Then went Boaz up to the gate.I. THIS IS HOW BUSINESS SHOULD BE ATTENDED TO.
II. THIS IS HOW DIFFICULT AFFAIRS SHOULD BE SETTLED, DELICATE CLAIMS ADJUSTED, FAIR RIGHTS ALLOWED AND SATISFIED.
1. Openly and publicly.
2. By the advice of wise men.
3. Calmly and deliberately.
4. With care and exactitude.
III. THIS IS THE WAY THE AFFAIRS OF THE DESTITUTE AND NEEDY ESPECIALLY SHOULD BE ATTENDED TO.
1. The most probable means ought judiciously to be used in order to the accomplishing of our proposed ends. Thus Boaz, being restless for obtaining his promised end (Ruth 3:18), uses the likeliest means to obtain his end. Many a man loses a good end for want of right means tending to the end.
2. A marvellous providence doth attend God's servants that do wait upon God in the way of obedience. The guiding hand of God doth make many a happy hit in the occurrences of His people. Thus the comely contexture of various providences are very marvellous to those that make observation of them.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
1. The spirit of candour and fair dealing by which it is distinguished. He knew the preference which both Naomi and Ruth had for himself; he was conscious too that he no longer regarded with indifference this beautiful daughter of Moab. His fine sense of honour was not blunted either by covetousness or by inclination, nor would his conscience allow him, even when seeking a good and generous end, to have recourse to sharp practice. Here is that "clear and round dealing which is the honour of man's nature." He was one of those men who, at the close of a transaction, could have borne to be cross-examined regarding his part in it by an enemy.
2. Then remark how much the following of principle simplifies a man's course. Boaz had his own wishes as to the way in which the transaction should terminate; and suppose him to have stooped, as thousands in his circumstances would have done, to crooked courses and carnal concealments, in order to make the matter end according to his wishes, what must have been his perplexity and anxiety, not to speak of his self-contempt and self-accusation! These are what Lord Bacon has called "the winding and crooked goings of the serpent, which goeth basely upon the belly and not upon the feet." But in following the course of simple duty, and making his inclinations and preferences wait on the disposal of God, he at once retained peace of conscience, self-respect, and a good name." His eye was single, and therefore his whole body was full of light."(A. Thomson, D. D.)
I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance.
I. The inheritance of PHYSICAL HEALTH. The ancients were right who spoke of a sound mind in a sound body as one of the best gifts of the gods. God has written His will upon the body as truly as upon the pages of the Bible. Every natural motion of the body is a revelation of the will and purpose of the Divine Creator. Ever since Christ was cradled in the manger at Bethlehem the body has been honoured, exalted, glorified. Ever since the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost the body has been the temple of the Third Person of the Trinity. The man who overworks his body sins against God. The man who by intemperance in eating or drinking unfits his body for discharging its normal functions degrades himself and dishonours the Almighty. It is true that many men with broken bodies have accomplished wonderful results in life. The names of John Calvin, Robert Hall, and a score more, suggest themselves as illustrations. Let no man be discouraged who has inherited a weak body. Great souls have often dwelt in frail tenements, until the tired body was laid to its rest and the great soul went up in triumph to God. But let those who have received the inheritance of physical health prize it as one of the great gifts of life, care for it as one of the sacred inheritances of life, and lay it as a willing offering at the feet of the Lord Christ.
II. The inheritance of INTELLECTUAL CAPABILITIES. Of course there are great differences among men in these respects. But in our day ignorance is not simply a misfortune; it is a crime. Christian men must develop all their faculties to their highest possibilities. Every man is bound, by the most sacred obligations, to make the most of himself for time and for eternity. What a man is intellectually here will determine to some degree what he will be intellectually hereafter. The life to come is but the developed results of present conditions and attainments; that life is but the ripened fruit of the intellectual and moral seed sown in this life. Every Christian, because inspired by a sense of loyalty to Jesus Christ, will desire to develop his intellectual powers to their utmost degree. He cannot but wish to possess numerous and varied mental faculties for the salvation of men and for the greater glory of the Lord. Divine love in human hearts puts enlarged brains into human heads. Religion stimulates every noble faculty of the soul. It made John Bunyan the immortal dreamer; it made Samuel Bradburn one of the greatest workers and orators in his Church, a man of whom Dr. Abel Stevens said that "during forty years Samuel Bradburn was esteemed the Demosthenes of Methodism"; it made William Carey a profound scholar, a lofty thinker, a consecrated toiler, and an inspired genius. Christianity adorns culture with true symmetry and highest beauty; and culture, in turn, gives Christianity its fullest beauty and its grandest opportunity. They ought never to be separated. Each sweetly and divinely ministers to the other. Let no young man or woman neglect wide reading, careful study, earnest thought. Young Christians should be model students. They have Jesus Christ for their teacher and the noblest men and women in the world as their fellow-pupils.
