God’s Word for You: Judges 18:22-28a Dan right and Dan wrong
GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
22 After they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who were in the houses nearby were called together and caught up with the Danites. 23 They shouted to them, and so the Danites turned to face them, and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you called out your men?”
Remember that the Danites’ wives and children were placed in front of them, which means they were to the north as they were traveling north. So when Micah and his neighbors caught up with them from the south, the Danites only had armed men anywhere in sight.
24 He said, “You took the gods I had made and the priest, and went away. What do I have left? How can you say to me, ‘What’s the matter with you? ’”
25 The Danites said to him, “Don’t argue with us, or some angry men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.” 26 Then the Danites went on their way, and Micah turned to go back home, because he saw that they were too strong for him.
What began this story was Micah’s theft of his mother’s silver. Now it was stolen again—from Micah. The Danites knew they were stealing what wasn’t theirs. They were desperate for what they thought they needed, but they were wrong, and they really knew that they were in the wrong. A little bluster, a little saber-rattling, and they continued north.
The words used by the Danites are quite sinister and threatening. Literally, the Hebrew text says that their words were: “Some men bitter of soul will remove your souls, and the souls in your house!” Micah could only watch them go. At this point, Micah and his family pass out of the story as the Danites took the idols and the priest and headed toward their new home.
Earlier in chapter 17, our author commented that at this time Israel had no king, and now we have one of the darkest examples of everyone doing whatever he wanted.
27 After they had taken the things Micah had made along with his priest, they went up to Laish, to that quiet and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with their swords and burned the city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because it was too far from Sidon and they had no agreement with anyone. It was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The Danites, kingless but well-led, attacked the Sidonian outpost of Laish, easily taking the city by surprise. They burned the buildings and killed the inhabitants.
Later, this area near Beth Rehob would become inhabited by Arameans who would trouble King David (2 Samuel 10:8; Psalm 60 Title). This is evidence that the people of Dan became quite friendly with the tribes around them, and since their worship was already twisted by syncretism, they probably did whatever they needed to do in order to get along with their neighbors. Yet here they fulfilled the command to drive out the Canaanites. In this matter, the Danites actions show how confusing things had become. They were wrong about their religion in the way it applied to their spiritual lives (!) but right about their religion as it applied to their military conquest. The Canaanite inhabitants of Laish were to be “cut off from the land” (Proverbs 2:22), and yet the Danites were mixing their worship with idolatry. It was a mess. More and more the people of Israel were showing that they were like sheep without a shepherd. Would the kings do much better? For a little while, and mostly in the south. But what Israel needed then is what we still need today: the Good Shepherd, the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). Without Christ as the motive for what we do, we would be as backward, confused and mixed up as the Danites with their idols and ephod. So put your faith in Jesus, and do whatever you do today to give him glory.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Archives by Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel: http://www.wlchapel.org/worship/daily-devotion/
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
May 24, 2017