Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Ruth » Chapter 2 » Verses 17–23

Verses 17–23

Here, I. Ruth finishes her day’s work, Ruth 2:17. 1. She took care not to lose time, for she gleaned until evening. We must not be weary of well-doing, because in due season we shall reap. She did not make an excuse to sit still, or go home, till the evening. Let us work the works of him that sent us, while it is day. She scarcely used, much less did she abuse, the kindness of Boaz; for, though he ordered his servants to leave handfuls for her, she continued to glean the scattered ears. 2. She took care not to lose what she had gathered, but threshed it herself, that she might the more easily carry it home, and might have it ready for use. The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting, and so loseth the benefit of it, but the substance of a diligent man is precious, Prov. 12:27. Ruth had gathered it ear by ear, but, when she had put it all together, it was an ephah of barley, about four pecks. Many a little makes a great deal. It is an encouragement to industry that in all labour, even that of gleaning, there is profit, but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. When she had got her corn into as little compass as she could, she took it up herself, and carried it into the city, though, had she asked them, it is likely some of Boaz’s servants would have done that for her. We should study to be as little as possible troublesome to those that are kind to us. She did not think it either too hard or too mean a service to carry her corn herself into the city, but was rather pleased with what she had gotten by her own industry, and careful to secure it; and let us thus take care that we lose not those things which we have wrought, which we have gained, 2 John 1:8.

II. She paid her respects to her mother-in-law, went straight home to her and did not go to converse with Boaz’s servants, showed her what she had gleaned, that she might see she had not been idle.

1. She entertained her with what she had left of the good dinner Boaz had given her. She gave to her what she had reserved, after she was sufficed (Ruth 2:18), which refers to Ruth 2:14. If she had any thing better than another, her mother should have part with her. Thus, having shown industry abroad, she showed piety at home; so children’s maintaining their parents is called 233c (1 Tim. 5:4), and it is part of the honour due to them by the fifth commandment, Matt. 15:6.

2. She gave her an account of her day’s work, and how a kind providence had favoured her in it, which made it very comfortable to her; for the gleanings that a righteous man hath are better than the harvests of many wicked, Ps. 37:16. (1.) Naomi asked her where she had been: Where hast thou gleaned to-day? Note, Parents should take care to enquire into the ways of their children, how, and where, and in what company they spend their time. This may prevent many extravagancies which children, left to themselves, run into, by which they bring both themselves and their parents to shame. If we are not our brethren’s, yet surely we are our children’s keepers: and we know what a son Adonijah proved, that had never been chidden. Parents should examine their children, not to frighten nor discourage them, not so as to make them hate home or tempt them to tell a lie, but to commend them if they have done well, and with mildness to reprove and caution them if they have done otherwise. It is a good question for us to ask ourselves in the close of every day, “Where have I gleaned to-day? What improvements have I made in knowledge and grace? What have I done or obtained that will turn to a good account?” (2.) Ruth gave her a particular account of the kindness she had received from Boaz (Ruth 2:19) and the hopes she had of further kindness from him, he having ordered her to attend his servants throughout all the harvest, Ruth 2:21. Note, Children should look upon themselves as accountable to their parents and to those that are over them, and not think it a disparagement to them to be examined; let them do that which is good, and they shall have praise of the same. Ruth told her mother what kindness Boaz had shown her, that she might take some occasion or another to acknowledge it and return him thanks; but she did not tell her how Boaz had commended her, Ruth 2:11. Humility teaches us, not only not to praise ourselves, but not to be forward to publish others’ praises of us. (3.) We are here told what Naomi said to it. [1.] She prayed heartily for him that had been her daughter’s benefactor, even before she knew who it was (Ruth 2:19): Blessed be he, whoever he was, that did take knowledge of thee, shooting the arrow of prayer at a venture. But more particularly when she was told who it was (Ruth 2:20): Blessed be he of the Lord. Note, The poor must pray for those that are kind and liberal to them, and thus requite them, when they are not capable of making them any other requital. Let the loins of the poor bless those that refresh them, Job 29:13; 31:20. And he that hears the cries of the poor against their oppressors (Exod. 22:27), it may be hoped, will hear the prayers of the poor for their benefactors. She now remembered the former kindnesses Boaz had shown to her husband and sons, and joins those to this: he has not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. If we generously show kindness even to those that seem to have forgotten our former favours, perhaps it may help to revive the remembrance even of those which seem buried. [2.] She acquainted Ruth with the relation their family was in to Boaz: The man is near of kin to us. It should seem she had been so long in Moab that she had forgotten her kindred in the land of Israel, till by this providence God brought it to her mind. At least she had not told Ruth of it, though it might have been some encouragement to a young proselyte. Unlike to humble Naomi are many, who, though fallen into decay themselves, are continually boasting of their great relations. Nay, Observe the chain of thought here, and in it a chain of providences, bringing about what was designed concerning Ruth. Ruth names Boaz as one that had been kind to her. Naomi bethinks herself who that should be, and presently recollects herself: “The man is near of kin to us; now that I hear his name, I remember him very well.” This thought brings in another: “He is our next kinsman, our goel, that has the right to redeem our estate that was mortgaged, and therefore from him we may expect further kindness. He is the likeliest man in all Bethlehem to set us up.” Thus God brings things to our mind, sometimes on a sudden, that prove to have a wonderful tendency to our good. [3.] She appointed Ruth to continue her attendance in the fields of Boaz (Ruth 2:22): “Let them not meet thee in any other field, for that will be construed a contempt of his courtesy.” Our blessed Saviour is our Goel; it is he that has a right to redeem. If we expect to receive benefit by him, let us closely adhere to him, and his fields, and his family; let us not go to the world and its fields for that which is to be had with him only, and which he has encouraged us to expect from him. Has the Lord dealt bountifully with us? Let us not be found in any other field, nor seek for happiness and satisfaction in the creature. Tradesmen take it ill if those that are in their books go to another shop. We lose divine favours if we slight them. Some think Naomi gave her daughter-in-law a tacit rebuke; she had spoken (Ruth 2:21) of keeping fast by the young men. “Nay,” said Naomi (Ruth 2:22), “It is good that thou go out with his maidens; they are fitter company for thee than the young men.” But they are too critical. Ruth spoke of the young men because they were the principal labourers, and to them Boaz had given directions concerning her; and Naomi takes it for granted that, while she attended the young men, her society would be with the maidens, as was fit. Ruth dutifully observed her mother’s directions; she continued to glean, to the end, not only of barley-harvest, but of the wheat-harvest, which followed it, that she might gather food in harvest to serve for winter, Prov. 6:6-8. She also kept fast by the maidens of Boaz, with whom she afterwards cultivated an acquaintance, which might do her service, Ruth 2:23. But she constantly came to her mother at night in due time, as became a virtuous woman, that was for working days, and not for merry nights. And when the harvest was ended (as bishop Patrick expounds it) she did not gad abroad, but kept her aged mother company at home. Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land, and we know what a disgrace her vanity ended in. Ruth kept at home, and helped to maintain her mother, and went out on no other errand than to get provision for her, and we shall find afterwards what preferment her humility and industry ended in. Seest thou a man diligent in his business? Honour is before him.