduct? Diligence in labor (v 7)? Boaz notices a new worker, and
learns that she is Naomi's companion (Rth 2:11). Cp Joh 11:28.
Perh Boaz had desired to help Naomi's family years earlier,
but had been unable. Now he sees another opportunity.
EXCEPT FOR A SHORT REST: Diligence, hardly tarrying at
all. RSV has: "without resting even for a moment".
SHELTER: A small tent or shelter in field, where
workers might rest during the day.
MY DAUGHTER: Boaz was much older: Rth 3:10.
STAY HERE WITH MY SERVANT GIRLS: A privileged position
in gleaning. "Abide" here with me: cp Joh 14:17,18,20,23; 15:4. "Do not be moved
away": cp Act 27:31; Col 1:23; 2:6,7; 1Jo 2:28; Jud 1:20,21.
BOWED DOWN WITH HER FACE: Ruth showed respect and even
obeisance to a superior. Do we show thankfulness, meekness, and humility, at
being called to truth and grace in Christ?
WHY HAVE I FOUND SUCH FAVOR?: Nowhere is Ruth described
as physically beautiful -- and she may or may not have been "beautiful" in the
conventional sense. But there is plainly a "beauty" of a spiritual order, which
has nothing to do with hair stylists and make-up kits and fashion catalogs, and
Ruth has that kind of "beauty" in abundance. And, whatever else she is, she is
genuinely modest. That is perhaps her greatest grace: she is unaffected -- she
honestly does not realize how attractive she is... how noble is her devotion to
an older woman... how exalted is her choice of an unseen God... how impressive
is her diligence in gleaning... how touching is her intelligent meekness and her
sincere thankfulness. There is no false pride in Ruth; she is the "real
FOREIGNER: Strangers had rights (Rth 2:2n), but Boaz
had gone beyond requirements of the LM. From Boaz's point of view: consider Heb
13:2: Boaz "entertained" the "stranger" (Ruth), who turns out to be an "angel"
(messenger from God)... the means by which Boaz's line (also) is
HOW YOU LEFT...: A sustained allusion to God's promises
to Abraham (Gen 12:1-3).
CAME TO LIVE WITH A PEOPLE: Ruth was a Jew indeed: Rom
YOU DID NOT KNOW BEFORE: Lit, "yesterday and the day
MAY THE LORD REPAY YOU: Ruth's work: (1) Leaving Moab
(obeying truth in baptism), and (2) care for Naomi (sym hope of
RICHLY REWARDED: As promised: 1Co 3:8,14; 2Jo 1:8; Rev
UNDER WHOSE WINGS: Cp Rth 3:9. Also Psa 17:8,9; 36:7;
57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Mat 23:37.
TO TAKE REFUGE: Cp Christ's wishes for Jerusalem: Mat
23:37; Psa 91:4.
"In her response to all this kindness Ruth showed neither
false pride nor cringing self-pity. She could have misinterpreted Boaz's motive,
and have acknowledged his generosity coldly. On the other hand, in an attempt to
make the most of the situation, she could have told a maudlin tale of adversity
and poverty. Instead, marvelling quietly that a man of Boaz's station should
take notice of her at all, she thanked him frankly for his help to one so needy:
'Thou hast comforted me... thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid --
though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens,' she added lest the wrong
construction be put on the ambiguous term she used" (WJR).
The strong one invites the Gentile woman to dine at his
"table", where he produces bread and wine!
WINE VINEGAR: Sour, but cooling and
ROASTED CORN: Very common in East (LB 648).
ALL SHE WANTED: God tends to our daily needs: Mat
6:11,25; Joh 6:35. This is what Naomi the Jewess had forgotten; but what Ruth
the Moabitess knew by faith!
AND HAD SOME LEFT OVER: Or, "reserved" as in Rth 2:18.
