I. GOD NEVER WANTS HIS INSTRUMENTS OF SUCCOUR UNTO THOSE THAT TRUST IN HIS MERCY. Some relation (either natural or spiritual) God will raise up to relieve His in their deepest extremity.
II. SOME RICH MEN MAY YET BE RELIGIOUS MEN. Though indeed they are rare birds, yet riches and religion are not inconsistent things.
III. It Is A BRAVE ATTAINMENT TO BE RICH IN THIS WORLD, AND TO RE RICH IN GOOD WORKS TOO. So Boaz was. Boaz did not make gold his confidence, but was rich in faith (James 2:5), and rich to God (Luke 12:21).
W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
Let me now go to the field, and glean.
1. God often raises high buildings upon weak foundations. Great things often come from small beginnings.
2. All daughters ought to be dutiful daughters unto those mothers whom God hath set over them; they should ask their counsel, and obey their commands, as Ruth did here her mother-in-law, Naomi.
3. That poverty should not make any person have low thoughts of piety; Ruth doth not grudge at God for keeping His servants no better.
4. All honest endeavours ought to be used for supplying wants, but not by any wicked ways whatsoever. Ruth here resolves not to return to Moab under her present wants, as Israel did under their wilderness wants to return to Egypt; neither doth she think of such wicked ways as stealing to satisfy her hunger. Neither yet doth Ruth resolve to take up the begging trade, as too many lusty vagrants and vagabonds do in our time, but she rather resolves to labour with her hands.
5. That even lawful liberty ought not to be used without modesty and humility in asking leave. A good heart inquireth, "Is it lawful, decent, and expedient?"
6. Such as find grace and favour in the sight of God shall undoubtedly find no less in the sight of man. God will speak in the hearts of men, for all such as wait on Him in the way of His providence, labouring with their hands (Jeremiah 15:11; Proverbs 16:7).
7. A meek spirit gives forth mild speeches. Some persons have quick and hot spirits, yea, even good persons. That Naomi should be thus meek in her misery was much, for misery is a morose thing of itself, and unhinges the spirit; yet sanctified affliction contributes much to meeken even a choleric mind.
1. The first step is to reduce her to the deepest necessity. She has arrived with Naomi in Bethlehem. But they are there in great poverty, and with no apparent means of relief. How this very necessity brought out a proof of the excellence of Ruth! Love for her mother constrained her to seek a supply for their need. And she came to the field, as a poor stranger, to gather up the scattered heads of barley which the reapers had left in their path, and in the corners of the field. It could have been the result only of extreme necessity. Thus God brings the soul that He has loved and saved to an experience of utter want. He makes every hope to fail, every means of spiritual safety to depart. The sinner must be thus brought down to feel himself lost and perishing. And when the Spirit has accomplished this, it is an important and blessed step toward a full revelation of the riches of grace already prepared for him.
2. The next step is to take away all feeling of rebellious pride in their state of want. Ruth had great self-respect, a dignity of character that would have honoured any condition in life. But she had no pride that rebelled against her condition. "Let me glean after him in whose sight I shall find grace." This is a most happy and a most exemplary state of mind. She demanded and expected nothing as a claim of merit or right. How important to you is such an example. But it is thus God leads the sinful soul to its great Kinsman. His gracious plan is to give everything freely, and to make man receive His free gifts with grateful acknowledgment that he has deserved nothing. But how long do we struggle against this spirit! How hard it seems contentedly to depend on mere grace to the ungodly! This is one main obstacle in the way of our salvation.
3. The next step is one of gracious providence, to bring her, as it were by accident, to an unexpected introduction to her rich kinsman. Ruth is wholly ignorant of him or of the location of his fields. She is equally ignorant of the exalted connection she is to have with him. To her the future of life is darkness. But God, her gracious God, in whom she trusts, is light in whom is no darkness at all. What an encouragement to us does this ignorance of hers afford! How abounding may be God's provided mercies for us! Ruth goes out into the harvest-field of Judaea, separated among its various owners only by landmarks, which could not be distinguished at a distance, not knowing to whose field she might be led. But God had disposed and prepared her way before her. "Her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz." It was God's own plan for her, another part of which was now coming out to her view. And when at last she finds the gracious end to which the whole is brought, she could look back upon this, and say, "Now I know why I was made so poor, and led to Boaz's field to glean." How often is the gracious providence of God thus manifested in bringing the poor and perishing soul under the ministry of the Word. How applicable to our purpose is this illustration! The first sight of a Saviour is attractive and lovely to the seeking, sinful soul. The sinner comes into the midst of his flock, and is struck with the precious blessings which they enjoy. The Shepherd stands in their midst. Jesus is there, to awaken, instruct, sanctify, and feed His people. The hearts of all are evidently refreshed by Him. He blesses them, in the ministry of His Word, by the teaching of His Spirit. They praise Him with grateful homage in return. The whole scene is awakening and attractive. Thus often the most abiding impressions of the value of religion, of the excellence of a Saviour's worth, and the happiness of those who faithfully wait upon Him, are received. Men are drawn to Christ, and made happy in trusting Him, by the enjoyment which His people evidently derive from His service. And nothing is more important than that Christians should ever wear an aspect and maintain an influence which will adorn the doctrine they profess. "I see," said Richard Cecil, contemplating his own sinful, wasted life, in his youth, "I see two unquestionable facts. First, my mother is greatly afflicted in circumstances, body, and mind; and yet I see that she cheerfully bears up under it, by the support which she derives from constantly retiring to her closet and reading her Bible. Second, that she has a secret spring of comfort of which I know nothing; while I, who seek pleasure by every means, seldom or never find it. If, however, there is any such secret in religion why may I not attain it as well as my mother? I will immediately seek it from God." He rose from his bed instantly, and began to pray. And when the Saviour comes in thus to bless His people, "sweetly the sacred odours spread." Sinners are drawn and encouraged to come to One so gracious and so compassionate. The reapers of His harvest are animated and strengthened by His presence, and the Word of His grace goes out with special power to the souls of those who hear.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
(T. Fuller, B. D.)
Her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz.1. I learn, first, from this subject, how trouble develops character.
2. Again, I see in my text the beauty of unfaltering friendship.
3. Again, I learn from this subject that paths which open in hardship and darkness often come out in places of joy. And so it often is that a path which starts very darkly ends very brightly. When you started out for heaven, oh, how dark was the hour of conviction — how Sinai thundered, and devils tormented, and the darkness thickened! All the sins of your life pounced upon you. After a while you went into the harvest field of God's mercy; you began to glean in the fields of Divine promise, and you had more sheaves than you could carry, as the voice of God addressed you, saying, "Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are covered." A very dark starting in conviction; a very bright ending in the pardon, and the hope, and the triumph of the gospel. So, very often, in our worldly business or in our spiritual career, we start off on a very dark path. We have to ford the river, we have to climb the mountain, we have to storm the castle; but, blessed be God! the day of rest and reward will come.
4. Again, I have to learn from my subject that events which seem to be most insignificant may be momentous. Can you imagine anything more unimportant than the coming of a poor woman from Moab to Judah? Can you imagine anything more trivial than the fact that this Ruth just happened to alight — as they say — just happened to alight on that field of Boaz? Yet all ages, all generations, have an interest in the fact. So it is in your history and in mine; events that you thought of no importance at all have been of very great moment. That casual conversation, that accidental meeting — you did not think of it again for a long while; but how it changed all the phase of your life.
