Ruth: Part 2

Ruth  •  20 min. read  •  grade level: 8
To resume the history, then, we may here notice that we have Naomi and Ruth in the land of promise, the place of all desired blessing, the appointed scene of glory and the land of the living. But they are there at first empty and afflicted, though the land is fruitful again, and the harvest is gathering. But so will the Lord's remnant be found when the nation has returned. As says the Lord by His prophet, “I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” (Zeph. 3:1212I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:12).)
But Ruth and Naomi are not wholly unblest, they are at least at home; and though in scanty measure, living on the gleanings of another's field, and waiting for the crumbs that fall from another's table, yet kindness is shown to them of one who was “a mighty man of wealth.” (Chap. 2: 8-13.) And so will the kindness of a mightier and more generous one than Boaz be seen, when tending again “the poor of the flock, the flock of slaughter;” for then bread shall be given them, and waters shall be sure. (Isa. 33:1616He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. (Isaiah 33:16).) And so will the poor of the flock trust in Him, and wait upon His hand, as their shepherd in the cloudy and dark day; so will they enter the pavilion of His presence, and hide themselves, while that day passes by, and, remembering the days of their fathers, they will humble themselves, like Ruth, as less than the handmaids of the Lord.
But Ruth ere long was destined to look on this “mighty man of wealth” as her kinsman and husband, sharing with her—gladly sharing with her—the treasures of those fields, where now she gleaned a scanty living; as will his poor and afflicted1 remnant that shall trust in him for bread and water, soon see their Kinsman, “the King in his beauty,” and their Zion “a quiet habitation never to be removed.”
Israel of old had been taught to love the stranger as one born among them, for they had themselves known the heart of a stranger; and in the mercifulness of Him whose they were, and who feedeth the young ravens that cry unto Him, and openeth His hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness, they had been thus commanded: “When ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest; thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger.” (Lev. 19:9, 109And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. 10And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:9‑10).)
As a true son of Israel, Boaz, the Bethlehemite, remembers this word of the God of Israel, and does even more than was commanded. This poor stranger from Moab, as we read in the story, is well reported of to him by the reapers; he salutes her kind and condescending favor, and she accepts his grace with thankfullness, satisfied with what her toil could gather, while he exceeds all her desire, serving her with his own hands, and giving a place among his sheaves. Sweet expression of our Lord's ways with His waiting poor ones now, and of His feeding His remnant in the land hereafter! And we here observe how this kindness of the “mighty man of wealth” encourages the faith of those afflicted daughters of Israel. Ruth repeats the story of his kindness to her mother-in-law; and then the recollection, which appears till now to have slumbered, that this mighty one was of their kindred, is awakened in Naomi, and she is stirred up to lay hold on his strength, and expect a still larger blessing at his hand. “It is good, my daughter,” said she to Ruth, “that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.”
Further encouragement from Boaz, we may presume, and other tokens of favor shown unremittingly till the end of the harvest, at length bring Naomi's faith to exercise itself in his full and perfect favor. From his very gifts she seems to draw a plea for her hopes of further and greater, till the heart is enlarged to the full measure of his utmost bountifulness, and she speaks in confidence of this to her daughter, saying, “Shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? and now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou west? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing-floor; wash thyself, 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 be shell have done eating and drinking; and it shell be, when he lieth down, that then shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in end uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.” Naomi would have nothing less than himself and all his wealth; her lips will scarcely utter the large desire of her faith, but she counts upon it; and lays her plans for it. The name of Baal will no longer satisfy her, he must call him Ishi. And in like manner how sweetly will His chosen ones be encouraged, and allured and comforted by their Kinsman in the second wilderness of the latter day. For a time they may remain unacknowledged. “Doubtless thou art our Father,” will they then say, “though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer.” The remembrance of their Redeemer, their Kinsman, will come into their mind, and they will plead with Him then. (See Isa. 62:7; 647And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:7))
In full faith of the blessing, and that Boaz would, as Naomi had expected, tell her what she was to do, Ruth enters on the plan prescribed to her for acquiring Boaz as her husband. In all this Naomi and Ruth are as one—the one by counsel, the other in action, helping forward the common blessing. Thus Ruth now hearkens to the counsel of Naomi, goes down to the threshing-floor, and does accordingly. There she seeks a pledge from Boaz. She comes to trust in the shadow of his wing. She would have him spread his skirt over her, doing for her the full services of her near kinsman. She trespasses as far as faith warrants her, but no farther; for Boaz, as they judged, was the nearest kinsman on whom it lay to repair the ruins of Elimelech's house; and thus Ruth is strong in faith, and seeks the blessing confidently, but withal humbly and graciously. And her faith is rewarded; according to it, is it done to her. She finds no terrors in this “mighty man of wealth,” but all is the law of kindness; for though he cannot acknowledge that he is the first bound to her as under the law of the next kinsman, yet he blesses her in the name of the Lord as his daughter, his adopted one—pledges to her his love, vindicates her, and is her ready debtor in grace to all that she required. Tenderness and delicacy mark all their intercourse through the night, confidence on her part, and full grace and readiness of love on his; and in the morning he dismisses her with tokens of his affection and care. And laden with these she returns to Naomi, and they rejoice together. Naomi again, in counsel, interprets all the ways of this mighty kinsman, assuring Ruth that” he will not be at rest” until he had perfected his kindness to her.
