It used to be the custom in parts of the country, that, during the harvest season of the year a bell would be rung at some time during the day. The purpose of its ringing was to inform the poor and downtrodden people of the district that the reaper had finished his work in the field, and they could now go and glean - or gather the scraps of grain that the reaper had left behind. Then, when the next field had been harvested, the bell sounded again, and the process of gleaning recommenced.
Gleaning what remained after the reapers had completed their work was society's way of providing something for those who had no field of their own. It's hard for us in these affluent days to imagine that some could be so hard up that they had to depend upon gleaning!
But society - and Scripture - gave provision for the gleaners to enter into the field cp Deut 24:19-22. So that when Ruth went to glean in the fields of Bethlehem she had every right to be there. The commandment of the Lord gave provided for her to glean. When she returns after her first day's work, her mother in law is anxious to hear how she fared. So she enquires, 'Where hast thou gleaned today?'
We wish to look at this question and Ruth's gleaning as an illustration of the work of God's people in the Lord's field. The people of God are like Ruth - labourers for the Lord on this earth.