5. Again, I see in my subject an illustration of the beauty of female industry.
6. Once more; I learn from my subject the value of gleanings. It is all the straws that make the harvest, it is the pence that make the pound, and it is all the opportunities of doing good that make a life of usefulness if rightly employed. Elihu Burritt learned many things while toiling in a blacksmith's shop. Abercrombie, the world-renowned philosopher, was a philosopher in Scotland, and he got his philosophy, or the chief part of it, while as a physician he was waiting for the door of the sick-room to open.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
1. We see how God raises up friends for His people if they really need them. If you are poor, perhaps you could tell how, when times were hard the Lord has sent you a friend in your distress. Or, in some gloomy hour, when your heart has been ready to burst with inward grief, some kind Christian friend has called upon you, into whose ear you made bold to pour all your troubles, and found unspeakable relief.
2. We may learn, too, from this part of Ruth's history, what a happy thing it is to put ourselves under the shelter of God's care. Happy, happy, those who are thus dwelling "in the secret place of the Most High, and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty," who can say, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust."(Bp. Oxenden.)
Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you.I. THAT IT IS A COMMENDABLE THING FOR ONE TO SALUTE ANOTHER WHEN THEY MEET.
II. THAT MASTERS ARE TO PRAY THAT GOD MAY BE WITH THEIR HOUSEHOLD, FAMILY, AND WORKMEN.
1. The works of God's providence are very wonderful works. There is a "behold" put upon this passage. Oh, the wonderful concurrence of these occurrences! Here Ruth is ordered by Providence into Boaz's field, and Boaz is ordered by the same Providence to meet Ruth in his field; and all this in tendency to accomplish a great design of their marrying together, infinitely above both their thoughts. It would plainly astonish us to observe diligently the strange occurrences of Divine Providence, and it is our great loss to live so little in the observation of every passage and footstep thereof.
2. It is comely and commodious for masters to mind personally their own concerns. Thus Boaz here did. Wise Cato could say, "That man which minds not his vintage or harvest, the further he is from his labour, the nearer he is to his loss"; and his eyes are every way, and everywhere.
(1) (2) (3) (4) 3. Christianity is no enemy to comity and courtesy; or, civil salutations are consistent with true sanctity in humane society. 4. Civil salutation ought to be paid again in the same coin, saluting for saluting. (C. Ness.)
(2) (3) (4) 3. Christianity is no enemy to comity and courtesy; or, civil salutations are consistent with true sanctity in humane society. 4. Civil salutation ought to be paid again in the same coin, saluting for saluting. (C. Ness.)
(3) (4) 3. Christianity is no enemy to comity and courtesy; or, civil salutations are consistent with true sanctity in humane society. 4. Civil salutation ought to be paid again in the same coin, saluting for saluting. (C. Ness.)
4. Civil salutation ought to be paid again in the same coin, saluting for saluting. (C. Ness.)
4. Civil salutation ought to be paid again in the same coin, saluting for saluting.
I. HIS DILIGENCE IN BUSINESS. Boaz was not one whom necessity compelled to labour. He was rich; and is indeed called "a mighty man of wealth." Yet he made that no reason for wasting his life in ease and idleness. Nor, though he employed overseers, did he consider it right to commit his business entirely into their hands. In the first place, such irresponsibility is not good for servants. It places them in circumstances of temptation to act dishonestly. Neither is it, in the second place, for the master's interests. "The eye of the master maketh a fat horse," says an English proverb. "The farmer ploughs best with his feet," says a Scotch one — his success turning on the attention he personally gives to the superintendence of his servants and the different interests of his farm.
II. HIS COURTEOUSNESS. "Be ye courteous" is a duty which Paul — himself a fine example of it — enjoins on Christians (Acts 26:12). His was courtesy to a superior; but a still finer ornament of manners, and of religion also, is courtesy to inferiors. And what a fine example of that is Boaz! It is with no cold looks, nor distant air, nor rough speech, nor haughty bearing, making his reapers painfully sensible of their inferiority — that they are servants and he their master — Boaz enters the harvest field. More beautiful than the morning, with its dews sparkling like diamonds on the grass, and its golden beams tipping the surrounding hills of Bethlehem, these morning salutations between master and servants! Loving him, they esteemed his interests their own. His conduct corresponded with his speech. Observe the eye of compassion he cast on Ruth. He paid as much honour to the virtues and feelings of this poor gleaner as if she had been the finest lady in the land. Behold true courteousness! This grace is a great set-off to piety. As such it should be assiduously cultivated by all who desire to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour."
III. HIS PIETY. "The Lord be with you"— his address to the reapers on entering the harvest field — has the ring of sterling metal. What contrast Boaz offers to farmers we have known, by whose lips God's name was frequently profaned, but never honoured — their servants, like their dogs and horses, being often cursed, but never once blessed! "Like master, like man." Boaz almost never opens his mouth but pearls drop out. His speech breathes forth pious utterances. All his conversation is seasoned with grace; and, though the result of a Divine change of heart, how natural his religion seems! — not like a gala-dress assumed for the occasion — not like gum-flowers worn for ornament, but such as spring living from the sward — not like an artificial perfume that imparts a passing odour to a thing that is dead, but the odours exhaled by roses or lilies bathed in the dews of heaven. Nor was it only in the language of piety that his piety expressed itself. It did not evaporate in words. We have heard him speak; see how he acts! One night sleeping by a heap of corn, alone as he supposed, he wakes to find a woman lying at his feet. It is Ruth. Instructed by Naomi, she takes this strange Jewish fashion to seek her rights and commit her fortunes into his hands.
IV. HIS CARE FOR THE MORAL AND RELIGIOUS INTERESTS OF HIS SERVANTS. Boaz in his own life set them an example of piety which could hardly fail to produce a favourable impression on their minds. Some are content to get work out of their servants; they take no interest in their souls — no more than if, like the cattle they tend, they had no souls at all. Unlike these, Boaz spoke to his servants as a God-fearing man. One who felt himself responsible to God and to their parents also, he charged himself with the care of their morals. This appears in the warnings and kind instructions he gave both to them and to Ruth.
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
(R. A. Watson, M. A.)
I. KINDLINESS is greatly to be desired in the intercourse of employers and employed in our day. The master and the men must meet often for the transaction of business that is of common concern. If the meetings be devoid of kindness, they are unpleasant and injurious. How much we suffer from harsh, supercilious pride on the one hand, and dogged, discontented pride on the other! Here is a noble field for the philanthropist to labour on. He who shall increase the kindliness between operatives and their employers will be a benefactor of his race. All does not lie with the masters, but the initiative is with them. They have more in their power. We shall lose all the benefit of our vast machinery, it will be blighted by a curse, if we use living men as a part of it — if we make no distinction between the most wonderful work of God and these dead, mindless workers which our own hands have set up. Human brains have been weighed in the same balance with the dross that feeds the furnace! You take the girth of a man's soul, as you do of a wrought-iron piston, with the view of ascertaining the amount of propulsion that may be expected out of it. Both, and both alike, you put under the steam, and work them till they be worn. This is the ailment of society. Man is not a brother to man. The labourer should not fret against the employer as such. He is part of the organisation of Providence. We don't want this wheel that racks you taken out of the way. We want it oiled with holy human sympathy. But how shall we get such kindliness poured out upon the too, too sharp spirits of men, when the classes meet in a bristling array of mutual suspicion and defiance? We must go to seek it in the source of all good. The sympathy of which we have been speaking is the second commandment; in order to reach it we must climb up to the first. We must begin at the beginning (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We are thus brought to the other leading characteristic of the intercourse depicted in the text.
