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Bible Commentaries
Micah 6

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.

Here begins the third division. After the glorious promises of the coming Messiah (Micah 5:1-15), he passes to the Lord's wonderful pleading with His people for their ungrateful return for all His continued loving-kindness.

Hear ye now what the Lord saith; Arise, contend thou - Israel is called by Yahweh to plead with Him in controversy. Micah 5:11-13 ("I will cut off ... all thy strong holds ... witchcrafts ... soothsayers ... graven images ... standing images ... groves") suggested the transition from those happy times described in Micah 4:1-13 and Micah 5:1-15 to the prophet's own degenerate times and people.

Before the mountains - in their presence; personified as if witnesses (cf. Micah 1:2; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 50:2). Not as margin, 'with;' as God's controversy is with Israel, not with them.

Verse 2

Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD's controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.

Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy. How great is Yahweh's condescension, who, though the supreme Lord of all, yet wishes to prove to worms of the earth the equity of His dealings! (Isaiah 5:3; Isaiah 43:26.)

Verse 3

O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

O my people - the greatest aggravation of their sin, that God always treated them, and still treats them, as His people.

What have I done unto thee? - except kindness that thou revoltest from me? (Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:31.)

Wherein have I wearied thee? - what commandments have I ever enjoined that should have wearied thee as irksome? (1 John 5:3.)

Verse 4

For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

For - nay, on the contrary, so far from doing anything harsh, I did thee every kindness from the earliest years of thy nationality: for instance.

I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt... and I sent before thee ... Miriam-mentioned as being the prophetess who led the female chorus who sang the song of Moses (Exodus 15:20). God sent Moses to give the best laws; Aaron to pray for the people; Miriam as an example to the women of Israel

Verse 5

O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

O my people, remember now what Balak ... consulted - how Balak plotted to destroy thee by getting Balaam to curse thee (Nun. 22:5).

What Balaam the son of Beor answered - how the avaricious prophet was constrained against his own will, to bless Israel, whom he had desired to curse for the sake of Balak's reward (Numbers 24:9-11). (Maurer.) Grotius explains it, 'how Balaam answered, that the only way to injure thee was by tempting thee to idolatry and whoredom with the daughters of Moab' (Numbers 31:16). The mention of "Shittim" agrees with this as it was the scene of Israel's sin, in "joining himself unto Baal-peor," after having "committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab" (Numbers 25:1-5; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14).

From Shittim unto Gilgal - not that Balaam accompanied Israel from Shittim to Gilgal: for he was slain in Israel's slaughter of Midian (Numbers 31:8). But the clause, "from Shittim," alone applies to Balaam. "Remember" God's kindnesses "from Shittim," the scene of Balaam's wicked counsel taking effect in Israel's sin, whereby Israel merited utter destruction, but for God's sparing mercy - "all along to Gilgal," the place of Israel's first encampment in the promised land, between Jericho and Jordan, where God renewed the covenant with Israel-by the circumcision of those who, having been born in the wilderness, were not yet circumcised, and "said unto Joshua, this day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal (that is, rolling) unto this day" (Joshua 5:2-11).

That ye may know the righteousness - recognize that, so far from God having treated thee harshly (Micah 6:3), His dealings have been kindness itself (so, in Deborah's song, she says, "the righteous acts of the Lord toward the inhabitants of His villages in Israel," for gracious, Judges 5:11; Psalms 24:5; Psalms 112:9).

Verse 6

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? The people, convicted by the previous appeal of Yahweh to them, ask, as if they knew not (cf. Micah 6:8), what Yahweh "requires" of them to appease Him, adding that they are ready to offer an immense heap of sacrifices, and those the most costly, even to the fruit of their own body.

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings - such as are prescribed in Leviticus 1:1-17.

With calves of a year old? - the sin offering which used to be offered for a priest (Leviticus 9:2-3).

Verse 7

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Will the Lord be pleased with ... ten thousands of rivers of oil? - ordered to be put on the unbloody minchaah (H4503) or unbloody "meat offering" (Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 2:15). Will God be appeased by my offering so much oil that it shall flow in myriads of torrents?

