Ruth from "The Numerical Bible"

The Book of Ruth, from "The Numerical Bible"

Book of Ruth is plainly a history of the times of the judges, while as
plainly it looks on to David and the kingdom. Thus it naturally stands
between Judges and Kings (Samuel). Its spiritual meaning as plainly
connects these together.

In its literal sense it shows us how, spite
of Israel’s failure, God’s salvation could go forward, even among the
Gentiles themselves. For He does not leave Himself without witness, and
where there is a heart susceptible to His grace, there will His grace
be found by it. Thus Ruth, this Gentile woman, and under the ban of the
law (a Moabitess), finds yet her place in the genealogy of Christ - is
one of those who can say, "To us a child is born, to us a son is given"
(Isa. ix. 6). Nor only this, but in this grace to her the Israelite
also is built up again out of his ruin: only through such grace as this
can the nation be at last restored and blessed.

The spiritual sense,
as it is founded upon the literal, follows this very closely. For
Judges having shown us the failure of the heavenly people (which
results on the one hand in the Lord gathering his own up to Himself in
heaven, and on the other in the rejection of the now lifeless
profession upon earth), Ruth shows us now the remnant of Israel coming
like a mere Gentile, all claim forfeited, and under the ban of the law,
converted, received, and built up in Christ (Boaz). And this prepares
us for the view of David and Solomon as the double type of Christ in
His coming kingdom.

For us also, Ruth may display the grace of God
in salvation to the Gentiles, going on through all the time of failure
depicted in the Judges. But the application here is only partial, and
needs to be used with care. It is only the working of God’s grace,
being always in principle the same, and ministering to the same need,
that makes the one case necessarily analogous to the other.

There are three divisions: which in a book so small as Ruth, and so connected, would class rather as sections.

Sec. 1. (Chap. i.) Left Alone.

1. (vs. 1-5) The barrenness of one's own way.

2. (6-18.) Separation and adherence

3. (19-22) The return to the land.

Sec. 2. (Chap. ii.) Help in humiliation: gleaning in the fields of him "in whom strength is."

1. (vs. 1-17) Power and grace.

2 (18-27.) Confirmation and progress: a glimpse of redemption

Sec. 3. (Chaps. iii., iv.) Redemption realized.

1. (iii) The claim of barreness.

2. (iv. I-8.) The legal kinsman

3. (9-22.) "The resurrection of the name upon the inheritance."


It has been already noticed that the place of Ruth, in the present Hebrew
canon, is quite different from that which it occupies in our own
arrangement, which is that of the Septuagint and of our common Bibles.
Enough has been said as to this, probably, there being nothing to
assure us of any divine warrant for the incongruous mixture of books in
the Kethubim, while the historical place of Ruth cannot be doubted. The
spiritual significance is in complete accordance with this also, as
will be perfectly evident as we go through the book.

the place of Ruth is clearly that of a supplement to Judges, - it not
being meant by this that its lesson is of inferior importance, which,
being the salvation side, it cannot be. Judges, as we have seen, has
given us the failure of the heavenly people, - of Christianity, looked
at as a dispensation. It is not, of course, meant that God’s purposes
in it could fail. He never ordained it to "bud and blossom, and fill
the face of the earth with fruit’’; but has expressly assured us that
Israel shall do so. (Isa. xxvii. 6.) Of course people may, if they
will, say that Christians are the true Israel of God, and inherit their
promises; but the passage cannot be found in which Scripture asserts
this. On the contrary, it is just the apostle of the Gentiles, after
Christianity as a dispensation had already begun, who tells us that to
Israelites his "kindred according to the flesh" - as if he would not
allow any escape from his assertion - "pertain the adoption, and the
glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of
God, and the promises" (Rom. ix. 3,4), - manifestly the Old Testament
ones. Thus nothing can he much plainer than that Isaiah’s words refer
to no other than the nation now for their sins broken off and disowned.
Israel’s blessings are all upon earth. Christians are "blessed with all
spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus." (Epl. i. 3.)

are therefore taught "to wait for the Son of God from heaven," and that
"those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" shall
then, together with the dead saints raised, "be caught up to meet the
Lord in the air," and so, it is added, "shall we be ever with the
Lord." (1 Thess. i. 10; iv. 15-17.) But this by no means ends the
history of the world: it is plainly beyond this that Israel’s promises
are to find their fulfillment. "For I would not have you ignorant,"
says the apostle again, ‘‘that blindness in part is happened unto
Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all
Israel shall be saved." (Rom. xi. 25, 26.) That is to say, when God’s
purpose in the gathering of the Gentile Church shall be accomplished,
and its number therefore complete, Israel will pass out of thier
present condition of partial blindness into, that of a people all holy
(see Isa. iv.), a nation wholly the Lord’s, such as has never yet been
seen. For this, then, plainly, the present. dispensation must have
passed away: "as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the
Deliverer, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my
covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins." (vs. 26, 27.)
Read that new covenant in Jeremiah (xxxi. 33, 34), and how plainly does
this new condition of the people appear! "But this shall be the
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days,
saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it
in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his
brother, saying, Know the Lord:" - just what we are doing now, - " for
they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of
them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
remember their sin no more."

