Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. MANY OF OUR ACTIONS ARE PERFORMED WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT OR INTENTION REGARDING THEIR RESULTS. In ordinary affairs how often do we decide and act without any special sense of the wisdom of one course rather than another! And there are positions in which our choice seems quite immaterial. It seemed of little consequence in which field this young foreigner, this friendless widow, went to glean a few ears of barley. So is it often with us. Shall we go to such a place? shall we pay such a visit? shall we form such an acquaintance? shall we read such a book? shall we venture on such a remark? shall we write such a note?
II. UNFORESEEN AND IMPORTANT ISSUES MAY DEPEND UPON CASUAL ACTIONS. Though it seemed of little consequence in which field Ruth gleaned, "her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz," and from this fact sprang results of the greatest importance. "Her hap" determined her marriage, her wealth, her happiness and that of her mother-in-law, her union with Israel, her motherhood, her position as an ancestress of David and of Christ. In such seemingly insignificant causes originate the most momentous issues. Thus oftentimes it comes to pass that family relationships are formed, a professional career is determined; nay, religious decision may be brought about, life-work for Christ may be appointed, eternal destiny is affected. Lessons: -
1. Regard nothing as insignificant.
2. Look out for, and follow, the leadings of Divine providence.
3. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths!" - T.
I. SANCTIONED BY SCRIPTURAL USAGE. E.g. When the mower filleth his hand, and be that bindeth sheaves his bosom, "they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord be upon you: we bless you in the name of the Lord!" (Psalm 129.). E.g. Angels are represented as greeting those they are commissioned to visit. Gideon was saluted thus: "The Lord is with thee;" and Mary thus: "Hail, highly favored one I the, Lord is with thee." E.g. Christ himself' was wont to greet his disciples, saying, Peace be with you!" E.g. The apostles closed their letters with greetings and benedictions. "The Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means: the Lord be with you all!"
II. FOUNDED UPON DIVINELY-IMPLANTED PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN NATURE. They presume our social existence and nature. They imply sympathy. They express friendly and benevolent feelings.
III. CONDUCIVE TO THE EASY AND PLEASANT INTERCOURSE OF HUMAN SOCIETY. We all feel the influence of courteous address, polite expressions, and the minor benevolences of life. Christians should not be offended or contemptuous when well-meaning persons accost them with hand-shaking and minute inquiries after health, &c.; if well meant, courtesies should be kindly accepted.
IV. In the case of pious persons, EXPRESSIVE OF PRAYERFUL WISHES FOR GOOD. HOW many of our common salutations have their origin in piety and prayer! So, in the text, The Lord be with you! The Lord bless thee! So with such phrases as, Adieu! Good-bye! Good morning! God bless you! Farewell! They all convey a desire, a prayer. Let our salutations be sincere, and let our language and our conduct prove that they are so. - T.
Ruth 2:4Ruth 2:4. The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee. Nothing is more beautiful in national history than good feeling between masters and men. Religion alone can inspire this feeling. It fails before mere expediency, and can only be secured by mutual dependence on God and on each other.
I. THE LIVING PRESENCE. The Lord with us means courage and consolation - courage to face difficulty, and consolation in all times of depression and disheartenment. Christ has given us his own gracious promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
II. THE HARVEST TOIL. "Said unto the reapers." It is hard work everywhere in the glaring heat to put in the sickle, and to gather up the sheaves. We may learn from the spectacle the blessed lesson of our duty in relation to others. Let us try to cheer and inspire. Some are full of cold indifference, and others of critical complaint. We little know what a word of cheer does for others. Blame makes the hands hang down, and quenches that music of the heart which makes work pleasant and successful. Encouragement is like fresh strength to weary hearts.
III. THE KIND RESPONSE. The benediction of Boaz awakens a corresponding benediction from the reapers. The harp answers to the hand that sweeps it. Men are to us very much what we are to them. "The Lord bless thee." We need never despair of this reward. Love begets love. Confidence begets confidence. Blessing awakens blessing. This is what we long and pray for - cessation of war between capital and labor, and mutual benediction. - W.M.S.
I. FILIAL PIETY AWAKENING INTEREST. The beauty of the Moabitess, though in complexion or figure she was "not like unto one of the handmaidens" of Boaz, her modest demeanor and graceful movements, all excited remark and admiration; but, probably, had he not known of her coming back with Naomi, and of all she had done unto her mother-in-law, he would not have addressed her. His interest expressed itself in kindly language and treatment, such as were very suitable in the circumstances. In ver. 11, Boaz acknowledges, in appreciative language, her disinterested devotion.
