And Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, "Whose young woman is this?"
As "the whole city was moved" at Naomi's return, it is not surprising that the foreman over the reapers was able to answer the inquiry of Boaz - "Whose damsel is this?" Though Boaz had not seen her before, he knew her story, and was evidently pleased to meet her. His judgments were just, his feelings were appropriate, his language was considerate, his conduct was generous. The character of Boaz commands our respect; and his treatment of Ruth, from beginning to end, was not only blameless, it was admirable. As we follow the simple and interesting narrative, we observe -
I. FILIAL PIETY AWAKENING INTEREST. The beauty of the Moabitess, though in complexion or figure she was "not like unto one of the handmaidens" of Boaz, her modest demeanor and graceful movements, all excited remark and admiration; but, probably, had he not known of her coming back with Naomi, and of all she had done unto her mother-in-law, he would not have addressed her. His interest expressed itself in kindly language and treatment, such as were very suitable in the circumstances. In ver. 11, Boaz acknowledges, in appreciative language, her disinterested devotion.
II. FILIAL PIETY PROMPTS AN OBSERVER'S FERVENT PRAYER. In ver. 12, Boaz is recorded to have said, "The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust." Who can contemplate a life of self-sacrifice, of affectionate devotion and service, without asking God to reward it with a recompense not in man's power to bestow? No prayers are purer and more effectual than those presented for a devoted, dutiful, affectionately ministering daughter!
III. FILIAL PIETY SECURES A GENEROUS AND PRACTICAL RECOMPENSE. Boaz was so gratified by what he heard of Ruth's conduct, and what he observed in her bearing and language, that he became the agent of Providence in rewarding her excellence. He bade her abide in his fields; he charged the young men to treat her with respect; he bade her take with welcome of the water, the wine, the bread, and the parched corn provided for the reapers. She found favor in his sight, and he comforted her by his friendly words. Lesson: - Divine providence does not overlook human virtue. Not that man has merit before God; but the fruits of the spirit are pleasing to the Giver of the Spirit. And God will raise up ministers of recompense for the comfort of his faithful children! - T.
Then said Boaz unto his servant,... Whose damsel is this? And the servant... said, It is the Moabitish damsel.
We can imagine many ways in which Boaz and Ruth might have been made acquainted with each other. But surely none which would have been better adapted to awaken the deepest and tenderest mutual interest in the mind of each. She appears in all the loveliness of virtuous modesty, humbly toiling for a mother's support and comfort, though unused to labour. He appears before her clothed with dignity and benevolence. We are now to witness their first mutual introduction, and the welcome reception which he gives to her. First we have the rich kinsman's notice of her, addressed to his head servant. Extensive as are the concerns of Boaz, the poor stranger whom the Lord hath led there is not forgotten. Happy indeed is such prosperity as this! The heart is not lifted up, the spirit is not made selfish and arrogant. There is a tender care for the poor maintained amidst the enjoyments and luxuries of wealth. Thus the Saviour comes to visit His earthly field, and calls the servants whom He has set over it to account for their charge. His ministers watch for souls as they who must give an account. Not the poorest stranger is unnoticed or forgotten by Him. Jesus may be considered as asking His ministers continually, of one and another in their flock, "Who is that?" What a dying reflection was that of the eminent Archbishop Williams in the reign of Charles I.: "I have passed through many places of honour and trust, both in Church and State, more than any of my order in England, this seventy years before. But were I assured that by my preaching I had converted but one soul unto God, I should take therein more spiritual joy and comfort than in all the honours and offices which have been bestowed upon me." This question of Boaz brings us to the reply which the servant makes. He is not inquired of in vain. He has made himself acquainted with the whole history of Ruth. And in giving his account he uses great skill and kindness in setting forth the advantageous circumstances of her case. He tells of her origin; of her return, her emigration from Moab to Israel; of her need — her poverty compelled her to beg permission to glean; of her gentle humility; of her perseverance. His account is marked by the evidence of the utmost kindness and compassion. When we think of this as an illustration of the account we may give of some daughters of the Lord Almighty who are committed to our charge, how appropriate seems the whole story. To create and maintain a familiar and intimate acquaintance with the members of the flock committed to him is a most important instrument of usefulness to a faithful pastor. The whole influence and value of his ministry will be greatly dependent on this knowledge of his people. Suppose I could say of all the youthful females in the field around me, as each one severally appeared for my account, "This also was a daughter of Moab, but she has come back." How applicable to them would become Paul's account of the Corinthian Christians, "Such were you, but ye have been washed, ye have been justified, ye have been sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." She has come back. The answer of the servant of Boaz leads us to Boaz's own address to the lonely stranger. How kindly and freely he welcomes her to his ample provisions! And lest she should not understand the openness of his invitation, he calls her attention particularly to this fact of her entire welcome to every provision there. The Saviour's grace is thus open and free. Whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. Here are abundant supplies of all that you can desire or ask; and all given without recompense or hope of return from you. He urges her to remain in the field to which the gracious providence of God had sent her: "Go not to glean in another field." Our gracious Kinsman feels equally jealous of any partnership or competition in His work of grace for you. He lets you know that if you attempt to be saved in any other way Christ shall profit you nothing. There is salvation in none other. There is no field in which you can gather happiness, and rest, and abiding peace, but the field of Christ. Well may we apply to you Boaz's address, "Go not from hence. Abide here fast by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them." Nothing is more important for your religious character than appropriate religious society. The examples and influence of faithful people of God are a precious help to you in your Christian course. Be the companion always of those who fear God, and turn away your feet from the paths of evil men. The landmarks among these various fields, which separate them from the field which the Lord hath blessed, may not be always perfectly distinct and apparent to you. Try no experiment how far you may go towards these strange fields and return in safety. Dwell in the heart of the land, and make the fact always sure, that you are with the Lord and His chosen flock. Here you have every promise of protection and supply. Your gracious Kinsman has charged His ministers to help and guide you, not to hurt or hinder you. Ruth's humble and grateful answer to her unknown kinsman may conclude our present thoughts. "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?" What deep humility! What consciousness of need! What confession of her own unworthiness! What affectionate gratitude for the kindness he has displayed! It is just so that the loving-kindness of the Lord humbles the pardoned sinner to the dust.
Hath continued even from the morning until now
Ruth had spent no more time under covert than was absolutely necessary for enabling her to return to her labours. "It is vain to rise up early and sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows." We ought to consult our health in carrying on our labours, and not to make them a burden too heavy for us to bear. When covetous desires of gain induce men to overwork their powers, they sacrifice their health to Mammon, whom they have chosen for their God. But Ruth was labouring for her mother as well as herself. Her love to Naomi would give her spirits and strength to endure the heat of the climate.
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