III. The inheritance of A WORTHY FAMILY HISTORY. This is a gift above the worth of all mere financial values. A good name is more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold. A good name is the ripe product of years of noble ancestral character. Is there a man who has wandered from his father's and his mother's God? Is there one who has lowered the standard of a noble family life and history? Is there one who is besmirching his name and staining his character by unholy thoughts and impure acts? In the name of that worthy family history, in the name of an ideal family life, in the name of the great God and Father of us all, I beseech him to stop and to stop now. He is marring his own inheritance. It is a blessed thing to be able to give a noble family inheritance to one's children. Let us carefully guard it; let us sacredly preserve it; let us continually honour it; let us never so live that our children shall be ashamed of the name they bear. Let us send it down to them as an honoured inheritance to which they shall add honours from all the generations to come.
IV. The inheritance of RELIGIOUS POSSIBILITIES. Intellectual attainments and religious experiences cannot be transmitted to our children. We can transmit our vices; but, strictly speaking, not our virtues. There is a sense, however, in which we can transmit tendencies toward good and God, or toward evil and the devil. There is a Divine truth in much that is said regarding heredity in our day. It is much for a man to be able to say, "My father's God"; it is vastly easier for such a man to say, "My Lord and my God," after having been taught to say, "My father's God." Children of Christian men and women stand upon a vastly higher plane of possibility than the children of ungodly men and women. The time may come when the natural will be much more like the supernatural than as we now see it. Indeed, there is a sense in which there is no distinction between the natural and supernatural. God is active in all spheres of nature. The possibility of being translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son ought to be realised in early childhood. No man, however far he may go into sin, can shake off entirely the influences of a godly parentage and of early religious training. I once talked with a man who had just recovered from a period of dissipation, and with broken voice and moist eyes, he said, "How could I so far forget myself, so greatly dishonour my sainted parents, and so wickedly disobey my father's God?" Oh! children of God's children, prize your privileges!
(R. S. MacArthur, D. D.)
I have bought all that was Elimelech's.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)
Ruth the Moabitess... have I purchased to be my wife.
1. There is the publicity by which the interesting transaction was distinguished. All the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, "We are witnesses." The laws and customs of every country not in the lowest stage of barbarism or in the foulest depths of licentiousness have provided that the conjugal relation shall be formed in the presence of qualified witnesses, and in the observance of certain well-understood ceremonies and forms. This is appointed for reasons of obvious propriety, especially to enforce fidelity, and to secure permanence to the connection, and, by a line sufficiently distinct and broad, to separate virtuous marriage from all illicit and impure connections. Clandestine marriages are always disreputable in themselves. Then —
2. Let us not leave unnoticed the religious spirit in which the union was formed. The devout benedictions of the elders and the other witnesses were showered upon Boaz and his bride with all the lavish profusion of a most hearty goodwill, and prayers ascended for them to Him who in all ages has looked approvingly on virtuous wedlock. It is one of the marks of the divinity of our religion that it touches our humanity on all sides. Surely the formation of the marriage-bond pre-eminently ought to be "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer."
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
1. Because they could reckon on God's blessing, and doubtless both earnestly prayed for it.
2. Again, we may be sure it was a happy marriage, for there was a oneness of feeling between Boaz and Ruth. They both loved God. They were both journeying on one and the same road. They were partners for eternity. It matters little, whether earthly comforts be many or few; if the hearts within it are bound together by that bond which is stronger even than the tie of affection — the bond of grace — then, be assured, there will be happiness.
(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)
And they called his name Obed.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
I. In the first place it seems to me that the Book of Ruth exhibits to us AN ETERNAL LAW OF GOD'S KINGDOM; THAT IN THE WORST AND DARKEST TIMES OF THE CHURCH GOD HAS HAD HIS OWN PEOPLE. Ever since God had a Church on earth true spiritual religion has never been utterly extinguished. Faith can always say with the apostle that there is "a remnant according to the election of grace." When God's holy dove is driven from cities and the abodes of men, that bird of sweetest note can be heard singing in remote places, even in dens and in the clefts of the rocks.
II. We may learn a lesson on THE LAW OF SOCIAL LIFE. There is throughout the book a constant reference to the Levitical law. There is the goal, the redeeming kinsman. But I wish you specially to observe the beneficence of the law. I wish that some who speak of the barbarous character of the old law would take their Bibles and read the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus. You will there see that God ordained that a portion should be reserved for the poor and the stranger. The law gave a measure of wealth to the indigent. It solved in this way one of the most terrible problems of our modern society. While it did this there was an ample margin left for the exercise of private charity. The corner of the field was defined to mean a portion that in modern language would have been a poor-rate of fourpence in the pound. It was not a system of outdoor relief, for the Book of Ruth shows us that there was great delicacy to be observed in giving. Depend upon it, as the spirit of the Old Testament works, the bitter taunt will become less and less true that England is a paradise for the rich and a purgatory for the poor.
III. There is AN EVANGELICAL LAW CONNECTING THIS BOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WITH CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.
IV. Lastly, we learn THE LAW WHICH PERVADES THE LIFE OF EVERY TRUE BELIEVER. We may learn that our lives are not random things, and that there is no such thing as chance about the Christian's life. This story of Ruth, like every story of the highest sort, would lead us to perfect trust in Him who wants His own dear children to lift up their hands to Him when in darkness. They must wrestle in the darkness before they can face the sunrise. God seems to keep silence when we pray. We ask, and God seems not to give us the things for which we pray. Ah! but He gives us far better.
(Abp. William Alexander.).