The events of the Book of Ruth take place during the sad conditions and circumstances characterizing the rule of the Judges; yet there is nothing in common between this account's train of thought and that of the account preceding it. The Book of Judges describes the ruin of the people of Israel left to their own responsibility. This ruin was without remedy despite the tender care of divine mercy which sought to restore the people and often succeeded in partially restoring them. In contrast to the drought and barrenness of the ways of unfaithful man in the Book of Judges, the Book of Ruth is full of freshness. Here we find the "waterbrooks...springs, and...deep waters" that Moses spoke of (Deut. 8: 7). The Book of Ruth is as fresh as a morning sunrise. Everything in this book breathes grace and no discordant note disturbs its delightful harmony. It is like a green oasis in the desert, a pleasant idyll amid Israel's somber history. When we meditate on this little book of four chapters, it becomes infinitely great to our souls. The scene has not changed, and yet we can say that heaven's feelings and affections have come down and made themselves at home on earth. It is difficult to understand that this country, the witness of so many wars, shameful deeds, and abominable idolatries, was at the same time the theater of events whose lofty simplicity takes us back to the blessed times of the patriarchs.

Yet this can be explained. From the time of the fall two histories have been unfolding side by side: the history of man's responsibility and its consequences, and the history of God's counsels and promises along with the way in which He would carry them out in spite of all that is to the contrary. This is grace. Only grace is involved when it is a matter of divine counsels and promises; for man in responsibility cannot attain them, his guilt is unable to change them, a scene of ruin is incapable of fettering them, and God Himself rebukes Satan when he attempts to oppose them (Zech. 3: 2).

In the measure in which evil spreads, the history of grace develops in ever-increasing proportion and with irresistible progress until it attains its appointed purpose. Grace begins in the heart of God and centers in the person of the Lord Jesus. Its final culmination is the radiant glory of the Second Man and the blessings we shall share with Him. This is why the Book of Ruth ends with the prophetical mention of Him who is the Root and Offspring of David, the glorious Redeemer promised to Israel.

But if Ruth is a book of grace, it is necessarily also a book of faith. Grace and faith ever go hand in hand, for it is faith that lays hold of grace and appropriates it, and that cleaves to the divine promises and to the people who are the subjects of these promises, and it is faith that finds its delight in Him who is the bearer of the promises and their heir. Such is the marvelous character of the book we are about to consider.