Thus, indeed, shall "all Israel" in
that day "be saved." But what will accomplish this? "The comming of the
Deliverer out of Zion," replies the apostle. But is not Christ the
Deliverer? - and has He not come? Yes; but not "out of Zion." He has
come out of Bethlehem. and out of Nazareth, and, thank God, out of the
grave also; but not yet out of Zion: for Zion is the royal city.
David’s city; and when the King of kings reigns there, then, indeed,
shall Israel’s deliverance be accomplished. Clearly it stands written,
that Israel’s conversion nationally shall never be completed "until,"
says their gracious Lord, "they shall look upon Me whom they have
pierced; and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son:
. . . in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of
David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for
uncleanness." (Zech. xii. 10; xiii. 1.)

Now if one ask still, May
not this he accomplished without any personal coming of Christ, by the
preaching of the gospel? - the answer is given in Revelation (i. 7):
"Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they
who pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of
Him." This is just Zechariah’s prophecy, and "all kindreds of the
earth" is exactly what might be rendered "all the tribes of the land."

it is when He comes in a way visible to all, that Israel will, as a
whole, find forgiveness and blessedness: then, and not before.
Nationally, they will not be converted by any preaching of the gospel
now, and so says the apostle, again, "As concerning the gospel, they
are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are
beloved for the fathers’ sakes: for the gifts and calling of God are
without repentance."

The change of dispensation, then, is obvious,
when Israel is brought back; and the book of Zechariah, in the context
of the passages quoted, and with many another prophecy, shows us that
there will be a time of trouble, out of which they will be delivered
only by the Lord’s appearing, and which will be the time of their
travail and new birth. In the midst of this it will be that a remnant
which at last becomes the nation, will have their preparation, and in
poverty and need find their way to Christ. This remnant, in their
search and finding, have their fitting symbol in Ruth the Gentile: for
on the ground of Gentile grace alone can they stand. For nearly two
thousand years they have rejected the Lord: they have abode, according
to Hosea’s prophecy, "without a king, and without a prince, and without
a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without
teraphim," - Gentiles in practical condition, disowning and disowned of
God; with an empty profession, however which may enable us to
understand their picture to be that of the Moabitess. All the fitness
of the history so allegorized will appear as we take it up in detail,
until in Boaz is found the Kinsman-Redeemer, in union with whom riches
and establishment are found. This, too, is our Redeemer; and many a
precious view of Him shall we enjoy as we go through the book. To
Israel is, as has been said, the first application; and the only way of
true profit as to all Scripture is in maintain- ing the divinely
intended meaning. Among the sheaves there will be found, for us as for
Ruth, much more than a gleaning.


SECTION 1. (Chap. 1.)

Left Alone.

in her faithlessness, her exile from her land, her widowed condition,
is first presented to us in Naomi. All is in ruin with her: she is
bereaved and desolate. To her, however, Ruth attaches herself; to share
her fortunes. The meaning of this will be found in Micah (ch. v. 3).
Israel’s travail-time of sorrow is there referred to - the fruit, on
the one hand, of the gathering of the nations against Zion (ch. iv. 11,
sq.); but, in a deeper sense, the fruit of the Judge of Israel having
been smitten on the cheek (v. 1). Then we have, parenthetically, the
glory of the insulted Judge: it is He who comes forth out of Bethlehem
to be Ruler in Israel. This is the passage that the scribes quoted to
Herod in answer to the question of the wise men at the birth of Christ;
but they did not go on to speak of the great glory that is revealed
here as His: "whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting."
He is Israel’s divine-human King, yet rejected: and being rejected, He
rejects: "therefore doth He give them up." Here is the secret of their
condition as a nation since, - a secret still, to them, alas, though so
plainly declared; and here is the reason of their final sorrows. But
there is a limit: He cannot always give them up: His promises to the
fathers must find their fulfillment; so it is added, "He shall give
then, up, until." What is the limit? -"until she which travaileth has
brought forth." Their sorrows are the birth-throes of a people, to be
born as in one day; and "then shall the remnant of His brethren return
unto the children of Israel."

What this last statement means should
not now be difficult. If we have but intelligently grasped the
Scriptures that have been before us, it will be plain that those whom
the Lord counts His brethren, that is, those who do the will of His
Father which is in heaven (Matt. xii. 50), have, during the time of His
rejection of Israel, been outside of Israel. Even Jews by birth, when
converted to Christ, and baptized of the Spirit into one body,
necessarily give up Jewish hopes, although for better ones.

however, the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, and this part of
God’s purposes has found its consummation, then Israel will be again,
and more really than ever, the people of God; and those who are
brethren of the King (according to the standpoint of the prophet,
Israelite-born) will return to Israelite hopes and heritage.

Now if
Naomi stand for Israel as connected with her sorrowful past, and yet
with the land to which she is returning, we can easily see in Ruth’s
clinging to her the return just spoken of; of the children of the King.
Yet, at first, all seems wrecked and hopeless: the return is in
bitterness and sorrow: then comes the gleaning in strange
harvest-fields, where the Lord of the harvest is met and becomes known
in His bounty; and finally, redemption, and marriage-songs: and by
Ruth, through the grace of Boaz, Naomi is "built up."

1. (vs. 1-5) The barrenness of one's own way.

it was in the days that the judges ruled, and there was a famine in the
land. And there went a man of Bethlehem-judah to sojourn in the country
of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. And the man’s name was
Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi, and the names of his two
sons, Mahlon and Chilion: Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came
into the country of Moab and continued there. And Elimelech, the
husband of Naomi, died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they
took them Moabitish wives: the name of the one was Orpah,and the name
of the second, Ruth; and they dwelt there about ten years. And they
died both of them, Mahlon and Chilion: and the woman was left of her
two children and of her husband.

