In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
The book of Judges takes a sudden turn in chapter 17 and pans the lens around from the judges to the people at large.
Chapter 17 tells the story of a man named Micah who takes money from his mother. He returns the money and mom is so happy that she gives some of the money to a silversmith to make a household idol. There are so many things wrong with the story already that it is amazing. The son steals from his mother. I have known kids to raid their parents’ change drawers looking for small change to buy ice cream and whatnot, but Micah stole 1,100 pieces of silver. Mom rewards him for returning what he stole. There is nothing recorded about her chastising him or disciplining him, just her being happy that he returned what he took from her. And she rewards him with an idol. There is an impressive amount of dysfunction.
But Micah meets with a Levite and offers the Levite a living in his (Micah’s) household as their priest, figuring that God will sanction idolatry if a Levite is involved in it. And the Levite accepts. It is no wonder verse 6 tells us that every man did what was right in his own eyes, because the people are just going haywire. The Levites were not the priests, but temple servants. And having a temple servant or a priest would not make God happy with doing what He commanded not be done.
Chapter 18 continues the saga with the tribe of Dan visiting and some Danite spies meeting up with the Levite on their way to spy out a city to take for their own. They end up conquering the city and taking the Levite, the idol, and a fair bit of what had belonged to Micah’s household on their way. Micah, the idolatrous thief, is left destitute and whinging that his god had been stolen. Which brings us back around to the truth that every man did what was right in his own eyes. And worse, gives the impression that sin is highly contagious. Micah was a thief from whom the Danites stole. Micah was an idolater whose god was taken by the Danites who then became idolaters until the time of the captivity (Judges 18:30-31). One man’s sins grew larger and manifested in an entire tribe of Israelites.
If the earlier chapters were pictures of my Redeemer, then this chapter is a picture of those in need of redemption. When there was no king in our lives, we did whatever seemed right to us. In rare moments, we might have gotten things right, but more often we tried to do the right thing — Micah was seeking God’s approval and even hired a Levite in hopes he might get it — and got everything terribly wrong — what Micah was seeking God’s approval for (idolatry) directly contradicted God’s Ten Commandments. These chapters of the book of Judges seem to be a reminder of how desperately we need the King of Kings in our lives; how we need the Judge of all the Earth to render His verdict on our actions and tell us where we are going wrong (Hint: It is almost everywhere).
Let me examine myself and see if Jesus is, in fact, my King or if I am just paying Him lip service. If He is King in my life, then I should be seeking to obey Him. If there is no desire to obey and no effort in that direction, then I might very well have no King of Kings in my life.
Father, thank You for this reminder of how wrong my best efforts can be. Thank You that my efforts are not the basis of my salvation. Please search me and reveal to me whether or not Jesus is King in my life or if there is some pretender on His throne. If He is King in me, please give me a heart that seeks to obey Him more. If He is not, please pull down the usurper and set my heart to rights.