That is, Ruth kept something back for Naomi. See Rom 15:27: Gentiles aid Jews in
"Whenever we are privileged to eat of the bread which Jesus
gives, we are, like Ruth, satisfied with the full and sweet repast. When Jesus
is the host no guest goes empty from the table. Our head is satisfied with the
precious truth which Christ reveals; our heart is content with Jesus, as the
altogether lovely object of affection; our hope is satisfied, for whom have we
in heaven but Jesus? and our desire is satiated, for what can we wish for more
than 'to know Christ and to be found in Him'? Jesus fills our conscience till it
is at perfect peace; our judgment with persuasion of the certainty of His
teachings; our memory with recollections of what He has done, and our
imagination with the prospects of what He is yet to do. As Ruth was 'sufficed,
and left,' so is it with us. We have had deep draughts; we have thought that we
could take in all of Christ; but when we have done our best we have had to leave
a vast remainder... There are certain sweet things in the Word of God which we
have not enjoyed yet, and which we are obliged to leave for awhile; for we are
like the disciples to whom Jesus said, 'I have yet many things to say unto you,
but ye cannot bear them now.' Yes, there are graces to which we have not
attained; places of fellowship nearer to Christ which we have not reached; and
heights of communion which our feet have not climbed. At every banquet of love
there are many baskets of fragments left. Let us magnify the liberality of our
glorious Boaz" (CHS).
EVEN... AMONG THE SHEAVES: Another special privilege.
Normally, no one may glean until sheaves are bound and set in stocks.
DON'T EMBARRASS HER: "Reproach her not" (KJV), or
"shame her not" (KJV mg).
Ample reward: cp Luk 11:9-13; 6:38.
Cp LB 647. Ruth had to labor for her living. This was a woman
who did not mind working -- who sought out work to do. What she could do for
herself she did, willingly and eagerly and diligently. Not only did she gather
the grain; she also prepared it! The servant of God must "beat out" the grains
of truth -- which are often concealed (Pro 25:2; Mat 13:13,34); she must harvest
and press out the olives to make the olive oil (Lev 24:2). And what about us? Do
we remember that "faith without works is dead"... that we are called, not just
to take up space, but to DO something of service to our God?
"Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to
gather the ears of corn, so must I go forth into the fields of prayer,
meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the word to gather spiritual food. The
gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little: so must
I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them.
Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us
wise unto salvation. The gleaner keeps her eyes open: if she stumbled among the
stubble in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at
eventide. I must be watchful in religious exercises lest they become
unprofitable to me; I fear I have lost much already -- O that I may rightly
estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence. The gleaner stoops
for all she finds, and so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly
minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards
profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul-saving word is not received
except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner; down, master pride, thou
art a vile robber, not to be endured for a moment. What the gleaner gathers she
holds: if she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day's work
would be but scant; she is as careful to retain as to obtain, and so at last her
gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes
the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about
nothing! Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth? A hungry belly
makes the gleaner wise; if there be no corn in her hand, there will be no bread
on her table; she labours under the sense of necessity, and hence her tread is
nimble and her grasp is firm; I have even a greater necessity, Lord, help me to
feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous
a reward to diligence" (CHS).
EPHAH: Almost one bushel. Enough for both for approx 5
Naomi sees that Ruth has received special treatment.
Naomi had not asked favors from the rich Boaz. She had faith
in God's ways, and thus she had waited.
LIVING AND DEAD: To provide one to raise up seed to the
KINSMAN-REDEEMERS: Gaal: see Rth 4:7-9. See Lesson,
WORKERS: Masc or fem. Esp fem here: vv 22,23.
MY: Very emphatic: my harvest, and no one
...MIGHT BE HARMED: KJV has: "that they meet thee not"
-- or, as KJV mg: "that they fall not upon thee"! Ruth must stay in Boaz's field
(Song 1:6). Misfortune may be found in fields of others.
Barley harvest was at Passover (Rth 1:22). Wheat harvest was
at Pentecost, 50 days later (Lev 23:16). This is the time when Book of Ruth is
traditionally read. Deliverance at Passover, then full reward of ingathering at