Shall I give my first-born for my transgression - (2 Kings 3:27). As the King of Moab did, when pressed in battle by the Kings of Judah and Israel, Jehoshaphat and Jehoram.

The fruit of my body? - my children as an atonement (Psalms 132:11). The Jews offered human sacrifices in the valley of Hinnom, causing their children, which belonged to God, to pass through the fire in honour of Moloch (Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 23:37). This allusion fixes this prophecy to the time of Ahaz, who "made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the pagan" (2 Kings 16:3). "He burnt his children in the fire" (2 Chronicles 28:3).

Verse 8

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? He (Yahweh) hath showed thee - long ago, so that thou needest not ask the question, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?" etc., as if thou hadst never heard (Micah 6:6: cf. Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

O man - Hebrew, 'Adam:' the universal race of man, Jew and Gentile alike.

What is good - the 'good things to come' under Messiah, of which 'the law had the shadow.' The Mosaic sacrifices were but suggestive foreshadowings of His better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23, 'It was necessary that the heavenly things themselves (should be purified) with better sacrifices than these;' Hebrews 10:1, "The law having a shadow of good things to come"). To have this "good" first "showed," or revealed by the Spirit, is the only basis for the superstructure of the moral requirements which follow. Thus the way was prepared for the Gospel. The banishment of the Jews from Palestine is designed to preclude the possibility of their looking to the Mosaic rites for redemption, and shuts them up to Messiah.

And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy - preferred by God to sacrifices. For the latter, being positive ordinances, are only means designed with a view to the former, which being moral duties, are the ends, and of everlasting obligation (1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Hosea 12:6; Amos 5:22; Amos 5:24). Two duties toward man are specified-justice, or strict equity; and mercy, or a kindly abatement of what we might justly demand, and a hearty desire to do good to others.

And to walk humbly with thy God? - passive and active obedience toward God. The three moral duties here are summed up by our Lord (Matthew 23:23), "judgment, mercy, and faith" (in Luke 11:42, "the love of God"). Compare James 1:27, "Pure religion [religious service or worship, threeskeia (G2356)] and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction (mercy), and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (justice and faith). To walk with God is a walking by faith-implies constant prayer and watchfulness-familiar, yet "humble" converse with God (Genesis 5:24, "Enoch walked with God;" and Hebrews 11:5 states that faith was the principle of his walk with God; Genesis 17:1, "The Lord said unto Abram, I am the Almighty God: walk before me, and be thou perfect"). Henderson translates, 'be diligent in walking with thy God:' so the Septuagint, and Vulgate and Michaelis, 'with conscientious solicitude.' [But tsaana` (H6800), according to the Rabbis and Kimchi, Buxtorf, etc., means, to act humbly.] The cognate participial noun is translated "lowly" in Proverbs 11:2. Jerome's comment, though he probably errs in interpreting the word as implying anxious preparation, is worthy of note, 'We are enjoined to be prepared to walk with the Lord our God, never to be asleep at any hour, at no time to be secure, but always to expect the Master of the house as coming, and to fear the day of judgment, and in the night of this world to say, I sleep, but my heart waketh.'

Verse 9

The LORD's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

The Lord's voice crieth unto the city - Jerusalem.

And the man of wisdom. As in Proverbs 13:6, Hebrew, 'sin' is used for 'a man of sin;' and in Psalms 109:4, "prayer" for 'a man of prayer;' so here "wisdom" for 'the man of wisdom.'

Shall see thy name - shall regard thee, in thy revelations of thyself. Compare the end of Micah 2:7, "Do not my words do good to hits that walketh uprightly?" God's "name" expresses the sum total of His revealed attributes (Micah 5:4, "He shall stand and feed in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God"). Contrast with this Isaiah 26:10, "The wicked will not behold the majesty of the Lord." Another reading is adopted by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, 'there is deliverance for those who fear [ yir'eey (H3372) for yir'eh (H3070)] thy name.' The English version is better suited to the connection; and the rarity of the Hebrew expression, as compared with the frequency of that in the other reading, makes the English version reading less likely to be an interpolation.

Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it - hear what punishment (cf. Micah 6:13, etc.; Isaiah 9:13; Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:24, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation") awaits you, and from whom. I am but a man, and so ye may disregard me; but remember my message is not mine, but God's. Hear the rod when it is come, and you feel its smart. Hear what counsels, what cautions it speaks.

Appointed it - (Jeremiah 47:7, "How can it (the sword of the Lord) be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it").

Verse 10

Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?

Are there yet - notwithstanding all my warnings.

The treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked - is there to be no end of acquiring treasures by wickedness? Yahweh is speaking (Micah 6:9).

And the scant measure that is abominable? - (Proverbs 11:1; Amos 8:5.)

Verse 11

Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

Shall I count them pure - literally, 'Shall I be pure with,' etc. With the pure, God shows Himself pure; but with the froward, God shows Himself froward (Psalms 18:26). Men often are changeable in their judgments, But God, in the case of the impure, who use 'wicked balances,' cannot be pure - i:e., cannot deal with them as He would with the pure. Vatablus and Henderson make the "I" to be 'any one:' 'Can I (i:e., one) be innocent with wicked balances?' But as "I" in Micah 6:13 refers to Yahweh, it must refer to Him also here.

And with the bag of deceitful weights? - in which weights used to be carried as well as money (Deuteronomy 25:13; Proverbs 16:11).

Verse 12

For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

For - rather, 'Inasmuch as,' etc.; the conclusion, "therefore," etc., following in Micah 6:13.

The rich men thereof - of Jerusalem.

Verse 13

Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.

Therefore ... will I make thee sick in smiting thee - (Leviticus 26:16, to which, perhaps, the allusion here is, as in Micah 6:15, "Thou shalt sow but thou shalt not reap;" Psalms 107:17-18, "Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death;" Jeremiah 13:13).

Verse 14

Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied - fulfilling the threat, Leviticus 26:26 "When I have broken the staff of your bread

... and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied."

And thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee - thou shalt be cast down, not merely thy borders, but in the midst of thee, thy metropolis and temple being overthrown (Tirinus). Even though there should be no enemy, yet thou shalt be consumed with intestine evils (Calvin). Maurer translates, as from an Arabic, root, 'there shall be emptiness in thy belly.' Similarly Grotius, 'there shall be a sinking of thy belly (once filled with food) through hunger.' This suits the parallelism to the first clause. But the English version maintains the parallelism sufficiently. The casting down in the midst of the land, including the failure of food, through the invasion: thus answering to "Thou shall eat, and not be satisfied." [ wªyeshchªkaa (H3445) is from yaashach akin to shaachach, or shaachah (H7812) and shuwach (H7743), to humble or stoop one's self].

Thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver - "thou shalt take hold" (with thine arms), in order to save (Calvin) thy wives, children, and goods. Rather [the apocopated Hiphil taceeg, from naacag (H5253)], 'thou shalt remove them,' in order to save them from the foe. But thou shall fail in the attempt to "deliver" them (Jeremiah 50:37, "A sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed") The English version follows the ancient versions in the meaning "take hold" [from naasag (H5381), not found in the Qal, but in the Hiphil, hiciyg, He reached an object, or laid hold of it].

And that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword - if haply thou dost rescue aught, it will be but for a time: I will give it up to the foe's sword.

Verse 15

Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

Thou shall sow, but thou shall not reap - fulfilling the threat, Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:38-40; Amos 5:11.

Verse 16

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

For the statutes of Omri are kept - the founder of Samaria, who overthrew and supplanted Zimri, the conspirator and regicide, and of Ahab's wicked house; and a supporter of Jeroboam's superstitions (1 Kings 16:16-28). This verse is a recapitulation of what was more fully stated before, Judah's sins and consequent punishment. Judah, though at variance with Israel on all things else, imitated her impiety. This was true of the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah, especially, who "walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made also molten images for Baalim;" which was the special sin of the house of Ahab (2 Chronicles 28:2).

And all the works of the house of Ahab - (1 Kings 21:25-26).

And ye walk in their counsels - though these superstitions were the fruit of their king's "counsels," as a master stroke of state policy, yet these pretexts were no excuse for setting at naught the counsels and will of God.

