-This chapter begins the final section of the book, which could be entitled “the depravity” or “the moral failure of Israel” during this period of the judges. The phrase “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” replays again and again to reiterate the point that they were not following God and His righteous standards clearly outlined in His Covenant Law with the chosen people. Leadership was poor, and what we might call today “situational ethics” prevailed. Micah was a man who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. He said one day to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” His mother then blessed him instead of the curse she had uttered as he returned the silver in to her in totality. She then did something very strange and idolatrous as she exclaimed, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you.” This was an abomination before the LORD as clearly detailed in the Law given to Moses (Exodus 20:4). However, when the silver was return to her, she took 200 pieces of it and gave them to the silversmith who made a graven image and a molten image (idolatry), and they were placed in the house of Micah. Micah in fact set up a shrine (house to the gods) in his house and made an ephod along with other household idols. He then consecrated his son as a priest, which again was outlawed by Moses’ direct commands of the LORD God (Exodus 28, Leviticus 8). Micah was taking the law into his own hands, doing what was right in his own eyes rather than following the decreed Law of the LORD (Judges 17:1-6).
-Now in those days when worship of Yahweh was waning and the ministry of the true priestly family of the Levites must have been struggling financially due to the commanded offerings being neglected, a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, who was a Levite, left his city to go and find a place to stay. Again this was probably because he could not make a decent living where he was at; therefore, he figured in his own rational thinking that he needed to make a change. There is no indication that he consulted God at all on this matter. He just left and ventured out on his own doing what was right in his own eyes. On his journey he came across the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim. They met and Micah asked him where he was from. When the young man told him that he was a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, Micah invited him to stay in his house as a father and priest to him. He offered him ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and maintenance. It sounded like a great deal to the Levite, so he went into this situation agreeing to live with Micah’s household. The young man from Bethlehem in Judah soon became like one of his sons. It was not long after this that the young man was consecrated and became his priest. Micah erroneously thought, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest (Judges 17:7-13).”
-*Application* We live in much the same kind of world as this time period in the history of Israel. Situational ethics are the norm of the day, and it is considered indecent when we call people out for their immorality and sin. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. We forget that God has decreed objective standards that are timeless in their application. We will struggle personally and as a society when we don’t do things the LORD’s way. We can no longer continue to put our own interests first when we come into the Kingdom of God as children of faith. His will always comes before our own. We walk in obedience as we follow Christ and His precepts. This yields the true rewards of the blessed life. His ways are always higher and better than our own (Isaiah 55:9).
Verse to Memorize: Judges 17:6