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The prophet’s office of threatening woe is now over. Here, out of love, he himself crieth woe unto himself. He hath “continual sorrow in heart” Romans 9:2 for his people. He bewails what he cannot amend, and, by bewailing, shews them how much more they should bewail it, over whose sins he sorrows; how certain the destruction is, since there is none to stand in the gap and turn away the wrath of God, no “ten righteous,” for whose sake the city may be spared. Rup.: “These words flow out of the fount of pity, because the good zeal, wherewith the Holy seem to speak severely, is never without pity. They are wroth with the sins, they sympathize with the sinner.” So Isaiah mourned for the judgment, which he prophesied against the world, “Woe is me!” Isaiah 24:16 he sorrowed even for Moab Isaiah 15:5; Isaiah 16:11; and Joel, “Alas for the day!” Joel 1:15. and Jeremiah in that exclamation of impassioned sorrow; “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole world!” Jeremiah 15:10.
Woe - o is me! for I am, as when they have gathered the summer fruits , as the grape-gleanings of the vintage “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah said at the same time, “is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plants” Isaiah 5:7. Isaiah said, brought forth wild grapes; Micah, that there are but gleanings, few and poor.
It is as though Satan pressed the vineyard of the Lord, and made the most his prey, and few were left to those who glean for Christ; “the foxes have eaten the grapes” Song of Solomon 2:15. Some few remain too high out of their reach, or hidden behind the leaves, or, it may be , falling in the time of gathering, fouled, sullied, marred and stained, yet left.” So in the gleaning there may be three sorts of souls; “two or three in the top of the uppermost bough” Isaiah 17:6, which were not touched; or those unripe, which are but imperfect and poor; or those who had fallen, yet were not wholly carried away. These too are all sought with difficulty; they had escaped the gatherer’s eye, they are few and rare; it might seem at first sight, us though there were none. There is no cluster to eat; for the vintage is past, the best is but as a sour grape which sets the teeth on edge.
My soul desired the first-ripe fig. These are they which, having survived the sharpness of winter, ripen early, about the end of June; they are the sweetest ; but he longed for them in vain. He addressed a carnal people, who could understand only carnal things, on the side which they could understand. Our longings, though we pervert them, are God’s gift. As they desired those things which refresh or recruit the thirsty body, as their whole self was gathered into the craving for that which was to restore them, so was it with him. Such is the longing of God for man’s conversion and salvation; such is the thirst of His ministers; such their pains in seeking, their sorrow in not finding. Dionysius: “There were none, through whose goodness the soul of the prophet might spiritually be refreshed, in joy at his growth in grace, as Paul saith to Philemon, “refresh my bowels in the Lord” Philemon 1:20. So our Lord saith in Isaiah, “I said, I have labored in vain, I hate spent my strength for nought and in vain” Isaiah 49:4. “Jesus was grieved at the hardness of their hearts” Mark 3:5.
Rib.: “The first-ripe fig may be the image of the righteous of old, as the Patriarchs or the Fathers, such as in the later days we fain would see.”
The, good - or godly, or merciful, the English margin
Man - The Hebrew word contains all. It is “he who loveth tenderly and piously” God, for His own sake, and man, for the sake of God. Mercy was probably chiefly intended, since it wits to this that the prophet had exhorted, and the sins which he proceeds to speak of, are against this. But imaginary love of God without love of man, or love of man without the love of God, is mere self-deceit. “Is perished out of the earth,” that is, by an untimely death. The good had either been withdrawn by God from the evil to come Isaiah 57:1, or had Leon cut off by those who laid wait for blood; in which case their death brought a double evil, through the guilt which such sin contracted, and then, through the loss of those who might be an example to others, and whose prayers God would hear. The loving and upright, all, who were men of mercy and truth, had ceased. They who were left, “all lie in wait for blood,” literally, bloods , that is, bloodshedding; all, as far as man can see; as Elijah complains that he was left alone.
Amid the vast number of the wicked, the righteous were as though they were not. Isaiah, at the same time, complains of the like sins, and that it was as though there were none righteous; “Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips hate spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth” Isaiah 59:2-3. Indirectly, or directly, they destroyed life . To violence they add treachery. The good and loving had perished, and all is now violence; the upright had ceased, and all now is deceit. “They hunt every man his brother with a net.” Every man is the brother of every man, because he is man, born of the same first parent, children of the same Father: yet they lay wait for one another, as hunters for wild beasts (Compare Psalms 35:7; Psalms 57:7; Psalms 140:6; Jeremiah 5:26).
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly - (Literally, upon evil both hands to do well,) that is, “both their hands are upon evil to do it well,” or “earnestly” , as our translation gives the meaning; only the Hebrew expresses more, that evil is their good, and their good or excellence is in evil. Bad men gain a dreadful skill and wisdom in evil, as Satan has; and cleverness in evil is their delight. Jerome: “They call the evil of their hands good.” “The prince asketh, and the judge asketh (or, it may more readily be supplied, judgeth, doth that which is his office,) against right “for a reward”, (which was strictly forbidden,) “and the great man he uttereth his mischievos desire” (Deuteronomy 16:19. See above Micah 3:11), (or the “desire of his soul”.) Even the shew of good is laid aside; whatever the heart conceives and covets, it utters; - mischief to others and in the end to itself.
The mischief comes forth from the soul, and returns upon it. “The elders and nobles in the city” 1 Kings 21:8, 1 Kings 21:11, as well as Ahab, took part, (as one instance,) in the murder of Naboth. The great man, however, here, is rather the source of the evil, which he induces others to effect; so that as many as there were great, so many sources were there of oppression. All, prince, judges, the great, unite in the ill, and this not once only, but they are ever doing it and “so they wrap it up”, (literally, twist, intertwine it.) Things are twisted, either to strengthen, or to pervert or intricate them. It might mean, they “strengthen” it, that which their soul covets against; the poor, or they “pervert” it, the cause of the poor.
