Sometime after the incidents recorded in chapter 17, the numerous and energetic tribe of Dan – hemmed in by Amorites and Philistines, and lacking faith to attack and dispossess these foes – resolved to seek room to establish a colony elsewhere. Accordingly, they sent out five chosen men to explore the far north of the land of Israel, near the headwaters of the Jordan River. These spies ascended eastward into the Ephraimite highlands; and passing northward along the main road, they spent the night in the immediate vicinity of Micah’s house. In the morning, they heard the voice of Micah’s Levite “priest,” probably as he was chanting or praying; and they soon discovered the position which he occupied. Without any scruples at all, they begged him to inquire of the Lord whether success would attend their mission; and, as might have been expected, the “priest” replied in the affirmative. So the Danite spies traveled onward; and at length, they came to a place called Laish (also called Leshem). The people who lived there were dwelling in unsuspecting security and wealth, and they were isolated from other settlements. The spies immediately returned home and reported what they had seen to their friends and families. Stimulated by their glowing account, a band of 600 armed Danites packed up their families and possessions and started for Laish.
On their way to their new home, these Danites halted near the house of Micah; and at the suggestion of the men who had been the spies, they plundered Micah’s sanctuary of his much-prized images and ephod. They overcame the remonstrances of the Levite “priest” by offering him the position of “priest” of the new colony that they were about to establish. It would have been very unjust and ungrateful if the Levite had simply abandoned Micah’s household after the good treatment that he had received there, but it was much worse for him to take the images along with him. Yet better could not be expected from a treacherous Levite! Who can have any confidence in a person who has forsaken the house of the Lord? Or what friend will a person be true to, when they have been false to their God and made shipwreck of a good conscience?
As for the Danites, what folly it was for them to imagine that these idols could protect them, when they could not even keep themselves from being stolen! To take these idols for their own use was a double crime. Not only was it the sin of stealing; but it also showed that they neither feared the Lord, nor regarded man. These people possessed neither Godliness nor honesty. If people will walk so devoutly in the name of their false gods, how much more ought we to love and serve the true God!
When Micah discovered the theft, he followed the band of Danites with his household, servants, and neighbors; and he loudly complained of the outrageous crime. But the armed Danites coolly bade him to beware of being handled roughly if he interfered with them. It is impossible to pity the deluded Micah, whose heart was so set upon his idols! He confesses that he had lost everything in losing them. But truly, what loss could there be in them? As was mentioned above, these contemptible idols could not even protect themselves – much less their worshipers! What a wretched resource for a person to have, which is thus capable of being lost! And if any person lays stress upon anything of his own – whether it is his feelings or his supposed attainments or anything else – as a reason why the Lord should show mercy upon his soul, then wherein doth this person’s hope differ from Micah’s? Lord Jesus, You alone are the “one thing needful,” and the Father’s irrevocable gift to us poor guilty sinners. And You are the same yesterday, today, and forever! (Heb. 13:8)
Upon reaching the region of Laish, the Danites made a sudden assault upon the inhabitants of the city and put them all to the sword. The town was burned; but afterwards it was restored and fortified, and it received the name of Dan. This place later became an infamous seat of idolatrous worship. It was here that the graven image stolen from Micah was set up. And the Levite, whose name was Jonathan, became the first “priest.” Many believe that Jonathan was a degenerate grandson of Moses (possibly referenced under the name of Manasseh in verse 30, in order to preserve the good reputation of that righteous man of God from being connected with such a corrupt grandson). The office of “priest” was continued in Jonathan’s family, at least until the time of the destruction of Shiloh – the place where the Lord’s Tabernacle stood.
Precious Jesus! From this chapter, cause us to see how much we owe to You and Your rich mercy! When we were running after the idols of our sinful hearts, You came and delivered us from this dreadful captivity. We thank You for Your everlasting love which made such ample provision for our recovery and redemption! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Brightside Creative | Lightstock.com