II. ITS GODLINESS. Look to the subject-matter of that kind mutual salutation, and you will find that master and men lived in the fear of God, and were not ashamed to own their religion in each other's presence. The secret lies here. There would be more of human kindness amongst us if there were more of genuine faith in God. It is here that our defect lies. In great measure God is banished from history, from politics, from merchandise, from manufactures. God is not willing to be banished from any of His works. In Him we live and move and have our being. We do not propose that at your desks or your counters you should set aside your ledgers and commence a debate on systems of theology. Everything in its own time and place. There is such a thing as doing common business in a Christian spirit, walking about on earth like one who is going home to heaven. We are very low as to the existence of godliness in the heart; and we are still lower as to the manifestation of it in the ordinary intercourse of society. Very little of it is possessed; and even that little is not brought into exercise. We are persuaded that few masters are to be found at present who would not be ashamed to acknowledge a sinner's hope in a precious Saviour in presence of their workmen; and comparatively few mechanics, who, if such an acknowledgment were made, would not openly sneer or secretly impute it to hypocrisy. The two classes distrust each other. Even the religion that they have they hide in each other's presence. Alas, the only salve is by a tacit compact kept far away from the sores of society! The motions of the community are jarring and painful, because they are not softened by Divine grace. It is a short-sighted policy to shut up religion in churches and prayer-meetings, or even in households. Religion is intended for the world. The world has need of it. There cannot in the nature of things be a proper intercourse between human beings if the fear of God and the faith of the gospel do not pervade it. How can you treat a man aright when you have in view only the lowest part of his nature — the briefest period of his destiny? If all that your mind takes in regarding him be his work and his wages — the profit and loss in money of retaining or dismissing him — your treatment of him cannot possibly be right. It is only when you learn to take in the whole man that your conception can be accurate and your conduct wise. Conclusion:
1. Those who have no chief end for their souls, and no chief aim of their lives beyond things seen and temporal, bring no godliness to bear on the business of society. You cannot apply to a brother what you have not experienced yourself. One thing is needful. If you are not working for God, you are idle; if you have not gained your soul, you have lost all.
2. Those who are born from above bring too little godliness to bear on the common interests of life.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
1. It is remarkable that those who stand prominently forward in the lineage of our Lord according to the flesh represent the varied callings and positions of the human race; as if He who was not ashamed to call us brethren had woven into the tapestry of His human scenes threads borrowed from every skein of life, that He might be, as it were, girt with the garment of our humanity, and consequently be able entirely to sympathise with us.
2. But whilst on the one hand our blessed Lord received into Himself according to the flesh streams from every source of human life, He manifested again in His life and works the scenes from which they flowed. So that there is no employment in life but what the labourer, be he monarch, priest, or peasant, may find a practical brotherhood in Christ, and derive lessons of instruction and comfort in the hours of toil from Him who was "King of kings," "our great High Priest," and "had not where to lay His head."
3. The leading lesson which Boaz teaches us is the sanctity of every earthly occupation when pursued by the servant of God. The real greatness of any man's work consists in its being done according to the standard and limits of religion; and the absence of consciousness or religious expression is no sign of the unreality of real religious principle.
4. In the country, a large portion of whose population is agricultural, the conduct and character of the farmer or the landed proprietor is of no small consequence. He can improve or deteriorate the race of the labourer, he can elevate or depress multitudes of those around him, by the way in which he acts; and we are bound to believe that to a great degree God blesses the crops and the harvest according to the character of those connected with them.
5. The position of Boaz is one which silences all possible objections. He was no inferior farmer who could afford to be religious because he had not the opportunity of speculation, "for he was a mighty man of wealth." He was not ashamed to recognise God, while, alas! how many amongst us of a similar class have not the courage to acknowledge to those they employ that they recognise God as the source and author of all that they possess. The example of the master will be followed by the man; if he puts religion forward in the front of his intercourse with his labourers, he will set the fashion to the field, the farmyard, and the cottager's home. The foreman will own God, and the reaper will "catch the trick" of reverence. It would seem as if some men imagined that some chance hand opened the womb of the teeming earth. It is to such men that God says, "They did not know that I gave the corn; therefore will I return and take away My corn, I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees" (Hosea 2:9). But in the stately and almost sublime interview between Boaz and his reapers we find a practical suggestion also — why should not farmers not only recognise God and religion, but do something to realise the connection between God and themselves?
6. Another striking feature in the conduct of Boaz is the care that he takes of the purity of unmarried women when at work in his fields; for Boaz said unto Ruth, "Have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? Go not to glean in another field, but abide here fast by my maidens." It would almost seem as if the young men and young women worked in different fields. How lamentable is the "contrast of a picture like this with that displayed by the estates of our farmers in seedtime, hay harvest and corn harvest. Imagine the long tale of shameful and miserable life that many a woman wrecked early on the quicksand of impurity has to tell upon her death-bed, and too often connects it all with the first hint given in the field in which God's merciful hand was most singularly manifested in scattering His bounties.
7. But there is one more point full of instruction in the conduct of Boaz — his consideration of the gleaners. Some farmers close their gates altogether against the gleaner, and many are strict in their injunctions that but little shall be left for the poor. Yet surely the prayers of the poor, when genuine and honest, bring a blessing upon all around them, and what is given to them is but a loan to God.
(E. Monro, M. A. )
(Aubrey C. Price, B. A.)
Matthew 12.; 1 Peter 3:8; Luke 10:5). God hath, His ethics, and commandeth good manners as well as good conscience. Affability and courtesy is the way to win others; men's minds are taken with it, as passengers' eyes are with fair flowers in the springtide; whereas a harsh, sullen, sour, churlish conversation is very distasteful to all, galleth the best (witness David, 1 Samuel 25.), and openeth bad men's mouths to speak evil of religion.
Then said Boaz unto his servant,... Whose damsel is this? And the servant... said, It is the Moabitish damsel.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
Hath continued even from the morning until now
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field.1. There may be an hearing without an heeding.
2. Loving-kindness to necessitous persons ought not to be shown in word and tongue only, but also in deed and truth (1 John 3:1). Boaz's kindness was real, as well as verbal. Mouth-mercy and lip-love is good, cheap, and aboundeth everywhere in our age. God is kinder to those that glean in His gospel-fields than ever Boaz was to Ruth; He will not put us off with mouth-mercy only, but will make Himself known by His name Jehovah as well as by His name of God Almighty.
3. God's gleaners should have their proper and peculiar gospel-fields to glean in. They should not go to glean in the fields of strangers (John 10:5, 8). They have their senses exercised to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). They have a spirit of discerning (1 Corinthians 12:10) whereby they do discern the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This makes them hate every false way (Psalm 119:104).
Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap
I. THE MANIFESTATION OF WHAT IS HIDDEN IN HUMAN LIFE. In the early spring the buried seed-corn was completely hidden. You could get no answer to such questions as, What sort? How much? Is it germinating or rotting? The reply would be, Wait. Harvest will reveal. So in human character. Thoughts, and wishes, and life-bias are often concealed. The good, through failure, seems bad; the bad, through hypocrisy, good. There shall be an unveiling. Contact with Christ brings out, in conversion and in judgment, many surprises in human character. "There is nothing hid that shall not be known."
II. THE INCREASE OF WHAT IS SMALL IN HUMAN LIFE. What contrast between the seeds and the sheaf. What growth, "some sixty-fold, some an hundred-fold." So with the greatest thing in human history, Christianity. The babe, becoming the sovereign of the race. So with good and evil in human lives. The thought growing to wish, wish to resolve, resolve to deed, deed to habit, habit to influence that is immeasurable. "Who hath despised the day of small things?"
III. THE RETRIBUTION FOR WHAT IS DONE IN HUMAN LIFE. In the destiny of tares and wheat, Christ teaches souls to read their retribution. It is the outcome of the life. Hell and heaven are the perfect outgrowth, the harvest of character. The good shall ripen to glory, the evil to shame. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh," etc.
IV. THE PASSING AWAY OF OPPORTUNITY IN HUMAN LIFE. Each season gives its own chances.
V. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD OVER THE WHOLE OF HUMAN LIFE. He cares for human life, and through frosts and summer heats, storms and midnights, matures the Christly soul. "All things work together for good."(Urijah R. Thomas.)
Have I not charged the young men1. Here we see that servile natures are most prone and proclive to wrong poor strangers. Indeed, generous spirits disdain to make those the subjects of their cruelty which rather should be the objects of their pity; but it complies with a servile disposition to tyrannise over such poor people as cannot resist them. Like petty brooks pent within a narrow channel, on every dash of rain they are ready to overflow, and wax angry at the apprehension of the smallest distaste.
2. From these words observe, that it is the part of a good master not only to do no harm himself, but also to take order that his servants do none (Genesis 12:20 and Genesis 26:11).
3. In these words Boaz doth intimate that if he gave a charge to the contrary none of his servants durst presume once to molest her. If he, a mere earthly master, could procure such obedience to his commands, surely if the Lord of heaven enjoins us anything we ought to do it without any doubt or delay.
(T. Fuller, B. D.)
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground.I.
II. III. IV. (W. Baxendale.)
III. IV. (W. Baxendale.)
IV. (W. Baxendale.)
It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother-in-law.I. THAT VIRTUE SHALL NOT WANT TRUMPETERS TO SOUND OUT HER PRAISES TO THE FULL (Psalm 37:6).
II. THAT WELL-DOING PROCURETH FAVOUR TO THE POOR, THOUGH STRANGERS, AT THE HANDS OF THE VIRTUOUS; for this was the cause of Boaz's love to Ruth, as here he acknowledgeth; and this is true godliness, to love others for their goodness.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee.I. WHAT HAS THE YOUNG CONVERT DONE? We illustrate the subject by the instance of Ruth.
1. Many young converts deserve encouragement because they have left all their old associates. Ruth, no doubt, had many friends in her native country, but she tore herself away to cling to Naomi and her God.
2. Next, Ruth, having left her old companions, had come amongst strangers. She knew Naomi, but in the whole town of Bethlehem she knew no one else. She felt herself to be alone, though under the wings of Israel's God. Boaz very properly felt that she should not think that courtesy and kindness had died out of Israel; and he made a point, though he was by far her superior in station, to go to her and speak a word of encouragement to her. Come, let us pluck up courage, and encourage every Ruth when she is timid among strangers. Let us help her to feel at home in Immanuel's land.
3. The new convert is like Ruth in another respect: he is very lowly in his own eyes. Ruth had little self-esteem, and therefore she won the esteem of others. She felt herself to be a very inconsiderable person, to whom any kindness was a great favour; and so do young converts, if they are real and true.
4. Once more, the young convert is like Ruth because he has come to trust under the wings of Jehovah, the God of Israel. This is what our young converts have done: they have come, not to trust themselves, but to trust in Jesus. They have come to find a righteousness in Christ — aye, to find everything in Him.
II. WHAT IS THE FULL REWARD OF THOSE WHO COME TO TRUST UNDER THE WINGS OF GOD? I would answer that a full reward will come to us in that day when we lay down these bodies of flesh, that they may sleep in Jesus, while our unclothed spirits are absent from the body but present with the Lord. But there is a present reward, and to that Boaz referred. There is in this world a present recompense for the godly, notwithstanding the fact that many are the afflictions of the righteous. Even in losing the present life for Christ's sake we are saving it, and self-denial and taking up the cross are but forms of blessedness. Do you ask me, "How shall we be rewarded for trusting in the Lord?"
1. I answer, first, by the deep peace of conscience which He will grant you. Can any reward be better than this? That, however, is only the beginning of the believer's reward.
2. He that has come to trust in God shall be "quiet from fear of evil." What a blessing that must be! "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."
3. More than this: the man who trusts in God rests in Him with respect to all the supplies he now needs, or shall ever need.
4. Another part of the believer's great gain lies in the consciousness that all things are working together for his good. Nothing is, after all, able to injure us. Neither pains of body, nor sufferings of mind, nor losses in business, nor cruel blows of death, can work us real ill. Is not this a reward for which a man may well forego the flatteries of sin?
5. Then, let me tell you, they that trust in God and follow Him have another full reward, and that is, the bliss of doing good. Can any happiness excel this?
6. Many other items make up the full of the reward; but perhaps the chief of all is communion with God.
III. WHAT FIGURE SETS FORTH THIS FULL REWARD? I do not think that Boaz knew the full meaning of what he said. He could not foresee all that was appointed of the Lord. In the light of Ruth's history we will read the good man's blessing. This poor stranger, Ruth, in coming to put her trust in the God of Israel, was giving up everything; yes, but she was also gaining everything. Ah! when you come to trust in Christ, you find in the Lord Jesus Christ one who is next of kin to you, who redeems your heritage, and unites you to Himself.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
A military gentleman once said to an excellent old minister in the North of Scotland, who was becoming infirm, "Why, if I had power over the pension list, I would have you put on half-pay for your long and faithful services." He replied, "Ah, my friend, your master may put you off with half-pay, but my Master will not serve me so meanly — He will give me full-pay. Through grace I expect a full reward."
Under whose wings thou art come to trust1. They were swift wings under which Ruth had come to trust. There is nothing in all the handiwork of God more curious than a bird's wing. You have been surprised sometimes to see how far a bird can fly with one stroke of the wings; and, when it has food in prospect, or when it is affrighted, the pulsations of the bird's wings are unimaginable for velocity. The English lords used to pride themselves on the speed of their falcons. These birds, when trained, had in them the dart of the lightning. How swift were the carrier-pigeons in the time of Anthony and at the siege of Jerusalem! Wonderful speed! A carrier-pigeon was thrown up at Rouen and came down at Ghent — ninety miles off in one hour. The carrier-pigeons were the telegraphs of the olden time. Swallows have been shot in our latitude having the undigested rice of Georgia swamps in their crops, showing that they had come four hundred miles in six hours. It has been estimated that, in the ten years of a swallow's life, it flies far enough to have gone round the world eighty-nine times, so great is its velocity. And so the wings of the Almighty, spoken of in the text, are swift wings. They are swift when they drop upon the foe, and swift when they come to help God's friends.
