Four times in the Book of Judges we find the telling phrase. “In those days there was no king in Israel…” Three times it is followed by some behavior descriptive of one who reacts to situations according to one’s own prerogative, rather than to the law of the land. The final time the phrase is found seems to indicate a summary of the events recorded in the Book of the Judges of Israel. It reads, “ In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judg 21:25 KJV
The repetition of this characteristic phrase is probably intended to impress upon us the idea that these disorders arose from the lack of a sufficient authority to suppress them. Without a king to regulate the laws of the land, anarchy prevailed. Though we may be hesitant to adhere to the idea of judicial regulations restricting personal freedoms, we must realize that for people to live together in a civil manner, certain rules must be implemented to govern behavior. Societies regulations begin with social mores(mor-ays). Mores are often dictated by a society's values, ethics, and sometimes religious influences. Mores refer to social norms that are widely observed and are considered to have greater moral significance than others. The mores of a society usually precede written legislation. In a nation, such as ours, we live by certain laws designed to protect certain rights and privileges.
Israel was governed by God’s Law which was given on Mt. Sinai. This Law outlines religious, social and national guidelines as set forth by God to govern His people. It was Israel’s national constitution as it were. Our text indicates a time when the people fell into an attitude of self-governing and shows the consequences thereof.
For a civilization to function, it needs a foundation, a rule of law that provides an anchor for it to act reasonably, justly and fairly. When every man’s opinion becomes his own determination of right and wrong, we fall into a place of subjective morality. This goes against the grain of our independent natures, which is why God established His Word as foundational.
“Don’t judge me!” has become the watchword of our society that wants to live according to what one determines is right or wrong in their own eyes. Without a standard to guide us, people tend towards anarchy. Prov 29:18 tells us “ Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
But happy is he who keeps the law.” NKJV The word “revelation” here is often translated as “vision” referring to a revelation from God, meaning that where the Word of God is lacking or ignored, the reaction of the people is to live without proper restraint in behavior, resulting in negative consequences.
In other words, without the Word of God to guide us, to direct our behavior towards one another and towards God Himself, we run wild and live according to what we think is right in our own eyes.
Today we see the Bible under attack by those who would remove its influence in our society by banning it from our schools, removing the 10 Commandments from public view, etc. Did it ever occur to you that if there were not something profoundly important and significant about God’s Word, those who oppose it would not do so as adamantly as they do? There must be something to it for people to want to get rid of it!
Without a moral foundation for behavior, society loses its moorings and direction. Without a compass to guide us, we drift hopelessly into the sea of despair. When everyone does what is right in his own eyes, rejecting the guidelines which define acceptable behavior, selfish political agendas become the norm and anarchy prevails. We are a nation that is fast losing our way morally. The solution is not political, it is spiritual. The spiritual foundations of our nation are eroding and being replaced with subjective morality that appears right only in the eyes of the individual. Read Luke 6:47-49.
THE BIBLE STANDS, written in 1917 by Haldor Lillenas who was born in Norway and immigrated to the United States as a child. This song serves to remind us that we have a foundation that is immoveable.