The Book Of Ruth -- By: Charles Edward Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 082:326 (Apr 1925)
Article: The Book Of Ruth
Author: Charles Edward Smith

The Book Of Ruth

Charles Edward Smith

That the Book of Ruth is a very interesting story; indeed one of those Bible stories which make one realize how far Biblical authors surpass all others in every kind of literary composition, will not be denied by any who are sufficiently familiar with it to be able to appreciate it. The tradition that Dr. Benjamin Franklin once read it to a company of French ladies who were astonished to learn that a work so fascinating should be found in the Hebrew Scriptures is not too extraordinary to be true. And this may have been one of those Bible stories which reconciled the boy Hugh Miller, the future Stone Mason of Cromarty, who became so famous as a geologist and author, to the unwelcome task of learning to read. Certainly the discovery of such a literary treasure would be a powerful incentive to any story-loving child. But whether this charming tale properly takes its place in a divinely inspired Bible, whether it can be confidently considered the work of the Holy Spirit, whether its subject matter is so germain to the great gospel message and the interest it creates contributes to faith in personal salvation—that is a demand upon it of a much higher order, and, if satisfied, greatly enhances our reverence for the story and our delight in its mission. But this profounder understanding of the Book of Ruth can scarcely be possessed by many Bible students as the writer of this paper has reason to conclude from his own personal history. And having gained it he naturally desires to share his pleasure and advantage with others.

Let us begin with that which is the most obvious feature of the book, the love of Ruth for Naomi. In vain might we look either in the Bible or out of it for an equally thrilling avowal of unalterable attachment. Immediately following Naomi’s disinterested attempt to induce her daughters-in-law to return to their country and people comes the striking contrast between the behaviors of the two, in that Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but

Ruth clave unto her. Nothing could be more beautiful, more impressive, or more touching than the words in which she expressed her determination. One delights to repeat them as a rare and precious jewel in the language of affection. “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee, for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God, my God. Where thou diest will I die and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me and more also, if aught but death part thee and me!”

When we consider that this was said by a young, gifted and beautiful woman to an old, poor, wasted, sadly afflicted woman, a foreigner, ...

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