2. The wings under which Ruth had come to trust were very broad wings. There have been eagles shot on the Rocky Mountains with wings that were seven feet from tip to tip. When the king of the air sits on the crag the wings are spread over all the eaglets in the eyrie, and when the eagle starts from the rock the shadow is like the spreading of a storm cloud. So the wings of God are broad wings. They cover up all our wants, all our sorrows, all our sufferings. He puts one wing over our cradle, and He puts the other over our grave. Yes, it is not a desert in which we are placed; it is a nest. Sometimes it is a very hard nest, like that of the eagle, spread on the rock, with ragged moss and rough sticks, but still it is a nest; and, although it may be very hard under us, over us are the wings of the Almighty.
3. The wings under which Ruth came to trust were strong wings. The strength of a bird's wing — of a sea-fowl's wing, for example — you might guess from the fact that sometimes for five, six, or seven days it seems to fly without resting. There have been condors in the Andes that could overcome an ox or a stag. There have been eagles that have picked up children and swung them to the top of the cliffs. The flap of an eagle's wing has death in it. There are birds whose wings are packed with strength to fly, to lift, to destroy. So the wings of God are strong wings. Mighty to save. Mighty to destroy.
4. The wings under which Ruth had come to trust were gentle wings. There is nothing softer than a feather. You have noticed when a bird returns from flight how gently it stoops over the nest. The young birds are not afraid of having their lives trampled out by the mother-bird; the old whip-poor-will drops into its nest of leaves, the oriole into its casket of bark, the humming-bird into its hammock of moss, gentle as the light. And so, says the psalmist, He shall cover thee with His wing. Oh, the gentleness of God! But even that figure does not fully set it forth; for I have sometimes looked into the bird's nest and seen a dead bird, its life having been trampled out by the mother-bird. But no one that ever came under the feathers of the Almighty was trodden on. Blessed nest! warm nest! Why will men stay out in the cold to be shot of temptation and to be chilled by the blast, when there is this Divine shelter?
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Luke 13:34). It has been suggested by others that the allusion is to the mercyseat in the holy of holies in the ancient tabernacle, over which the wings of the cherubim stretched from the one extremity to the other, and above which the Divine glory shone with benignant radiance. Nothing could be more sublimely descriptive of dedication to the service of the true God — committing oneself to Him for providential protection and salvation, and seeking the loving fellowship of His Church — than "coming to trust beneath Jehovah's wings."
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me.Is there not a useful suggestion in all this to persons in places of authority and influence? There is sometimes a grievous fault in withholding praise from others. At the fountain-head of some of our greatest rivers a slight touch of the hand or foot would be sufficient to determine the course in which they should ever afterwards flow. And, in like manner, a kind word spoken to another at a moment when the heart is ready to faint may be the means of dispelling the chill of despondency, of stimulating the efforts of an honest industry, of confirming good resolutions, and of helping to fix the future destiny of a brother. Some persons are far too much afraid of the effect of a little generous and well-timed praise. They would keep all their flowers in an ice-house. Letting in a little sunshine upon them at times would not be amiss. Let masters and parents and teachers try the experiment of what an encouraging word or look can sometimes do. Let it be distinctly seen by those whom they can influence that they are on the side of whatever is virtuous in effort, noble in aim, and heavenward in aspiration.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
At mealtime come thou hither.1. It should indicate the Divine hand in providing it.
2. It should minister to the calm contentment of our hearts.
3. It should indicate a self-respect before men.
4. It should prepare for the next duties in life.
I. THAT GOD'S REAPERS HAVE THEIR MEALTIMES. The reapers in Jesus' fields shall not only receive a blessed reward at the last, but they shall have plenteous comforts by the way.
1. God has ordained certain mealtimes for His reapers; and He has appointed that one of these shall be when they come together to listen to the Word preached. When the Lord blesses the provisions of His house, no matter how many thousands there may be, all His poor shall be filled with bread.
2. Often, too, our gracious Lord appoints us mealtimes in our private readings and meditations. Here it is that His "paths drop fatness." No wonder that men grow so slowly, when they meditate so little. We must take the truth, and turn it over and over again in the inward parts of our spirit, and so shall we extract suitable nourishment therefrom.
3. Let us not forget that there is one specially ordained mealtime which ought to occur at least once in the week — I mean the Supper of the Lord. There you have literally, as well as spiritually, a meal.
4. Besides these regular mealtimes, there are others which God gives us, at seasons when, perhaps, we little expect them. You have been walking the street, and suddenly you have felt a holy flowing out of your soul toward God; or in the middle of business your heart has been melted with love and made to dance for joy, even as the brooks, which have been bound with winter's ice, leap to feel the touch of spring. You have been groaning, dull, and earthbound; but the sweet love of Jesus has enwrapped your heart when you scarce thought of it. Seasons, too, we have had on our sick-beds.
5. Let me observe that, while these mealtimes come, we know not exactly when, there are certain seasons when we may expect them. The Eastern reapers generally sit down under the shelter of a tree, or a booth, to take refreshment during the heat of the day. And certain I am, that when trouble, affliction, persecution, and bereavement become the most painful to us, it is then that the Lord hands out to us the sweetest comforts. Again, these mealtimes frequently occur before a trial. Sweet cordials prepare for stern conflicts. Times of refreshing also occur after trouble or arduous service. Christ was tempted of the devil, and afterwards angels came and ministered unto Him. After conflict, content; after battle, banquet. When thou hast waited on thy Lord, then thou shalt sit down, and thy Master will gird Himself and wait upon thee.
II. TO THESE MEALS THE GLEANER IS AFFECTIONATELY INVITED. That is to say, the poor trembling stranger who has not strength enough to reap, who has no right to be in the field except the right of charity — the poor, trembling sinner, conscious of his own demerit, and feeling but little hope and little joy, is invited to the feast of love.
1. In the text the gleaner is invited to come: "At mealtime come thou hither." We trust none of you will be kept away from the place of holy feasting by any shame on account of your dress, or your personal character, or your poverty; nay, nor even on account of your physical infirmities.
2. Moreover, she was bidden not only to come, but to eat. Whatever there is sweet and comfortable in the Word of God, ye that are of a broken and contrite spirit are invited to partake of it. You are saying in your heart, "Oh, that I could eat the children's bread!" You may eat it. You say, "I have no right." But the Lord gives you the invitation! Come without any other right than the right of His invitation.
3. Note further, that she was not only invited to eat the bread, but to dip her morsel in the vinegar. The Lord's reapers have sauce with their bread; they have not merely doctrines, but the holy unction which is the essence of doctrines; they have not merely truths, but a hallowed delight accompanies the truths.
III. BOAZ REACHES HER THE PARCHED CORN. None but the Lord of the harvest can hand out the choicest refreshments of spiritual minds. How does He do this?
1. By His gracious Spirit He first of all inspires your faith.
2. Having done this, the Saviour does more; He sheds abroad the love of God in your heart.
3. But Jesus does more than this: He reaches the parched corn with His own hand, when He gives us close communion with Himself.
