Ever been hungry and the only thing you had in the fridge was some bread, peanut butter and jelly? Doesn’t sound like filet mignon but it meets the need and if you are content, it will hit the spot.
Perhaps the same can be said for Elimelech but when you have a wife and two sons during a famine, life becomes a bit more complicated and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might not suffice. So, under his guidance the whole family leaves Bethlehem during the time of the Judges. They live in Moab for a season and Naomi’s husband and two sons die in the land. Could it be because of the affinity to the Moabites? After all, they did marry strange women….
Notwithstanding, Naomi is in a bad situation. A widow and now childless a spark of good news comes her way. “[Naomi] had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.” (Ruth 1:6b)
Through these extenuating circumstances, she finds herself in a bit of a pickle and a choice must be made. Does she stay in Moab to fend for herself? Or does she take heed to the good news of the Lord providing bread for his people and see her way from whence she came?
Note: In verse seven, the scripture reads, “Wherefore she [Naomi] went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.” (Ruth 1:7)
I think this is noteworthy because nowhere in the preceding text does it show at any particular point in time Naomi visited Bethlehem and returned back to Moab. This could be a depiction of Naomi having left the presence of the Lord and then by reason of the death of her family and financially destitute, she returns physically and spiritually to the Lord.
Scripturally, it is not revealed how Naomi came to hear of this good news (Ruth 1:6). What we do know is the Lord’s presence served as a blessing to the people that resulted in their daily provisions (bread) being met. This is the intervening presence of the Lord.
As logical and commendable as it might have been for Elimelech to take his family and move elsewhere during the time of famine to ensure their needs were met, was he justified by God? He did not sojourn in the land like Abraham. Did he not have reserve (in our language a rainy-day fund) to weather out the storm? Could he not be relieved by his neighbor for a period of time while remaining in Bethlehem? We might not ever know, but one thing is for sure, no matter how difficult the circumstance, there is no situation that justifies our breaking faith in God’s word and his ability to provide.
Now the prayer “give us this day my daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) should take on a whole new different meaning.