Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.Ruth 2:7
I do not hear Ruth stand upon the terms of her better education, or wealthy parentage; but now that God hath called her to want, she scorns not to lay her hand unto all homely services, and thinks it no disparagement to find her bread in other men's fields.
'American girls,' says Mr. Kipling in From Sea to Sea (i. p. 6), 'develop greatly when a catastrophe arrives, and the man of many millions goes up or goes down, and his daughters take to stenography or typewriting. I have heard many tales of heroism from the lips of girls who counted the principals among their friends. The crash came: Mamie or Hattie or Sadie gave up their maid, their carriages and candy, and with No. 2 Remington and a stout heart set about earning their daily bread.'
Working in the quiet village, or in the distant field, women may be as pure and modest, men as highminded and well-bred, and both as full of the fear of God, and the thought that God's eye is upon them, as if they were in a place or station where they had nothing to do but to watch over the salvation of their own souls; the meadow and the harvest-field need not be, as they too often are, places for temptation and defilement, where the old too often teach the young not to fear God and keep themselves pure, but to copy their coarse jests and foul language, and listen to stories which had better be buried for ever in the dirt out of which they spring. You know what I mean. You know what field-work too often is. Read the book of Ruth, and see what field-work may be and ought to be.
Reference.—II. 7.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 220.
The Duty of Gleaning (Harvest Festival)
Boaz in this book is a type of Christ, and Ruth is the type of the Christian soul. And the command given by Boaz to Ruth to glean in his fields, and not to glean in any other field, is very emphatic, and is repeated afterwards by Naomi.
I. Where are we to Glean?—We are warned that there is only one field in which we must glean—the field of Jesus Christ; the field of His Church; the field purchased by His Death and Passion; the field watered by the blood of His martyrs; the field which for nineteen hundred years has produced its glorious harvest of countless saints.
David says, 'Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God'. We must first be planted there by the Sacrament of Baptism. But this is not all. We must remain there, and grow there, and flourish there, and glean there, if we are to fulfil the commands of Holy Writ.
II. What are we to Glean?—Even those who are gleaning in Christ's Church need to be reminded that they are to seek those things which are best.
What are we gleaning? 1. Are we making the best use of our labour? Are we picking up the largest, and finest, and ripest ears of corn? The Sacraments of the Church, these are the full, ripe ears, the great means of grace. Do we avail ourselves of them in all their fullness.
2. Are we picking up those stalks of corn from which the birds have plucked the ears, which are, therefore, only husks and straw? What are our prayers and devotions? Are they merely formal words of the lips, and not feelings of the heart; the form of devotion without the spirit?
3. Are we picking up noxious weeds which grow among the com, and making up our sheaves with them?
St. Paul tells us some of the things which we should be gleaning in the fields of Christian virtue, when he says, 'Whatsoever things are true,' etc.
III. How are we Gleaning?—With steady perseverance, with real industry; or in a fitful, idle, slothful way?
—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part iv. p. 344.
Let us consider what that thing is which we call years of discretion. The young man is past his tutors, and arrived at the bondage of a caitiff spirit; he is run from discipline, and is let loose to passion; the man by this time hath wit enough to choose his vice, to act his best, to court his mistress, to talk confidently, and ignorantly, and perpetually, to despise his betters, to deny nothing to his appetites, to do things that, when he is indeed a man, he must for ever be ashamed of; for this is all the discretion that most men show in the first stage of their manhood; they can discern good from evil; and they prove their skill by leaving all that is good.
References.—II. 12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi. No. 1851. II. 14.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii. p. 263. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 522. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. i. p. 229.
Innocence and haycocks do not always go together.—Macaulay.
References.—II. 15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvi. No. 2585. II. 15, 16.—Ibid. vol. viii. No. 464.
Ruth 2:16 with 2:12
Charity was so well matched with his religion, without which good words are but hypocrisy.
Ruth, the Moabitess
I. Notice the good providence of God, illustrated in the story of Ruth and Naomi. We are shown here how true is that verse of the Psalms, 'He is the father of the fatherless, and the God of the widow'. He never faileth those that trust in Him.
II. Let us notice in Ruth the reward of daughterly affection and dutifulness. Had she gone back, as her sister Orpah did, when Naomi gave her the choice of returning, even pressed her to go back, she would never have left that memorial of herself which will last while time lasts—the book of Ruth in our Bible She would never have married Boaz, nor become by so doing the ancestress of the Messiah.
III. She is an example of another great quality. How beautiful in God's sight, as in the sight of man, is maidenly modesty, purity, steadiness of conduct She spent, as we know, many days gleaning in the harvest field: never in all those days did she say or do aught that might cause shame.
IV. 'Where hast thou gleaned today?' This question opens out into a far wider meaning when we look at its spiritual instruction. It is a question that coming out of a Christian man's mouth applies to many things beside that of gathering up the ears of com. Where hast thou gleaned today? may be asked, and ought to be asked, by each of us of his own soul, in respect to his way of spending the Sabbath, and asked at the close of every Sunday.
V. Notice the diligence of Ruth. She gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she gleaned, and it was about an ephah (eight gallons) of barley, a good day's work, bringing with it a good recompense of reward. Ruth invites us to use all diligence to make our calling and election sure. She by what she did in the plot of ground at Bethlehem shows us what our work should be in the world. To glean, to gather up, here a little, and there a little, of those great Christian qualities which go to make a character that God will accept.
—R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons (3rd Series), p. 119.
Discussing, in Arcady: For Better or Worse (pp. 225 f.), the effect of the workhouse system in rural England, Dr. Jessopp observes: 'It does people good to be brought into daily intercourse with the aged and the weak and the needy. It is bad for us if our sense of pity and our gentle sympathies are never appealed to. We get hard and coarse and selfish, that way.... But for good or evil there stands the fact that in our villages we have very little to do with or for the old people who are a link with the past, and very little occasion to make any sacrifices for others, and still less are we called upon to interest ourselves in their sorrows. The law of the land has come in and taken out of our hands the duty of looking after the poor and aged.'
References.—II. 19.—J. McNeill, Regent Square Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 97. T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 142. II. 20.—S. Cox, The Booh of Ruth, p. 164. III. 1-18.—Ibid. p. 105. H. W. Webb-Peploe, The Life of Privilege, p. 130.
And Ruth the Moabitess 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.
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.
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
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:
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.
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:
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.
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?
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
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.
And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.
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.
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.
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.
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.