II. FILIAL PIETY PROMPTS AN OBSERVER'S FERVENT PRAYER. In ver. 12, Boaz is recorded to have said, "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." Who can contemplate a life of self-sacrifice, of affectionate devotion and service, without asking God to reward it with a recompense not in man's power to bestow? No prayers are purer and more effectual than those presented for a devoted, dutiful, affectionately ministering daughter!
III. FILIAL PIETY SECURES A GENEROUS AND PRACTICAL RECOMPENSE. Boaz was so gratified by what he heard of Ruth's conduct, and what he observed in her bearing and language, that he became the agent of Providence in rewarding her excellence. He bade her abide in his fields; he charged the young men to treat her with respect; he bade her take with welcome of the water, the wine, the bread, and the parched corn provided for the reapers. She found favor in his sight, and he comforted her by his friendly words. Lesson: - Divine providence does not overlook human virtue. Not that man has merit before God; but the fruits of the spirit are pleasing to the Giver of the Spirit. And God will raise up ministers of recompense for the comfort of his faithful children! - T.
Ruth 2:7Ruth 2:7. I pray thee let me glean. In rural life no sight is pleasanter than the hour when the gleaners come in and "gather after the reapers among the sheaves." It bespeaks "something to spare." It is like the "commons" or the grass by the roadside for the poor man's cattle. We all like the spectacle of plenty; we all like the consciousness that the overflowings of the cup of plenty are to be tasted by others.
I. THERE IS WORK FOR THE HUMBLEST TO DO. We may not be permitted to take a leading part even in God's great harvest-field, but we can all do something. We can glean words of comfort to carry to the bedsides of the sick and the homes of the poor. We can glean in the fields of Scripture lessons for the little ones, and promises for the broken-hearted. Thank God there is a place in the world for gleaners as well as reapers.
II. THERE IS WORK TO BE SOUGHT OUT. It is asked for. "I pray thee." How many complain that no one finds a service for them. They are waiters and idlers because no one gives them a commission, or secures them a suitable field. They wait to be sought out, instead of saying, "Here am I, send me." They wait to be besought, instead of beseeching for work. What a glorious day for the Church of Christ everywhere when men seek for the honor of service.
III. ALL WORK DEMANDS PERSEVERANCE. How constant Ruth is! "She came, and hath continued from the morning until now." How much spasmodic energy there is; how many ploughs are left mid-furrow; how many begin and do not finish. It is not genius that wins the goal, but plodding earnestness. Ye did run well, glean well; what doth hinder you? - W.M.S.
Ruth 2:10Ruth 2:10. I am a stranger! What a touching word. In some cities there is the strangers' burying-ground. There they sleep as they lived, separated from their brethren.
I. THE HEBREWS WERE KIND TO STRANGERS. Their Divine revelation gave them injunctions concerning the stranger within their gates. They were to be considerate and kind to the cattle; how much more to those made in the image of God like themselves! The young learnt this lesson; from earliest years they were taught the law while "sitting in the house." Boaz knew all this, and he "lived" it.
II. STRANGERS HAVE SENSITIVE HEARTS. Their experiences make them quick to feel insult or blessing. Never can they quite escape the consciousness, "I am a stranger." In other lands, under other skies, the stranger carries far-away visions of the heart within, which make the spirit pensive. Consequently, care and love are intensely appreciated by them. Religion is the life of love and the death of selfishness wherever it lives and reigns in the heart.
III. STRANGERS IN TIME MAKE A FATHERLAND OF THE NEW HOME. So did Ruth. New ties sprang up; for love looks forward. Children take the place of ancestors, and we live in them. How often we are tempted to forget our own lot. "Remember that ye were strangers," therefore deal kindly with them. Think how precious to you was the fellowship of hearts that stole away your sadness as a stranger at school, or in the new city of life and duty. What a consolation it is that we are never strangers in our Father's sight, and that everywhere we may find "home" in God. - W.M.S.
Ruth 2:12, 13Ruth 2:12, 13. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee. Here we see that the character of God is gloriously revealed. It is understood by Boaz that God is a God of "rewards," and we need not fear that a mistaken notion of rewards and punishments will prevail amongst students of the Bible. God's highest blessings are given to the soul; but it remains true that even in the earthly life the outworking of duty is blessing.
I. HERE IS THE HISTORIC NAME. "The Lord God of Israel." What memories cluster around that, significant sentence! We see in it a "miniature" of all Hebrew deliverance and mercy.
II. HERE IS THE COMPREHENSIVE BLESSING. "A full reward." That must refer to the inner self - to the consciousness of heroic fidelity and filial love. Many rewards are precious, but no reward is full that does not "bless us indeed."
