Love’s Reputation: Ruth 2 (5)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 126.4-6
Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
Sing Psalm 126.4-6
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reign)
Restore our fortunes, Lord our King! Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing who sow while yet they weep and wail.
They who in tears of sorrow sow and cast their seed on every hand,
with joy shall reach their heav’nly home, and bring the harvest of their land.
Read Ruth 2.17-19
1. How did God bless Ruth’s faithful work?
2. How did Naomi respond to Ruth’s work?
The abundant harvest of Ruth’s gleaning – more than half a bushel – contrasts starkly with the opening words of this book. The famine that prevailed in Judah was replaced by abundance. When God visits His people to bless them, the effects of His renewing and restoring grace reach even to the sin-stricken creation, enabling it to recover some of its pristine purpose and potential.
Ruth surely must have been hungry at the end of the day, after reaping, beating out her harvest, and then carrying it all the way back to the city. Nevertheless, she gave her left-over meal to Naomi – evidence of the continuing work of God’s grace in her life. Naomi’s response to Ruth’s gathering also indicates a heart of faith, as she blessed to the Lord the man who allowed her daughter-in-law to glean in his fields. The one who blessed is thus blessed himself, and the woman who introduced Ruth to the blessing of God’s community received a token of blessing in the food, but a larger token in the woman who blessed her.
The writer continues to keep God in the background, but clearly very active in the developing story. God is always present in our midst, accomplishing His covenant purposes on behalf of His faithful people; however, His typical way of doing this is not through miracles and signs, but by His grace at work in the lives of His people, as they work, relate, and reach out to one another and to strangers. Ruth reported the name of her benefactor quite matter-of-factly.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Ruth gleaned until evening and her bounty of barley was an ephah. An ephah is around 5 dry gallons weighing in at around 30 pounds.
So Ruth was carrying home all this barley plus her remaining lunch, which she had set aside for Naomi. That’s a lot to carry! After a full day’s work Ruth must have been exhausted; but each step, even with this burden, must have been filled with anticipation at Naomi’s joy.
This outcome was exceedingly abundantly above all that Ruth could have asked for or thought (Eph. 3.20). That’s what happens when God blesses. Think of the feeding of the five thousand with twelve baskets of leftovers from five loaves and two fish (Matt. 14.17-21). Or the feeding of the four thousand with seven baskets of leftovers from seven loaves and a few little fish (Matt. 15.34-38). And then the story of the disciple’s unsuccessful nighttime fishing adventure. But in the morning Jesus arrived and everything changed. “No fish? Well cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” They did what He said and hauled in 153 fish without a tear in the net! (Jn. 21.1-11)
Gallons of barley, baskets of leftovers, untorn nets of abundant fish, and salvation. All of grace. All in love. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1.3, 6).
1. What have we learned thus far from Ruth 2 about how the Lord extends His blessings to people?
2. How should we respond to the blessings the Lord extends to us through others?
3. Where will you be gleaning the Lord’s blessings today? Whom do you expect to bless?
It is a good question for us to ask ourselves every night, Where have I gleaned today? What improvement have I made in knowledge and grace? What have I done that will turn to a good account? When the Lord deals bountifully with us, let us not be found in any other field, nor seeking for happiness and satisfaction in the creature. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ruth 2.17-23
Closing Prayer: Psalm 126.1-3
Thank God for all the blessings He gives you each day. Pray that you might use those blessings to sow seeds of blessing to the people you meet today.
Sing Psalm 126.1-3
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
When God restored our fortunes all, we were like those who sweetly dream.
Our mouths with joy and laughter filled, made Him our constant song and theme.
Then the astonished nations said, “The Lord has done great things for them!”
Indeed, great things our God has done, Whose Name we praise, Amen, Amen!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel: Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV, John R. Franke, ed, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).