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Studies in the Book of Ruth (3)

I Steele, Glenburn

Chapter 2

The Person of Boaz

At the beginning of this chapter we are introduced to Boaz, a lovely type of the Lord Jesus. He is the kinsman redeemer, the mighty man of wealth and his name means "in him is strength". First, his relationship is emphasised. He was of the family of Elimelech, a kinsman, and though that simply means a relative here, in the 13 further times it is used it translates the Hebrew word goel which means the "kinsman redeemer". Transfer this to the Lord Jesus: "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same" (Heb 2.14). Thus he took upon Him flesh and blood conditions, that being a man He might have the right to die for men and so provide redemption.

Next we are left in no doubt about his riches. He was "a mighty man of wealth". How we have benefited from the wealth of the Lord Jesus, "the unsearchable riches of Christ", is set out by Paul in the Ephesian Epistle (3.8). It is this epistle that reminds us of the "riches of his grace" (1.7; 2.7) and the "riches of his glory" (3.16). Yet let us never forget that "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich" (2 Cor 8.9).

The meaning of Boaz’ name, "In him is strength", further reminds us of the resources to be found in him, and how true that is of our blessed Lord. The Psalmist declares, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped" (Ps 28.7).

Paul claimed this from experience in words that could be read as, "I am strong for all things through Christ who keeps on pouring His strength into me" (Phil 4.13). Would that we would realise that we not only need strength to accomplish great things for God, but that every day of our lives we need His strength just to keep going on for Him. This is what the prophet Zechariah had in mind when he stated, "And I will strengthen them in the Lord; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord" (10.12).

The Possession of Boaz

The field in which Ruth went to glean belonged to Boaz (v.3). This field gives us a little picture of features that ought to prevail in any local assembly. The field had an owner, an overseer, and an order in relation to the work that was done. We do well to be aware that it is God’s assembly, which He hath purchased with the "blood of his own" (Acts 20.28, JND). Paul speaks of the assembly as God’s "cultivated field" (1 Cor 3.9, Newberry margin). If in His grace God allows men to plant and to water in what is His precious possession, let us see that we do it without rivalry or for personal advancement. It is the Holy Spirit who establishes rule in any assembly as Acts 20.28 (RV) makes clear: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops". We are to recognise and respect godly overseers as 1 Thessalonians 5.12-13 states: "know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake". Overseers are there for the well-being of the saints, and they need our prayers as they care for the flock.

There was also order in the field of Boaz. It had a place for reapers and gleaners, for young men and maidens, and even a place for the stranger. Paul reminds us, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor 14.40); "For we are labourers together with God" (1 Cor 3.9). Each has their own work to do in the assembly, and there ought to be mutual consideration given in the fulfilling of the gift that God has entrusted to every one of His people.

The Politeness of Boaz

Notice the manner in which Boaz and the reapers greet each other as he comes into the field. "The Lord be with you", and, "The Lord bless thee", shows a respect in their relationship which ought to be evident amongst all members of a local assembly. Paul shows how relations ought to be between the saints: "Rebuke not an elder (an older man), but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity" (1 Tim 5.1-2).

May there be due consideration given and no disrespect shown between old and young in the companies of God’s people! If this proves to be so then, as in the field of Boaz, the presence and blessing of the Lord will surely be enjoyed.

His Particular Interest in Ruth

Boaz enquires "Whose damsel is this?" (v.5). He was interested in her personally and also interested in her present exercise "to gather after the reapers among the sheaves". Isn’t it good to know of the interest of our blessed Lord in the lives of His people? Nothing escapes His notice. Just as Boaz records, "It hath fully been shewed me" (v.11), so the Lord Jesus constantly reminds the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, "I know thy works". However, it is not just that He knows, He also seeks to give His guidance to encourage and lead us into a deeper knowledge of Himself. Ruth has already declared to Naomi, "Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn" (v.2), and Naomi has encouraged her with the words, "Go, my daughter". Would that we would not put obstacles in the way of those who desire to be involved in exercises of a spiritual nature. Now that Ruth is in the field, Boaz gives clearer guidance and fuller instructions to direct her service. This is seen in the repetition of the little word "go" (v.8-9).

"Go not to glean in another field." He designates the sphere of service and circumscribes the borders of our movements. Where are we gleaning in our present daily activities? Could it be that we are drinking in the entertainment and trivia of a world that is not of the Father, and are giving sparse consideration to the healthful Word of God?

"Neither go from hence." By this Boaz is underlining the safety to be found in companionship with those of like mind and similar desires to work for God. He emphasises, "abide here fast by my maidens", and the challenge to us is, "Whom are we keeping company with?". "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (James 4.4). May we ask the question of the bride, "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?" (Song 1.7).

"Go thou after them." We must have a vision for the Lord’s work, and follow the godly example of those who have gone before us. Paul exhorted the Philippians, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample" (3.17). Are we following the sport and celebrity culture that is permeating the lives of so many believers today and rendering them powerless for God, or are we pressing "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3.14)?

"Go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn." Here is satisfaction and refreshment to quench the thirst! Young men must draw from the well of His Word, that which will not only bring them joy, but will be needy provision for the saints of God. How it uplifts the spirit to hear young men worship at the breaking of bread with a heart full of love for Christ!

To be continued.


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