Gleanings from the Books of Ruth

Alex Dryburgh, Ont.

The Book of Ruth has been likened to a green sunny valley, between two mountain peaks of ice and snow. We have on the one side, the Book of the judges: No king in Israel, every one doing that which is right in their own eyes. Then on the other side we have 1 Samuel: The sin of young men, a priest that is blind, the word of the Lord was rare in those days, no open visions and the lamp of God almost gone out, but the book of Ruth lies between.

In Chapter 1 we have ten years in Moab
In Chapter 2 we have a day in the field
In Chapter 3, we have a night at the feet
In Chapter 4 we have an hour at the gate.

Ruth is a woman that says very little about herself in the Book. In Chapter 2 she speaks about herself being a stranger. "Why have I found grace in thy sight seeing I am a stranger." In Chapter 3 She speaks about herself being a slave. 'I am Ruth thine handmaid," I am Ruth a female slave. But as we read throughout the Book, others speak well of her. In Chapter 1, Naomi speaks of her kindness. "The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead and with me." In Chapter 2, the servant set over the reapers, speaks about her being consistent. "She has continued even from morning until now." In Chapter 3, Boaz speaks about her virtue. 'All the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.' In Chapter 4, the women of the city speak about her love. "Thy daughter-in-law that loveth thee."

In Chapter 1, Ruth is seen as a sinner saved; in Chapter 2 a servant employed; in Chapter 3, a priest in communion; in Chapter 4, a bride that is married. In the Bible we have three types of people, the natural, the carnal and the spiritual. Parallel passages are found in the book of Genesis. Terah the natural, Lot the carnal and Abraham the spiritual. In Acts 23 we have Ananias the high priest the natural; in Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira, the carnal. Then in Acts 9 we have Ananias the spiritual. You well may find three different weights in any assembly. You have the heavy weights, the spiritual; the light weights, the carnal; and the dead weights, the natural.

While the Book of Ruth is simple and sweet, when we come to chapter 1 it is very solemn. Ruth Chapter 1 is a chapter where decisions are made. Sometimes we see the right decision, and other times the wrong decision. It is important to notice the contrast between chapters I and 2. In chapter 1, we see the government of God. In Chapter 2 we see the grace of God. In Chapter 1 we see a woman who is not satisfied as seen in Naomi. In Chapter 2 we see a woman who is perfectly satisfied as seen in Ruth. In Chapter 1 we see a field, (the country of Moab, sometimes translated the field of Moab). In Chapter 2 is the field belonging unto Boaz. In Matthew 13, the field is the world, that answers to the field of Moab. In I Cor. 3 we read about the assembly being God's husbandry or cultivated field, and that answers to the field belonging unto Boaz. Boaz was a man who belied his name, "My God is King." Naomi was a woman who changed her name, "Call me Mara," (Bitter). Ruth was a woman who lived true to her name, 'Beauty.'

Elimelech the Backslider

We are either going forward, or we are going backward. "The backslider in heart is filled with his own ways." The Lord Jesus said, "Not my will but thine be done." The backslider says, "Not thy will but mine be done.' When a person backslides, he turns his back on a place, a people and a person. Elimelech leaves Bethlehem Judah for Moab. He leaves the house of bread and the house of praise, for Moab the desirable land. To leave the assembly for any place, Egypt or Babylon, Sodom or Moab, is moving in a path of disobedience that can only end in distress, disappointment and death. Not only do we see the cause of backsliding but also the cost and the cure. The cause is a famine, but remember there are two famines in Ruth 1. There is a famine in Bethlehem Judah. There is also a famine in the land of Moab. The famine of Moab far exceeds the famine in Bethlehem Judah: Says Naomi 'I went out full, the Lord has brought me home again empty.'

The cost of backsliding is seen in Jeremiah 5:6. Notice the lion slays and the wolf spoils and the leopard or panther slaughters ("torn in pieces"). Notice the two reasons, 1) Because their transgressions are many, and 2) their backslidings are increased.

The cure for backsliding is bread. She heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. When a person gets restored, it is also to a place, a people and a person. Notice verse 10 where we read "we will return with thee unto thy people." In verse 7 they went on their way to return to the land of Judah. In verse 16 they are returning to a person. 'Thy people shall be my people, thy God my God."

The little word "again" is important to notice in the scriptures.
2 Chron. 19:4 Jehoshaphat went out again among the people.
Judges 16:22. The hair of his head began to grow again.
Gen. 14:16 Brought again his brother Lot, and here in
Ruth 1:21 The Lord brought me home again empty.

In Jehoshaphat we see the recovery of a king. In Samson we see the recovery of a Nazarite. In Lot we see the recovery of a brother. In Naomi we see the recovery of a sister.