What does the story of Micah’s idolatry teach us?

I recently read the story of Micah in the book of Judges, and was having trouble understanding what the story was trying to teach us. In the story Micah apparently takes eleven hundred shekels of silver from his mother without her knowledge. He then confesses and returns the money to his mother. She is overjoyed and gives a part of the silver to the founder to turn into a graven image or idol. Meanwhile a Levite from the tribe of Judah travel to the area Micah lives in. When Micah hears he is a Levite he asks him to become his own personal priest, and offers to give him lodging, food and a sum of money each year. The Levite is happy to take the offer and becomes a priest in Mica’s, “house of gods.” Micah proclaims, “Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.” It is mentioned that in those days there was no king in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes.

In the next chapter it states that the tribe of Dan was looking to fulfill there inheritance by conquering an area of land near the home of Micah. They come across the city of Laish. It is stated that the people who dwell there are a people secure, and there is no want of any good thing. They are also described as a people that were quiet and secure, they dwelt careless and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in anything. The tribe of Dan come across the home of Micah, they find the Levite living there with the false idols, and convince him it is better to be a priest to a tribe of Israel, then to one man. They take him and the graven images, destroy the city of Laish, and eventually make the Levite their high priest and set up the false idols in the land they come to possess.

I had a great deal of trouble making any sense of this story. In my mind I was trying to fit the tribe of Dan, who were instructed by God to overthrow the people dwelling in the promised land, as somehow doing the will of God, and the people of Laish as being evil. Instead I believe the story is a warning against false prophets, who we can come to trust because we believe more in the title and degrees they hold, then in the message they are delivering. Micah was not a man of particularly high morals. He stole money from his mother, and set up idols of worship in his home. He must have known the warnings against idols, because he thought it would be a blessing to have a Levite as his priest, and would have been familiar with one of the first and greatest commandments against false idols. The Levite, it is stated, was from the tribe of Judah. A Levite must be from the tribe of Levi, so we could assume he was an imposter. Micah, and eventually the entire tribe of Dan, believe they will be blessed by God, for having a Levite as their priest, regardless of what he preaches or practices. Even to the extent of practicing idol worship. We can be seduced by false preachers and prophets who hold degrees from theology institutes, or have titles given to them as, Priest or Father or Pastor, Minister etcetera. It is not the title a person holds, or how many hours they have studied to become a teacher of God’s word that is important, but rather what message they are teaching. God wants us to rest and trust in him, and in the finished work of the Lord Jesus, and not in the world, and its false idols. It is interesting how the people of Laish are described. They have so many of the good qualities of a people that the Bible describes. They are a people that live quiet and secure. They have no magistrate or judge to put them to shame. God wants us to be a people who are still and know he is God. Who do not care for the things of tomorrow, but trust in him to provide for our needs. He wants us to not judge ourselves or others, but to know our sins have been forgiven, and not live a life of guilt or shame. The people who live this way are destroyed of fire by the tribe of Dan. The Hebrew meaning of the word Dan, is remarkably, judged or he who judges. If we come across a false preacher or prophet in the pulpit or on TV, who is preaching a message of judgment, guilt or condemnation or are tempted to trust in the world and its false idols, we must reject it, and trust in the secure knowledge that we are Gods children, loved and forgiven of all our sins. Continue to trust God and his mercy, be joyful and thankful for his grace, protection and love, and don’t be deceived by false prophets preaching judgment and hell fire.


  1. Amazing
    This was such an intriguing blog post! I had always been confused by the story of Micah and the tribe of Dan, but your analysis helped me understand the lesson being conveyed. My logical question would be – Where do you believe we can find guidance to help us distinguish between false prophets and genuine ones?

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