(i.) Fixing our eyes, then, upon
Naomi as the central figure at the first, we find that her name is
"pleasant," - a terrible contrast, as she realizes it, to the Lord’s
dealings with her. Her husband is Elimelech, "my God," or, in the form
here, "my Mighty One is King." Another contrast: for a famine in the
land makes him leave it for the heathen land adjoining, and there he

Thus Israel, self-exiled from her land through unbelief, - for
the famine would not suffice for one who had heard the promise, "Dwell
in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed," - has lost her enjoyed
faith as well as her land and is in Moab, the place of mere profession.

names of the sons - Mahlon and Chilion - have been quite differently,
indeed oppositely, interpreted: generally, in accordance with their
brief lives, Mahlon as "sick," and Chihion as "pining." But it has been
urged against this that in this sense they would be unlikely names
enough to be bestowed by their parents in their happier days; and it
might he urged more conclusively that they are not in keeping with
those of their father and mother, both of them in contrast with their
after-lot. Cassel proposes, therefore, to derive Mahlon (properly,
Maclon) from machol, a "circle-dance" and Chilion from calal, to
"crown," - thus "crowned." A third view is possible: that there may be
a real ambiguity in the words, which we are intended to leave there,
and which points the contrast between the beginning and the end in a
way quite easy to be understood.

The names of the wives - Ruth and
Orpah - are similarly in dispute. Orpah is taken by most to be the same
Ophrah, "a fawn," but this is merely conjectural. Without the
transposition it could hardly mean anything in Hebrew but "her neck,"
literally "the back of her neck"; and to give the back of the neck
means to turn the back, either in stubbornness or in flight. Orpah’s
desertion of her mother-in-law cannot but make us incline to such a

Ruth can only be understood as having a letter omitted
by contraction. If this be an aleph, then it means "appearance," which
has been freely taken as "beauty." if the letter dropped be ain, then
it is taken as "friendship, female friend." This seems to agree with
the story, but certainly adds nothing to it; while with a similar
derivation it may mean "tended," as by a shepherd: this would seem
every way appropriate.

That in the generation of Israel, to which
Ruth typically belongs, there will be a portion that will turn their
back upon the true national hopes and heritage, becoming finally
apostate followers of Antichrist, is plainly predicted in the prophets.
Orpah would naturally stand for these, as Ruth for the true remnant.
Both widowed, - their first hopes ended, in the time of their distress
they turn their several ways, and are separated forever.

2. (6-18.) Separation and adherence.

she arose, she and her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the
country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab that Jehovah
had visited his people to give them bread. And she went forth from the
place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and as
they were going on the way to return to the land of Judah, Naomi said
unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each to her mother’s house;
Jehovah deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with
me: Jehovah grant you that ye may find rest, each in the house of her
husband. And she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
And they said unto her, [Nay,] but we will return with thee unto thy
people. And Naomi said, Return, my daughters: why will ye go with me;
are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
Return, my daughters, go; for I am too old to have a husband. If I
should say, I have hope, should I even have a husband to-night, and
should I also bear sons, would ye then tarry till they were grown?
Would ye stay on that account from having husbands? Nay, my daughters;
for I am in much more bitterness than you: for Jehovah’s hand is gone
out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again; and
Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave to her. And she said,
Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back to her people and to her gods:
return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, lntreat me not to
leave thee, nor to return from following after thee: for whither thou
goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall
be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest I will die, and
there will I be buried: Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if aught
but death part thee and me. And when she saw that she was steadfastly
minded to go with her, she ceased speaking to her."

(ii.) This is
what we have in the next sub-section. Naomi, hopeless as to herself,
yet drawn by her affections, sets her face to return to Bethlehem from
the country of Moab. But she is unbelieving and bitter of soul, and
manifests that strange self-contradiction which, in such states, is so
common an experience. Herself on her way back to the land of which she
had heard that Jehovah had visited His people to give them bread, she
sees nothing for her daughters-in-law but that they must return to
their people and to their gods, and prays Jehovah to give them rest,
each in the house of a heathen husband! This is the confusion of a
darkened soul; for in darkness all is confusion. All that she is clear
about is the ruin in which she is, and she can give counsel of nothing
but her despair. Orpah, after a faint resistance, goes back; but with
Ruth neither precept nor example can avail to turn her heart from the
pursuit of what appeals to her with a power above all difficulties. It
is truly with the heart that man believeth and how manifest is the
heart in that touching devotion of hers! "Entreat me not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will
go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge: thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God."

This is not the language of natural affection
simply, that stops short of this last. And where this can be said,
though it may come in in a subsidiary way, yet it cannot be a secondary
thing. The faith of Ruth is, indeed, a beautiful thing to contemplate;
and a striking proof of how that which God has planted can flourish in
the midst of contrary circumstances and oppositions of all kinds. How
little does Naomi here commend her God of whom Ruth speaks! The famine
in Bethlehem, mocking it as the "house of bread"; the withdrawal of
Elimelech, denying what his name expressed; his death; the Moabitish
marriages, one of them her own; then the quick widowhoods; how the
mother-in-law’s appeal to go back, as Orpah had gone back, to her
people and her gods: this is all we know of her surroundings, but which
of them is favourable faith? Ah, it is God that favours it and upholds
it and all the opposition only rouses it into a passion of longing and
resolve. There might be little encouragement: was there not all the
more a deep and deepening necessity, which found only in Israel’s God
the possibility of satisfaction, if not yet the satisfaction itself?
Could such longing go without satisfaction, or could He who alone could
meet it be a dream, or afar off from the need created?