4. Yet once more let me add, the Lord Jesus is pleased to reach the parched corn, in the best sense, when the Spirit gives us the infallible witness within that we are "born of God." Philip de Morny, who lived in the time of Prince Henry of Navarre, was wont to say that the Holy Spirit had made his own salvation to him as clear a point as a problem demonstrated in Euclid. The sun in the heavens is not more clear to the eye than his present salvation to an assured believer; such a man could as soon doubt his own existence as suspect his possession of eternal life.
IV. After Boaz had reached the parched corn, we are told that "SHE DID EAT, AND WAS SUFFICED, AND LEFT." So shall it be with every Ruth. Sooner or later every penitent shall become a believer, every mourner a singer.
1. "She did eat, and was sufficed." Your head shall be satisfied with the precious truth which Christ reveals; your heart shall be content with Jesus, as the altogether lovely object of affection; your hope shall be filled, for whom have you in heaven but Christ? Your desire shall be satiated, for what can even your desire hunger for more than "to know Christ, and to be found in Him"? You shall find Jesus charm your conscience, till it is at perfect peace; He shall content your judgment, till you know the certainty of His teachings; He shall supply your memory with recollections of what He did, and gratify your imagination with the prospects of what He is yet to do.
2. "She was sufficed, and left." Some of us have had deep draughts of love; 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 you and I have not enjoyed yet, and which we cannot enjoy yet; and these we are obliged to leave for a while, till we are better prepared to receive them. Did not our Lord say, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now"? There is a special knowledge to which we have not attained, a place of intimate fellowship with Christ which we have not yet occupied. There is yet a beyond, and there will be for ever.
3. A verse or two further on we are told what Ruth did with her leavings. It is very wrong, I believe, at feasts to carry anything home with you; but she was not under any such regulation, for that which was left she took home and gave to Naomi. So it shall be even with you, poor tremblers, who think you have no right to a morsel for yourselves; you shall be allowed to eat, and when you are quite sufficed, you shall have courage to bear away a portion to others who are hungering at home. When you hear a sermon you think, "My poor mother cannot get out to-day; how I wish she could have been here, for that sentence would have comforted her. If I forget everything else, I will tell her that." Cultivate an unselfish spirit. Seek to love as you have been loved.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Let her glean even among the sheaves.I. The God of the whole earth is A GREAT HUSBANDMAN. This is true in natural things. As a matter of fact all farm operations are carried on by His power and prudence. In spiritual matters God is a great Husbandman; and there, too, all His works are done for His children, that they may be fed upon the finest of the wheat. Permit me to speak of the wide gospel-fields which our heavenly Father farms for the good of His children. Every field which our heavenly Father tills yields a plentiful harvest, for there are no failures or famines with Him.
1. One part of His farm is called doctrine field. What full sheaves of finest wheat are to be found there! Gospel doctrine is always safe doctrine. You may feast upon it till you are full, and no harm will come of it. Be afraid of no revealed truth.
2. The great Husbandman has another field called promise field; of that I shall not need to speak, for I hope you often enter and glean from it. The whole field is your own, every ear of it; you may draw out from the sheaves themselves, and the more you take the more you may.
3. Then there is ordinance field; a great deal of good wheat grows in this field. In all the estate no field is to be found to rival this centre and crown of all the domain: this is the King's acre. Gospel gleaner, abide in that field; glean in it on the first day of every week, and expect to see your Lord there; for it is written, "He was known of them in the breaking of bread."
4. Fellowship and communion with Christ. This is the field for the Lord's choicest ones to glean in.
II. A HUMBLE GLEANER.
1. The believer is a favoured gleaner, for he may take home a whole sheaf, if he likes: he may bear away all that he can possibly carry, for all things are freely given him of the Lord. Alas, our faith is so little that we rather glean than reap; we are straitened in ourselves, not in our God. May you all outgrow the metaphor, and come home, bringing your sheaves with you.
2. Again, we may remark that the gleaner, in her business has to endure much toil and fatigue. I know a friend who walks five miles every Sunday to hear the gospel, and has the same distance to return. Another thinks little of a ten miles' journey; and these are wise, for to hear the pure Word of God no labour is extravagant.
3. We remark, next, that every ear the gleaner gets she has to stoop for. We will go down on our knees in prayer, and stoop by self-humiliation and confession of ignorance, and so gather with the hand of faith the daily bread of our hungering souls.
4. Note, in the next place, that what a gleaner gets she wins ear by ear; occasionally she picks up a handful at once, but as a rule it is straw by straw. Now, where there are handfuls to be got at once, there is the place to go and glean; but if you cannot meet with such abundance, be glad to gather ear by ear, That is a sorry ministry which yields nothing. Go and glean where the Lord has opened the gate for you. Why the text alone is worth the journey; do not miss it.
5. Note, next, that what the gleaner picks up she keeps in her hand; she does not drop the corn as fast as she gathers it. Be attentive, but be retentive too. Gather the grain and tie it up in bundles for carrying away with you, and mind you do not lose it on the road home. Do not lose by trifling talk that which may make you rich to all eternity.
6. Then, again, the gleaner takes the wheat home and threshes it. It is a wise thing to thresh a sermon whoever may have been the preacher, for it is certain that there is a portion of straw and chaff about it. Many thresh the preacher by finding needless fault; but that is not half so good as threshing the sermon to get out of it the pure truth.
7. And then, in the last place, the good woman, after threshing the corn, no doubt winnowed it. Ruth did all this in the field; but you can scarcely do so. You must do some of the work at home. Separate between the precious and the vile, and let the worthless material go where it may; you have no use for it, and the sooner you are rid of it the better. Judge with care; reject false teaching with decision, and retain true doctrine with earnestness, so shall you practise the enriching art of heavenly gleaning.
III. A GRACIOUS PERMISSION GIVEN: "Let her glean among the sheaves, and reproach her not." We have no right to any heavenly blessings of ourselves; our portion is due to free and sovereign grace. I tell you the reasons that moved Boaz's heart to let Ruth go among the sheaves. The master motive was because he loved her. He would have her go there because he had conceived an affection for her, which he afterwards displayed in grander ways. So the Lord lets His people come and glean among the sheaves, because He loves them. There was another reason why Boaz allows Ruth to glean among the sheaves; it was because he was her relative. This is why our Lord gives us choice favours at times, and takes us into His banqueting house in so gracious a manner. He is our next of kin, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Oh, child of God, never be afraid to glean! Have faith in God, and take the promises home to yourself. Jesus will rejoice to see you making free with His good things.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)
(A. Thomson. D. D.)
(C. C. McCabe, D. D.)
So she gleaned in the field until even.1. Gleaners in gospel-fields should continue in their gleaning work from morning to evening. How many are but half Sabbath folk, that can spare to spend a morning in Sabbath service, but are for their pastimes after that! Ruth was none of those lazy gleaners.
2. Though God be very bountiful to us, yet will He have us to use all the means in a way of subserviency to His bounty. God will give us at the second-hand what He would not give us at first-hand; He will give us grace and knowledge by the use of the means, which He gives not immediately from Himself. "God sells all for labour," saith Hesiod.
I. NO LABOUR IS TOO INSIGNIFICANT FOR LOVE. "So she gleaned." She was of a good family, accustomed to a life of ease and plenty. That which she does now is anything but dignified.
