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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Micah 7

Verse 1

Micah bewailed his own disappointment with Israel’s situation. He compared himself to Israel’s fruit pickers and grape gatherers who felt great disappointment over their poor harvests (Micah 6:15). Israel should have produced more spiritual fruit, but she did not (cf. Isaiah 5:7; Mark 11:12-14; Mark 11:20-22; John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-23).

Verses 1-7

D. Micah’s lament over his decadent society 7:1-7

This section is an individual lament similar to many of the psalms (cf. Micah 1:8-16).

Verse 2

The prophet, using hyperbole, said he could find no faithful godly (Heb. hasid, from hesed; cf. Hosea 4:1-2) or morally and ethically upright people (evidently rulers, cf. Micah 7:3) in the land. Obviously there were some righteous, including Isaiah, but by overstating his case he made his point: there were very few. All of them seemed to wait for the opportunity to advance their own interests, even resorting to violence and bloodshed to do so (cf. Micah 3:10; Micah 6:12). They behaved like hunters waiting to snare unsuspecting birds in their nets.

Verse 3

They were so skillful at doing evil that it seemed they could do it equally well with either hand; they were ambidextrous when it came to sinning. Another view is that "’both hands’ refer to ’the great man’ and the officials next to him. . . . The king and his depraved minions flagrantly pervert the covenant . . ." [Note: Waltke, in Obadiah, . . ., p. 200.] The leaders always had their hands out to receive a bribe (cf. Micah 3:11). The powerful could expect to get the evil things they wanted because they pulled the necessary strings. These leaders formed networks of conspiracy, like a basket, to entrap the weak.

Verse 4

The best and most upright of the people were like briars and thorn hedges in that they entangled and hurt all who came in contact with them. As when the people posted a watchman to warn of coming danger, so the prophets, God’s watchmen, had announced coming punishment from Yahweh. Yet the people had not heeded their cries of danger. When captivity came, the result would be confusion among the people.

Verses 5-6

Micah warned the Judeans against trusting in their neighbors, friends, or even wives who reassured them that everything would be all right. They could trust no one because everyone was telling lies to gain their own advantage. They could not trust the members of their own families because everyone was after his or her own interests and would stoop to betrayal to obtain them (cf. Matthew 10:35-36; Mark 13:12; Luke 12:53).

"Man is so made that he finds security in a small group among whom he is accepted and receives support. At the heart of the concentric circles of people known to him there must ever be a stable core of friends, and usually family, if his psychological equilibrium is to be maintained. The prophet gradually penetrates to the center of these inner circles of familiarity: friend-best friend-wife. A man is now forced to go against his nature, retiring within himself and keeping his own counsel, if he is not to face betrayal." [Note: Allen, p. 388.]

Verse 7

In contrast to the Israelites of his day, the prophet determined to watch expectantly and wait patiently for the Lord to act as He had promised (cf. 1 Samuel 4:13; Titus 2:13). He would bring salvation to His people ultimately (cf. Isaiah 59:20). This commitment gave Him confidence that the Lord would hear his prayers.

The reason Micah did not succumb to utter pessimism in view of the terrible conditions in his day is that he determined to trust God. The same faith is much needed in our dark day (cf. Philippians 2:15-16).

Verse 8

When Micah’s enemies saw him experience some discouraging situation, they rejoiced. He told them not to rejoice, because though he fell, God would raise him up. Though he appeared to be groping in the darkness (cf. Lamentations 3:6), the Lord would be a light to him and illuminate the right path for him to take.

Verses 8-13

1. Advice to the ungodly 7:8-13

Verses 8-20

E. Micah’s confidence in the Lord 7:8-20

This final section of the book is also in the form of a lament (cf. Micah 7:1-7). While Micah spoke as an individual, he spoke for the faithful remnant of Israelites in his day. His sentiments would have been theirs. Thus the lament is communal, but it gives way to glorious praise. Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and many of the psalmists likewise prayed as spokesmen for the faithful as well as for themselves (cf. Daniel 9; Ezra 9; Nehemiah 9; Lamentations 1:10-16; Lamentations 1:18-22).

"Micah concludes his book with a liturgical hymn, consisting of expressions of confidence, petition, and praise." [Note: Waltke, in The Minor . . ., p. 754. See Chisholm, Handbook on . . ., p. 426, for a structural analysis of this section.]

Verse 9

Micah identified with his people by confessing his guilt (cf. Daniel 9:5; Daniel 9:8; Daniel 9:11; Daniel 9:15). Though he had not personally committed the sins that he criticized his fellow Israelites of practicing, as a part of His nation he was with them in their guilt. He would have to bear the consequences of divine discipline as they did. Nevertheless the divine advocate, whom we have seen indicting the Israelites in this book, would come to the prophet’s defense. Micah would not suffer the same amount of punishment as the guilty in the nation. He would eventually come out of his dark circumstances into the light of God’s presence, and he would behold God’s righteousness. That is, he would see God demonstrate his justice and faithfulness to His promises. God will vindicate the faithful.

Verse 10

Then Micah’s enemies would see God’s rightness and feel ashamed for accusing Yahweh of abandoning His watchman. Micah would also see these enemies humiliated and brought low, trodden down like mud in the street (cf. Joshua 10:24; Psalms 110:1).