And thus will
a remnant be drawn to the God of Israel in times now surely drawing
nigh, when around them faith will have vanished from the earth, when
darkness covers it, and gross darkness the peoples. (Isa. lx. 2.)
Brethren of the King, though as yet little deeming themselves that,
they will cleave to the nation in its sorrows and widowhood, and
following it be drawn into the land.

3. (19-22) The return to the land.

they two went on till they came to Bethlehem; and so it was, when they
came to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they
said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me
Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went, out
full, and Jehovah hath brought me home again empty. Why call ye me
Naomi, when Jehovah hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath
done evil to me? So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her
daughter-in-law, with her, that returned out of the country of Moab;
and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley-harvest.

So Naomi returns, and Ruth with her, at present only to feel the
bitterness of this return. She owns that Jehovah has brought her back
empty, and that in doing this He has testified against her. But there
is no light beyond. No Father’s arms welcome her. No Father’s house
opens to let her in. She comes back, as Israel will come back, to have
the finger pointed at her, and the question uttered aloud, is this
Naomi? And yet the cry, "I have sinned." is heard; and Bethlehem shall
answer to its name. The fields are white, and the reapers ready: it is
the beginning of barley-harvest.

SECTION 2. (Chap. ii.)

Help in humiliation: gleaning in the field of him "in whom strength is."

the next section we have help found for Ruth, and are introduced to the
redeemer Boaz, the plain figure of Christ. Not at once is redemption
found, however, nor even known about. Ruth is at first merely a gleaner
in his fields, soon learning, indeed, his bounty, and receiving from
his hand, but in humiliation. It is a middle state that souls often
pass through, before the realization of redemption; and with Israel’s
remnant in the day to come, such a gradual dawning of light, as to
Christ, and their relationship to Him is natural, if not inevitable.
The story of Joseph’s brethren presents this to us from the side of
conscience and their guilt in relation to him. Ruth gives us rather the
attraction of heart with light gradually breaking in - a gentler and
quieter story, though not without connection with the older one.

1. (vs. 1-17) Power and grace.

Naomi had a kinsmnan of her husband, a mighty man of valour, of the
family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said
unto Naomi, Let me go now to the field, and glean amomg the ears of
corn after him in whose eyes I shall find favour. And she said unto
her, Go, my daughter. So she went; and she came and gleaned in the
field after the reapers; and her hap was to light upon the portion of
the field which belonged to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and he said unto tho reapers,
Jehovah be with you. And they answered him, Jehovah bless thee. And
Boaz said 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, Let me glean, I pray you, and gather
after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came and continued from the
morning even until now: her sitting in the house hath been but little.
And Boaz said unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean
in another field, neither go from hence; but abide here with my
maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they reap, and go thou
after them: have I not charged the young men not to touch thee? And
when thou thirstest, 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 favour in thine eyes,
that thou shouldst regard me, and I a stranger? And Boaz answered and
said unto her, It hath been fully shown me, all that thou hast done to
thy mother-in-law, since the death of thy husband, and that thou hast
left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy birth, and art come
unto a people that thou knewest not heretofore. Jehovah recompense thy
doing, and may thy reward be full from Jehovah the God of Israel, under
whose wings thou art come to take refuge. And she said, Let me find
favour in thine eyes, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for
that thou last spoken to the heart of thy handmaid, though I be not
like one of thy handmaidens. And Boaz said unto her at meal-time, Come
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 satisfied, and left [some] over. And when she arose to
glean, Boaz charged his young men, saying, Let her glean even between
the sheaves, and reproach her not; and draw out also out of the
bundles, and leave it for her to glean, and check her not. So she
gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out what she had gleaned;
and it was about an ephah of barley.

(i.) First, we are made to
know, though Ruth yet knows not, of Boaz and the relationship of Naomi
to him. Boaz means "in him is strength," and he is spoken of as a
mighty man of valour, - not of wealth, as in the common version, though
the word may mean "wealth"; but not so probably in the connection in
which it stands. It is the same expression which is used of the
deliverers in the book of Judges, and has a good reason for its place
in this sense here. The wealth which Christ has for the needy has
indeed been attained by conflict; for though he was "rich" from
eternity who "for our sakes became poor," yet the "riches of His grace"
had to be acquired before they could be bestowed. It is fit that we
should be reminded here, first, of all, of that accomplished warfare
into the fruits of which we enter, though this be not the subject of
the book. Thus "in Him is stength" for our redemption.

Notice that
Boaz is strictly a relation of Elimelech only, and through him it is
that Naomi has any claim. Israel has no relationship to Christ except
through the faith that Elimelech represents. In fact, and on this
account, it is only through Ruth that Naomi can claim; but this will
come before us later. Of all this she knows nothing yet.

But it is
harvest, and Ruth proposes to go into the fields and glean, - a humble
occupation and a poor one, but where, in the mercy that charicterized
the law, the poor and the stranger had special rights. These
harvest-fields lead us once more to think of that work of Christ, the
death of the corn of wheat, whereby the bread of life has been provided
for us. Nature is full of its testimony to Him, - fuller than even His
people ever cared to know.

