the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“The Lord he is God.”
Judges 18:1-6 , Judges 18:14-26
This is generally the worldlings question ”What hast thou here?” And in this case it was well suited for a hireling priest.
Judges 18:4 , Judges 18:5
Little did they care whether he was a true servant of God or not. They were like many in our day, who think one religion as good as another. They saw before them a god, an. ephod, and a priest, and that was enough for them. One would think that if they cared for religion at all, they would have been anxious to have the right one; but no, the very men who are careful in their eating, their clothing, their medicine, will take their faith second-hand from others, without examination.
False priests abound in soft words.
These spies fulfilled their commission, and returned to the Danites with their report; whereupon the men of war marched upon Laish, and on the road stopped at or near Micah’s house for the night, as the spies had done previously. They were ungrateful enough to repay his former hospitality by robbing him.
This was a hint that perhaps the gods would be worth the stealing.
They kept the priest in conversation while they stole the wretched gods which could not protect themselves. Does it not read like a caricature? How insane a thing, that men should steal what they had worshipped, and afterwards worship what they stole.
They knew the most powerful arguments to silence this gentleman, and asked him whether it would not be more profitable to be the priest of a settlement than the private chaplain of a single man. The man who had already sold himself was easily bought.
Bishop Hall says, “He that was won with ten shekels, may be lost with eleven. The Levite had too many gods to make conscience of pleasing one. There is nothing more inconstant than a Levite who seeks nothing but himself.”
What a mass of superstition and absurdity! Ye have stolen my gods which are my all. They are my own gods, for I made them myself, and very precious are they to my heart, so that nothing can console me for their loss. He was foolish to trust in gods which could not take care of themselves, yet while he did trust in them he showed his sincerity by grieving for their loss. In very deed, if we lose the smile of the living God, we may well say, “What have I more?” To lose the presence of God is to lose all.
Those who have power on their side can generally find some- thing to say, and they scarcely care to conceal the lions claw beneath the lion’s pad.
And if he became a wiser man he was a great gainer by his loss. If Ritualists and others could be cured of their folly by the breaking in pieces of all their altars and the pulling down of every cathedral in the land it would be a cheap remedy. O that the Lord would visit this land, and with his great besom sweep out the priests and their idols. May he also cleanse the temples of our hearts. For this let us pray.
God is King among all nations,
God above all gods is he;
In his hand are earth’s foundations,
The strong hills and rolling sea:
He created land and ocean,
He with beauty clothes the sod;
Let us kneel in deep devotion,
Bless our Maker and our God.
From vile idolatry
Preserve my worship clean;
I am the God who set thee free
From slavery and sin.
No symbol shalt thou make,
Or graven image frame;
I am the Lord, Invisible,
Eternal is my name.
Though steeped in midnight dire as death,
The heathen scorn thy name,
And rage with bold blaspheming breath;
Dear Lord, remember them!
Darkly they roam, enslaved by lust,
Devoid of fear and shame;
Before their gods they crouch in dust;
But, oh! remember them!
Why is thy church so much defaced?
Why hast thou laid her fences waste?
Strangers and foes against her join,
And every beast devours thy vine.
Return, Almighty God, return;
Nor let thy bleeding vineyard mourn;
Turn us to thee, thy love restore,
We shall be saved, and sigh no more.
“Our God is in the heavens.”
The mournfully ludicrous picture of idol-worship afforded by our two last readings, leads us to adore and worship the one only living and true God, who has revealed himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our God in covenant, whom alone we reverence. Let us read the devout song of the Jewish church contained in
When in trouble, we can find no plea for help in ourselves, but must be humbled, and appeal only to the mercy and faithfulness of God.
Saints draw arguments from the blasphemies of their enemies, and these are prevalent with God.
However much the ungodly may rage, God sits upon the throne, they cannot thrust him from the seat of power; and, moreover, amid all their riot the Lord achieves his purposes, and in every jot and tittle his decrees are fulfilled. Sweet comfort this.
At the very best this is all the idols are, mere masses of metal. What scorn is here poured upon the sacred images! The next sentences are grimly sardonic. Idols are not to be reverenced but despised.
Though their features are meant to represent various attributes of power, they are only so many falsehoods, for an eye that cannot see is a poor emblem of knowledge, a mouth which cannot speak is no symbol of eloquence, and hands which cannot move are a mockery, rather than an ensign of power.
They are as gross and ridiculous as the images they adore.
Thus trust in God is the duty and privilege of all sorts of saints, in all places.
The past ensures the future, since our God changes not;
A precious word of comfort for the little in years, in substance, in ability, and in grace; they are not and shall not be forgotten, when God blesses his chosen.
Believers shall be multiplied, the chosen race shall increase.
And this is true, whatever men may say, or providence may appoint. Rejoice in it, ye righteous.
So far as this world is concerned, death ends human praise: let us then resolve to bless the Lord as long as we live, according to the resolution of the next verse.
Formed by human hands, behold
Gods of silver, gods of gold;
Worship unto these they pay,
Unto these bow down and pray.
Mouths have they, yet not a word
From their speechless lips is heard;
Eyes they have, yet blind are found;
Ears, but cannot hear a sound.
They as void of sense appear,
Who these senseless idols rear;
All who trust in them for aid,
Miserable dupes are made.
Israel, trust thou in the Lord;
He alone can help afford:
Make Jehovah’s name your shield;
Sure protection he will yield.