Lectures on the Book of Ruth
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Lectures on the Book of Ruth
by George Lawson
The design of this book, say some, is to give us the genealogy of David. This certainly could not be the chief design either of Samuel, who is generally supposed to be the writer of it, or of the Spirit of God, in giving us this history. The genealogy of David from Judah is contained in very few verses, and we find it in several other parts of Scripture. Every part of the book affords rich entertainment and useful instruction. What would we give for a piece of family history, equally ancient and authentic, of any of our own nation, or rather that nation, whatever it was, from whence we have derived our origin? The Holy Bible was not written to gratify our curiosity, and yet what book was ever written that can equally gratify laudable curiosity about the occurrences and manners of former ages?
This book is one of those which were written by inspiration of God, and must therefore be exceedingly profitable to us, if we read it with a due attention to those instructions which it is designed to impress on our minds. It is not one of those books in which we are to look for new instructions. The religion recommended in it is that which had been already taught by Moses; but it impresses deeply upon the mind of the attentive reader many truths highly conducive to holiness, and to the happiness even of the present life.
Read this history, not to gratify your curiosity, but to improve your hearts. Remember that you are bound, by the authority of God, to imitate the meekness and gentleness of Christ and of his saints. The grace revealed in the gospel teaches us to deny every lust of the flesh and of the mind, and to practise every lovely virtue. The power of the Holy Spirit can subdue our rough tempers, and beautify us with those graces of holiness by which the gospel of Christ is adorned; and his own Word is the great means which he uses for fulfilling in us the good pleasure of the divine goodness. Not only faith, but every fruit of the Spirit, - love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, - are produced through the Word of truth; and the short history of Ruth is as really a part of the Word of truth, as those books which give us the history of our Lord’s life and death.
The female sex may likewise learn from this book a lesson of great use to them - how they may preserve their beauty, and make themselves amiable in old age. It is the glory of those ‘trees of righteousness which are planted in the house of the Lord, to bring forth fruit in old age.’ It is the privilege of those women who are adorned with the beauties of holiness, that old age does not wither, but improves their beauties. Sarah’s face was so lovely at ninety years of age, that her chastity was brought into danger at the court of Gerar. The daughters of Sarah, in the most advanced period of their lives, possess beauties more charming, and less dangerous. Naomi was not less lovely than Ruth, and, had Elimelech been alive, she would have been as dear to him when she was approaching to the grave, as in the day when he first received her into his arms.
The male sex, as well as the female, may derive useful instruction from this book. Consider Boaz as a master, as a friend, as a neighbor, as a man of consequence and wealth, as an honest man. In all these respects, you will find him worthy of esteem and imitation.
If young and old, rich and poor, masters and servants, do not find useful instruction in this book, the fault it their own. It is easily understood, and scarcely needs a comment for explanation. But it may be useful to have some of those practical instructions which it contains set before us, that we may be assisted in meditating upon this part of the Word of God. It was doubtless, one of those books of Scripture in which David found such delightful and nourishing food to his soul.
O that the Holy Spirit, who wrought so powerfully in the heart of that blessed man, would work in us the same temper! Then we would find a fast for our souls in every portion of Scripture. Our days would be a continual festival, because we could always find food ready at hand, more delightful to our taste than honey from the comb.
- From the Introduction to Lectures on the Book of Ruth
George Lawson (1749-1820) was for forty-nine years the minister of the Scottish Secession church in Selkirk. He became renowned as a writer alongside his preaching and this volume is drawn from his lectures through Ruth.
This readable treatment principally applies the narrative to family relationships and has much to say to Christians in our day. First published in 1805, this edition has been carefully re-typeset for re-issue from an edition dated 1816.