Verses 1–6

Here is, 1. The eye which these Danites had upon Laish, not the whole tribe of Dan, but one family of them, to whose lot, in the subdivision of Canaan, that city fell. Hitherto this family had sojourned with their brethren, who had taken possession of their lot, which lay between Judah and the Philistines, and had declined going to their own city, because there was no king in Israel to rule over them, Jdg. 18:1. It lay a great way off, separate from the rest of their tribe; it was entirely in the enemy’s hand, and therefore they would sponge upon their brethren rather than go far to provide for themselves. But at length necessity forced them to arouse themselves, and they began to think of an inheritance to dwell in. It is better to have a little of one’s own than always to hang upon others. 2. The enquiry which this family of the Danites made concerning Laish: They sent five men to search the land (Jdg. 18:2), that they might know the character of the country, whether it was an inheritance worth going so far for, and the posture of the people, whether the making of themselves masters of it was a thing practicable, what force was necessary in order thereunto, and which was the best way of making an attack upon it. The men they sent were men of valour, who, if they fell into their enemies’ hands, knew how to look danger in the face. It is prudent to look before we leap. Dan had the subtlety of a serpent by the way (Gen. 49:17), as well as the courage of a lion’s whelp, leaping from Bashan, Deut. 33:22. 3. The acquaintance which their spies got with Micah’s priest, and the use they made of that acquaintance. It seems, they had know this Levite formerly, he having in his rambles been sometimes in their country; and, though his countenance might be altered, they knew him again by his voice, Jdg. 18:3. They were surprised to find him so far off, enquired what brought him thither, and he told them (Jdg. 18:4) what business he had there, and what encouragement. They, understanding that he had an oracle in his custody, desired he would tell them whether they should prosper in their present undertaking, Jdg. 18:5. See their carelessness and regardlessness of God and his providence; they would not have enquired of the Lord at all if this Levite’s mentioning the teraphim he had with him had not put it into their heads. Many never think of religion but just when it falls in their way and they cannot avoid it, like chance customers. See their ignorance of the divine law, that they thought God, who had forbidden the religious use of graven images, would yet own them in consulting an image, and give them an answer of peace. Should he be enquired of by them? Ezek. 14:3. They seem to have had a greater opinion of Micah’s teraphim than of God’s urim; for they had passed by Shiloh, and, for aught that appears, had not enquired there of God’s high priest, but Micah’s shabby Levite shall be an oracle to them. He betakes himself to his usual method of consulting his teraphim; and, whether he himself believed it or no, he humoured the thing so well that he made them believe he had an answer from God encouraging them to go on, and assuring them of good success (Jdg. 18:6): “Go in peace, you shall be safe, and may be easy, for before the Lord is your way,” that is, “he approves it” (as the Lord is said to know the way of the righteous with acceptation), “and therefore he will make it prosperous, his eye will be upon you for good, he will direct your way, and preserve your going out and coming in.” Note, Our great care should be that our way be such as God approves, and, if it be so, we may go in peace. If God care for us, on him let us cast our care, and be satisfied that we cannot miss our way if he go before us.