1. A work for the commonest powers.
2. A work for the commonest people.
3. A work whose results bear no comparison to the expenditure of labour.
4. A work in which is redone that which has been considered as done.Men measure the worth of work by its conspicuousness. The real worth of work lies in meeting the necessity for its existence, and the motive which inspires it. Two lives depend upon her toil — then her work has worth; she loves the woman for whom she toils — then her work has dignity. Her love consecrates lowest means for highest ends.
II. NO RESULTS OF LABOUR ARE TOO INSIGNIFICANT FOR CARE. She "beat out that she had gleaned."(S. B. Rees.)
1. Ruth was a gleaner; and so should we be. The Bible is that field. Search the Scriptures; glean there. Pick up every grain, for it contains precious nourishment. No matter how many gleaners; there is food enough for all.
2. Alas, how many careless ones there are, who never glean at all! They loiter all the day of their life idle. And so, when night comes, they sink into eternity with nothing done.
3. Others, again, begin when Ruth leaves off, at even. All the bright and sunny portion of their lives they give to the world.
4. Ruth began gleaning in the morning. She felt that every hour must be employed; that every moment was precious. She laboured diligently. May we make God's Word our daily study!
She took it up, and went into the city.
Where hast thou gleaned to-day?I. THE SPHERE: LIFE'S OPPORTUNITIES.
1. The law of labour is the law of life. In this world but little can be accomplished without energy and enterprise. In every department this is true.
2. To the open and eager eye openings invite and opportunities multiply. "Let me now go to the field." "I have set before thee an open door." "The field is the world." (Isaiah 6:8.)
3. Forms of activity, how diversified they are. There is not only the reaper but the "gleaner" also. "All works are good, and each is best when most it pleases Thee." "Gather up the fragments," and despise not "the day of small things."
4. Scope exists for all. "How many serve, how many more may to the service come." "Even I, in fields so broad, some duties may fulfil."
5. Each "day" brings its demands. "To-day."
II. THE SERVICE: OUR USE OR NEGLECT OF LIFE'S OPPORTUNITIES.
1. Neglect possible. There is no compulsion. The parable of the talents. The field of the slothful (Proverbs 24).
2. Success attainable. Satisfaction in healthful industry. Beneficent results are an "ephah of barley." "Neither man nor work unblest wilt Thou permit to be." "He shall doubtless come again bringing his sheaves with him." "Enter into the joy of thy Lord."
3. Co-operation here desirable. "Let fall some for her." "Reproach her not." Community in labour. Unselfishly thinking of others and their work, without unkindliness or rebuke. "Each worker pleases where the rest he serves in charity."
III. THE SCRUTINY: DIRECT INVESTIGATION INTO OUR USE OF LIFE'S OPPORTUNITIES.
1. The "day," however, varying in incident and duration, soon "goeth away." "The shadows of the evening are stretched out." "The night cometh when no man can work."
2. After that, the tribunal and award.
(a) (b) (1) (2) (3) (J. P. Allen, M. A.)
(b) (1) (2) (3) (J. P. Allen, M. A.)
(1) (2) (3) (J. P. Allen, M. A.)
(J. P. Allen, M. A.)
(J. P. Allen, M. A.)
1. The first thing I am impressed with is this — if you will allow Ruth to answer the question for us — no matter how dark may have been your past life, no matter through what changes and hardships you may have come, you are not justified in giving in to melancholy, much less to despair. Do not sit still; go on with your round. Cast about, go out and forage somewhere. Do the thing that lies next to your hand; go back to the ordinary common work-a-day world, and you will find relief. "Where hast thou gleaned to-day?"
2. If, in answer to my question, you would say that you are nobody, that you are of no account, and that all life's plans and purposes have come to one swift catastrophe, I rebuke you from Ruth's history. You may be poor and obscure
; so was Ruth; but a new day had dawned. Keep up your heart; greater, if you only thought it, are the things behind the scenes in your favour than all that seems to be against you.
3. Then, when we stand here and ask, and answer, the questions that flew swift as a weaver's, shuttle between Ruth and Naomi — does not this come out? You have not been working in vain, if you will tell the truth. If you look at things aright, and take yet another look, especially those who are down cast, tell me if you are not bound to admit that your history is beginning to show glints of sunshine, here and there, through its darkness and chaos. Somehow you are getting conscious of it that there is an upper light breaking in. Now, think of the man who came into the field, whose presence opened up a new chapter for Ruth, and opened a wonderful chapter in God's purposes for a great while to come. On what small hinges do great doors hang! The world is still God's acre. It is not a field of riot, of chance and haphazard. It is not true that this is a world in which only the fittest survive and the weakest go to the wall. It is not true that the race is to the swift and the battle to the strong. Don't you see how the gospel comes on the scene with the face of that man Boaz? He is always going about the field, this Boaz, this Kinsman, this Redeemer. His eyes are on you, and He knows more about you than you are giving Him credit for. Blessed is He who is taking knowledge of thee. "Where hast thou gleaned to-day? and where wroughtest thou?"
4. Again, looking at this as a fireside gathering, as it were, to-day, at the end of one week, and before the new one, with its activities, is fully upon us, does not this come out of the question and the answer — that, after all, you have had unexpected success? Ruth's story shows us that, when we come across good times, when we come to what is called "good luck," we are in danger then. Now, don't go away and say that that is come to you because you rose early and sat up late, because you were sharper than other people, because your wits are keener, because you have shuffled the per cents., so to speak, more cleverly. Put in God somewhere; give God the credit, give Him the praise, give Him the glory, for, I tell you, it is all His.
I. To such let me say, "GLEAN WHERE THE CORN GROWS AND LIES NEAR AT HAND. You will not find the corn by the wayside, or on the moor. You must go to the fields: it is only on the cultivated land you can find it." And so with the knowledge that is worth possessing. It is not to be found everywhere. For instance, it is not from every pulpit you hear the gospel: why go where Christ is not preached? It is not in all company that you may glean wisdom. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." It would be well for us to bear in mind that we cannot be friendly with the ungodly without storing up some of the talk we hear, and that we thus store sorrow for the future. It is not every book from which we can glean corn. Reading a bad book is to gather poison.
II. To glean successfully WE MUST BE WILLING TO STOOP. Gleaning is stooping. The writer heard a man behind a counter say, "The worst folks to deal with are those who know all you are going to say." This is true enough. A schoolboy who thinks he knows it all is the most hopeless of pupils. The apprentice who will not be told never learns his trade. Many a man would have risen if he could have afforded to stoop for awhile.
III. If we would glean a heap, we must be content with A LITTLE AT A TIME. The woman who has gathered the largest bundle of corn never once picked up a handful. It was mostly in single ears: "Here a little, and there a little." It is wonderful what may be done by never passing by a thing that is worth preserving. To note down, every day, each remarkable thing, would make a wonderful volume in time. To do this thoroughly, we must know the value of each grain of truth. Don't let the thought that it is only a little prevent your stooping, for stacks are made up of single straws, and London is made up of single houses, which were built a brick at a time.
