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Last Updated on : Friday, July 26, 2013

 

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selah

 

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Chapter 7

Ruth


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GENTLE. self-effacing Ruth! How strongly the example of her unselfish service underlines the lesson of faith and love. It has even coined a word in the English language, for to be ruthless is to lack the characteristics for which she is noted. Her appeal to Naomi: "Intreat me not to leave thee!" expressed the gentleness of her nature, whilst her determination to provide for them both, revealed the strength of her character. Her decision to stay with her mother-in-law was governed by love for her. She could not bear to see the older woman walk with sad, lonely steps back to poverty and perhaps despair; but she is too tactful to suggest Naomi has need of her. No, she expresses it the other way, as though as to be rejected by Naomi would put her at a disadvantage: "Entreat me not to leave thee."

Ruth was meek, not weak. She accepted the path of duty, and cheerfully walked where it led. For a time, it brought her into experiences of poverty and difficulty, but she was equal to them all. She had accepted the God of Israel as her God, not merely because it was Naomi's God, but because she was convinced that He should be worshipped. There was strength of purpose in her actions. She did not bewail the fact of her poverty, nor rave about what her rich relation should have done, nor claimed the right to public charity. She quietly sought out a service she could perform, and patiently toiled in the field to relieve the pressing need of both Naomi and herself. To use the figure of Boaz, when the storm of trouble broke over the little family in Moab, she trustingly crept under the shadow of Yahweh's wing, as a chicken crouches under the protecting wing of the mother-bird (Ch. 2:12). And out of weakness she was made strong.
 

Ruth did not presume on others. She manifested a noble spirit of independence. She resolved to obtain the necessities of life by working with her hands, in the one way that the law provided for such as were in her case. What motive dominated Ruth to accept these conditions? What caused her to willingly follow the reapers in the heat of the burning, Palestinian sun, laboriously gleaning the few grains they left? Had not she willingly served Yahweh? Could He not move to alleviate her condition, and render unnecessary the back-breaking unaccustomed toil? She knew He could, and perhaps He would; but she patiently, in faith, accepted the conditions, waiting for Him to change them. She manifested a willingness to submit to what was required: "Not my will but Thine be done." This was her religion. She had accepted Yahweh as her God, and was prepared to accept the conditions.  

Ruth's abounding love was such that she accepted an apparently hopeless future, the degradation of poverty, the disadvantages of a foreign country, the knowledge that the people of her adoption hated the people of her nativity, to cleave unto Naomi, and to serve Yahweh. Here is love of such a quality that only the words of Paul (1 Cor. 13) are adequate to express it. It was love expressed in action, not only to Naomi, not only to Boaz, but to Yahweh as well. She accepted the country, the hope, the religion of Israel. She turned her back completely and utterly upon Moab and all its ways, upon her father's house, upon the certainty of security in the land she knew so well, to embrace the strange customs, to learn the unaccustomed Law of the Israelites, to worship in such a form as to adversely reflect upon her native wav of life.
 

Ruth was thus modest, industrious, meek, patient, and doubtless beautiful. She had the qualities to attract Boaz and engage his affection. Her tender solicitude for Naomi, her cheerful shouldering of the cares of the household, her voluntary acceptance of poverty, her patient endurance could not tail to arouse his esteem, as it did that of all Bethlehem. "All the city know that thou art a virtuous woman" said Boaz (Ch. 3:11). She appealed to him, and her character drew him to her. The same attributes in us will attract and please the Lord Jesus.

 

 


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