The best of them is as a brier - The gentlest of them is a thorn , strong, hard, piercing, which letteth nothing unresisting pass by but it taketh from it, “robbing the fleece, and wounding the sheep.” “The most upright”, those who, in comparison of others still worse, seem so, “is sharper than a thorn hedge”, (literally, the upright, them a thorn hedge.) They are not like it only, but worse, and that in all ways; none is specified, and so none excepted; they were more crooked, more tangled, sharper. Both, as hedges, were set for protection; both, turned to injury. Jerome: “So that, where you would look for help, thence comes suffering.” And if such be the best, what the rest?
The day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh - When all, even the good, are thus corrupted, the iniquity is full. Nothing now hinders the “visitation”, which “the watchmen”, or prophets, had so long foreseen and forewarned of. “Now shall be their perplexity” ; “now”, without delay; for the day of destruction ever breakcth suddenly upon the sinner. “When they say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. : “whose destruction cometh suddenly at an instant”. They had perplexed the cause of the oppressed; they themselves were tangled together, intertwined in mischief, as a thorn-hedge. They should be caught in their own snare; they had perplexed their paths and should find no outlet.
Trust ye not in a friend - It is part of the perplexity of crooked ways, that all relationships are put out of joint. Selfishness rends each from the other, and disjoints the whole frame of society. Passions and sin break every band of friendship, kindred, gratitude, nature. “Everyone ‘seeketh his own’.” Times of trial and of outward harass increase this; so that God’s visitations are seasons of the most frightful recklessness as to everything but sell: So had God foretold Deuteronomy 28:53; so it was in the siege of Samaria 2 Kings 6:28, and in that of Jerusalem both by the Chaldeans Lamentations 4:3-16 and by the Romans . When the soul has lost the love of God, all other is but sceming love, since “natural affection” is from Him, and it too dies out, as God gives the soul over to itself Romans 1:28. The words describe partly the inward corruption, partly the outward causes which shall call it forth.
There is no real trust in any, where all are eorrupt. The outward straitness and perplexity, in which they shall be, makes that to crumble and fall to pieces, which was inwardly decayed and severed before. The words deepen, as they go on. First, “the friend”, or neighbor, the common band of man and man; then “the guide”, (or, as the word also means, one “familiar”, united by intimacy, to whom, by continual intercourse, the soul was “used”;) then the wife who lay in the bosom, nearest to the secrets of the heart; then those to whom all reverence is due, “father” and “mother”. Our Lord said that this should be fulfilled in the hatred of His Gospel. He begins His warning as to it, with a caution like that of the prophet; “Be ye wise as serpents” Matthew 10:16-17, and “beware of men”. Then He says, how these words should still be true Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:35-36. There never were wanting pleas of earthly interest against the truth.
He Himself was “cut off” lest “the Romans should take away their place and nation” John 11:48. The Apostles were accused, that they meant to “bring this Man’s Blood upon” the chief priests Acts 5:28; or as “ringleaders of the sect of the Nazarenes, pestilant fallows and movers of sedition, turning the world upside down, setters up of another king; troublers of the city; comanding things unlawful for Romans to practice; setters forth of strange gods; turning away much people” Acts 24:5; Acts 16:20-21; Acts 17:6-7, Act 17:18; 1 Peter 2:12; endangering not men’s craft only, but the honor of their gods; “evil doers”. Truth is against the world’s ways, so the world is against it. Holy zeal hates sin, so sinners hate it. It troubles them, so they count it, “one which troubleth Israel” 1 Kings 18:17. Tertullian, in a public defense of Christians in the second century, writes, , “Truth set out with being herself hated; as soon as she appeared, she is an enemy. As many as are strangers to it, so many are its foes; and the Jews indeed appropriately from their rivalry, the soldiers from their violence, even they of our own household from nature. Each flay are we beset, each day betrayed; in our very meetings and assemblies are we mostly surprised.”
There was no lack of pleas. : “A Christian thou deemest a man guilty of every crime, an encmy of the goals, of the Emperors, of law, of morals, of all nature;” “factious,” “authors of all public calamities through the anger of the pagan gods,” “impious,” “atheists,” “disloyal,” “public enemies.” The Jews, in the largest sense of the word “they of their own household”, were ever the deadliest enemies of Christians, the inventors of calumnies, the authors of persecutions. “What other race,” says , Tertullian, “is the seed-plot of our calumnies?”
Then the Acts of the Martyrs tell, how Christians were betrayed by near kinsfolk for private interest, or for revenge, because they would not join in things unlawful. Jerome: “So many are the instances in daily life, (of the daughter rising against the mother) that we should rather mourn that they are so many, than seek them out.” - “I seek no examples, (of those of a man’s own househould being his foes) they are too many, that we should have any need of witness.” Dionysius: “Yet ought we not, on account of these and like words of Holy Scripture, to be mistrustful or suspicious, or always to presume the worst, but to be cautious and prudent. For Holy Scripture speaketh with reference to times, causes, persons, places.” So John saith, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God” 1 John 4:1.
Therefore - (And,) when all these things come to pass and all human help fails, “I”, for my part, “will look unto”, (literally, “on”) “the Lord” God, the Unchangeable. The prophet sets himself, I, with emphasis, against the multitude of the ungodly. When all forsake, betray, fail, when “love is waxed cold” Matthew 24:12, and men, in the last days, shall be “lovers of their ownselves” 2 Timothy 3:2, 2 Timothy 3:4, “not lovers of God”, I, - he does not say, “will trust,” but - , “will” (Jerome), “with the eye of the heart contemplating, loving, venerating God most High, and weighing His mercy and justice,” “gaze intently” with the devotion of faith toward Him, though I see Him not: yet so too I will rest “in” Him (compare Psalms 25:15; Psalms 123:1; Psalms 141:8) and “on” Him, as the eyes are accustomed to rest in trust and love and dependence, and as, on the other hand, the eyes of God “espy into” Psalms 66:7 man and dwell on him, never leaving him unbeheld.
I will “espy” Him, although from afar, with the eyes of the soul, as a watchman, (the word is the same,) looking for His coming and announcing it to others; and until He comes, “I will wait (I would wait”) with trust unbroken by any troubles or delay, as Job saith, “Though He slay me, yet will I put my trust in Him” Job 13:15. The word is almost appropriated to a longing waiting for God. “For the God of my salvation”. This too became a customary title of God , a title, speaking of past deliverances, as well as of confidence and of hope. Deliverance and salvation are bound up with God, and that, in man’s personal experience. It is not only, “Saviour God,” but “God, my Saviour,” Thou who hast been, art, and wilt be, my God, my saving God. It is a prelude to the name of Jesus, our Redeeming God. “The Lord will hear me”.
