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The subject of this, and all that remains in the book of the Judges, puts on a different complection from what went before. The Reader will recollect the title it bears: the transactions here recorded; where in those days when there was no king in Israel; when every man did that which was right, or pleasing, in his own eyes. And how right that was, the sad account here given doth but too plainly show. In this chapter we have, in the example of one house and family, a lively Feature of the Idolatry of the land. Micah sets up an image for his god, of silver stolen from his mother: and takes a vagabond Levite for his priest.
Observe how, out of the same mouth, when there is no grace in the heart, come cursings or blessings. It seems very plain that money was the idol of both. Hence the son robbed the mother, and the mother cursed the son. Alas! what a dreadful state is the mind of both parent and offspring in by nature.
And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.
It is not strange, that both parent and child should still pretend to retain a reverence for Jehovah, the God of Israel, when thus openly violating one of his express commandments. Exodus 20:4-5 .
Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.
It is worthy our notice, that in the midst of this pretended piety, the woman allowed but 200 shekels of silver for this dunghill god to be made of; whereas she had said originally, that she intended the whole eleven hundred. Reader! depend upon it, the same spirit runs through all carnal minds, branching out only in different directions. Some under the government of one corrupt passion, and some under another; but once departed from God, all are out of the way.
And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.
Here we read of many gods. And indeed, when the one true God be not thought enough, the corrupt heart will, if tempted thereto, multiply him to thousands. An Ephod, was a garment. And a Teraphim, which is plural, means many images, under the pretence of consulting them as occasion required. Observe, his son is the priest, and himself the person to consecrate. As with the people, so with the priest.
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
The sacred historian very properly accounts for the whole of this sad defection in Israel; in those days there was no king neither order, nor government. No ministry of God to tell men of their transgressions: no magistrate to punish them. Reader! learn to set a proper estimate upon those two great blessings of the Lord, a standing ministry, to instruct men in the truths of salvation: and a well ordered government to protect those ministers. Remember: rulers are not a terror to good works, but the evil. Romans 13:3 .
The rambling conduct of this young man, manifests his real principles. The Lord had made all suitable provision for his Levites, while they remained in his service. But when idolatry is set up in Israel, a temporizing Levite who falls in with the corruptions of the people, can find no bread in God's house.
The sequel of this conference, too plainly marks the Levite ' s character. What an awful state must it be, in a Levite of God, to hire himself out in the service of idols; and what a pitiful maintenance it was after all. Bread just to keep him from starving, a coarse garment for every day, and a little better for the Lord's day, and ten shekels of silver a year: that is about five and twenty shillings in value of our money. Oh! Lord! rather let thy true servants in the gospel of thy dear Son, be fed with the humblest fare, and clothed with the plainest garment; than go ever so costly in the wages of sin.
Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.
Is it not astonishing that Micah should look for good from the hand of Cod, while was thus doing evil? But, alas! How doth sin harden the heart and deceive the soul. So much so (saith the prophet) that man is not able to deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand. See the whole on this subject. Isaiah 44:9-20 .
My soul! pass over all lesser considerations in the perusal of this chapter, to drop a tear over Israel's degeneracy, in setting up idols in their houses; and the corruption of the sacred order of the Levites, in acting as priests of the same. Is this Israel before whom the Lord God manifested such wonders, and to whom the Lord shewed such distinguishing grace? Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice: lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
Blessed be God! the day is come, the fountain is opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness, when the Lord hath cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and in which the Lord hath promised, that the prophets and the unclean spirit shall pass out of the land. Oh precious Jesus! thou Prince of the tribe of Levi, give us pastors after thine own heart, and let not thy faithful servants be obliged to wander to seek places, much less be content to prostitute, their sacred order for a piece of silver, and for a morsel of bread. Oh! make them more anxious to win souls than to gain kingdoms. Let the salvation of sinners in thy blood and righteousness be the sole object of their work, and here may they labor night and day in thy word and doctrine. And do thou bless them, gracious Lord, in their ministry; and when thou the Chief Shepherd shall appear, may they obtain that crown of glory which fadeth not away.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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