“I Am Ruth Thine Handmaid (Part 2)”

I Am Ruth Thine Handmaid (Part 2)

Wade Webster

In the first part of this study, we noticed that Ruth was a faithful servant.  In this installment, we will notice two other qualities. 

A Fervent Servant

Not only was Ruth a faithful servant, she was a fervent servant.  When Naomi and Ruth arrived back in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest (1:22), Ruth came to Naomi with the request to go and glean.  She said, “Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn” (Ruth 2:2).  Please note that Ruth requested to go and glean.  She was not commanded to do so. Like the ant, she needed no overseer to drive her (Prov. 6:6-9).  Ruth was eager to go to work.  Please notice the little word “now.”  There was a fervency or urgency to Ruth’s request.  Also, please consider the action associated with Ruth in the text – “And she went, and came, and gleaned” (Ruth 2:3). In addition to getting up and going to work, Ruth stayed at work all day (Ruth 2:7, 17).  Again, this shows fervency.

Are we as fervent in the work that we have been given to do as Ruth was?  Are we self-starters?  Do we stay at it as long as she did?  To the saints at Rome, Paul wrote, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).  “Slothful” mans “tardy” or “indolent.” Are you familiar with tree sloths? Did you know that they move very little?  In fact, they can spend their whole lives without moving from the tree in which they were born.  Paul did not want the saints at Rome to be so stationary and sedimentary.  He did not want them to be slothful servants or lukewarm laborers (Mt. 25:26; Rev. 3:15-16).  He wanted them to be “fervent.”  “Fervent” means “boiling.” He wanted them to be zealous of good works (Tit. 2:14; cf. Col. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. 1:22).  Like Ruth, we must not grow weary and quit.  We must stay in the field from morning to evening (Gal. 6:9).

A Fearful Servant

When I describe Ruth as a fearful servant, I am using the word fear in the sense of respect and obedience.  Obviously, there is a kind of fear that is condemned in servants (Mt. 25:24-26; Rev. 21:8). The fear that is condemned in Scripture is a fear that keeps us from obeying God (2 Tim. 1:7).  The fear that is commanded is a fear that motivates us to obey God (Eccl. 12:13). When Naomi decided to seek “rest” (a home) for Ruth, Ruth humbly submitted to Naomi’s plan (Ruth 3).  Please consider two things that show her submission:

•       Ruth’s promise - “All that thou sayest unto me I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

•       Ruth’s performance – “And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her” (Ruth 3:6).  

Ruth’s promise declared and her performance demonstrated great fear or respect for Naomi.   To better see this fear in Ruth’s promise, please consider some parallel statements from the life of Noah:

•       “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he…And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him” (Gen. 6:22; 7:5).

•       “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7).

As you can see, Noah’s doing “all that” God commanded him demonstrated his fear or reverence for God.  The same holds true in Ruth’s case.  Although Ruth wasn’t a little girl and Naomi wasn’t her mother, she showed great respect.

What about us?  Do we show the same fear or respect toward Christ that Ruth showed to Naomi?  Do we do all that He has commanded us to do (Mt. 28:20; John 2:5; 15:14; Acts 3:22)?    If we want to be acceptable to God, then we are going to have to show great fear.  Paul wrote, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28).