His purpose of waiting on God he had expressed wistfully. “I would wait;” for man’s longing trust must be upheld by God. Of God’s mercy he speaks confidently, “the Lord will hear me”, He, who is ever “more ready to hear than we to pray.” He has no doubts, but, as Abraham said, “the Lord will provide” Genesis 22:8, Genesis 22:14, so he, “The Lord will hear me”. So, when Jehoshaphat prayed, “We have no might against this great company that cometh, against us, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee” 2 Chronicles 20:12, 2 Chronicles 20:15; God answered by the prophet, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s”. Micah unites with himself all the faithful as one, “in the unity of the spirit,” where in all are one band, looking, waiting, praying for His Coming in His kingdom. Lap.: “God is our only refuge and asylum in things desperate, and rejoices to help in them, in order to shew His supreme Power and Goodness especially to those who believe, hope, and ask it. Therefore all mistrust and despondency is then to be supremely avoided, and a certain hope and confidence in God is to be elicited. This will call forth the help of God assuredly, yea though it were by miracle, as to Lot in Sodom, to Moses and the people from Pharaoh, to David from Saul, to Hezekiah from Sennacherib, to the Maccabees from Antiochus. This our proverbs express , how God aids, when there is least sign of it.”
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy - The prophet still more makes himself one with the people, not only as looking for God, but in penitence, as Daniel bewails “his own sins and the sins of his people” Daniel 9:10. The “enemy” is Babylon and “Edom” Obadiah 1:10, Obadiah 1:12; Psalms 137:7; and then, in all times, (since this was written for all times, and the relations of the people of God and of its enemies are the same,) whosoever, whether devils or evil men, rejoice over the falls of God’s people. “Rejoice not”; for thou hast no real cause; “the triumphing of the ungodly”, and the fall of the godly, “is but for a moment. When I fall, I shall arise” Psalms 30:5; (literally, “when I have fallen, I have arisen”;) expressing both the certainty and speed of the recovery. To fall and to arise is one. : “The fall of infirmity is not grave, if free from the desire of the will. Have the will to rise, He is at hand who will cause thee to rise.” (Ibid. 5:47): “Though I have sinned, Thou forgivest the sin; though I have fallen, thou raisest up; lest they, who rejoice in the sins of others, should have occasion to exult. For we who have sinned more, have gained more; for Thy grace maketh more blessed than our own innocence.”
When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me - Montanus: “He does not say ‘lie,’ but sit; she was not as one dead, without hope of life, but she sat solitary as a widow, helpless, unable to restore herself, yet waiting for God’s time. The darkness of the captivity was lightened by the light of the prophetic grace which shone through Daniel and Ezekiel, and by the faithfulness of the three children, and the brightness of divine glory shed abroad through them, when Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed to all people that their God was “God of gods and Lord of kings” Daniel 2:47, and that none should “speak anything amiss against Him” Daniel 3:29. Still more when, at the close of the captivity, they were delivered from sorrow, trouble, bondage, death, to joy, rest, freedom, life. Yet how much more in Christ, (for whom this deliverance prepared,) when “the people that walked in darkness have seern a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” Isaiah 9:2. “God is not only our light”, as (Lap.) “restoring us” outwardly “to gladness, freedom, happiness, whereof light is a symbol, as darkness is of sorrow, captivity, adversity, death.” Scripture speaks of God, in a directer way, as being Himself our light. “The Lord is my light” Psalms 27:1. “The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light” Isaiah 60:19. He calls Himself, “The light of Israel” Isaiah 10:17. He is our light, by infusing knowledge, joy, heavenly brightness, in any outward lot. He does not say, “after darkness, comes light,” but “when I shall sit in darkness”, then, “the Lord is light unto me”. The “sitting in darkness” is the occasion of the light, in that the soul or the people in sorrow turns to Him who is their light. in their sin, which was so punished, they were turned away from the light.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him - This is the temper of all penitents, when stricken by God, or under chastisement from Him. “It is the Lord, let Him, do what seemeth Him good” 1 Samuel 3:18. “So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” 2 Samuel 16:10. “He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope” Lamentations 3:29. The penitent owns the just sentence of God, and, knowing that he deserves far more than God inflicts, is thankful to endure it, “until He remove it, until He plead my cause rend execute judgment for me”, that is, until God Himself think the punishments inflicted, enough, and judge between me and those through whose hands they come. The judgments which God righteously sends, and which man suffers righteously from Him, are unrighteously inflicted by those whose malice He overrules, whether it be that of evil men (as the Assyrian or the Chaldaean or the Edomite) or of Satan. The close of the chastisements of His people is the beginning of the visible punishment of their misdecds, who used amiss the power which God gave them over it.
Whence it is said, “Daughter of Babylon, the wasted! blessed he that rewardth thee as thou hast served us” Psalms 137:8. But all is of the mercy of God. So He saith, “He shall bring me forth to the light” of His Countenance and His favor and His truth. Micah speaks in the name of those who were penitent, and so were forgiven, and yet, in that they were under punishment, seemed to lie under the wrath of God. For, although God remits at once the eternal penalty of sin, yet we see daily, how punishment pursues the for given sinner, even to the end of life. The light of God’s love may not, on grounds which He knoweth, shine unchequered upon him. We should not know the blackness of the offence of sin, and should never know the depth of God’s mercy, but for our punishment. The indignation of God toward the penitcnt is an austere form of His love. So then penitents may well say, in every grief or sickness or visitation or disappointment, I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him. He says, “I shall behold His righteousness”, because they had a righteous cause against man, although not toward God, and God in His just judgment on their enemies shewed Himself as the righteous Judge of the world.