But what a harvest-field is there in
Scripture for us! And is it not true that, as surely as the whole of it
is open to us now, so surely will the remnant of Israel, brought in
after the Church is gone from earth, have but the gleanings? May not
this even be a rightful application of the statute as to the gleaner,
coming where it does amid the "set times" of Leviticus xxiii.? May not
there be room left for a double application of such a principle?

gleaning in the field brings Ruth into contact with the master of the
field; and so it is with the precious word of God when sought as food
for the soul: it brings us into the presence of Him, before whose eyes
"all things are naked and open" and who delights to minister to the
necessity thus making itself manifest. How tender is His desire toward
the seekers of the living bread that they should "go not to glean in
another field, nor go from hence"! How soon do they find provision made
for the inevitable thirst! How they are made to realize that here is
One with knowledge of all their ways, and all the path by which they
have come to where they are! Then there is nearer intimacy: we begin to
learn what it is to take from His hand and to eat with Him till we are
sufficed, and have something over. Then the gleaning goes on with more
boldnesss and with more success: there is again and again what must
have been dropped on purpose for us, until we find we have quite a
store of precious grain. All this is the common history of seeking
souls; while yet rest is not found, nor redemption known, nor relation
established with the Lord of the harvest.

2 (18-27.) Confirmation and progress: a glimpse of redemption.

she took it up, and went into the city, and showed her mother-in-law
what she had gleaned; and she brought out and gave her what she had
left over after she was satisfied. And her mother in law said her,
Where hast thou gleaned today and where hast thou wrought? Blessed be
he that regarded thee. And she told her mother-in-law with whom she had
worked, and said, The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz. And
Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of Jehovah, who hath
not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said
unto her, The man is related to us, one of our redeemers. And Ruth the
Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep with my young
men, until they have finished all my harvest. And Naomi said unto Ruth
her daughter-in-law, It is well, my daughter, that thou go out with his
maidens, that they come not upon thee in another field. So she kept
with the maidens of Boaz to glean until the end of barley harvest, and
of wheat harvest. And she abode with her mother in law.

(ii.) It is
from her mother-in-law that Ruth learns presently as to the man with
whom she has found favour; but the knowledge she gains is, after all,
indefinite. There is some relationship, she learns, and he is one of
our redeemers, - a phrase which shows how little she has to give that
is intelligent or that can be laid hold of. Joseph’s brethren are long,
as we have seen, before they know with whom they have to do, and who
knows them so well, and learn from his own lips that he is Joseph. It
is a secret that can only be learnt from his own lips. For the remnant,
attaching themselves to Israel’s hopes and going back along the lines
of Israel’s history, it seems as if there would be much groping in the
darkness before the light will dawn. They look upon Him whom they have
pierced, only when He comes manifestly to all. Yet He has been with
them as with Nathaniel before they see Him; and the Lord’s words in the
great prophecy of Matthew xxiv. seem clearly to imply that there will
be those in Judea before He appears who will listen to his voice and
obey Him. Are we to make a distinction here between different classes?
- those with less light and those with more - or is it true of all that
they will be under the fog of Jewish teaching, learning from the
mother-in-law, and counting him but as "one of their redeemers"?

Ruth, however, is brought into connection with Boaz; for the grace that
is in him to make deeper impression continuously upon her. She abides
through the barley-harvest and through the wheat-harvest following.
That which is gathered becomes naturally more valuable. But as to her
own relations there is no change: Boaz is a kinsman, - one of her
redeemers, and her home - a poor one yet - is with her mother-in-law.

SECTION 3. (Chap. iii., iv.)

Redemption realized.

is now to be changed for Ruth; and thus, also, for Naomi. What follows
is based upon two laws in Israel: the law as to the redemption of an
inheritance (Lev. xxv. 25), and that of raising up a brother’s name on
his inheritance (Deut. xxv 5-12), - things which are here brought
together, and which in application to Israel belong clearly together.
Heir and inheritance, in their case, need alike to be redeemed; yea,
and the name of the dead raised up, which is accomplished for Israel by
a true spiritual resurrection, the breath of a new life breathed into
them, as in Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones (ch. xxxvii). In Ruth the
story is, indeed, differently told, but it is essentially the same, and
here has a tenderness and beauty all its own.

1. (iii) The claim of barreness.

Naomi, her mother-in-law, said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek
a resting-place for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now, is
not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? behold, he
winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor. Wash thyself;
therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and go down
to the floor; [but] let not thyself be known to the man till be have
done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that
thou shalt mark the place where he hath lain down, and thou shalt go
and uncover the place at his feet, and lay thee down; and he shall tell
thee what thou shalt do. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest
unto me I will do. And she went down to the floor, and did according to
all that her mother-in-law had bidden her.

