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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Naomi and Ruth. Part 2—Ruth 1.

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When Naomi re‐entered the land of promise, and came to her city, Bethlehem, there were many who recognised her; for she was no unknown person. "All the city was moved…Is this Naomi?" they said.

Many a line was furrowing the face of the once beautiful Naomi; there was a sadness and weariness upon it; there were marks of her having passed through much during her absence from Bethlehem. 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 the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me." (The word Naomi means "blessing," and Mara "bitter.")

O how Naomi had learnt before it was written that "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." (Gal. 6:8)! And yet better days were before her.

It was the beginning of barley harvest in Bethlehem, and Ruth, the Moabitess, said to her mother‐in‐law:

"Let me now go to the field and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace."

"Go, my daughter."

It was but right and natural that Ruth, the young widow, should do what she could to sustain her mother‐in‐law in her old age; and it is but right that a disciple should glean ears of corn in the Lord's harvest field. "He that gathereth not with Me scattereth." (Mat 7:30.) It is difficult to understand how any immortal soul can be satisfied with his own salvation without being actively engaged in seeking the salvation of others. It is inconceivable selfishness for a man to say in his heart: "I am all right; what does it matter to me whether other souls are saved or whether they perish."

Ruth did not assume to be a reaper, but


There are some prominent workers in the harvest field who sweep hundreds into the fold. But there are also patient gleaners who teach in Sunday schools, who visit from house to house, who write letters to their acquaintances, who speak a word to those they travel with by the way. God bless these precious gleaners. They gather many an ear of corn which reapers pass by.

It was in the field of Boaz that Ruth gleaned. Her first introduction to him was when he first appeared in the morning and said to the reapers.

"The Lord be with you."

"The Lord bless thee," was their response. How many strikes might be avoided if this kind of intercourse were more common between employers and employed.

Boaz soon found out that a foreigner was in the field, and asked the servant who was set over the reapers:

"Whose damsel is this?"

When he heard that it was the Moabitish woman that came back with Naomi from Moab, and that she had asked permission to glean in the field, Boaz accosted her:

"Hearest thou not, my daughter?" He claimed relationship with her. And so it is when the Lord of the harvest perceives some newly‐saved soul following after others and seeking to lead them to the Lord: He makes acquaintance with them, and owns relationship: "Not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hbr 2:11):

"Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens."

No field but the Master's field; nothing which bears another name than His; no work which is not distinctly Christ's work, for the reapers and gleaners in His harvest field. There must be nothing exclusive, nothing which separates from others, for we are members of one body.


that they do reap, and go thou after them." A true worker for the Lord must have disciplined eyes; not fixed on special corners of the field, but bearing the interests of the whole field of the Lord upon his heart, howsoever many denominational divisions it may have. Boaz provided that when she should be thirsty she should drink from that which the young men had drawn. Gleaners must know "the wells of salvation." There are some workers in the harvest who are wonderfully elated by every little fragment of intercourse they have with God, and they must tell it out with pride and self‐consciousness in the next testimony‐meeting. But Ruth was humbled by the notice of Boaz, and crushed to the earth by this unexpected kindness. She asked:

"Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?"

This is the instinctive spirit of a true disciple-a humble follower of the Lamb. And Boaz answered:

"It hath fully been showed 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 to a people which thou knewest not heretofore."

Every little family trial which has been borne by the grace of Christ has been fully shown to our Master; every cross which has been borne; every suffering which has been undergone; everything which has been left for His sake; every laying down of the will; hath fully been shown to Jesus, and He who seeth in secret Himself will reward openly. (Mat 6:4.)

"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." Ruth had no conception of the fact that her humble efforts should interest a man like Boaz. She thought herself utterly beneath his notice; she had yet to learn how those who trust in the living God always find they have something in common.

In her reply, she could only speak of grace. She felt she merited nothing. "Let me find favour (or grace), 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."

Boaz made every provision for the stranger damsel; she was to share the meal times of the reapers, and Boaz commanded the reapers to let fall some of the handfuls on purpose for her, and leave them that she might glean them. It would be well for many a reaper if he would thus bring out the gleaners. It is a precious thing to encourage and help on some worker for the Lord, and so arrange that they shall find the joy of seeing souls decide for Christ. None but those who know it can tell the intense joy of seeing lost souls coming to the Saviour.