Then - (And) she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is He, He of whom thou boastest, the Lord thy God? The cause of her gladness then is, that the blasphemies of the enemy of God were to cease. This was the bitterest portion of her cup, that they said daily, “Where is now thy God? let Him come and save thee;” as though He could not, or as though He loved her not, and she vainly presumed on His help. Even when fallen, it was for His sake that she was hated, who seemed to be overcome in her: as He was hated in His Martyrs, and they asked, , “Where is the God of the Christians?” Now the taunt was closed, and turned back on those who used it. The wheel, which they had turned against her, rolled round on themselves. They who had said, Let our eye look on Zion, now were ashamed that their hope had failed. They had longed to feed their sight on her miseries; Zion had her reverent gladness in gazing on the righteous hess of God. Babylon was trodden down by the Medes and Persians, and they whom she had let captive beheld it. Daniel was in the palace, when Belshazzar was slain.
The soul of one, who has known the chastening of God, cannot but read its own history here. The sinful soul is at once the object of the love of God and hath that about it which God hates. God hates the evil in us, even while lie loves us, being, or having been, evil. He forgives, but chastens. His displeasure is the channel of His goodpleasure. Nathan said to David, “The Lord hath put away thy sin” 2Sa 12:10, 2 Samuel 12:13, but also, “the sword shall never depart from thy house”. It is part of His forgiveness to cleanse the soul with a “spirit of burning” Isaiah 4:4. “It seemeth to me,” says Jerome, “that Jerusalem is every soul, which had been the temple of the Lord, and had had the vision of peace and the knowledge of Scripture, and which afterward, overcome by sins, hath fallen captive by its own consent, parting from that which is right in the sight of God, and allowing itself’ to sink among the pleasures of the world.”
So then “captive, and tortured, she saith to Babylon, that is, the confusion of this world and the power of the enemy which ruleth over the world, and sin who lordeth it over her, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise;” Dionysius: “from sin by repentance, and from tribulation by the consolation of the Holy Spirit, who, after weeping, poureth in joy. “For the Lord helpeth them that are fallen” Psalms 146:8, and saith by the prophet, “Shall they fall and not arise”? Jeremiah 8:4. and, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. If I walk in darkness, the Lord is my light”! Ezekiel 33:11. For although “the rulers of the darkness of this world” Ephesians 6:12 have deceived me, and I “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” Psalms 107:10, and “my feet stumble upon the dark mountains” Jeremiah 13:16, yet “to them who sit in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up” Isaiah 9:2, and “light shineth in darkness” John 1:5, and “the Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear”? Psalms 27:1. and I will speak to Him and will say, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” Psalms 119:105 “He draweth me from the darkness of ignorance and from the black night of sin, and giveth a clear view of future bliss, and brighteneth the very inmost soul within.”
Dionysius: “Even if a mist have come upon me and I have been in darkness, I too shall find the light, that is, Christ; and the Sun of Righteousness arising on my mind shall make it white.” I will betty patiently, yet gladly, the indignation of the Lord, (Dionysius): “all adversity, trial, tribulation, persecution, which can happen in this life;” because I have sinned against Him, “and such is the enormity of sin, offered to the Majesty and dishonoring the Holiness of God, and such punishment doth it deserve in the world to come, that if we weigh it well, we shall bear with joy whatever adversity can befall us.” Cyril: “For although for a short time I be out of His Presence, and be; “given to an undistinguishing mind” Romans 1:28, yet, seeing I suffer this rejection justly, I will bear the judgment, for I am not chastened in vain.” “All chastening for the present seemeth not to be joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousncss unto them who are exercised thereby” Hebrews 12:11.
Jerome: “The soul, feeling that it hath sinned, and hath the wounds of sins and is living in dead flesh and needs the cautery, says firmly to the Physician, ‘Burn my flesh, cut open my wounds, all my imposthumes. It was my fault, that I was wounded; be it my pain, to endure such sufferings and to regain health.’ And the true Physician shews to her, when whole, the cause of His treatment, and that He did rightly what He did. Then after these sufferings, the soul, being brought out of outer darkness, saith, I shall behold His Righteousness, and say, “Thou, O Lord, art upright; Rightous are Thy judgments, O God” Psalms 119:137. But if Christ is “made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” 1 Corinthians 1:30, he who, after the indignation of God, saith that He shall see His Righteousness, promiseth to himself the sight of Christ.” Cyril: “Then, having considered in her mind the grace of the righteousness in Christ and the overthrow of sin, the soul, in full possession of herself, crieth out, Mine enemy shall see it, etc. For, after that Christ came unto us, justifying sinners through faith, the mouth of the ungodly One is stopped, and the Author of sin is put to shame. He hath lost his rule over us, and sin is trodden down, “like mire in the streets”, being subjected to the feet of the saints. But the blotting-out of sin is the Day of Christ.” Jerome: “And, because the end of all punishment is the beginning of good,” God saith to the poor, penitent, tossed, soul, “the walls of virtues shall be built up in thee, and thou shalt be guarded on all sides, and the rule of thine oppressors shall be far removed, and thy King and God shall come unto thee, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.” Dionysius: “All this shall be most fully seen in the Day of Judgment.”
On this confession of unworthiness and trust the message of joy bursts in, with the abruptness and conciseness of Hosea or Nahum:
A day to build thy fences; (that is, cometh;)
That day, far shall be the degree;
That day, and he shall come quite to thee;
And there follows, in a longer but still remarkably measured and interrupted cadence,
the statement of the length and breadth from which the people shall come to her;
Up to and from Assyria and the cities of strong-land (Egypt;)
Up to and from strong-land and even to river (the Euphrates;)
And sea from sea, and mountain to mountain.
It is not human might or strength which God promises to restore. He had before predicted, that the kingdom of the Messiah should stand, not through earthly strength Micah 5:9-13. He promises the restoration, not of city walls, but of the fence of the vineyard of God, which God foretold by Isaiah that He would “break down” Isaiah 5:5. It is a peaceful renewal of her estate under God’s protection, like that, with the promise whereof Amos closed his prophecy; “In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof” Amos 9:11. This decree, which he says shall be far away, might in itself be the decree either of God or of the enemy. The sense is the same, since the enemy was but the instrument of God. Yet it seems more in accordance with the language of the prophets, that it should be the decree of man. For the decree of God for the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of His people was accomplished, held its course, was fulfilled.