And Boaz had eaten and
drunk and his heart was merry, and he went to lie down at the end of
the heap of corn. And she came softly, and uncovered the place at his
feet, and laid her down. And it came to pass that at midnight the man
was startled and turned, and behold, a woman lying at his feet. And he
said, Who art thou? And she said, I am Ruth thy handmaid: spread then
thy wing over thy handmaid, for thou art a redeemer. And he said,
Blessed be thou of Jehovah, my daughter: thou hast shown more kindness
at the end than at the first, inasmuch as thou followedst not after
young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not: I will
do for thee all thou sayest for all the gate of my people knoweth that
thou art a virtuous woman. And now truly I am a redeemer but there is a
redeemer nearer than I. Tarry the night, and it shall be in the
morning, if he will act the redeemer to thee, well, let him redeem; but
if he will not redeem thee, then will I redeem thee, as Jehovah liveth:
lie down until the morning. And she lay at his feet until morning, and
she rose up before one could know another: and he Said, Let it not be
known that a woman came unto the floor. And he said, Bring the cloak
that is upon thee, and hold it. And she held it, and he measured six
[measures] of barley, and laid it on her: and he went unto the city.
And she came to her mother-in-law; and she said, Who art thou, my
daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. And she
said, These six [measures] of barley gave he me: for he said, Go not
empty to thy mother-in-law. And she said, Remain quiet, my daughter,
till thou shalt see how the matter will fall out: for the man will not
be at rest until he have finished the thing today."

(i.) In this
section we find Ruth no longer a gleaner. She is putting forth new
claims and cherishing high aspirations. And here her mother-in-law is
her instructor once more. She has already pointed out Boaz as a kinsman
of Elimelech, and one of their redeemers, but, for some time this seems
to have no practical significance for either of them. Now she is full
of a new interest. Ruth must have a resting-place for herself, and to
find it she must seek it. Very simply and naturally her mind turns to
Boaz: ignorantly, indeed, and yet with a knowledge such as the heart
teaches, and which in the end proves right. Ruth is bidden by her to
put forth a personal claim upon Boaz, according to the law of
Deuteronomy, and this she does, - to find in the first place that she
has made an apparent mistake, but which in the end proves none. It is
only upon the failure of a nearer kinsman than himself that Boaz can
act. Naomi herself has called him one of their redeemers. It must be
proved satisfactorily if there is more than one.

The remnant (whom
Ruth represents) learns, first of all, from the nation (which is Naomi)
certain lessons as to redemption, which personal experience, however,
alone can interpret, and get right. The only religion that avails
anything is that of experiment: in making which both heart and
conscience get searched out, their needs thoroughly explored, and then
met. The believing that avails for us is one that shows itself in
coming to Him; yet the soul coming may find at first disappointment.
The power of the "nearer kinsman" must be thoroughly and practically
understood before Christ can show his power.

"Rest" can only come
from a Redeemer. Naomi makes no mistake there. When Christ says, "Come
unto Me, and I will give you rest," He is declaring Himself this; and
it is as such - the only and all-sufficient One - that He will or can
give it to us. This we must learn aright. Thank God, He has proved His
power to fulfill this word of His, all the centuries down.

Boaz is
winnowing barley at night in the threshing-floor. And Israel is such a
floor, which the Lord is going to purge, according to the Baptist’s
testimony. (Matt. iii. 12.) A night of affliction is coming for them,
in which He will winnow the chaff from the grain, that He may gather to
Himself that which has value for Him. "The fan is in His hand."
Judgnment, alas, must come; but He means by it to take forth the
precious from the vile. And this is the very time when the remnant,
therefore, in the darkness of as black a night as the earth has ever
seen, shall creep to His feet, and claim Him as their own.

 Assuredly it
will be a bold act then, if even Ruth’s seems so; yet this grace has
been dawning upon them, and His voice has seemed to speak amid the
voices of the prophetic promises, yet but beginning to be intelligible.
At midnight, suddenly, just at the darkest, comes his voice with a
question - how necessary a one, when it is redemption that is to be
realized - " Who art thou?" How blessed to know that the right answer
is but to own, "I am Ruth, thy handmaid," for this is the name of the
barren woman whose natural hopes are dead. To such an one it is that
the law applies and pledges itself: no other has any claim. "Spread,
then, thy wing over thy handmaid," - this soul with its need of
shelter, - "for thou art a redeemer."

But not yet can the prayer he
answered fully. Always is there, indeed, encouragement for the needy
from these lips that speak here. Still she must await the morning. She
is to be answered; some way redemption will surely come: so much she
knows, but is he - will he be the redeemer? This question, is it not
answered for the remnant also only fully in the "morning," - a morning
which He makes by His own coming, the glory of His presence. Ministered
to they are, sustained by His hand, still sent back, as Ruth to her
mother-in-law, to await the morning!

Ah, but His heart will not have its rest till the matter is finished, and redemption is found for Ruth - "shepherd-tended" Ruth!

2. (iv. 1-8.) The legal kinsman

Boaz went up to the gate, and sat him down there; and behold, the
redeemer of whom Boaz spake passed by. And he said, Ho, such an one!
turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside and sat down, And he
took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit down here. And
they sat down. And he said unto the redeemer, Naomi, who is returned
from the country of Moab, hath sold the allotment of the field that was
our brother Elimelech’s: and I thought to inform thee, saying, Buy it
before those that sit [here], even before the elders of my people. If
thou wilt redeem it, redeem [it]; and if thou wilt not redeem it, tell
me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I
am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. And Boaz said, What day
thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou buyest it also of Ruth
the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead
upon his inheritance. And the redeemer said, I cannot redeem it for
myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: do my [part of the] redemption
for thyself, for I cannot redeem it. And this was the custom in former
time in Israel, in cases of redemption, and in cases of exchange, to
confirm the whole matter: a man drew off his shoe and gave it to his
neighbour; and this was the attestation in Israel. And the redeemer
said unto Boaz, Buy it for thyself; and he drew off his shoe."

