At the wedding I'm taking in Kemsing this afternoon, the bride and groom have asked to have Ruth 1:16-17 as their Bible reading, and for me to speak briefly on that passage. It's the first time I've been asked to speak on Ruth at a wedding, and it is a very appropriate part of the Bible to hear on such an occasion.
On another occasion, I might share what I'll be saying at their wedding.
For now, one thought struck me. There are a few characters in the Bible named Abimelech. The most well-known two are Abimlech king of Gerar in Genesis 20 and 26, and Abimelech the son of Gideon in the book of Judges. Abimelech means "my father is king", and none of the characters with that name come off in a particularly good light. One's name is, of course, chosen by one's father (in Bible times, the mother wouldn't have had much say in the matter). To name your son "my father is king" is to lay claim to a certain greatness for yourself. It's a pretentious title, and an arrogant one.
The husband in the family in the book of Ruth is named Elimelech. "My God is king". Surely that is a better name for someone. Elimelech quite literally drops from the narrative after the first verse of the book. But given the book of Ruth asks the reader to read it alongside the book of Judges (see Ruth 1:1), the name of Naomi's husband stands out as a careful contrast to the similarly sounding Abimelech of Judges 9.
We have two dynasties in Judges-Ruth, the dynasty of the rule of the judges, or the dynasty of God's promised king. Just as we get in a number of other parts of Scripture (think Cain / Seth, Hagar / Sarah, Ishmael / Isaac, Esau / Jacob,...) there are two approaches to life. The one that has God at the centre, and the one that thinks we can make our own destiny.
The choice we all face is all summed up in those two names. Which name would we like to have for ourselves? "My father is king", and by implication, so am I. Or would we like to be known as "My God is king"?