The destruction, captivity, restoration, were parts of one and the same decree of God, of which the restoration was the last accomplished in time. The restoration was not the removal, but the complete fulfillment, of the decree. He means then probably, that the decree of the enemy, whereby he held her captive, was to remove and be far off, not by any agency of her’s . The people were to stream to her of themselves. One by one, shall all thy banished, captive, scattered, children be brought quite home unto thee from all parts of the earth, whither they have been driven, “from Assyria, and from strong-land”. The name Matsor, which he gives to Egypt, modifying its ordinary dual name Mitsraim, is meant, at once to signify “Egypt” , and to mark the strength of the country; as, in fact, , “Egypt was on all sides by nature strongly guarded.”
A country, which was still strong relatively to Judah, would not, of itself, yield up its prey, but held it straitly; yet it should have to disgorge it. Isaiah and Hosea prophesied, in like way, the return of Israel and Judah from Assyria and from Egypt. “And from strong-land even to the river” Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 27:13; Hosea 11:11 (Euphrates); the ancient, widest, boundary of the promised land; “and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain” Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24, Joshua 1:4; 1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 4:24. These last are too large to be the real boundaries of the land. If understood geographically, it would by narrowig those which had just been spoken of, from Egypt to the Euphratcs. Joel likens the destruction of the Northern army to the perishing of locusts in the two opposite seas, the Dead sea and the Mediterranean Joel 2:20; but the Dead sea was not the entire Eastern boundary of all Israel. Nor are there any mountains on the South, answering to Mount Libanus on the North. Not the mountains of Edom which lay to the South-East, but the desert Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:3; Deuteronomy 11:24 was the Southern boundary of Judah. In the times too of their greatest prosperity, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Syria, had been subject to them.
The rule of the Messiah “from sea to sea” had already been predicted by Solomon , enlarging the boundaries of the promised land to the whole compass of the world, from the sea, their bound westward, to the further encircling sea beyond all habitable land, in which, in fact, our continents are large islands . To this, Micah adds a new description, “from mountain to mountain”, including, probably, all subdivisions in our habitable earth, as the words, “sea to sea”, had embraced it as a whole. For, physically and to sight, mountains are the great natural divisions of our earth. Rivers are but a means of transit. The Euphrates and the Nile were the centers of the kingdoms which lay upon them. Each range of mountains, as it rises on the horizon, seems to present an insuperable barrier. No barrier should avail to hinder the inflow to the Gospel. As Isaiah foretold that all obstacles should be removed, “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” Isaiah 40:4, so Micah prophesies, “from mountain to mountain they shall come”.
The words are addressed as a promise and consolation to the Jews, and so, doubtless, the restoration of the Jews to their own land after the captivity is foretold here, as Micah had already foretold it Micah 4:10. But is the whole limited to this? He says, with remarkable indefiniteness, there shall come . He does not say, who “shall come.” But he twice sets two opposite boundaries, from which men should come; and, since these boundaries, not being coincident, cannot be predicted of one and the same subject, there must be two distinct incomings. The Jews were to come from those two countries, whither its people were then to be carried captive or would flee. From the boundaries of the world, the world was to come.
Thus, Micah embraces in one the prophecies, which are distinct in Isaiah, that not only God’s former people should come from Egypt and A ssyria, but that Egypt and Assyria themselves should be counted as one with Israel Isaiah 19:23-25; and while, in the first place, the restoration of Israel itself is foretold, there follows that conversion of the world, which Micah had before promised Micah 4:1-3, and which was the object of the restoration of Israel. This was fulfilled to Jews and pagan together, when the dispersed of the Jews were gathered into one in Christ, the Son of David according to the flesh, and the Gospel, beginning at Jerusalem, was spread abroad among all nations. The promise is thrice repeated, It is the day, assuring the truth thereof, as it were, in the Name of the All-Holy Trinity.
Notwithstanding - (And) the land (that is that spoken of, the land of Judah) shall be desolate not through any arbitrary law or the might of her enemies, but through the sins of the people, because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings Truly “the fruit of their doings,” what they did to please themselves, of their own minds against God. As they sow, so shall they reap. This sounds almost as a riddle and contradiction beforehand; “the walls built up,” “the people gathered in,” and “the land desolate.” Yet it was all fulfilled in the letter as well as in spirit. Jerusalem was restored; the people was gathered, first from the captivity, then to Christ; and yet the land was again desolate through the fruit of their doings who rejected Christ, and is so until this day.
The prophet now closes with one earnest prayer Micah 7:14; to which he receives a brief answer, that God would shew forth His power anew, as when He first made them His people Micah 7:15. On this, he describes vividly the awed submission of the world to their God Micah 7:16-17, and closes with a thanksgiving of marveling amazement at the greatness and completeness of the forgiving mercy of God Micah 7:18-19, ascribing all to His free goodness Micah 7:5 :20.
Feed Thy people with Thy rod - The day of final deliverance was still a great way off. There was a weary interval before them of chastisement, suffering, captivity. So Micah lays down his pastoral office by committing his people to Him who was their true and abiding Shepherd. who that has had the pastoral office, has not thought, as the night drew near in which no man can work, “what will be after him?” Micah knew and foretold the outline. It was for his people a passing through the valley of the shadow of death. Micah then commits them to Him, who had Himself committed them to him, who alone could guide them through it. It is a touching parting with his people; a last guidance of those whom he had taught, reproved, rebuked, in vain, to Him the Good Shepherd who led Israel like a flock. The rod is at times the shepherd’s staff Leviticus 27:32; Psalms 23:4, although more frequently the symbol of chastisement. God’s chastisement of His people is an austere form of His love. So He says, “If his children forsake My law, I will visit their offences with a rod and their sin with scourges: nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them” Psalms 89:31, Psalms 89:33.
The flock of Thine inheritance - So Moses had appealed to God, “Destroy not Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness - They are Thy people and Thine inheritance” Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; and Solomon, in his dedication-prayer, that, on their repentance in their captivity, God would forgive His people, “for they be Thy people and Thine inheritance which Thou broughtest forth out of Egypt” 1 Kings 8:51; and Asaph, “O Lord, the pagan are come into Thine inheritance” Psalms 79:1; and again, “Why doth Thine anger smoke against the sheep of Thy pasture? Remember the tribe of Thine inheritance which Thou hast redeemed” Psalms 74:1-2; and Joel, “Spare Thy people and give not Thine heritage to reproach” Joel 2:17; and a Psalmist, “They break in pieces Thy people, O Lord, and afflict Thine heritage” Psalms 94:5; and Isaiah, “Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of Thine inheritance” Isaiah 63:17.