Verse 11

That day, when the Israelite critics of Micah and his prophecies would see they were wrong, would be when the walls around vineyards would be rebuilt and the boundaries of Judah extended (cf. Ezekiel 47:13-23; Obadiah 1:19-20). The word used here to describe walls, gader, elsewhere refers to the walls around vineyards (cf. Numbers 22:24; Isaiah 5:5), not walls around a city. In the Millennium, Jerusalem will have no walls (Zechariah 2:4-5). This refers to the distant future when God will re-gather and reestablish Israel in her land, in the Millennium, not following the Babylonian captivity. This is clear from what follows.

Verse 12

Israel’s former enemies from all over the world, represented by Assyria and the Euphrates River on the northwest and Egypt on the southeast, would come to the Israelites in their land (cf. Isaiah 19:23-25; Amos 9:11-15). They would come from everywhere between the seas and the mountains, a synecdoche for everywhere on earth (cf. Psalms 72:8; Zechariah 9:10).

Verse 13

Before that, however, the earth will become desolate because God will judge its inhabitants for their sinful deeds (cf. Isaiah 24:1; Isaiah 34-35). This will happen in the Tribulation and in the judgment of the nations that will immediately follow the Lord’s second coming (cf. Matthew 25:32-33; Matthew 25:46).

Verse 14

Micah prayed that the Lord would again take an active role as the shepherd of His people Israel. Shepherding with His rod (Heb. shebet) implies kingly leadership. This is a request for the promised descendant of David to appear and lead Israel. Presently the Israelites, the flock that Yahweh possessed uniquely (cf. Deuteronomy 4:20), were isolated even though they inhabited the land that God had given them. Micah prayed that they might enjoy God’s blessings, as when their flocks fed on the lush, grassy hills of Bashan and Gilead earlier in their history.

Verses 14-17

2. Prayer for deliverance 7:14-17

Verse 15

The Lord replied to Micah’s prayer. He promised that He would show Israel miracles again, as when He sent the plagues on Egypt just before the Exodus (cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11). The Jews’ liberation from Gentile domination and return to their own land at the beginning of the Millennium will be another miraculous Exodus (cf. Hosea 9:3; Hosea 11:5; Hosea 11:11; Hosea 12:9).

Verse 16

The Gentile nations will observe this miracle and feel ashamed because they will realize that all their might is inferior to God’s power demonstrated in bringing Israel home (cf. Micah 7:7; Micah 3:7). They will not want to speak out against Yahweh or Israel because of reverence and awe or hear any more about what God is doing for His people, apparently because His power will be so overwhelming.

Verse 17

They will become as servile and humble as snakes. Licking the dust is a figure describing total defeat (cf. Genesis 3:14; Psalms 72:9 Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 65:25). They will surrender to Yahweh, Israel’s God, and come before Him in fear and dread of what He will do to them (cf. Philippians 2:10).

Verse 18

The prophet praised Yahweh as a God who is unique in that He pardons the rebellious sins of the surviving remnant of His people. "Who is a God like You?" is another rhetorical question (cf. Exodus 15:11; Psalms 35:10; Psalms 71:19; Psalms 77:13; Psalms 89:6; Psalms 113:5), and it may be a play on Micah’s name, which means, "Who is like Yahweh?" No one is just like Him! Pardoning such grave sins is contrary to human behavior, but Yahweh would not retain His anger against the Israelites forever (cf. Psalms 103:9). He will pardon them (cf. Micah 1:5; Micah 3:8; Micah 6:7; Exodus 34:6-7) because He delights to be faithful to His love (Heb. hesed) for them (cf. Micah 7:20).

Verses 18-20

3. Praise for forgiveness 7:18-20

Micah had prayed, he received the Lord’s answer, and this answer moved him to worship (cf. Exodus 34:6-7). Modern orthodox Jews read Micah 7:18-20 in their synagogues on the day of Atonement following the reading of Jonah.

"Few passages in Scripture contain so much ’distilled theology’ as Micah 7:18-20." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 402.]

Verse 19

Yahweh would again have compassion (tender, heartfelt concern, Heb. rehem) on the Israelites, as He had done so often in their history (cf. Psalms 102:13; Psalms 103:4; Psalms 103:13; Psalms 116:5; Psalms 119:156; Hosea 14:4; Zechariah 10:6). He would subdue their iniquities as though they were insects that He stepped on and obliterated. He would do away with their sins as surely as someone gets rid of something permanently by throwing it into the sea (cf. Psalms 103:12). The use of three words for sin in Micah 7:18-19 (iniquity, rebellious acts, and sins) gives added assurance of forgiveness. God will forgive all types of Israel’s sins.

Verse 20

The basis of Micah’s confidence was that God would be faithful to His promises to Jacob and loyal to His commitment (Heb. hesed) to bless Abraham (cf. Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18-21; Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 17:13; Genesis 17:19; Genesis 17:21; Genesis 28:13-14; Genesis 35:10-12; Genesis 48:4; et al.). These were ancient promises that God had sealed with His oath, vowing to fulfill them (e.g., Genesis 22:16-18; cf. Romans 4:13; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 4:1-10; Hebrews 8:10; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 21:3; Revelation 21:7).

"Like a day that begins with a dark, foreboding sky but ends in golden sunlight, this chapter begins in an atmosphere of gloom and ends in one of the greatest statements of hope in all the OT." [Note: McComiskey, p. 440.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Micah 7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/micah-7.html. 2012.