Now we are to be introduced to the other kinsman: there is but one
other in the story; and strange it is, when we know our Boaz, that he
should have the prior claim! Is there, then, another redeemer? Does the
word of God give any ground for such a supposition? Yes, as a
supposition. Hypothetically, there is a mode of salvation other than by
Christ: test it, and you find by experience (once more the teacher)
that there is, and can be, only one.

"When the wicked man turneth
away from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he
shall save his soul alive." This is the voice of God by the prophet
Ezekiel (xviii. 27), and every word of God shall stand. It is a way of
salvation, too, that is declared, - not simply of a righteousness that
needs none. It is the wicked man who is spoken of, - the man who can
already be called that, and who as that needs salvation. Forgiveness of
sins is announced for him: "All his transgressions that he has
committed, they shall not he mentioned unto him: in his righteousness
that he hath done he shall live" (v. 22). Thus the mercy of God is
pledged to a returning soul: and, of course, one must say, in all
sincerity and truth, or it could not be from Him.

Yet this is not
the salvation which we find in Christ. Its condition is not of faith in
Him, but of works: to obtain it one must have a righteousness which is
of works. And these two principles - of faith and of works - are
principles that cannot be united together, so that it will not do to
say that although faith in Christ is not here formally made mention of,
it must in fact be found. On the contrary, it is most certain that the
principle here declared excludes faith in Christ in any evangelic
sense. "For if it be of grace," says the apostle, "it is no more of
work, otherwise grace is no more grace.’’ (Rom. xi. 6.) As surely,
then, as the principle here is that of righteousness by work, so surely
is it not a righteousness by faith: it is contrastive and contradictory
to faith.

It is the principle of the law as given the second time,
after the people had sinned and made a golden calf. It is not pure law,
but law modified and tempered by mercy, so as to give man as failed the
means of self-recovery, if self-recovery were possible. But it was not
possible for them, and is not possible for any. Of this law the
mediator was Moses, and not Christ and so entirely unavailing was it,
that the very mediator of the law becomes of necessity the accuser of
the people: "there is one that accuseth you," says the Lord to Israel,
"even Moses, in whom ye trust." (John v. 45.)

Thus we see the
redeemer who is not Boaz, but the redeemer who cannot redeem. The law
is, indeed, the nearest kinsman that man has, and the one to which,
apart from the teaching of divine grace, man naturally turns. One of
the reasons of the delay in Christ’s coming was that the law should
first of all be tried; for this is but the trial of man’s
righteousness. And so in the history of a saved soul, the law’s claim
must first be set aside, that Christ may not be to it as "one of our
redeemers," but the only Redeemer possible, the Boaz "in whom is

It is a matter for judgment., and therefore Boaz goes up
to the gate, where causes were habitually tried. Presently, behold, the
redeenmer of whom he had spoken passes by. Notice, the man is quite
indifferent: he has none of the loving interest that we find in the
heart of Boaz: he would pass by, as the priest and Levite did the man
on the road to Jericho. And such is the heartlessness of the legal
method. Law has no personal interest, and cannot have. It speaks in the
third person: if one comes under the rule, be it so; this is its
impartiality, its indifference. But thus it cannot represent the heart
of God.

Boaz calls the man, and he sits down; then ten men, elders
of the city, are called, and they sit down; the ten commandments are
our Boaz’s witnesses that the law is incompetent to do aught for a
sinner’s salvation. How soon and simply could the case be settled, if
always the ten and no others were witnesses! But people make this great
mistake, that, because, in fact, God is merciful, He will not require
the righteousness which the law requires, which the ten commandments
specify, but something, they know not how much, under this. Whereas,
though He may be patient and give time, and give repeated
opportunities, He never lowers His demand, never can accept less than
"what is lawful and right." Above all, He has never proposed Christ as
a makeweight for our deficiencies. "If righteousness come by the law,"
says the apostle, "then Christ is dead in vain."

Boaz begins with
the question of inheritance: "Naomi, who is returned from the country
of Moab, has sold the allotment of the field that was our brother
Elimelech’s. . . . If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it. . . . And he
said, I will redeem it." We see here the connection between the land
and the people of Israel. In fact, how carefully has the land been
guarded for them, keeping sabbath while the heirs are exiled! God has
given it by absolute promise to the seed of Abraham, and that according
to the flesh. But here is the difficulty: "And Boaz said, What day thou
buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou buyest it also of Ruth, the
Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon
his inheritance. And the redeemer said, I cannot redeem it for myself,
lest I mar mine own inheritance."

Elimelech is dead, that is Israel
looked at as identified with the faith of God as King; yet Israel, in
fact, remains, though as Naomi, widowed and destitute. But there is a
young life, a new generation, through whom the name of the dead may be
raised up. Yet these are as the Moabitess, whom the law cannot bring
in, but must keep out: for it is written that "a Moabite shall not
enter into the congregation of Jehovah forever." Well may the kinsman
fear, therefore, lest in taking Ruth he should mar his own inheritance.

the story this is the title that everywhere comes into prominence.
Despite all Ruth’s attractiveness and piety, she is always spoken of,
emphatically, as Ruth, the Moabitess. And the law, in presence of this
conceded truth, can make no exception in her favour. The law is against
her wholly, - accuses, convicts, and cannot justify. So hopeless is
Israel’s case in the hands of Moses.

