The Book of Ruth

The Bible Monthly vol. 3



We now turn to trace the history of Ruth, the believer in God, among His people, and in the place where God would have her, viz. Bethlehem-Judah, the ‘‘house of bread.’’ This brings her to have to do with Boaz, who comes before us as the type of Christ acting in grace. How significant is the aspect of Boaz which the Spirit presents to us in verse 1, of chapter ii.!


Ruth has given up everything—land, parents, brethren, friends, temporal possessions, and the idol god of her early years. She has given up everything as a believer in Jehovah, and has come out from it all to Bethlehem-Judah, in complete dependence on Himself. And how does that God in whom she is trusting respond to her faith? Oh! the blessedness of His faithfulness.

He brings Ruth into touch with Boaz, ‘‘a mighty man of wealth.’’ This was just what she needed. He is so rich, he has everything, he can supply all her need, yea, all her desires.

Believer, is not this also our experience? Have we given up the world for His sake? He has then filled us with joy and delight in believing.

Have we lost old worldly friends? The Lord Himself has been our Friend and companion every step of our Christian pathway. Have we given up any earthly prospects or advantages for His sake? He has filled our souls with the vision of all the glory laid up for us in association with Himself, when He shall call us to leave this world, and go to be for ever with Him where He is. Christ Jesus is indeed a ‘‘ mighty Man of wealth.’”’ For all that we have given up for His sake, He has given us a hundred-fold more in the knowledge of His love, and His sufficiency to meet the need, and satisfy the affections of our souls.


The request of Ruth to be allowed to go and glean is beautiful in its spiritual significance. She is in the midst of God’s people, and in that company, she desires to glean of that by which they are all nourished, and sustained. This is a beautiful picture of the soul of the believer, who desires, in fellowship with God’s people, to glean all that he may of spirituual food. The heart has tasted the good things of God, and the desire now is to enter more into those things, and to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Such is ever the effect of entering, even a little, into the knowledge of the love of God.

With this desire in her heart, Ruth goes forth to glean. The field is before her, an active scene, the reapers busy in every direction, reaping the rich harvest of the soil. Where shall she go? The opportunity to gather food seems equal in every direction ; she goes, she knows not why, to that part of the field which belongs to Boaz. It was ‘‘ her hap to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz,’’ so runs the sacred record.

So far as she was concerned, it was just chance that took her to that particular portion of the field, but God was over tuling for His child. He saw the heart that desired to know more of Himself, He knew her need for guidance into that association, where a rich harvest of spiritual truth might be gleaned, and He guided the feet of Ruth to the field of Boaz.

Thus does God ever guide the one whose heart is longing to know Him more deeply, into that place, and into that com pany of His people, where He can feed their souls and reveal Himself to them in all His love and grace.

He guided Ruth to that one, who typically sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom God has been pleased to make Himself known; so, for a moment, we leave her to glean in God’s field of His bounty.

Boaz in his Field

Boaz comes down to see how the reapers are working. His quick eye marks the presence of Ruth busily gleaning in his field. The Lord never overlooks even the least member of His flock. He turns to the servant set over his reapers with the question, ‘‘ Whose damsel is this?’? In reply, the servant relates who she is, and how she came to be there that day.

How full of importance is this for us as the servants of Christ! Boaz asked his question, and he expected to receive in answer the information he desired. It was the duty of his servant to be in a position to answer his lord’s question concerning this one who was seeking fellowship among God’s people.

And this, I think, illustrates our responsibility with regard to those strangers who seek our company, as the children of God. We are responsible to God to find out who they are, and why they seek our company.

It may be they have known the Lord, and desire to know Him more, and to do so in fellowship with His people. It may be that the heart of the stranger who has come amongst us is seeking a place of rest with God’s people, apart from all the follies and distractions of the world. It may be he has only just come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, and the desire is to know Him and His love much more, Have we allowed such to come into our meetings and to pass out again, without seeking to come into contact with them? Alas! how often has the stranger who loves the Lord, passed out of our place of meeting as sad, as spiritually hungry, and as unnoticed as he came in. The love of Christ, in any one of us, has not been sufficient to move us to greet the stranger who sought our company, and to enquire of him if he knew the Lord, and was hungering in his soul for spiritual food and spiritual fellowship.

Verily, my beloved brethren, we have greatly failed in this matter, and the believing strangers have not received at our hands, that love and fellowship to which they were entitled.

Having heard the answer of his servant, Boaz turns to Ruth and speaks to her himself. He would make himself known personally. How like our Lord this is! Ruth has heard of him; now she is to know him personally. How our blessed Lord desires to lead the soul of every believer to know Him by faith as a living Person: not only to know and believe about Him, but to have Himself living before the soul of each one of His own.

The Field of Boaz, not another

Mark now his advice to her, ‘‘Go not to glean in any other field,’ etc. Why this advice? Just for this reason. Boaz was master in his own field. He could protect her there, and he could give her all that his kindness moved him to give her, out of his abundance. Moreover, he could there have fellowship with her, and she with him.