In all this we are given clearly to trace the coming says of God with Israel. Of old He had sought them; He fount them in a desert land, He led them about, till He made them to ride on the high places of the earth. This was their time of love. Unsought He then took Israel for His inheritance, and spread His wings over them: “When I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee.” (Ezek. 16:88Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine. (Ezekiel 16:8).) But in the latter day the Lord must be sought unto, as Ruth now seeks Boaz, and as He witnesses by His prophets, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” (Hos. 5:1515I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. (Hosea 5:15).) “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you, and ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 19:1212Thus will I do unto this place, saith the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet: (Jeremiah 19:12).) And again, “I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them I will increase them with men like a flock.” (Ezek. 36:3737Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. (Ezekiel 36:37).) Then Israel, like Ruth and Naomi, shall encourage themselves in the Lord, shall seek the shelter of His wing again, and the covering of His skirt again; and plead with Him for His land and for His people: the remnant shall return unto the mighty God of Jacob. And the confidence and delicacy of her approach, and His ready acknowledgment of her virtuous and worthy name, which we have observed, sets forth something of the way between the Lord and His Jewish remnant in the days when she is waiting for Him, and desiring to be taken into His banquet-house, and have Him perform all the part of a kinsman to her. The book of Song of Solomon in its full prophetical import, appears to exhibit the same in beautiful mystical characters. Confidence in His love, and yet tenderness and humility, will surely mark the path of the spirit of His waiting Israel then.
And their hope shall not be disappointed; for according to Naomi's largest expectations, Boaz seems to take no rest till he finishes the matter. On the morning after he had in grace pledged his kinsman vows to Ruth, he begins his services in accomplishing them, and there is none else that will own her, or take her poverty and ruin upon them. She is disclaimed by him who should have been the repairer of her breach, and Boaz alone will stand forth her kinsman and redeemer. Without delay, in presence of the appointed witnesses, he takes Ruth in all her degradation for his own, and endows her with his name and wealth. The poor gleaner of his fields is made to share the magnificence of “this mighty man of wealth;” the poor stranger from Moab is made the first of all the mothers in Israel. Rachel and Leah may be forgotten now, for one has come in their stead to build up the house of Israel.
And the figure of Israel as they shall be is here beautifully given to us. For it shall be, when the Lord sees that there is no man, when He wonders that there is no intercessor, that then His own arm will bring salvation. Of all the sons that Zion has brought forth, none will guide her, or take her by the hand; the nearest kinsman will fail in that day. Counsel will have perished from the wise, and understanding from the prudent. In vain will salvation be looked for to the hills and to the multitudes of mountains, “Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people: then will he put on zeal as a cloak,” and appear for the recompenses for the controversy of Zion. As the true Boaz, He will not be in rest till He “have finished the thing;” till He clothe her with garments of salvation, and rejoice over her as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride.
“So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife; and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.” The blessings before pronounced upon them by the people that were in the gate, and the elders, are now made theirs by the hand of the Lord Himself. “The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem.” And so it came to pass. They called the name of the son that was born to Boaz and Ruth, Obed; and he was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David; and in David, the Bethlehemite, was the throne established forever; worthy deeds shall be done in Ephratah, and famous things shall be spoken of Bethlehem; for out of Bethlehem-Ephratah has the Seed of Ruth according to the flesh come forth, who shall be Ruler of His people Israel. And then shall the house of Israel be built through this most honored mother. The Lord who, concerning the flesh, has come of her, shall make His Israel again a crown of glory in His hand, and a royal diadem; the first dominion; even the kingdom, shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. Zion shall no more be termed forsaken, nor her land desolate, but she shall be called Hephzibah, and her land Beulah, for the Lord will delight in her, and her land shall be married.
Then shall she blossom and bud, and fill the face of the earth with fruit; the barren shall sing. She that was “the poor and the stranger,” the daughter of Moab, and the widow in Judah, shall forget the shame of her youth, and the reproach of her widowhood, for her Maker will be her husband; and she that was desolate and a captive, and removing to and fro, shall receive her children again within her own borders. The barren shall bear seven. The gleaner shall be the honored partner of the mighty; for “he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people; he maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.” (Psa. 113:7-9)2
In this action we observe that Boaz, treating with the kinsman, seems to bind himself not to redeem the inheritance of Elimelech, except by taking this poor and afflicted stranger to be his wife. In like manner has the Son of man so joined Himself with Israel, that He will not stand up to claim as His own the earth and its fullness, the world and its kingdoms, but as “King in Zion,” as “Son of David,” as one with that nation whom of old He had separated to Himself as the lot of His inheritance. (See Psa. 2:6-86Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalm 2:6‑8).) For it is in Israel that He will glorify Himself (Isa. 44:2828That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. (Isaiah 44:28)), as He says by Isaiah, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” (Isa. 43:2121This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:21).) And it is the full and complete duty of their kinsman that He will then graciously acknowledge and perform. He will avenge their blood, He will redeem the inheritance, and build up His brother's house (Lev. 25:2525If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. (Leviticus 25:25); Num. 35:1919The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. (Numbers 35:19); Deut. 25:55If 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. (Deuteronomy 25:5)); for “thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be builded on her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the, voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish them that oppress them.” (Jer. 30:18-2018Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. 19And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. 20Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them. (Jeremiah 30:18‑20).)
