Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to gather [the grain], so must I go forth into the fields of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the Word to gather spiritual food.
The gleaner gathers her portion [grain by grain].
Her gains are little by little, so must I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them. Every [grain] helps [to increase the amount], and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise unto salvation.
The gleaner keeps her eyes open.
If she stumbles among the stubble [as if] in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at eventide. I must be watchful, in religious exercises, lest they become unprofitable to me. I fear I have lost much already. O, that I may rightly estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence.
The gleaner stoops for all she finds.
And so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul-saving Word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner. Down, master pride, you are a vile robber, not to endured for a moment.
What the gleaner gathers, she holds.
If she dropped one [grain] to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but scant. She is as careful to retain as to obtain and so, at last, her gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear. The second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in “much ado about nothing”!
Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth? A hungry belly makes the gleaner wise. If there be no [grain] in her hand, there will be no bread on her table. She labors under the sense of necessity and, hence, her tread is nimble and her grasp is firm. I have even a greater necessity, Lord. Help me to feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous a reward to diligence.
From: Evening by Evening by Charles Spurgeon (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1868), entry for August 2. Comment on Ruth 2.17.
Note: The word “grain” replaces the word “corn” in the original, since the Hebrew word encompasses more than just corn seed. In Ruth 2.17, the reference is to barley, for example.