IV. No one can glean well who is not ABLE TO PERSEVERE. Gleaning is tiring work. It means a back-ache. We must, if we mean to succeed, be willing to go on long after we are weary. We cannot expect to have it all our own way. If we were as willing to spur ourselves to perseverance as we are to urge on our weary horses, we should accomplish much more than we do. Abraham Lincoln was asked if he thought the war would be over while he was President. "Can't say, sir." "But, Mr. Lincoln, what do you mean to do?" "Peg away, sir — keep pegging away." And pegging away liberated millions of bondmen, and wiped the foul stain of slavery from America's 'scutcheon.
I. THAT THE POOR HAVE A RIGHT TO GLEAN UPON US, and that part of our substance, by the laws of God and nature, is their strict and proper due.
II. THAT THE BLESSING OF GOD AND THE POOR IS AN AMPLE RETRIBUTION TO THE RICH FOR SUFFERING THEM TO GLEAN, and that they have as strict a right to that as the poor have to their gleaning, and much greater refreshments springing from it.
III. THAT IN RELIGIOUS PUBLIC MINISTRATIONS IT IS FAR FROM VAINGLORY TO DISTINGUISH OURSELVES BY OUR LIBERALITY. Then the more we give the more we may be truly said to promote the glory of God! Then the more we show the forwardness of our mind the more we profess subjection to the laws of Christ.
(R. Coleire, M. A.)
(J. Spencer Kennard.)
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off His kindness.1. In its nature it is "kindness"— the very soul of tenderness to the God-fearing among men.
2. In its continuance. He cannot "leave off" making His children happy.
3. In its application to both worlds — to the "living," as the song of a Ruth may testify; to the "dead," as the hope of a Naomi must imply. Both are in the covenant of the God of Israel.
4. In its expression. He knows how to prepare some lip to give it adequate expression before the world. The old shall ever confirm the faith of the young.
The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen
I. We begin with THE FORFEITURE OF INHERITANCE. In Leviticus 25 directions are given for the interference of the goel, or redeemer. We fasten, first of all, on the fact that none but a kinsman could fill the office of goel or redeemer. Who does not see, that in laying down and adhering to such a principle as this, the law taught mankind impressively the lesson that He who should arise the Redeemer of the lost world must be bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh? "Forasmuch," says the apostle, "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same." And shall we ever hesitate to declare that the comforting thing to the followers of Christ is that the Goel, the Redeemer, is in the strictest sense their kinsman? Christ was like myself in all points, my sinfulness only excepted. Who is the Israelite that has grown poor, and alienated from him the possession of his father, if it be not man, originally the chosen of God, rich in a birthright which gave him a glorious world for his dwelling-place, yes, and immortality for his lifetime, but who afterwards, by yielding to temptation, stripped himself of all his wealth, and made himself the heir to nothing but corruption? And when we have pointed out to you the impoverished Jew, spoiled of the possession of his fathers, unable of himself to do anything towards regaining the inheritance, and then have turned your attention on the kinsman redeemer paying down the ransom, bringing back the land into the family, keeping it in his own hands until the jubilee trumpet sounded, and then restoring it to the original owner — we think we have furnished you with so vivid a sketch of paradise lost through human apostasy and regained by the purchase of the Mediator, and given back on the day that the archangel shall lift his trumpet, and shall blow a blast at which the sheeted dead shall start, that it must on all hands be confessed that the goel of the law was pre-eminently a type of the Redeemer of the gospel.
II. A brief notice will suffice for the second — WHERE THERE HAS BEEN LOSS OF LIBERTY. You will find, by referring to Leviticus 25, from which we have already quoted, that for the discharge of debt, or the procuring of subsistence, an Israelite might sell himself either to an Israelite or to a stranger. If he became the servant of an Israelite, there appears to have been no right of redemption — he must remain in his power till the year of jubilee. But if he became the servant of a stranger, then there was a case for the interposition of the goel in the law; for even after that he is sold he may be redeemed again — one of his brethren may redeem him. If the master were an Israelite, the servant was in no sense alienated from God's people, and the exigence was not such as to warrant the goel's interference; but if the master were a stranger, then the servitude became typical of man's bondage to Satan. It might have been said, in a degree, to have withdrawn the servant from the congregation of Israel; and thus a case made out for the kinsman redeemer. The goel might come forward, and the servant might be freed. You will perceive at once that, in its typical character, this transaction is identical with that already reviewed. Is it not the Scriptural representation of man by nature that he is the servant of sin, led captive by Satan at his will? The Israelite could have sold himself to a stranger; and not one farthing could he advance towards bringing back his freedom. Must he languish, then, for ever in bondage? Must he groan for ever beneath the load of oppression? There advances a Mighty One, who proclaims Himself his Kinsman, a Goel made of a woman, made under the law, and bearing the likeness of sinful flesh; and He pays down in sufferings the price of redemption. He strikes the chain with His Cross, and it is broken into shivers; lie bids the prisoner come forth, and he walks in "the glorious liberty of the children of God."
III. We proceed to the third case of the goel's interference, a case which differs considerably from those already examined. It was the office of the kinsman, the goel, to interfere, not only when there had been forfeiture of inheritance, or loss of liberty, BUT ALSO WHEN THERE HAD BEEN SHEDDING OF BLOOD. If murder had been perpetrated, the prosecution and the execution of the murderer devolved on the nearest of kin to the murdered party. He must pursue the murderer; and if he overtook him before he reached the city of refuge he might take summary vengeance for the death of his relative. But if the goel were not at hand at the time when the crime was committed, it would seem that no stranger had right to arrest or follow the criminal. He betook himself unmolested to the nearest city of refuge, and remained there in safety until the cause was tried before the judges of the land. So that in this case, as well as in the others, the interference depended on the kinsmanship; nothing else could warrant a man in undertaking the office of the goel. And thus that distinguishing feature of a goel, which made him throughout the type of Christ — the feature of kinsmanship to the party requiring interference — stands out as prominently when blood was to be avenged as when land was to be redeemed or liberty regained. But wherein, you will say, in this instance, lies the typical resemblance between the offices of the goel and the offices of Christ? Created deathless and imperishable, was not the human race slain by Satan when he wrought up our first parents to an act prohibited by the words, "In the day that thou cutest thereof thou shalt surely die"? We suppose it to have been with reference to this slaughter of mankind that Christ said of the devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning." It was clearly through the instrumentality of Satan that death, whether of body or of soul, gained footing in this creation; but if done through his instrumentality it may justly be ascribed to his authorship; and we account it most correct, therefore, to describe Satan as the great "man-slayer." He it is that hath shed human blood; and all that vast mowing down of successive generations, which keeps the sepulchres replenished with fresh harvests of death, must be referred to that awful being who was "a murderer from the beginning." And if we can thus find "the man-slayer" in Satan, cannot we find "the avenger of blood" in Christ? Who pursued the murderer? Who, century after century, unwearied and undiverted, opposed Himself in every quarter, by every weapon, to the shedder of blood, till at last, meeting him front to front, in one dread struggle, He took on him a vengeance that drew the wonder of the intelligent universe, and "through death destroyed him that had the power of death"? Who was it that, sorrowing over the wretchedness of a stricken race, "put on righteousness as a breastplate, and clothed Himself with zeal as with a cloak," and then, equipped for the conflict, sprang forth to grapple with the assassin? Who but the Goel? who but the Kinsman Redeemer?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens.
That they meet thee not in any other field.Song of Solomon 1:8).
(A. Thomson, D. D.).