The appeal excludes all merits. Not for any deserts of their’s, (for these were but evil,) did the prophets teach them to pray; but because they were God’s property. It was His Name, which would be dishonored in them; it was His work, which would seemingly come to nothing; it was He, who would be thought powerless to save. Again, it is not God’s way, to leave half-done what He has begun. “Jesus, having loved His own which were in the world, loved them unto the end” John 13:1. God’s love in creating us and making us His, is the earnest, if we will, of His everlasting love. We have been the objects of His everlasting thought, of His everlasting love. Though we have forfeited all claim to Ills love, He has not forfeited the work of His Hands; Jesus has nor forfeited the price of His Blood. So holy men have prayed; , “I believe that Thou hast redeemed me by Thy Blood: permit not the price of the Ransom to perish.” “O Jesus Christ, my only Saviour, let not Thy most bitter Passion and Death be lost or wasted in me, miserable sinner!” .
Which dwell solitarily, or alone - Micah uses the words of Balaam, when he had been constrained by God to bless Israel. “The people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations” Numbers 23:9. Moses had repeated them, “Israel shall dwell in safety alone” Deuteronomy 33:28. This aloneness among other nations, then, was a blessing, springing from God’s being in the midst of them Exodus 33:16, Deuteronomy 4:7, the deeds which He did for them Exodus 34:10; Deuteronomy 4:3, the law which He gave Deuteronomy 4:8, Deuteronomy 4:33. So Moses prayed, “Wherein shall it be known here, that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?” Exodus 33:16, is it “not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth”. It was, then, a separate appeal to God by all His former loving-kindness, whereby He had severed and elected His people for Himself.
In the wood, in the midst of Carmel - God “turneth a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water and dry ground into watersprings” Psalms 107:34, Psalms 107:5. Isaiah at the same time used the like image, that “Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field (Carmel), and the fruitful field (Carmel) shall be esteemed as a forest” Isaiah 29:17. The wild forest was to be like the rich domestic exuberance of Carmel (see the note at Amos 1:2). He would say, “Feed Thy people in Babylon, which is to them a wild homeless tract, that it may be to them as their own peaceful Carmel.” Without God, all the world is a wilderness; with God, the wilderness is Paradise.
Let them feed in Basha and Gilead - The former words were a prayer for their restoration. Gilead and Bashan were the great pasture-countries of Palestine (see the note at Amos 1:3, vol. i. p. 234; iv. L p 280), , “a wide tableland, with undulating downs clothed with rich grass throughout,” where the cattle ranged freely.
They were the first possessions, which God had bestowed upon Israel; the first, which they forfeited. Micah prays that God, who protected them in their desolation, would restore and protect them in the green pasture where He placed them. They are a prayer still to the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep John 10:11, John 10:15, our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would feed His flock whom He has redeemed, who have been given to Him as an inheritance Psalms 2:8, the little flock Luke 12:32, to which it is the Fathers good pleasure to give the kingdom, which cleaveth to Him and shall be heirs with Him Romans 8:17. Cyril: “Christ feedeth His own with a rod, guiding them gently, and repressing by gentle fears the tendency of believers to listlessness. He bruiseth as with a rod of Iron, not them, but the rebellious disobedient and proud, who receive not the faith; believers He instructs and forms tenderly, feeds them among the lilies Song of Solomon 6:3, and leads them into good pastures and rich places, namely the divinely-inspired Scriptures, making the hidden things thereof clear through the Spirit to those of understanding, that they “may grow up unto Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ” Ephesians 4:15, with minds well-fed and nourished and gladdened with all spiritual delights.
But the chosen and elect dwell solitarily, being apart from the rest who think only of the things of earth, and give themselves to the pleasures of sense. So then these, having the mind at rest, freed from the vain and abominable tumults, are placed apart as in a wood and in a mountain. By the wood you may understand, the rich and varied and solid instruction (as it were trees and flowers) both in doctrine and life; by the mountain, what is high and lofty. For none of the wisdom, accounted of in the Church, is low. They are “fed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old”, rich pastures; for the mind of the holy is beautified, delighting itself in the contemplation of the inspired Scriptures, and filled, as it were, with a certain richness, and shares without stint all excellence in though or in deed; and that, not for a brief and narrow season, but forever. For what gladdeneth the flesh falleth therewith and fadeth and hasteth away like a shadow; but the participation of the good things from above and of the Spirit, stretcheth out along endless ages.”
According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt - God answers the prayer, beginning with its closing words . Micah had prayed, “Turn Thy people like the days of old; “God answers, “like the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt.” Micah had said, in the name of his people, “I shall behold His Righteousness; God answers, I will make him to behold marvelous things” . The word marvelous things was used of God’s great marvels in the physical world Job 5:9; Job 37:5, Job 37:14, or the marvelous mercies of His Providence toward individuals or nations (Psalms 9:2; Psalms 26:7; Psalms 71:17; Psalms 72:18, etc.), and especially of those great miracles, which were accumulated at the deliverance from Egypt Exodus 3:20; Judges 6:13; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 78:4, Psalms 78:11, Psalms 78:32; Psalms 105:2, Psalms 105:5; Psalms 106:7, Psalms 106:22, and the entrance of the promised land which was its completion.
The reference to the Exodus must have led them to think of actual miracles; since, in regard to the Exodus, it is used of nothing else. But there were no miracles at the return from the captivity. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion” Psalms 126:1, Psalms 126:3, said a Psalmist of the returned people, we were like them that dream. The Lord hath done great things for us; we are glad. Great things, but not miraculous. The promise then kept the people looking onward, until He came, “a prophet mighty in word and deed” Luke 24:19, as to whom Peter appealed to the people, that He was “approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know” Acts 2:22; who gave also to them who believed on Him power to do “greater works than He did” John 14:12, through His own power, because He went to His Father; and when they believed, He shewed to him, namely, to the whole people gathered into the One Church, Jew and Gentile, yet more marvelous things, things, every way more marvelous and beyond nature than those of old, “the unsearchable riches of Christ, the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” Ephesians 3:8-9.
