Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 18

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (550 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Compromise in the Promised Land (c 1-21)
Theme: The Moral Failure of Israel (c 17-21)
Message: The Danites Steal Micah's Idols (v 1-31)

Judges 18 Commentary

(18:1) The Dan-ites - The Danites had been assigned enough land to meet their needs (Joshua 19:40-48). However, because they had failed to trust God to help them conquer their territory, the Amorites had forced them into the hill country and wouldn't let them settle in the plains Judges 1:34). Rather than fight for their allotted territory, they preferred to look for new land in the north where resistance from the enemy wouldn't be so tough. It was while they were traveling north that some of their men passed Micah's home and stole some of his idols.

(18:4-6) A Disobedient Priest - Priests and their assistants were all members of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:5-13). They were to serve the people, teach them how to worship God, and perform the rituals involved in the worship services both at the tabernacle in Shiloh and in the designated cities throughout the land. But this disobedient priest showed disrespect for God in at least three ways: (1) He performed his duties in a house. Priestly duties were to be performed only in the tabernacle or a designated city. This requirement was intended to prevent God's laws from being changed. (2)

He carried idols with him (18:20). (3) He claimed to speak for God when he had not inquired of God and God had not spoken through him (18:5-6).

(18:11-26) Manipulating God -  Through this entire incident, no one desired to worship God; instead, they wanted to use God for selfish gain. Today some people go to church to feel better, be accepted, be relieved of guilt, or gain business contacts or friends. Following God with an attitude of selfish gain rather than selfless service is just as sinful as not following God.

(18:14) The Ephod - An ephod was a ceremonial vest worn by a priest.

(18:24) Idols of Michah - Micah made idols and hired a priest to run his household religion. When the men of Dan took his idols and priest, nothing remained. What an empty spiritual condition! An idol is anything that takes God's place in a person's life. Some people invest all their energy in the pursuit of money, success, possessions, or a career. If these idols are taken away, only an empty shell of life is left. The only way to protect yourself against such loss is to invest your life in the living God, whom you can never lose.

(18:27) Dan Attack Laish - Did the tribe of Dan have the right to kill the citizens of Laish? No. God had commanded Israel to clean out and destroy certain cities because of their idolatry and wickedness, but Laish did not fall under that judgment. It was not within the assigned boundaries of Dan, and its people were peaceful in contrast to the warlike Canaanites. But the tribe of Dan had no regard for God's law. God's law said to destroy a city for idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:12-15). The Danites themselves were guilty of this sin. This story shows how far some of the tribes had wandered away from God.

(18:27) Success Doesn't Indicate God's Approval - Just because the Danites successfully defeated Laish doesn't mean their actions were right. Their idolatry showed that God was not guiding them. Today many justify their wrong actions by outward signs of success. They think that wealth, popularity, or lack of suffering is an indication of God's blessing. But many stories in the Bible indicate that evil and earthly success can go hand in hand (see, for example, 2 Kings 14:23-29). Success doesn't indicate God's approval. Don't use your personal success, or lack thereof, as a measuring rod for whether you are pleasing God.

(18:30-31) A Wrong Assumption - The tribe of Dan had stolen Micah's idols, and now they set them up in Laish. Although the Danites were actually denying God by worshiping these images (Exodus 20:1-5), they probably assumed they were worshiping God through them (see the note on Exodus 32:4-5). Worshiping images of God is not worshiping God, even if it resembles true worship in some ways. People repeat the same mistake today when they claim to be Christians without really believing in God's power or changing their conduct to conform to his expectations. Godliness cannot be merely a claim. It must be a reality in our motives and in our actions.

(18:31) The Danites Disregard for God - Shiloh was probably destroyed during the events reported in 1 Samuel 4 and 5, not long after the time described here. Because Shiloh was the religious center for Israel, all adult males were required to travel there for certain religious feasts. The tribe of Dan, however, set up idols and priests in the new territory they conquered. The fact that they were over 80 miles away from Shiloh may have been their excuse for not fulfilling the law's requirements. This act was a further demonstration of their disregard for God.

(18;31) Our Idols Will Rule Us - The true worship of God should have been maintained by the Levitical priests scattered throughout the land and the influence of the tabernacle in Shiloh. This story shows how idolatrous influences and sinfulness had crept into every corner of Israelite culture. Although good years had passed since they had entered the Promised Land, they still had not destroyed the idolatry and evil practices within it. When we allow seemingly "harmless" habits to have their own small corners in our lives, they can soon become dominating forces that rule us. The ungodly values, attitudes, and practices you have adopted from the world around you can be exposed by applying the light of God's truth to them. Once you see them for what they are, you can begin to uproot them.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Spiritual Bankruptcy


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Judges with Chapter 18 and we continue in the 3rd section of this book, The Moral Failure of Israel. Our story of Micah continues as He has his Idols that he made taken from him which left his life empty. Today, in making application,  we see that Idols are anything that we place between us and the the Lord. They can be money, careers, relationships, possessions, etc and many pour their lives into these idols. When these Idols fail to produce anything in the lives of their makers it leaves an empty space in the heart of the one who possessed it. Leaving a spiritual bankruptcy to its owner resulting in a wasted life just as Micah in our text today. How about you? Have you made idols in your life? Let us learn from this text and worship the God of Israel - the God of the Bible - Our Lord Jesus-Christ who wont leave you bankrupt but pays dividends for eternity.


Judges 18

Judges 18

 1In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.

 2And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.

 3When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?

 4And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.

 5And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.

 6And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.

 7Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.

 8And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye?

 9And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.

 10When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.

 11And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.

 12And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.

 13And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.

 14Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do.

 15And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.

 16And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.

 17And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.

 18And these went into Micah's house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?

 19And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?

 20And the priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.

 21So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.

 22And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.

 23And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?

 24And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?

 25And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.

 26And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.

 27And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.

 28And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.

 29And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.

 30And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.

 31And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.