Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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?The Message of the Book of Ruth
In speaking of the message which this little book has for us, we shall treat it as conveying to us a message of redemption. Looked at in this light the book has, I think, these things to tell us:—
I. It tells us that the range of God's grace is ever wider than our conception of it. The book of Ruth shows us how one who was a member of an idolatrous people, one who was a Gentile, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, was actually brought into the number of the chosen people, and became one of the direct line of which the Messiah came.
In the old time, as in the new, God's salvation, though reaching men through channels of His own appointing, was open to all who cared to avail themselves of it.
II. The second thing about redemption which this book tells us is, that although God's grace is so free and open to all, it can save us only when we make it ours by an act of deliberate choice. God does not force His salvation on any. Ruth chose Israel and Israel's God. Had that choice not been made, Ruth would never have gained her position as the wife of Boaz. And even after this decisive choice was made her position was not secured until she had claimed all that was hers. Ruth had to make herself and her claims known to Boaz. She had to possess herself of her rights by a holy violence. And this she did.
With like decision and like determination must we act if we would win the heavenly city. It is true 'whosoever will may come'. It is true 'him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out'. But if these blessed promises are to avail us, we must will and we must come.
III. The third lesson about redemption which this book teaches us is this—that redemption is achieved by and only by a Kinsman-Redeemer. Ruth owed her position in no sense to herself. She owed it entirely to Boaz. Her knowledge of her claim, her presentation of her claim, would have availed her nothing had Boaz refused to act. And Boaz' power of acting depended on his being a kinsman.
God's grace is indeed wide, wide as the universe, great as God Himself, but God's grace reaches sinners only through the Redeemer. And our Lord's power to redeem us lies in the fact that He is our near kinsman. Our Saviour is God. But our Saviour is man—as truly God as if He were not man, as truly man as if He were not God. Man alone could be the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. In Jesus therefore we have a Kinsman-Redeemer.
And as Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer of this little book, completed his work of redemption by uniting Ruth to himself and making her a sharer in all his glory and power, so is it with our Redeemer. He saves us by union to Himself.
—G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 101.
This text, in its Latin form, 'Priorem misericordiam posteriore superasti,' has been placed on a tablet in the porch of the ancient church of Guingamp in Brittany, to commemorate the blessings received during a recent mission.
Reference.—IV. 1-22.—S. Cox, The Book of Ruth, p. 123.
And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
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 he shall have done eating and drinking.
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.
And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
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.
And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
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.
And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
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.
And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
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.
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.
Also he said, Bring the vail 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.
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.
And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
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.