How blessedly this brings out the heart of the Lord for His own! He desires that we should stay in His field, that is, in fellowship with Himself and among His people, and this, because, being found in these conditions, He can there Protect us, and minister to our souls out of His great sufficiency, and have fellowship with us and we with Him.

Boaz urges Ruth not to go from his field, and this because in another field, he would not be the master, and he could not protect her and minister to her in that field, as he could in his own.

Let us ever find our happy fellowship among the people of God, and not be found seeking happiness in association with the world,

In verse 9 Boaz gives her further advice, ‘‘ Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap,’’ etc. How needful for her was this. She might have stayed in his field, and yet her eyes might have been on some other field, which seemed more attractive, and her heart would soon have followed, and the affections would have been won for what was outside the field of Boaz.

How like this are many Christians to-day! They are in the Lord’s field and among His people, but their eyes are looking out upon the world and its pleasures and attractions ; their affections are following their eyes. What does Boaz say? ‘‘ Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap.”

Yes, the eye must be fixed on the Lord, and on all the blessing which may be had in association with Himself. Then that Blessed One, in all His perfect love and marvellous sufficiency, will hold and captivate the affection of His people, and thus they will be saved from going out in their affection to the world in any way. As the eye is then fixed upon Him, and the affections are engaged with Him, He will reveal Himself more and more to the soul.

Water for the Thirsty

How beautiful too, is the provision made for the refreshing of this new believer in God! Boaz directs Ruth to the water that the young men have drawn, and bids her drink freely if and when she is thirsty. The servants of Boaz, acting typically as the servants of Christ, have drawn that, and have that in their midst, which will livingly refresh this new member of their community.

How beautiful and how solemn is the thought for us! If we have real affection for the Lord, and are faithful as His servants, there will always be that in our midst, which can, and will, refresh the soul of every new convert, as he, or she, comes into the circle of fellowship. It ought not to be possible for any child of God to go into the company of God’s people and not be refreshed. ‘That His children should come among us thirsting for the Lord’s things and go away unrefreshed, is greatly to our shame. It shows most clearly that the Lord is not living in our affections as He desires to do.

This gracious act on the part of Boaz leads Ruth to ask him why he thus deals with her in so gracious a manner, and elicits the answer that Boaz has learned how that she has, in earthly matters, behaved herself towards Naomi in a highly commendable way, and what is most blessed, has been brought to give up idolatry, and to trust in God, and he concludes by invoking the blessing of Jehovah upon her.

As we think of Boaz acting as Christ here, we see how the Lord watches the soul, as it turns from all its sin and idolatry to have faith in the living God, and how the Lord is concerned and interested in such an one, and would come out as the Blesser of that one, who has put all trust in Him.

Parched Corn for the Hungry

Boaz now looks to her needs, and out of his abundance he supplies her needs, ‘‘ He reached her parched corn and she did eat and was sufficed, and left.’’” How blessedly true is this in the experience of the Christian! Our Lord is ever ministering to the needs of our souls, ever supplying us with that which will sustain us, and that which He gives, not only meets our needs, but there is that left which we can use to meet the need of another. Naomi, too, fed (verse 18) on what was left of the parched corn, that Boaz gave to Ruth. So it is with us. That, which we have received of God, in Christ, not only delights and sustains our souls, but without loss to ourselves, yea, rather with real gain, we can pass on to others who may thus also have joy and sustenance in these things.

Naomi enquires of Ruth where she has gleaned, and is informed that she has gleaned in the fields of Boaz (i.e. typically, in Christ’s field).

This suggests the question, “Where are we gleaning?” Are we gathering all that the Spirit enables us to gather in the field of Christ? Are we, day by day, seeking to know more and more of that Blessed One, and to enter more and more into all the fulness that there is in Him, for the believer? Is our mind richly stored with the word of God? Or, are we seeking to satisfy ourselves by feeding upon the things of the world? Are we hugging to ourselves the poor pleasures of this world, and despising and turning aside from all those deep and spiritual delights that may be found in Christ? We do well to ask ourselves at times, “Where have I gleaned to-day?”

Boaz gave command to let fall handfuls of corn, especially for Ruth. This is most beautiful! It just brings out how the Lord in a very special and blessed way, reveals Himself to the heart that is truly desirous of gleaning in His fields, i.e. of knowing Him livingly in the affections.

Ruth gathered and then beat out. This is most important. In the beating out, all the chaff was separated from the good corn, We need to beat out. That which we read and hear in God’s things, often does us but little good, because we do not beat it out, and seek to separate all that is contrary to God’s mind from that which is in accordance with His mind. Again, too, this ‘‘ beating out’’ may teach us that the deep things of God, and the deep truths of His word, are only revealed to those who diligently seek for them.

J. B. R.