The nations shall see - God had answered, what He would give to His own people, to see. Micah takes up the word, and says, what effect this sight should have upon the enemies of God and of His people. The world should still continue to be divided between the people of God and their adversaries. Those who are converted pass from the one to the other; but the contrast remains. Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, pass away or become subject to other powers; but the antagonism continues. The nations are they, who, at each time, waste, oppress, are arrayed against, the people of God. When the Gospel came into the world, the whole world was arrayed against it. These then, he says, “shall see”, that is, the marvelous works of God, which God should shew His people, and be ashamed at, that is, “because of all their might”, their own might. They put forth their whole might, and it failed them against the marvelous might of God. They should array might against might, and be ashamed at the failure of “all their might”.
The word all is very emphatic; it implies that they had put forth all, and that all had failed them, and proved to be weakness. So the pagan might was often put to shame and gnashed its teeth, when it could avail nothing against the strength to endure which God gave to His martyrs. Its strength to inflict and to crush was baffled before the hidden might of God’s Spirit. “They shall lay their hand upon their mouth”, in token that they were reduced to silence, having no more to say ; for He promised, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:15, compare Acts 5:29); and they had to own, “indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them, and we cannot deny it. Their ears shall be deaf” Acts 4:16; they shall be silent, as though they had heard nothing, as if they were both dumb and deaf .
Yet it seems too that they are willfully deaf, shutting their ears out of envy and hatred, that they might not hear what great things God had done for His people, nor hear the voice of truth and be converted and healed. Rup.: “The nations and the Emperors of the nations saw, Jews and Gentiles saw, and were ashamed at all their might, because their might, great as it was accounted, upheld by laws and arms, could not overcome the mighty works, which the Good Shepherd did among His people or flock by His rod, that is, by His power, through weak and despised persons, the aged, or oftentimes even by boys and girls. They were then ashamed at all their might which could only touch the “earthen vessels” 2 Corinthians 4:7, but could not take away the treasure which was in them. What shall I say of the wisdom of those same nations? Of this too they were ashamed, as he adds, “They shall put their hands upon their mouths”. For, in comparison with the heavenly wisdom, which spake by them and made their tongues eloquent, dumb was all secular eloquence, owning by its silence that it was convicted and confounded.”
They shall lick the dust like a (the) serpent - To lick the dust, by itself, pictures the extreme humility of persons who east themselves down to the very earth (as in Psalms 72:9; Isaiah 49:23). To lick it “like the serpent” seems rather to represent the condition of those who share the serpent’s doom Genesis 3:14; Isaiah 65:25, whose lot, viz. earth and things of earth, they had chosen (Rup.): “They shall move out of their holes”, or, better, shall tremble, (that is, “come tremblingly,”) out of their close places , whether these be strong places or prisons, as the word, varied in one vowel means. If it be strong places, it means, that “the enemies of God’s people should, in confusion and tumltuously with fear, leave their strongholds, wherein they thought to be secure, not able to lift themselves up against God and those by Him sent against them.” “Like worms of the earth”, literally, creeping things, or, as we say, reptiles, contemptuously. “They shall be afraid of”, or rather come trembling to, the Lord our God; it is uot said their, but our God, who hath done so great things for us. And shall fear because of (literally, from) Thee, O Lord, of whom they had before said, Where is the Lord thy God?
It is doubtful, whether these last words express a “servile tear,” whereby a man turns away and flees from the person or thing which he fears, or whether they simply describe fear of God, the first step toward repentance. In Hosea’s words, “they shall fear toward the Lord and His goodness” Hosea 3:5, the addition, and His goodness, determines the character of the fear. In Micah, it is not said that the fear brings them into any relation to God. lie is not spoken of; as becoming, any how, their God, and Micah closes by a thanksgiving, for God’s pardoning mercy, not to them but to His people.
And so the prophet ends, as he began, with the judgments of God; to those who would repent, chastisement, to the impenitent, punishment: “sentencing Samaria, guilty and not repenting” (Rup.), to perpetual captivity; to Jerusalem, guilty but repenting, promising restoration. So from the beginning of the world did God; so doth He; so shall He unto the end. So did He show Himself to Cain and Abel, who both, as we all, sinned in Adam. Cain, being impenitent, lie wholly cast away; Abel, being penitent,” and through faith offering a better sacrifice than Cain, and “bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, He accepted.” So He hath foreshown as to the end Matthew 25:0. Rup.: “And that we may know how uniformly our Judge so distinguisheth, at the very moment of His own death while hanging between the two thieves, the one, impenitent and blaspheming, He left; to the other, penitent and confessing, He opened the gate of paradise; and, soon after, leaving the Jewish people unrepentant, He received the repentance of the Gentiles.” Thus the prophet parts with both out of sight; the people of God, feeding on the rich. bounty and abundance of God, and His marvelous gifts of grace above and beyond nature, multiplied to them above all the wonders of old time; the enemies of God’s people looking on, not to, admire, but to be ashamed, not to be healthfully ashamed, but to be willfully deaf to the voice of God. For, however to lay the hand on the mouth might be a token of reverent silence, the deafness of the ears can hardly be other than the emblem of hardened obstinacy.
What follows, then, seems more like the unwilling creeping-forth into the Presence of God, when they cannot keep away, than conversion. It seems to picture the reprobate, who would not “hear the Voice of the Son of God and live” John 5:25, but who, in the end, shall be forced to hear it out of their close places or prisons, that is, the grave, and come forth in fear, when they shall “say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us” Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16. Thus the prophet brings us to the close of all things, the gladness and joy of God’s people, the terror of His enemies, and adds only the song of thanksgiving of all the redeemed.
