Judges 18:19, 20
And they said to him, Hold your peace, lay your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest…
Greed and ambition are the besetting sins of depraved priests. Both of these evil characteristics are apparent in Micah's Levite.
I. THE PRIESTLY OFFICE IS DEGRADED BY MERCENARY GREED. Micah had adopted the Levite when he was homeless and destitute, and had treated him with the kindness of a father to his son; yet as soon as he discovers a chance of better pay, the miserable man deserts and robs his patron. No man can serve God truly if the money wages of his service are the chief consideration with him. Though he may take such just payment as is given to him if he is God's faithful servant, he will, like the faithful Levites, feel that his real portion is the Eternal (Joshua 13:33). Such a man should also consider himself bound by ties of affection and friendly obligation to the people among whom he ministers. If he seeks promotion simply for the sake of pecuniary advantage, and irrespective of the loss which may be sustained in his present sphere, and of his possible unfitness for a larger sphere, he is guilty of gross worldliness and wicked selfishness.
II. THE PRIESTLY OFFICE IS DEGRADED BY SELFISH AMBITION. The Levite is tempted by the prospect of exercising his functions in a larger way as the priest of a tribe. Such an offer would only be possible in Israel under circumstances of religions decline and social disorder. Even then the Levite must have known that he was no priest at all according to the law of God, for he did not belong to the family of Aaron. But ambition tramples on law for its own advancement. Of course there are occasions when a man may naturally endeavour to rise in the world, and if he can be sure that he will extend his usefulness, it is his duty to do so. But -
1. The opportunity of enlarged service elsewhere is no justification for unfaithfulness to our present service. Plainly the Levite was treating his benefactor with unpardonable ingratitude and treachery in deserting him for the service of the Danites.
2. It is only a culpable ambition which will lead a man to seek a higher position simply for his own honour and profit, and not for the good of those who are intrusted to his care. The priest exists for the people, not the people for the priest. But the latter condition has been only too apparent in the course of the corruptions of Christendom. Office has been sought solely for the satisfaction of the greed and ambition of the aspirant. How contrary to the teaching of Christ, who said, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant"! (Matthew 20:27). - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
WEB: They said to him, "Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?"