The following commentary covers Chapters 1 through 4.
a stranger, and the grace of God in the midst of evil
The Book of Ruth tells us also of
the days of the judges, when there was no king in Israel;
but it shews us the fair side of those days, in the
operations of the grace of God, who (blessed be His
name!) never failed to work in the midst of the evil, as
also in the steady progress of events towards the
fulfilment of His promises in the Messiah, whatever may
have been the simultaneous progress of the general evil.
Ruth, a stranger seeking
shelter by faith under the wings of the God of Israel, is
received in grace, and the genealogy of David, king over
Israel according to grace, is linked with her. It is the
genealogy of the Lord Jesus Himself after the flesh.
character of the book
This book appears to me to
set before us in type, the reception in grace of the
remnant of Israel in the last days, their Redeemer (the
kinsman, who has the right of redemption) having taken
their cause in hand.
signifies God the King) being dead, Naomi (my delight, my
pleasure) becomes a widow, and eventually loses her
children also. She typifies the Jewish nation, who,
having lost her God, is like a widow and has no heir. Yet
there shall be a remnant, destitute of all right to the
promises (and therefore prefigured historically by a
stranger), who will be received in grace (similarly to
the Gentiles and the assembly  )who will faithfully and heartily
identify itself with desolate Israel; for Ruth clave to
her and to her God (see chap. 1: 16). God will own this
remnant, which, poor and afflicted itself, will in heart
obey the commands given to the people.
Naomi, who in her
destitution is a type of the nation, acknowledges her
condition: she calls herself Mara (bitterness).
He who was nearest of kin,
who would willingly have redeemed the inheritance,
refuses to do so, if Ruth must be taken with it. The law
was never able (nor the assembly either) to re-establish
Israel in their inheritance, nor to raise up in grace the
name of the dead.
Boaz (in him is strength),
upon whom the remnant had no direct claim (and who
typifies Christ risen, in whom are the sure mercies of
David), undertakes to raise up the name of the dead, and
to re-establish the heritage of Israel. Acting in grace
and in kindness, and encouraging the patient humble faith
of the remnant, the meek of the earth, he shews himself
faithful to fulfil the purpose and the will of God with
respect to this poor desolate family. Nothing can be more
touching and exquisite than the details given here. The
character of Ruth, this poor woman of the Gentiles, has
"Naomi took the child
that was born to her, and laid it in her bosom"; and
they said, "There is a son born to Naomi." In
fact the heir of the promises will be born unto Israel as
a nation, although the fulfilment of the promise affects
the remnant only, which, fully identifying itself with
the interests of God's people, has sought neither the
rich nor the poor, but, in faith and obedience, has kept
the testimony of God amongst the people in the path
appointed by Him.
between the books of Ruth and Judges
Thus, if on one side the
Book of Judges shews us the falling away of the people of
Israel, and their failure under responsibility, even when
God was their helper, on the other side this touching and
precious book sets before us, as the dawn of better
things, grace acting in the midst of difficulties,
securing the fulfilment of promise, and embellishing this
scene of misery and sin by lovely and beautiful instances
of faith, precious fruits of grace, whether in weakness
and devotedness, or in strength and kindness, and always
in accordance with the perfect will of God, and assuring
by this touching history, as a type, the full restoration
of Israel to blessing according to promise. It is a
refreshing and lovely picture in the midst of the
hard-mindedness and sorrows of Israel.
Ruth as the
intermediate link between Israel's fall and prophecy
In the succeeding books we
shall see prophecy, and the history of God's dealings,
developing the body of events which tended to the
fulfilment of His designs, the first principles, the
elements, of which are laid down in that which is shewn
us in this. For Ruth furnishes a kind of intermediate
link between the fall of Israel under God's immediate
government, and the future fulfilment of His purposes.
Prophecy, which unfolds
these purposes and gives moral proof of this fall, begins
with Samuel: we learn this from the apostle Peter, and
that Christ is the object of prophecy (see Acts 3: 24).
Eli, the last judge and
priest, departs; his family is to be cut off; the ark of
the covenant is taken by the Philistines; and Samuel,
consecrated to God in a new and extraordinary manner,
comes in with the special testimony of the Lord.
 Compare Micah 5:
3, last part.