« AnteriorContinuar »
lodging and some refreshment. Micah very naturally wished to know who he was, and found that he was a Levite, who had last dwelt at Bethlehem, a city in the tribe of Judah, and that he was seeking some comfortable spot to live in ; from which it appears that the nation being then without a king or governor, and so all in disorder, the Levites were not properly provided for as God had commanded by Moses.
So Micah asked him to stop and live with him, and be to him as a father and a priest, and, said he, “I will give thee ten shekels of silver," about thirty shillings, “ by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals." In asking him to be his father, he meant that he might advise with him and respect him as a father; and as a priest, that he should perform all his rites of religion ; and though the wages seem small, they were good for that country, in those early times.
So the Levite was satisfied, and Micah consecrated him, or filled his hand with sacrifices to offer for him,--and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.
This was all doing what was wrong. Micah had no power given him to consecrate a priest, and so he did it without God's command; and though the priests were of the tribe of Levi, yet every Levite was not a priest, but only such as were of the family of Aaron. However, Micah thought himself very happy, because he had got hold of a Levite to worship in his house, and he said, “Now I know that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.”
The tribe of Dan finding themselves straitened for room, sent out five men to spy out the land, and see if they could discover a good spot. They, like the Levite, happened to stop at Micah's house. And they happened also to know the voice of the Levite, and asked him how he got there; and when they heard his story, they asked him to act as their priest, and to inquire of God whether they should succeed in their journey. He said they would, and, as it happened, he told them right.
Well, they went on to Laish, about an hundred and four miles further, and there they saw the people living very carelessly, quite at ease, and not on their guard against any attack.
So they went back and told their brethren, and six hundred armed men joined them, and they set out on their march.
In their way they had, as the five men, to pass by Micah's house, and being told about the priest and all his things for worship, they got the five men to go in and steal them; and they secured the priest, and told him it
would be much more honourable for him to be priest for so many, rather than for Micah's family. So he very readily went with them, and ran away from poor Micah.
As soon as Micah found what they had done, he got his neighbours together; and they set off after the Danites, and overtook them. “What aileth thee?” said they ; that is, “What is the matter ?” “Matter," said Micah, “ye have taken away my gods which I have made, and the priest, and ye are gone away; and what have I more ?" But they told him he had better go back lest he should get the worst of it; and finding they were much too numerous for him, he was obliged to lose his priest and his gods.
Then the men of Dan went and took Laish, and killed its idle inhabitants, and burnt the place, and built a city and called it Dan. And there they set up Micah's graven images, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, who had been Micah's priest, became theirs, he and his sons, until the day of the captivity of the land, and they had Micah's image with them “all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh ;" which was till the time of Samuel, when the ark of God was carried away captive by the Philistines.
Thus ends the history of Micah's gods, showing how the Danites became guilty of setting up idolatry.
The History of Naomi and Ruth.
RUTH 1.—IV. HIS book contains a very interesting little story. In the days of the Judges, of whom we have lately been reading, there was a famine in the land of Israel, and “a certain man of
Bethlehem-Judah," the place where Christ was afterwards born, " went to sojourn, or live for a time, in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi.” There the man died, and his two sons married two Moabitish women, “the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth.”
In about ten years the two sons died also, so Naomi was in a strange country with neither husband nor sons.
She, no doubt, longed to return home, for the people among whom she lived did not serve God, and she, who was an Israelitish woman, could not feel happy among them.
Having learnt that there was bread enough in her own land, she set out to see it once more; and her daughters-in-law, that is, her sons' wives, went with her.
On the way, she advised her two daughters-in-law to go back to their own country and friends; and she kissed them to bid them good-bye, and they all wept together. “And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave unto her." Then Naomi said to Ruth, “Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods : return thou after thy sister-in-law.” Then Ruth told her that she had fully made up her mind, and it was of no use to try and persuade her to turn back. “Thy people,” said she, “shall be my people, and thy God my God ;" “ I will have no more to do with the heathen in my own country, nor will I serve any more the false gods of Moab."
So they went together to Bethlehem, " in the beginning of barley-harvest."
On Naomi's reaching Bethlehem, many did not know her; she was so altered by time and sorrow,—for time changes the fine bloom on the face, just as autumn does the colours of the summer flowers,—and the deaths of her husband and sons had marked her countenance with lines like those of age, for sorrow brings many down near to the grave, or sends them there.“ And they said, Is this Naomi ? And she said unto them, Call me not Nadmi, call me Mara; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty;"_"I went out with a husband and two sons, and something to buy bread, but now I am a widow, and childless, and poor; my name Naomi, which means beautiful, does not suit me, for my face is wrinkled with grief; call me, therefore, by another name—call me Mara, which means bitterness, for I am now a woman of a sorrowful spirit.”
Well, now they had arrived at home they must have bread. So Ruth proposed to go and work in the field, and glean some corn with the poor. And Providence so ordered it, that she went into a field which belonged to Boaz, a relation of Naomi's husband, and a very rich man.
And Boaz found that she was there, and having heard about her, how good she was to her mother-in-law, and how sincerely she loved the true God, so as even to forsake every thing to serve him, he ordered that nobody should disturb her, that she might eat and drink with his servants; and that she might be the better supplied, he commanded the corn even to be dropped, on purpose, by the way, for her to glean it.
Having finished gleaning, Ruth went home with her load, which “ was about an ephah of barley," or a bushel. And so she continued gleaning till the end of barley-harvest.
Now, it was a custom in Israel for the nearest relation of a deceased person to marry his widow, if the husband died and left no sons and daughters. And Ruth being the widow of one of Elimelech's sons, her mother told her to make known to Boaz, who was Elimelech's relation, that he must marry her according to the law. We have no such law, and no such custom here, and therefore it would be quite improper among us to do as Ruth did, but Boaz knew that she was acting rightly, and did not condemn her.
There was, however, another relation of her late husband's, who was nearer to him than Boaz; and Boaz said he would see if he would marry her, and recover the property of the family, and if he would not, then he would do as the law commanded.
So the matter was settled before ten of the elders, or aged chief men of the city, and the kinsman not being inclined to take Ruth, " he drew off his shoe," which was a custom to show that all claim to any one in such a case was given up, and so she became the wife of Boaz, and made Naomi very happy.
This little history will teach us that good people, like Naomi, may be very much afflicted for a time, yet God in the end will comfort them : that God can, by his grace, bring the worst sinners to love and serve him, as he did Ruth, a Moabitish woman, one of the people of that nation whose king tried to curse Israel: and, that none shall ever lose that give up anything dear to them in order to serve God, as Ruth even did all her family and friends, and became at last the wife of a rich man and a pious Israelite, who loved her. But the greatest event in the story, and the reason why it is told, is, that it contains something of consequence about Jesus Christ. For Ruth had a son, and they called his name Obed; he was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David, and Jesus Christ was called the Son of David, according to the flesh. So he could be traced back in this history as springing from Rath—from Ruth, who was once a heathen woman, and from Boaz, a pious Jew; showing us, who were then a heathen people, that he is the Saviour of the Gentiles, or heathen, as well as the Jews. Thus, by leaving her wicked people and not going back with Orpah, and resolving on living with Naomi among the true worshippers of God, Ruth had the honour of being one of the line from which should spring that glorious Saviour, in whom all nations should be blessed.