III. HERE IS THE HOMELY ANALOGY. "Under whose wings," &c. All nature is taken into the illustrative record of the inspired word. The wing! How strong without. How easily outspread. How "downy" within. So soft! so warm! The rain cannot reach through the outward covering. Notice how roof-like are the arrangements of the feathers, and notice also how complete is the canopy.
IV. HERE IS THE PERSONAL TRUST. "Thou art come to trust." We must not forget not alone what God reveals himself as, to us, but what responsibility rests on us, to "rest in the Lord." - W.M.S.
gleaning, Robinson says, "The way led us through open fields, where the people were in the midst of the wheat-harvest. The beautiful tracts of grain were full of reapers of the Henady Arabs, and also of gleaners almost as numerous. These were mostly women; and this department seemed almost as important as the reaping itself, since the latter is done in so slovenly a manner, that not only much falls to the ground, but also many stalks remain uncut. In one field nearly 200 reapers and gleaners were at work, the latter being nearly as numerous as the former." As to threshing, Robinson mentions that "several women were beating out with a stick handfuls of the grain which they seemed to have gleaned." As to the parching of corn, the same writer says, "The grains of wheat, not yet fully dry and hard, are roasted in a pan or on an iron plate, and eaten along with bread, or instead of it." Boaz showed his practical sympathy with the widows of the narrative by giving parched corn to Ruth to eat, and by securing that her gleaning should be even more successful and abundant than was usual with the maidens.
I. Liberality to the poor should ACCORD WITH THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE GIVER.
II. It should TAKE A FORM ADAPTED TO THE WANTS OF THE RECIPIENT.
III. It should BE UNGRUDGING AND GRACEFUL IN ITS BESTOWAL.
IV. It should RE INSPIRED BY THE MEMORY OF THE UNDESERVED BOUNTY OF THE GREAT GIVER, GOD.
V. It should NOT COUNT UPON, though it may have occasion to rejoice in, THE GRATITUDE OF THE BENEFICIARY. - T.
I. KINDRED IS A DIVINE INSTITUTION. Men have many artificial associations; bonds of sympathy, and of locality, and of common occupation bind them together. But kindred is the Divine, the natural tie.
II. KINDRED IS AT THE FOUNDATION OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL LIFE. The patriarchal economy was the earliest. The family is the first social unit, out of which springs the tribe, the clan, the nation.
III. KINDRED INVOLVES AN OBLIGATION TO CONSIDERATION AND REGARD. We cannot always cherish feelings of congeniality or of respect with reference to all who are our kindred according to the flesh. But relatives should not lose sight of one another - should not, if it can be avoided, be estranged from one another.
IV. KINDRED MAY, IN CERTAIN CASES, INVOLVE THE DUTY OF PRACTICAL HELP. Christian wisdom must here be called in to the counsels of Christian kindness.
V. KINDRED IS SUGGESTIVE AND EMBLEMATIC OF DIVINE RELATIONS. Apart from human relationship, how could we conceive of God as our Father? of Christ Jesus as our elder Brother? of Christians as our brethren and sisters in a spiritual family? - T.
Ruth 2:20Ruth 2:20. Who hath not left off his kindness to the living and the dead. The prayers of the poor for their helpers are very precious. Naomi remembers the former kindnesses that Boaz had shown to the husband of her youth and to her two boys.
I. HERE IS CONTINUITY OF CHARACTER. Some leave off kindness because they meet with experiences of ingratitude and callousness. The once warm deep within them is frozen up by these wintry experiences. But as God continues his mercy through all generations, so those who are followers of God as dear children walk in love; that is, it becomes the spirit and habit of their lives. Boaz had not left off his kindness. Ruth now drinks at the same fountain of considerate care that had refreshed Elimelech.
II. HERE IS THE GOOD WORD OF A MOTHER. It is well when the mother respects the man who may become allied in marriage to one who is akin to her. Naomi says to her daughter, "Blessed be he of the Lord." Let those who have become skeptical concerning Christianity ask themselves this: Whether should I like to give my child in marriage to a Christian or an infidel? This practical query would suggest many thoughts tending to renewed froth, and would stifle forever many superficial doubts. - T.
I. HARVEST WITNESSES TO THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE DIVINE CREATOR. To his power and wisdom. To his goodness. To his faithfulness to his promise: "Seed-time and harvest shall not cease."
II. HARVEST IS A SUMMONS TO MAN'S GRATITUDE AND CONFIDENCE.
III. HARVEST IS SUGGESTIVE OF GREAT SPIRITUAL TRUTHS. There is a moral harvest in the history of the human character and of human society. Seed and soil are presumed. Development and growth are evidenced. The law operates: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The fruit is matured and gathered in. The Husbandman - God himself - is interested in the result. To us the result is infinitely important. - T.