RUTH. This is a sequel to the Book of Judges (with which the Jews classed it), and is the link connecting that period with the monarchy. It supplies the genealogy of David, and so carries on the descent of the “promised seed” from Abraham. It comprises a period of ten years, during the judgeship of Deborah and Barak, and is said to have been written by Samuel. It is remarkably rich in examples of faith, patience, industry, tender affection, and of the merciful providence of God, in bringing good out of evil. The pious amiability of Boaz contrasts favourably with the prominent characters among the judges (Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson); while the conversion of the Moabitess, her adoption into the church of God, and her acceptance as “a mother in Israel,” put to shame the decline into heathenism of “the chosen people” and the immorality displayed in the closing chapters of the Book of Judges, and anticipate the warning of Christ, “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. viii. 11).
As the Books of Joshua and Judges portray God in the history of a nation under an oligarchy and republican confederation, so the four succeeding ones shew His dealings with His people under a monarchy. The nation takes its tone from the king, as the father of the family: according as he walks with God, in the ways of David, he prospers; if he follow the statutes of Omri, or walk in the steps of Jeroboam, he fails, and is dethroned. Thus there are eight kings of Israel in the first ninety years, five of whom meet with violent deaths; while of the six of Judah in the same space, only the last is killed, a punishment for his alliance with the house of Ahab.