Ruth 2:17 – “So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.”
What did Ruth continue to do after her meal? – She continued to labor, she continued to glean! Again, to “glean” means “to gather” or “pick up,” this is labor, it is hard work. Ruth is unaware of Boaz’s extra provision for her (v15-16) and if she had not gotten up and continued to glean she would have missed it. We see that the meal she had and fellowship she enjoyed at Boaz’s table aided and added to her desire to serve. This is how Ruth began her day and how she ended her day, she is an example of a “good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:23) and of those who do not grow “weary in well doing” (Gal 6:9; 2 Thess 3:13).
And how long did Ruth continue to labor? – “until even,” (evening or dusk). She kept gleaning until the sun set. She felt an urgency, a burning desire, and this is the same urgency and desire that our Lord Jesus felt as He served, for He said: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (Jn 9:4). Boaz had passed that urgency on to Ruth and Jesus passes that urgency on to us. We must labor while we can.
Ruth used every moment, every opportunity to gather grain, to serve! She was “redeeming the time” (Eph 5:16). She continued to labor because she wanted more and because of this she received more! And notice that is after her meal with Boaz that she will glean the most! The more we labor for the Lord, the more we receive from the Lord!
What did Ruth do with what she had gleaned? – She threshed it: “and beat out that she had gleaned.” To “beat” comes from “to knock off,” this is what it means to “thresh.” Usually a stick or a rock would be used to beat the stalks to separate the grain from the chaff. This was additional labor. It took time and effort to do this. Ruth will “knock off” the husks, all that can’t be used. Only when she does this will she truly be able to see the fullness of the blessing from Boaz and from her labors. She will take home the fruits of her labors, in a way she is taking home “the finest of the wheat" (Ps 81:16; Ps 147:14). Matthew Henry writes: “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).” The same holds true for us.
In type, what is Ruth “gleaning” and “beating out? What is this a picture of?” This pictures a full appreciation of and appropriation of the Word of God. This is searching the Word: “searching the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11), like the Bereans. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing [handling] the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15). This is meditating on the Word, it is to “think on these things” (Phil 4:8), those things that are found in the Word, in Paul’s gospel, those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. This is proving the Word. We are to “prove all things” (1 Thess 5:21). This is a picture of those who daily read and meditate of God’s Word.
At the end of the day, the end of gleaning, the end of threshing, we see what it is that Ruth has gleaned. “And it was about an ephah of barley.” An ephah is a measurement for grain. The amount ranges from 2/3 a bushel, ¾ a bushel to a bushel. This would weigh from 30-52 pounds and was enough to feed her and Naomi for a long time. What wonderful results and fruit from Ruth’s labor. Ruth had no idea when she was gleaning that it was this much, she was gathering a few stalks here and there, and later some precious bundles left for her. At the end of the day when she put it all together, it was more than she expected, beyond what she expected. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think …” (Eph 3:20). How glorious are His riches and blessings that are waiting for us to lay hold of, to willingly and joyfully labor for and when we do labor, we find at the end of the day an abundance that overwhelms and more than meets our needs!
Continued next issue