And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.…
At the first, one would think that it were a merry world if every man might do what he listed. But yet sure those days were evil. This, a complaint. To let you see, then, what a monster lurketh under these smooth terms, "doing that which is right in our eyes." Two parts there be, the eye, and the hand. To begin with the eye, and that which is right in the eye. There began all evil in the first temptation — even from this persuasion, they should need no direction from God, or from any; their own eye should be their director to what was right. Three evils are in it. It is not safe to commit the judgment of what is right to the eye; and yet it is our surest sense, as that which apprehendeth greatest variety of differences. But I know withal, the optics (the masters of that faculty) reckon up twenty several ways, all which it may be and is deceived. The object full of deceit; things are not as they seem. The medium is not evenly disposed. Take but one: that of the oar in the water. Though the oar be straight, yet, if the eye be judge, it seemeth bowed. And if that which is right may seem crooked, that which is crooked may seem right.. So the eye is no competent judge. But admit we will make the eye judge, yet not every man's eye; that were too much. Many weak and dim eyes there be, many goggle and mis-set; many little better than blind; shall all and every of these be allowed to define what is right? Some, it may be (perhaps the eagle), but shall the owl and all? I trow not. Many mis-shapen kinds of right shall we have if that may be suffered. We all know self-love, what a thing it is, how it dazzleth the sight; how everything appeareth right and good that appeareth through those spectacles. Therefore, not right by the eye. At least, not every man's eye. Nay, not any man is right by his own eye. I now pass to the next point. Here is a hand, too. For here at this breaketh in the whole sea of confusion, when the hand followeth the eye, and men proceed to do as lewdly as they see perversely. And sure the hand will follow the eye, and men do as seemeth right to them, be it never so absurd.
1. Micah liked an idol well; Micah had a good purse; he told out two hundred shekels, and so up went the idol.
2. The men of Dan liked well of spoiling; they were well appointed, their swords were sharp; they did it.
3. They of Gibeah, to their lust, rape seemed a small matter; they were a multitude, no resisting them; and so they committed that abominable villainy. But what, shall this be suffered and no remedy sought? God forbid. First, the eye, error in the eye, is harm enough; and order must be taken even for that. For men do not err in judgment but with hazard of their souls; very requisite, therefore, that men be travailed with, that they may see their own blindness. But, if they be strongly conceited of their own sight, and will not endure any to come near their eyes: if we cannot cure their eyes, what, shall we not hold their hands neither? Yes, in any wise. We see, then, the malady; more than time we sought out a remedy for it. That shall we best do if we know the cause. The cause is here set down. If the cause be there is no king, let there be one: that is the remedy. A good king will help all, if it be of absolute necessity that neither Micah, for all his wealth, nor Dan, for all their forces, nor Gibeah, for all their multitude, do what they list. This is then God's means. We cannot say His only means, in that there are states that subsist without them, but this we may say, His best means — the best for order, peace, strength, steadiness. The next point is, no king in Israel. That this is not noted as a defect in gross, or at large, but even in Israel, God's own chosen people. It is a want, not in Edom or Canaan, but even in Israel. Truly Israel, being God's own peculiar people, might seem to claim a prerogative above other nations, in this, that they had the knowledge of His laws, whereby their eyes were lightened and their hands taught. Of which there needeth no reason but this: that a king is a good means to keep them God's Israel. Here, for want of a king, Israel began, and was fair onward, to be no longer Israel, but even Babel. I come to the third part: and to what end a king? What will a king do unto us? He will in his general care look to both parts, the eye and the hand — the eye, that men sin not blindly for want of direction; the hand, that men sin not with a high hand for want of correction. But this is not all; the text carrieth us yet further — that it is not only the charge of the king, but the very first article in his charge.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.