Ruth 3

Naomi, as we have said, presents us an example not only of experience, but also of intelligence. How fortunate for Ruth to find such a guide! Naomi commands, but her orders are in no way irksome, for they are the commandments of love. "My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?" (v. 1). That which she directs she does in view of her beloved Ruth's well-being, but also because she knows the heart of Boaz: "Is not Boaz of our kindred?" Ruth, the woman of faith, obeys: "She . did according to all that her mother-in-law had bidden her" (v. 6). May we obey in the same way. Obedience is easy to those who know that God loves them and desires only their rest and well-being, that Christ loves them and constantly bears them on His heart. But obedience becomes difficult when the soul aims to satisfy itself and to find happiness outside of Christ.

Boaz's labor was approaching its end. After the grain had been harvested he must winnow it in the threshing floor and then he would gather it into his barns. His heart was merry; would he drive the poor Moabite girl away? Naomi is full of confidence and is able to indicate the pathway of blessing to Ruth. "Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thyself, and put thy raiment upon thee, and go down to the floor; make not thyself known to the man until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lies down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall have lain down, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thyself down; and he will show thee what thou shalt do" (vv. 3-4). Ruth must prepare herself for this encounter; she is to lie down at his feet and wait for his word. This will characterize also the poor remnant of Israel who will be found faithful at the moment when the Messiah will arise after their long night of waiting. But, I would ask, should not this character be ours too, for even greater reason? We have heard the call telling us to wash ourselves, to anoint ourselves, and to adorn ourselves for Him alone. Have we forgotten that voice? Where are we now? Have we gone into His threshing floor to spend the night or into the threshing floor of strangers? Have we answered like Ruth from the depths of our heart, "All that thou sayest will I do"? Yes, He desires that we should be worthy of Himself in a practical way, that lying down at His feet, acknowledging His rights over us, we should quietly, peacefully wait for His word throughout the night hours. Soon our Boaz will break His silence. Will it be to reproach us severely or to express His approval of our conduct?

In the middle of the night Boaz recognizes the woman who has placed herself under his protection and blesses her. The Book of Ruth, this tale of grace, is full of the blessings of the giver and of those who receive. Every heart rejoices from the moment that Boaz enters the scene. His presence stimulates praise and thanksgiving for around himself he sows the favors of grace. What infinite joy to be able to praise our Boaz! But is it not also a joy to receive, as Ruth did, the testimony of his satisfaction with regard to us? May we be eager for Christ's approval! It humbles us to think that we seek it so little. Men's praise inflates us but His praise never does. He approves us for what His infinite grace sees in us, and He sees in us that which His grace has produced and which answers to His thoughts.

Boaz praises Ruth because she had shown "more kindness at the end than at the first." She had first exercised love toward her mother-in-law who represented the people of God to her, and now she was acting out of love for Boaz. She had not gone after young men, poor or rich; she had not sought companions according to her natural inclinations, but she had come to him whose rights she acknowledged. He reassures her and promises to grant her all her requests (v. 11). What encouragement for believers! We receive everything from His grace, but He also gives us according to the measure of our obedience and according to the measure of our devotion to Him. "Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over!" (Luke 6: 38). As soon as Ruth had known Boaz she did everything with him in view; and now, he is doing everything for her. He is not satisfied simply not to be indebted to us; He desires to give to the faithful in heart according to all their needs.

"All the gate of my people knows that thou art a woman of worth." Ruth unites in herself the qualities of which the apostle Peter speaks, which make one neither idle nor unfruitful as regards the knowledge of the Lord. To her faith she adds virtue, and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, endurance; and to endurance, godliness. To brotherly love she adds love and shows more kindness at the end than at the first. And so she receives an abundant entrance into the kingdom. This faithfulness touches Boaz's heart: "All that thou sayest will I do to thee!" What an example for us! Let us be ambitious to receive an answer like this. The church of Philadelphia receives such an answer. She has kept Jesus' word, and like Ruth has walked in His patience and in practical holiness, and Jesus tells her: I will do everything for you! The Lord will also bless the poor Jewish remnant in the end times according to the virtue, holiness, and practical righteousness they will demonstrate in their ways. Today He blesses us in the same way: "Whatsoever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments, and practice the things which are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3: 22).

But there was an even nearer relative who had precedence over Boaz as to the right of redemption. Would he be willing, would he be able to avail himself of this right? We will come back to this. Meanwhile, Ruth has the privilege of continuing to lie down at Boaz's feet until morning. This will be the portion of the remnant and it is also ours. As long as the night lasts we can rest at His feet. Isn't this a blessed place-at His feet, enjoying His approval as to our walk, recipients and objects of His promises, filled with the assurance that He has heard us and that all the toil of this miserable life will soon end, giving place to the public manifestation of our relationship with Him and to the possession of the glorious fruit of His work!

Now it is Boaz (v. 14) who looks out for Ruth's reputation and vindicates the righteousness of the one whom he will make his companion. But before taking up her cause openly he fills her cloak with barley, secretly giving her the pledge of what he will do for her (v. 15). He acts in the same way toward us. The dawn is about to break, but before we can see Him and "recognize Him" He has already given us the Holy Spirit of promise as the earnest of our future inheritance.

Richly laden, Ruth returns to her mother-in-law and tells her, not what she has done for Boaz, but "all that the man had done to her." Her heart is full of him but she needs her mother-in-law's exhortation to patience. She will not have long to wait, for he who has taken her cause in hand will not delay to make it triumph. "The man will not rest until he have completed the matter this day," says Naomi. Why? Because he loves her. This is the great and the unique reason for His work on our behalf.

And we, my brothers, do we speak like Naomi? Do we have this blessed consciousness of the love of Jesus for us? Do we wait for Him as the One who will not rest until he will have completed the matter today? This "today" stands for the daily expectation of our Lord. He wants to have us with Himself. Yet a little patience, for He that is coming will come and will not delay!