Who is a God - (and, as the word means, A Mighty God,) like unto Thee? He saith not, “Who hast made heaven and earth, the sea and all that therein is” Exodus 20:11; nor, “Who telleth the number of the stars; and calleth them all by their names” Psalms 147:4; nor, “Who by His strength setteth fast the mountains and is girded about with power” Psalms 65:6; but who forgivest! For greater is the work of Redemption than the work of Creation. “That pardoneth”, and beareth and taketh away also, “and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage”, that is, His heritage, which is a remnant still when “the rest are blinded” Romans 11:7; and this, not of its merits but of His mercy; since it is not His nature to “retain His anger forever”; not for anything in them, but “because He delighteth in mercy”, as He saith, “I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever” Jeremiah 3:12. “I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine oum sake, and will not remember thy sins” Isaiah 43:25. : “For although God for a time is angry with His elect, chastening them mercifully in this life, yet in the end He hath compassion on them, giving them everlasting consolations.”
Moses, after the completion of his people’s deliverance at the Red Sea, used the like appeal to God, in unmingled joy. Then the thanksgiving ran, “glorious in holiness, awful in praises, doing wonders” Exodus 15:11. Now, it ran in a more subdued, yet even deeper, tone, taken from God’s revelation of Himself after that great transgression on Mount Sinai “forgiving iniquity and trasgression and sin”. With this, Micah identified his own name . This was the one message which he loved above all to proclaim; of this, his own name was the herald to his people in his day. who is like the Lord, the Pardoner of sin, the Redeemer from its guilt, the Subduer of its power? For no false god was ever such a claim made. The pagan gods were symbols of God’s workings in nature; they were, at best, representatives of His government and of His displeasure at sin. But, being the creatures of man’s mind, they could hot freely pardon, for man dared not ascribe to them the attribute of a freely-pardoning mercy, for which be dared not hope. Who is a God like to Thee, mighty, not only to destroy but to pardon? is the wondering thanksgiving of time, the yet greater amazement of eternity, as eternity shall unveil the deep blackness of sin over-against the light of God, and we, seeing God, as He Is, shall see what that Holiness is, against Which we sinners sinned, The soul, which is truly penitent, never wearies of the wondering love, who is a God like unto Thee?
He will turn again - who seemed to be turned away from us when we were turned away from Him. “He will subdue, or trample under foot” Joel 2:14, our worst enemy, “our iniquities”, as He saith, “He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” Romans 16:20. Hitherto, sinful passions had not rebelled only, but had had the mastery over us. Sin subdued man; it was his lord, a fierce tyrant over him; he could not subdue it. Holy Scripture says emphatically of man under the law, that he was sold under sin Romans 7:14, a slave under a hard master, oppressed, weighed down, and unable to throw off the bondage. “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” Romans 3:9; “the Scripture hath concluded all under sin” Galatians 3:22. Under the Gospel, God, he says, would subdue sin “under us,” and make it, as it were, our “footstool .” It is a Gospel before the Gospel. God would pardon; and He, not we, would subdue sin to us. He would bestow, “of sin the double cure, Save us from its guilt and power” . “Not I, but the grace of God, which was with me” 1 Corinthians 15:10.
And Thou wilt cast - - Not, some ( “for it is impious to look for a half-pardon from God”) but - “all their sins into the depths of the sea”, so that as in the passage of the Red Sea there was not one Egyptian left of those who pursued His people, so neither shall there be one sin, which, through Baptism and on Repentance, shall not through His free mercy be pardoned. As they, which “sank as lead in the mighty waters” Exodus 15:10, never again rose, so shall the sins, unless revived by us, not rise against us to condemnation, but shall in the Day of Judgment be sunk in the abyss of hell, as if they had never been.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham - What was free mercy to Abraham, became, when God had once promised it, His truth. Abraham also stands for all those, who in him and his Seed should be blessed, those who were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” Ephesians 2:12, in no covenant or relation with God, as well as those who were the children of the faith; pagan, as well as Jews. Jacob represents these who were immediately his children, such of the children of Israel, as were also the true Israel and children of faithful Abraham. In both ways the gift to Abraham was mercy, to Jacob, truth. So also Paul saith, “Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” Romans 15:8-9 yet mercy and truth Psalms 25:10, together, are all the paths of the Lord; they “met together” Psalms 85:10 in Christ; yea Christ Himself is full of Mercy as well as “Truth” John 1:14 : and woe were it to that soul to whom He were Truth without mercy. Rup.: “For to be saved, we look not so much to the truth of the Judge as to the mercy of the Redeemer.” And mercy, in the counsel of God, reacheth wider than truth; for truth is given to Jacob, the father of one nation, Israel; but mercy to Abraham, “the father of many nations” Genesis 17:5; Romans 4:17. Isaac, it may be, is not here mentioned, because all to whom the blessing should come are already spoken of in Jacob and Abraham; in Jacob, all to whom the promise was first made; in Abraham, all nations of the world who should be blessed in his Seed, through the mercy of God overflowing the bounds of that covenant. Isaac is, in his sacrifice, chiefly a type of our Lord Himself.
Which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers - “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation” Hebrews 6:18.
From the days of old - Alb.: From eternity, in the counsel of God; in promise, from the foundation of the world, as is said in the hymn of Zacharias, “As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began” Luke 1:70. Pococke: The inspired hymns of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Zachariah take up the words of the prophet, and shew that they are already fulfilled in Christ, although they shall be more and more fulfilled unto the world’s end, as Jew and Gentile are brought into His fold; “He remembering His mercy, as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever” Luke 1:54-55. “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remnember His holy covenant, the oath which He sware to our father Abraham that He would grant unto us” Luke 1:72-74.
“I too,” Jerome subjoins, “sealing the labor of my little work by calling upon the Lord, will say at the close of this tract, O God, who is like unto Thee? Take away the iniquity of Thy servant, pass by the sin of my decayed soul, and send not Thine anger upon me, nor rebuke me in Thy indignation; for Thou art full of pity and great are Thy mercies. Rcturn and have mercy upon me; drown mine iniquities, and cast them into the depth of the sea, that the bitterness of sin may perish in the bitter waters. Grant the truth which Thou didst promise to Thy servant Jacob, and the mercy which Thou didst pledge to Abraham Thy friend, and free my soul, as Thou didst sware to my fathers in the days of old; “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Then shall mine enemy see and be crowned with confusion, who now saith unto me, where is now thy God?” Ezekiel 33:11. Amen, Amen, O Good Lord Jesus.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Micah 7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent