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Studies in the Book of Ruth (5)

I Steele, Glenburn

Chapter 3 (cont.)

Her patient resolve

"Make not thyself known unto the man until…" (v.3). This called for patience to wait and to give priority to him and his work. It is true that we rush into the presence of God with our petitions and our needs, with requests for ourselves, and seldom do we wait before speaking to consider what His priorities are! "Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us" (Ps 123.2).

The purpose revealed

"He will tell thee what thou shalt do" (v.4). Naomi was confident that the actions she prescribed would lead to direction from Boaz and that this would call for further obedience from Ruth. The revealing of the mind and will of God to us brings responsibility to our souls. May we be willing to do as He directs every day of our lives!

With Boaz in the threshing floor

Attention is drawn to the completion of his work and we are told that Boaz’s "heart was merry", and that "he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn" (v.7). That heap of corn is the fruit of his work and reminds us of John 12.24: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit". The Lord will reap a harvest as a result of His work at Calvary with which He will be satisfied! This merriment is not the result in any way of inebriation but is the joy of service seen in the language of Hebrews 12.2: "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God".

Note how the coming of Ruth is described by the Spirit of God - "She came softly" (v.7). The idea is she came with gentleness, not with brashness! The holy presence of our Lord Jesus calls for you and me to come softly before Him. Sometimes there can be a lack of reverence before and after meetings, which does not convey an appreciation of the glory and greatness of the One in whose presence we are found.

The carefulness of Boaz in dealing with the situation is a lesson to us all. The idea of being afraid could stand the thought of being careful, and he turned himself towards Ruth (v.8). How many women like Mary have put themselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus whether in worship or to hear His word and have been blessed in the experience. Boaz’s question, "Who art thou", draws out from her a confession of the position she is taking and an expression of her appreciation as to the relationship she would enjoy with him as the "near kinsman", her redeemer. That this has become personal is shown in her desire for him to "spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid" (v.9), indicating her expectation that he would become her protector as she found shelter under his wings (cp. 2.12).

He extends further complements to Ruth (vv.10-11). He recognises her loyalty to him in that, "thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich", and asserts once more the purity of character that all the city acknowledged, for she was indeed "a virtuous woman". How much the assembly and the Lord need these qualities today. Loyalty to Christ alone, not seeking to serve two masters but single eyed in devotion to Him. May we hear Paul’s words to Timothy, "Keep thyself pure", and have a testimony that shows that we are virtuous in the face of a polluted immoral world.

Boaz’s commitment to Ruth is now revealed (vv.11-13). First, there is a word of reassurance in his "Fear not". How often the Lord would say these words to His own, "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee", and, "Fear not: I am with thee" (Is 43.1,5)! Let us rest in His ability to banish fears whatever they may be and rest in the confidence that what Boaz promises to Ruth He will accomplish for us - "I will do to thee all that thou requirest".

What a picture of contentment we have in v.14: "and she lay at his feet until morning". We, too, are in a night scene and there is only safety and contentment in being at His feet. Paul surely knew this: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Phil 4.11). We are not content with a comfortable home and a good bank balance (which we do not despise), but Paul had learned to trust the God who can supply all our need, and was content even in a prison cell.

Another matter calls for emphasis. "Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor" (v.14). Let us be in no doubt that there was no impropriety whatsoever that took place in this incident. The threshingfloor was a public place and an open structure not in any way secluded. Also, others were undoubtedly present as Boaz certainly does not direct this statement to Ruth.

Nevertheless, the situation called for discretion so that no unnecessary suggestions would be made against the testimony! Would that we would learn this lesson today! Certain matters discussed between overseers should remain just there. If in assembly discipline we become privy to certain details let us keep them to ourselves and "Let it not be known"! Perhaps one other reason for this is that Boaz now had business to accomplish with the nearer kinsman, and it might have significantly undermined his intentions if, by some unsavoury means, the matter had come to the ears of his relative. Eternity will no doubt unfold how we may have hindered the work of God and damaged the testimony by spreading idle unsubstantiated tales!

Once again there is the provision of Boaz for Ruth. "He measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her" (v.15). She felt the weight of what he had provided for her and he knew how much she could bear. When the Israelites gathered the manna it was gathered over six days. No doubt we have a picture in these six measures of what the Lord is able to provide for us each day of the week in view of what we might bring to Him on the seventh day, which for us has become the first day of the week. She never left his presence empty handed, and neither do we, as we come from the presence of the Lord of the harvest.

The following verses call for confidence in Boaz that he will do as he has promised (vv.16-18). It is interesting that Naomi asks the same question as Boaz did in v.9: "Who art thou?". Obviously she knew who Ruth was, but the suggestion may be that communion changes us. We are never the same when we have been in the presence of the Lord Jesus to behold His glory! Significantly, Ruth does not speak about herself only, but tells "all that the man had done to her". Note, not what he had done for her but to her. Are we able to speak about what the Lord has done to change us and make us more like Himself? How blessed Naomi and Ruth were - for them emptiness of life was past for ever. What about our lives? Are they producing what will last in view of the Judgment Seat, or will we go in empty handed?

Confidence in the man brings stillness into our experience as expressed in the words of Naomi in v.18: "Sit still my daughter". Would that in the perpetual motion of modern living we would take more time to let Him lead us by the still waters of rest (Ps 23.2).

It is good to know that our heavenly Boaz finishes what He has begun! Paul reminds us in Philippians 1.6 that "he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ". May we sit still with absolute confidence in Him.

To be continued.


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