If we look at the genealogy of
the Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew, we shall find there,
without the stigma of her origin, the name of Ruth. She is the third of
four women only who stand exceptionallly in the record there. At a
first glance, we might think, uselessly also: for of what use are they
in establishing His title to be David’s Son? None, clearly; and so they
must have another purpose: for everything has purpose in the word of
God; yet what purpose in a genealogy?

But the genealogy is not
merely His as Son of David; the title of it adds to this that it is
Christ’s as Son of Abraham. And the three names that end with Ruth are
in this part, as we see: can they have part, then, in showing that
Christ is Son of Abraham ?

Now here light breaks in at once: for the
Seed of Abraham is he in whom all families of the earth are to be
blessed, - Gentile as well as Jew; while these three names are Gentile.
How vain, then, to think of denying the Gentiles their part in Christ!

more: in each of these names we may discern what might be easily taken
as a blot upon the genealogy. What was Tamar? what Rahab ? what even
Ruth, the Moabitess? But does not this, then, show us all the more the
Seed of Abraham, the blesser of the nations? Yes, and each name tells
out, and in perfect order, the reality of grace. Tamar, whose sin alone
brings her into the list, begins the story; for sin is the fundamental
fact for the gospel; and our sin owned gives us title to the Saviour of
sinners. But then Rahab (no less the sinner) shows us faith, a faith
that separates from judgment and brings into blessing: that is as
clearly the second foundation.

What, then, does the name of Ruth
emphasize in this series? Can it be anything but this, that the law
therefore is not the way of blessing, does not furnish the redeemer,
but grace only does? - for Ruth the Moabitess is debtor to the grace of
Boaz! Here, surely, all is consistent, all is harmony. And how Ruth’s
character, so different from that of those who precede her in this
list, assures us that not those whom men would class as sinners, but
those also whom they might class as saints, are all together by the law
convicted and condemned, and that for all who receive salvation grace
must reign!

No, assuredly the law cannot raise up the name of the
dead on his inheritance. The power of God in grace can alone meet the
need that is here symbolized. The kinsman passes his shoe - the sign of
entering upon possession - to him in whom power is. The law testifies
and yields its rights to Christ, and He is declared the only possible
Redeemer. Such will the remnant find Him in the day that comes.

3. (9-22.) "The resurrection of the name upon the inheritance."

Boaz said to the elders and to all the people, Ye are witnesses this
day, that I have acquired all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was
Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. And Ruth also, the wife
of Mahlon, have I acquired to be my wife, to raise up the name of the
dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off
from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are
witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the
elders said, [We are] witnesses. Jehovah make the woman that cometh
into thy house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house
of Israel; and make thee strength in Ephratah, and get thee a name in
Bethlehem; and let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar
bare unto Judah, of the seed which Jehovah shall give thee of this
young woman.

And Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife; and he
went in unto her, and Jehovah gave her conception, and she bare a son.
And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed he Jehovah, who hath not left,
thee this day without a redeemer, and may his name be famous in Israel.
And he shall be to thee a restorer of life, and a support of thine old
age: for thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee, who is better to thee
than seven sons, hath borne him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it
in her bosom, and became nurse to it. And the women her neighbours gave
it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his
name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these
are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat
Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon
begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed
begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David."

(iii.) Boaz proclaims his
title and his grace. The inheritance becomes his by purchase; and Ruth
also, once more and for the last time spoken of as the Moabitess, he
acquires for himself. Israel’s land is yet to be known as Immanuel’s.
for indeed he has bought it at its full value. The people, also, are
the purchased of His love. In Ruth’s case the figure falls necessarily
short, and the word used does not positively convey the idea of
purchase. All types must, indeed, fall short, whether as picturing our
need or the way that He has met it. This we are prepared for. The
outline may be slight, but is sufficient. When it is followed up in the
day to come, how it will be seen that here is One who has strength in
Ephratah, and His name in Bethlehem; and how will the remnant "break
forth" like the house of Pharez, "breaker forth," as it is written,
"For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy
seed shalt inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be
inhabited, . . . for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and
shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more." And how
Ruth’s story is transfigured here! "For thy Maker is thy husband,
Jehovah of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel:
the God of the whole earth shall He be called." (Isa. liv, 3-5.)

therefore, is built up by Ruth, and her son becomes (in another sense,
of course) her redeemer, the restorer of her life, and the support of
her old age. For the son’s name is Obed, the "servant," and the sweet
adoring service of the new generation of Israel will be in those days
the restoring of life indeed. Fit it is that the "women, her
neighbours," should give the name to this new seed, as the nations
round (then neighbourly!) will speak the praise of the new nation. For
then for the first time shall they completely fulfill the word: "But
thou, Israel, art my Servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of
Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou
art my servant, I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away." (Isa. xli.
8, 9.)

This is indeed a sign of perfect redemption, whatever the
dispensation: "0 Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and
the son of thy handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds." (Ps. cxvi. 16.)
Redemption is thus the spring of service, and gives character to it;
and if we are indeed in the nearer and more wonderful place of sons of
God, the service of sons is only the fullest, the most joyful service.
Yea, the only-begotten Son, to the wonder and delight of heaven, has
come forth and served; yea, and still serves; and in that day will
serve; as He has Himself said: -

"Blessed are those servants whom
the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you,
that He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will
come forth, and serve them." (Luke xii. 37.)