Judges 17:1-13

Daybreak for Students

Judges 17:1-13

Judges 17
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

What confusion can result when a person turns away from the truth and chooses his own way instead! Some years back, a man gave a testimony that illustrates this fact. He told how he was saved, had obtained his deeper experiences, and was being used of the Lord in the Gospel work. However, his attention gradually shifted to the flashy things of this world. He had an insatiable desire to be rich, and, eventually, his desires caused him to turn his back on God.

Then he lost an item that was dear to his heart. He searched for it diligently but to no avail. In a desperate effort to locate his prized item, he did what is common in his culture — he sought after a local fetish priest who had the power of divination. He told his need to the occultist and waited as the man performed the satanic ritual that he expected would give him a clue to the whereabouts of the lost item. Suddenly, the man looked up at the backslidden man with astonishment. With an accusatory glance, he exclaimed, “It was not an item that got lost. It is you that is lost!”

In our Bible text today, we see confusion and strange actions by Micah and his mother. Micah was attracted to his mother’s silver and desired it enough to take it, though that act of thievery was a departure from God’s Law. Then, apparently smitten by guilt when his mother cursed the thief, he returned the silver. Amazingly, his mother then gave a portion of the silver for the purpose of having an idol made. Micah set up the idol in a small sanctuary of his own, which he stocked with images. He even assigned one of his sons to become his priest, though the assumption of the priestly office by anyone not in the family of Aaron was a direct violation of divine law.

Both the backslidden man and Micah were so mixed up in their approach to worship that wrong seemed right to them. God has given us standards and instructions; He has not left our conduct up to us and our opinions. It is a dangerous matter to try to mix our thoughts with what God says! Confusion and bizarre behavior can be the result.

Today, as in Micah’s day, everyone seems to put his or her own interests first. Most people still reject God’s right way of living. How much better it is to make a personal commitment to follow God’s instructions with all our hearts! What way of life could possibly hold the same level of satisfaction, promise, and peace as the Christian life that the Lord so graciously offers us? Nothing else comes close!


Most Bible commentators believe that the last five chapters of Judges are not in chronological order, but took place earlier in the time of the judges. The events in these chapters were recorded as illustrations of the degenerate moral state of Israel. Israel had been instructed in serving God, but they had drifted far from Him. At this time of the rule of the judges, there was no cohesive spiritual or civil leadership. Men like Moses and Joshua, who had been nationally revered by the people, had died. In the void, spiritual and moral decay had swept the nation, and people had embarked on whatever kind of lifestyle suited their fancy. Idol worship, theft, rape, murder, homosexuality, and every imaginable vice and crime became the way of life among the chosen people of God.

The account of Micah and his family typified the moral and spiritual depths to which Israel had succumbed at the time. It also showed Israel’s readiness to experiment with and eventually serve the false idols of the Canaanites.

Though the government of Israel was not centrally administered, God had commissioned the Levites to serve the Israelite people by teaching them the way of the Lord. The Levitical order was so sacred that they were to have no inheritance, but they were to live with and teach the people the precepts of holiness. They were exclusively dedicated to the service of the Lord, a requirement that was aimed at preventing Israel from wandering into sin.

The failure of the Levites to keep their order sacred was the primary cause for the depravity that overcame Israel. They abandoned their duties and failed to cry out against sin, and in the end, they also were overtaken by evil. The behavior of the young Levite from Bethlehem in this chapter is an example of the staggering betrayal of the Levites of their calling before God. He abandoned his godly call in search of wealth and society-defined success. His unrestrained desire for wealth led him to the house of Micah, who was already in idolatry. Micah offered the renegade Levite a mere ten pieces of silver, a suit of clothes, and his upkeep as yearly wage. In exchange, the young Levite gave up any service to God and became, instead, a priest of idols.

While Micah’s establishment of his personal brand of religion revealed the spiritual downfall of individual Israelites, this Levite illustrated the spiritual downfall of the religious leaders of Israel.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III.   Appendices
     A.   Gross idolatry during the time of the judges
           1.   Micah’s idolatry (17:1-13)
                 a.   An idol erected (17:1-6)
                       (1)   The silver recovered (17:1-3)
                       (2)   The image made (17:4)
                       (3)   The priest consecrated (17:5-6)
                 b.   A Levitical priest secured (17:7-13)


  1. What amount of money did Micah take from his mother?

  2. How did the value system of the main characters in the passage become so distorted?

  3. Write down several things you could do to preserve your Christianity if you were in a situation where you were surrounded by bad influences. 


Regardless of the situations that surround us, God still expects us to be faithful to Him and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. His expectations are legitimate because His grace is sufficient to keep us. Let us determine that our lives in Jesus Christ are not for sale at any price!