“Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.” Ruth 1:1
His name was Elimelech. The name Elimelech is a combination of two Hebrew words: eli meaning God and melech meaning king. Together they compose a name that means God is king.
Elimelech’s name was both a celebration and a reminder of the reality that it was God that was the ruler, protector, and provider of the nation of Israel.
Our focus text tells us that the setting for the events of the book of Ruth was the time period of the judges. This was a time of great inconsistency for the nation of Israel. So long as they were faithful in their devotion to God they prospered and were protected from their enemies but they often weren’t faithful. When a godly judge led the people they’d be faithful to God but when that judge died it wasn’t very long later before they would turn once again to serving the false gods of the Canaanites. In these times of unfaithfulness God could not bless and protect Israel as he wanted to.
It was during one of these times of waywardness, on the part of much of the Jewish nation, that a time of famine came upon the region of Judah which included the village of Bethlehem, where Elimelech lived.
Elimelech’s solution to his life’s problems was not to turn to God and rely upon him. Instead of living up to the message proclaimed by his name Elimelech sought refuge in the idolatrous nation of Moab. There’s no indication that God had led him to go to Moab. It was in pursuit of his own ideas that he left the land that God had given and the place He had promised to prosper his people.
Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
We need to be very careful and pursue the way that God is leading us down and not the one that just seems right to us.