Ruth gleaned in the field until even. She was not wearied. She was beginning to be at home in the land. And when she had beaten out the ears of corn, it was about an ephah of barley. With her spoil she returned to her mother‐in‐law, who said to her:

"Where hast thou gleaned to‐day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee."

And when Ruth told her that the proprietor of the land was Boaz, Naomi answered:

"Blessed be the Lord, who has not left off His kindness to the living and to the dead…The man is near of kin unto us, one of our own next kinsmen," or


We do not, at the moment of our conversion, know all that has to be known of Jesus, but little by little, as we follow on, He reveals Himself to us, first, as the Saviour who forgives, and then, as the Shepherd, who cares for us, the Keeper, who keeps us from sinning as we trust Him, the Lord of the harvest, who gives us our work to do, and sends us to one and another immortal soul with life‐messages. Then we know Him as the eternal Son of God, who was from the beginning. Then we come by degrees to understand our calling to let Him conform us to His image that we may be united to Him. But they are few who know Jesus as the coming Bridegroom; who having this hope in them purify themselves even as He is pure. (1Jo 3:3.)

Naomi counselled Ruth that they should not meet her 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." And then it was that Naomi made known unto her the law in Israel which provided that the brother or nearest kinsman of one who had died without children should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. And she directed Ruth to go down to the threshing‐floor and claim Boaz as her nearest kinsman or redeemer.

There are many who follow Christ and work for Him, but have more of the spirit of service, more of the Spirit of bondmen, than that of real union with Him; many who work because they feel they ought, or because it is expected of them, or that they will lose a reward if they do not work. And there are those who work for Him because they cannot help it, because their interests are one with His, and it comes as naturally to them as breathing to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." (Rev 14:5.) These are they who understand true union with the Lord, these are they who know what it is to wash themselves and put their raiment on them-"the righteousness of saints" (Rev 19:8)-and get down to the threshing‐floor, and claim from Christ the oneness of heart, and spirit, and mind, which He has made possible to His own disciples.

When Ruth said to Boaz:

"Thou art a near kinsman," or, "one that hath a right to redeem," Boaz said:

"Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter…It is true that I am thy near kinsman; howbeit there is


than I." What is it that impedes the fullest fellowship and union with our Lord? Surely, the spirit of self. Self is the kinsman that comes nearer; whether it is self‐pity or self‐conceit; whether it is self‐mortification, self‐indulgence, or self‐consciousness. Whatever occupies us with ourselves shuts out our Lord.

Boaz sent Ruth back to Naomi, promising that he would deal with the kinsman. We can never destroy self. Self is stronger than we; it needs the hand of the King of kings to put it down. When Ruth returned to her mother‐in‐law and detailed all that had passed, she said to her.


until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day." (Rth 3:18.) No amount of energy can overcome self: the only help for it is to sit still and let the Lord deal with it His way.

Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city, and sat in the gate until the kinsman appeared, and then he called him on one side, and told him that Naomi sold a parcel of land which belonged to Elimelech, and that his was the first right of purchase.

"If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it; but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee, and I am after thee." And the kinsman said:

"I will redeem it."

"What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth, the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance."

This was an unexpected condition: this was the crucial point. And the kinsman answered,

"I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it."

Mine own! It was the spirit of self; he could not deny himself; he must consider himself. It is the picture of self‐life. Boaz had dealt with it, and now the way was open, and there was no barrier to the union of Boaz and Ruth.

Boaz "bought all that was Elimelech's and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi," and with the rest he bought Ruth the Moabitess, to raise up the name of the dead, "that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren." And the elders of the city bore witness.

Thus Ruth became the wife of Boaz. And thus, as He deals with our self life, and as we yield to Him all that we are and have, a living sacrifice, we become united to our Boaz-the Lord Jesus Christ-one with Him as He is One with the Father. And the name of the dead, Jesus the Crucified, is raised up upon His inheritance; He receives a people for His name. (Act 15:14); He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied. (Isa 53:11.)

Naomi and Ruth. Part 1—Ruth 1. ← Prior Section
Hannah—1 Samuel 1. Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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