"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25; NASB). In these days there is no one leader in America who commands the hearts of the people; everyone is still doing what is right in his own eyes. And we are in significant distress.
Distress comes from conflict. Physically, the body is stressed when it is faced with some adversary: a heavy load; a virulent virus; a bone-crushing crash; anything that the body is not geared to deal with as a matter of course. These adversaries are simply conflict-generators. Physical distress comes from conflict with the circumstances of life.
Emotionally, the soul of man is distressed when it is faced with an adversary. When a child throws off the values of its parent, the parent suffers emotional stress: the child has become an adversary. When an employer gives an unwelcome task to his employee, stress is the result: the relationship has become adversarial. When one person threatens to shoot another, stress is immediate: the adversary is in control. When a spouse walks out, distress is created: the adversarial relationship has created intolerable conflict.
Spiritually, the spirit of man is distressed when he has a task that is more than he can accomplish. When the boss says, "Have it on my desk tomorrow morning!" and the task will require an all-night effort, stress occurs. There is conflict between what the task requires and what the person wants to commit to it--but the job is on the line.
So, distress comes from conflict. And conflict is inevitable when everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes. God never intended men to do what they thought was right in any given matter. He intended, rather, that men listen to His wisdom and do according to His instruction. Jesus, Himself God in the flesh, said "Man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." And when He said that, He was merely quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3. This means that the wisdom is ancient. Men have been told from the beginning not to do what is right in their own eyes--else death would overtake them. And so it is.
But why is it that conflict is inevitable when men do what is right in their own eyes? Because doing what is right in one's own eyes is an embracing of the ancient temptation: "Ye shall be as God." When a person is willing to operate out of his own wisdom, he is acting as though he has all the facts (omniscience) and is able to make them work (omnipotence) to his own ends (love). There is only one God and He has done what is necessary to share His life through divine revelation. If men will not listen to what He says, they are left to try to make themselves gods (power brokers). When they do that, they subject the world to the conflict that naturally arises when everyone wants to be the chief and no one wants to be the Indians.