Judges 17:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 17:6, NIV: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Judges 17:6, ESV: In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 17:6, KJV: In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Judges 17:6, NASB: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Judges 17:6, NLT: In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

Judges 17:6, CSB: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.

What does Judges 17:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The writer of Judges uses the last few chapters to describe the lives of everyday people in Israel, at the end of the era of the judges (Judges 2:16–19). At this time, Israel had no monarch, or a centralized government. This was intentional. God original intent was for He, Himself, to be the only king of His chosen people. He meant to directly provide leadership through the laws given by Moses, and the religious system established for the nation of Israel.

With no human authority to answer to most of the time, however, the people of Israel mostly did what seemed best to them. This is not meant in an optimistic way: the implication is that people did whatever they wanted, regardless of whether it was right or wrong. This is both a statement of Israel's politics and a condemnation of their rebellious spirituality: they didn't submit to any king, even the Lord God.

Rather than making God's revelation their single standard for living and worship, the people of Israel each chose their own standards. They may have worshiped Yahweh, in a sense. But many or most did so while also worshipping false gods from the Canaanites and other pagan nations (Deuteronomy 7:1–5). The story of Micah and his house shrine (Judges 17:1–5) is just one example of this.

The days of Israel's kings were coming (1 Samuel 8:4–9), but they would not solve the problem. Good kings would imperfectly lead the people of Israel toward the Lord. Rebellious kings would lead them away. The cycle of rebellion and captivity would continue. Its ultimate end will be a complete devastation of Israel and the exile of her people (Jeremiah 1:14–16; 2 Kings 25:8–12).