April 11.—Morning. [Or July 20.]
“The Lord he is God.”
Judges 18:1–6; 14–26
IN 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.
2 And 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.
3 When 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? (This is generally the worldling’s question—“What hast thou here?” And in this case it was well suited for a hireling priest.)
4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.
5 And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.
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.
6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way wherein ye go.
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.
14 ¶ Then 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. (This was a hint that perhaps the gods would be worth the stealing.)
15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
16 And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.
17 And 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.
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.
18 And 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?
19 And 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? (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.)
20 And 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. (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.”)
¶ 22 And 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.
23 And 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?
24 And 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? (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.)
25 And 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. (Those who have power on their side can generally find something to say, and they scarcely care to conceal the lion’s claw beneath the lion’s pad.)
26 And 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.
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.
April 11.—Evening. [Or July 21.]
“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
1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. (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.)
2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? (Saints draw arguments from the blasphemies of their enemies, and these are prevalent with God.)
3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. (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.)
4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. (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.)
5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. (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.)
8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
They are as gross and ridiculous as the images they odors.
9 O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.
11 Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. (Thus trust in God is the duty and privilege of all sorts of saints, in all places.)
12 The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; (The past ensures the future, since our God changes not;) he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.
13 He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. (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.)
14 The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. (Believers shall be multiplied, the chosen race shall increase.)
15 Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth. (And this is true, whatever men may say, or providence may appoint. Rejoice in it, ye righteous.)
16 The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
17 The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. (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.)
18 But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord.
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.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 209–211). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.