Gleaning is the great theme of the second chapter of Ruth, but gleaning in the fields of Boaz, however happy and right, will not give full rest and satisfaction to the heart of either Ruth or Boaz. Nothing will give rest to the heart but the possession of the one that is loved. Hence in chapters three and four, Ruth is seeking to gain Boaz, and Boaz is working to possess Ruth. Love can never be satisfied with gifts, however precious––it must have the giver. It is just the same with the saint and the Saviour.
In his former dealings Boaz had shown marvellous grace to Ruth. He had put at her disposal his fields, his corn, his maidens, and his young men. He had given her water from his well, parched corn from his table, and let sheaves fall for her on purpose. All these blessings, however, had not satisfied her heart. They had won her confidence and drawn out her affections––but once the affections have been won nothing but the possession of the person who has won them will satisfy the heart. This is equally true whether in divine or human relationships. The grace and gifts by which Boaz kindled the affections of Ruth would not in themselves satisfy these affections. It is the possession of the blesser not the blessings that give satisfaction to the heart.
Thus it is in the Lord’s ways with believers. He so deals with us that we are brought to see that He is greater than all the blessings He bestows. Happy for us when we learn that blessings in themselves cannot satisfy. Christ alone can satisfy the heart.
This was the great lesson that Peter had to learn in Luke 5. The Lord bestowed a great temporal blessing upon Peter. He gave him the biggest catch of fish he had ever had. It was a blessing beyond the capacity of nets and boats to contain, and yet in that very gift the Lord so revealed himself to Peter that He became greater in Peter’s estimation than the blessings He had given––for immediately afterwards we read “leaving all they followed him” (v 11). What? Left the fish that the Lord had given? Yes he left all––nets, boats and fish–– and followed Him. If ever there was a catch of fish that Peter had a right to keep, it was the catch of fish that the Lord had given, but he forsook the blessings to follow the Blesser.
So with another humble believer, Mary Magdalene. She had been completely under the power of the devil, for the Lord had cast out of her seven demons. She had been greatly blessed but her heart had been won to the Blesser. Thus at the empty tomb, when the disciples went away to their own homes, Mary “stood at the tomb weeping” (John 20: 11). Blessings were not enough for Mary––she could find no rest in this world without Christ. With Him she was happy, without Him she was desolate.
In like manner the Lord dealt with the man who was once a blasphemer of Christ and a persecutor of the saints. Grace reached and blessed him in such manner that Christ became greater to him than all the blessings that Christ could give. His desire is expressed in the words “that I may gain Christ” and again “to know him” (Phil. 3: 8, 10). He is not content to know all the blessings to which Christ has given him a title––he must know the giver of the blessings. He is not content to gain heaven at last, but he must gain the One who has made his heaven secure.
How slow we are to learn that Christ and only Christ can satisfy our heart’s desire! At times we seek rest in our spiritual blessings. Our efforts are directed to keeping bright in our souls the joy of conversion, and the sense of the blessings we have received. But right as it is to be in the joy of our salvation, all such efforts are doomed to failure. We cannot enjoy the blessings apart from the Blesser. Every blessing that we have received is set forth in Christ and can only be enjoyed in company with Christ.