And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
Work has many aspects. It may be treated as a portion of man's curse. But it was not work which was new to man. From the beginning work had been assigned to him; the difference was that work henceforth was to be both excessive in degree and comparatively unremunerative.
I. Nature works. Sometimes in the mere consciousness of health and vitality. There is that in a man which will not and cannot be idle. Doubtless human life is the gainer by every kind and department of industry. The labourers of society are its benefactors. Better any work than any idleness.
II. Faith works. (1) The work of faith looks within. Faith, which is the sight of the unseen, apprehends the existence of spirit, the possibility of regeneration, and the direct influence of Divine grace upon the heart and soul of man. It would not be faith in the Christian sense if it did not apprehend these mysteries. Before faith can set out upon her gleaning she must find grace in the sight of One unseen. (2) The work of faith looks upward. The eye of faith is upon God, even while the hand of faith and the foot of faith are moving among the things of this world. (3) The work of faith looks around. Faith does not look only on her own things, but on the things of others. Faith does seriously contemplate the wants and the woes and the wickednesses which are making havoc of humanity, and has something truly of that mind in her which was also first and perfectly in Christ Jesus. (4) The work of faith looks onward. Oftentimes faith would faint if it had not an onward aspect. It is willing to wait for the day of God's power, willing to be lost and forgotten in the eventual ingathering.
C. J. Vaughan, Voices of the Prophets; p. 55 (see also Good Words, 1886, p. 815)
References: Ruth 2:3.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 214; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 301. Ruth 2:4.—R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 81; C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, p. 140; F. E. Paget, Village Sermons: Trinity to Advent, p. 201; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 266; J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Sundays after Trinity, Part II., p. 97. Ruth 2:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1851. Ruth 2:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix., p. 522; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 79; W. Meller, Village Homilies, p. 114; S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. i., p. 229. Ruth 2:15, Ruth 2:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 464. Ruth 2:16.—D. Lane, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. x., p. 149.
Ruth 2:17I. Notice first, the good providence of God as illustrated in the story of Ruth and Naomi. Who was more forlorn than Naomi when she set out, penniless and a widow, both her sons dead, to return into the land of Judah. God finds the widow friends, He finds the oppressed and solitary a Ruth to stay by them, a Boaz to see that they have their rights. He is a never-failing helper in the time of trouble.
II. Notice from this history the blessing which waits upon piety, for those who are kind and affectionate and helpful in their homes. Ruth was but a daughter-in-law, yet she acted the part of a real daughter to the widowed and childless Naomi. She clave to her in her trouble, she worked for her in her poverty, and she was rewarded even on earth.
III. Ruth is also an example of maidenly modesty, purity, steadiness of conduct. She kept fast by the maidens of Boaz unto the end of the barley harvest and wheat harvest.
IV. Notice the diligence of Ruth. She gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she gleaned; it was a good day's work, bringing with it a good recompense of reward. Ruth invites us to use all diligence to make our calling and election sure. God has set us in His field, the world, and set us there to glean, to gather up as we are able the precious seed. There is much for every one to do, and the time is short.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 119.
Reference: Ruth 2:17.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 216.
Ruth 2:19I. There are some whose only chance of gaining knowledge is by gleaning. Their education has been neglected, and their time for reading is limited. To such let me say: (1) Glean where the corn grows and lies near at hand. You will not find the corn by the wayside or on the moor, It is not in all company that you may glean wisdom. To the most of us, Where hast thou gleaned? is but another way of saying, What hast thou got as the result of thy life? (2) To glean successfully we must be willing to stoop. He who would be fed with the bread of life must humble himself.
II. If we would glean a heap, we must be content with a little at a time. It is wonderful what may be done by never passing by a thing that is worth preserving. We have trampled under foot during our life that which, if saved, would have done much to make a golden age for ourselves.
III. No one can glean well who is not able to persevere. If we mean to succeed, we must go on long after we are weary. We shall glean with greater care and industry if we remember that we must live for ever on the results of this life. If men did but think they gather gold for a crown or iron for fetters, they would be more careful what they pick up.
T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 142.
References: Ruth 2:19.—J. W. Burgon, Ninety-one Short Sermons, No. 76. Ruth 2:20.—S. Cox, The Book of Ruth, p. 164; H. Melvill, Lothbury Lectures, p. 316. Ruth 2:23.—R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 73. 2—Parker, vol. vi., p. 204. Jdg 3:1.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 25. Jdg 3:1-18.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ii., p. 257 (also S. Cox, The Book of Ruth, p. 101); Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 112. Jdg 4:1-22.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ii., p. 360 (and S. Cox, The Book of Ruth, p. 121); Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 126.
And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:
Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.
And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.
And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.
And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.
So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.