In connection with Ruth, I would here further observe, that the person and action of the Lord Jesus, as the Goel, the Kinsman of Israel, and the Redeemer of the inheritance, is again strikingly exemplified in the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was the faithful Jew in his day: he witnessed the sin, and foretold, even weeping, the sorrows of his people. And so the Lord in His day stood in the midst of the evil, alone faithful; and as a second weeping prophet, He told of the coming judgments of the daughter of His people. In Jeremiah we have the Christ, not in the character of the Lamb of God, but in that of the Kinsman, the faithful weeping Prophet of Israel. And it is in this character that we must hear Him saying, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.” For who can estimate the bitterness of the tears of Jesus when He wept over the city, saying, “If thou hadst known at least in this thy day the things which belong unto thy peace"?
But He who sowed in tears then shall reap in joy hereafter, and gather His sheaves in the land of Israel, even filling His bosom with them. And so we have also this reaping typified to us in the action of the same prophet purchasing, as the nearest kinsman, the field in Anathoth, which belonged to Hanameel, his uncle's son.
In this mystical action Jeremiah was under the direct instruction of the word of the Lord. (See Jer. 32) At this time he was in prison for the testimony. of God against Israel, and the Chaldean enemy was at the gates of the city. But the prophet has nothing to do but to obey the word which the Lord had sent him.. He does not stand to question the way of the Lord in this strange procedure, nor does he for a moment pause to take counsel in his own heart about it; but, being so commanded of the Lord, he weighs the money, subscribes the evidence, seals it, and takes witnesses that he may purchase the field in Anathoth. In faith that “the end of the Lord” would surely appear to be in all truth and mercy, he takes care to secure the evidence of the purchase according to the law and the customs. He gives them into the hand of the faithful Baruch, that they might be put into a place of safe keeping, there to “continue many days;” and then, when his obedience was thus fulfilled, but not till then, he inquires of the Lord why was all this?—why, in the present threatened ruin of Israel, when all there was soon to be the sport and spoil of the invaders, should he have been thus required to bury his money in the devoted land? The Lord, in answer, tells him the purposes of His heart, for His secret is with them that fear Him. He tells him that the land, which now for a season was to be desolate, without man or beast, should return into the possession of Israel again, that fields should be bought there for money again, and evidences subscribed, and witnesses taken again in the land of Benjamin and in the cities of Judah.
And such is the action of Israel's true and faithful Kinsman. He has already paid the price of redemption He weighed it in the balances when “he was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death;” and the Lord has been well pleased, and has “crowned him with glory and honor,” and thus sealed His title to the inheritance; and He, the blessed Kinsman, “continues for many days,” expecting till He shall see, in “the world to come,” “all things put under him.” (See Heb. 2:5-95For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:5‑9).) Then shall He return into the long-lost inheritance, be seated in Adam's forfeited dignity, have dominion over the works of God, and be brought forth as the Heir of all things. The earth and the fullness thereof shall be His then in possession, as it is now in title, and the everlasting doors shall be lifted up to Him. (Psa. 24; 110) And then shall the full joy of that song be known, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.”
Beloved brethren, what a company and what a joy is this to be! That you and I may have increase of faith to gain fresh spoils from “this present evil world,” and to wait for “the world to come.” The world that now is has rejected the Son of God; but “the world to come” shall own Him. It was “this present evil world” that sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. It was this world that crucified Him. It was “the pride of life,” “the deceitfulness of riches,” the receiving “honor one of another,” the every-day buying and selling, planting and building, eating and drinking of this world, that crucified Him. It was “that which is highly esteemed among men” that did this thing. And it is all this that still refuses to have Him to reign—that would have Him still to delay His coming. But it is all this upon which His day is to come as a thief. Oh, beloved, love not the world, nor the things that are of the world “Remember Lot's wife.” Be ye like unto men that wait for their Lord; desire the days of the Son of man; be on the house-top; as those who are looking out for His return; abide in the field as those that are apart from the “stuff in the house.” (See Luke 17:31, 3231In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32Remember Lot's wife. (Luke 17:31‑32).) Dead with Christ, glory in His cross, own as precious the blood of the Son of God (which the world has shed, and is to answer for), by being willing to be rejected with Him. And know that ere long He will own your worthless names before the angels of God, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To His name, which alone is the worthy one, be all praise forever and ever.