That I should make thee a desolation - thy conduct is framed so as if it was thy set purpose that I should make thee a desolation.

And the inhabitants thereof - namely, of Jerusalem.

An hissing - (Lamentations 2:15, "All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?")

Therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people. The very thing ye boast of-namely, that ye are "my people," will only increase the 70 of your punishment. The greater was my grace to you, the greater shall be your punishment for having despised it, Your being God's people in name, while walking in His love, was an honour; but now the name without the reality is only a "reproach" to you.


(1) Yahweh deigns to enter into argument with His people, appealing to themselves to testify, if they could, of any wrong ever done to them, or any wearying burden ever laid upon them, by their God. So far from wrong, all God's dealings with them were one continuous series of loving-kindnesses and gratuitous mercies all along from the tint beginnings of their national existence. Nay, more; the evil which powerful temporal enemies like Balak, and powerful spiritual enemies like Balaam, devised against the elect nation, God had actually overruled to good. It is well for us all often to pass in review the loving course of God's providence and God's grace toward us all our life long, in order that we may have the feelings of love toward Him, and of shame and humiliation in relation to ourselves, intensified. Even though some untoward events have befallen us, still we may see, if we be His believing children, that "righteousness" and faithfulness to His promises have characterized all His ways: and that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).

(2) When the sinner is convicted by the Word of God brought home to his conscience, he is ready to give any external sacrifice, however costly, in order to obtain pardon and peace. Yea, many in apostate Israel among the pagan have given, in the intensity of fanatical zeal, "their first-born for their transgression, the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul."

(3) But all this is not what God "requires" of man (Micah 6:8). God had "shown" Israel long ago what is the "good" which He requires as the end of all positive ordinances-namely, "to do justly," by giving to all men that which is in strictest equity their due; to go beyond even this by "loving mercy," which gives even more to our fellow-men than strict justice demands; and, as the root of all this, "to walk humbly with our God," which implies a walk of love and faith toward God. All, "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin" (Romans 14:23). The sacrifices of the law were the means whereby God showed to the sincere and obedient worshipper by faith a "shadow of good things to come," even of that "better" sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 10:1) which should supersede all former sacrifices, as the substance supersedes the shadow. Without loving obedience of the heart and life all external sacrifices were unmeaning mockeries.

(4) Though man's offering of "his first-born for his transgression" could avail nothing, God "brought His first-begotten into the world" (Hebrews 1:6), and by the offering of Him "once for all" "he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:10; Hebrews 10:14). No other atonement can make satisfaction for sin: and all that God now requires of us is loving obedience. It is only by living faith in the once, sacrificed and now living Saviour that we can "walk humbly with our God," being at agreement with Him as our reconciled Father, and as the fruit of faith "doing justly and loving mercy" in relation to our fellow-men. Let us ever remember that without love, holiness of heart, and righteousness of life, flowing from faith in Christ, all our church-goings, forms of prayer, and almsgivings, profit us nothing.

(5) "The Lord's voice crieth unto" men (Micah 6:9) in various ways-by His providence, by His Word, by His Spirit. He is truly a man of "wisdom" who regards God in His manifestations of Himself. When God lifts the rod of chastisement as about to smite us for sin, let us by penitence and humiliation avert, or at least mitigate the stroke. When the blow has fallen, let us hear submissively the voice which speaks to us thereby. Instead of looking to the instrument or secondary agents of the punishment let us regard the great First Cause-namely, God, who hath appointed it." Let us try to learn the lessons of spiritual profit which God hath designed us to derive from it.

(6) It is only "with the pure" that "God shows Himself pure." "With the froward God" can only, humanly speaking, "show Himself froward." (Micah 6:11-13; Psalms 18:26). As men deal toward their fellow-men and toward God, so God deals with them.

(7) The gains unjustly acquired do no good to the possessor. In righteous retribution they are doomed to "eat, but not be satisfied" (Micah 6:14). In vain the ungodly join hand to hand, and strain every nerve to keep fast "hold of their possessions. No effort can "deliver" them out of the hands of the executioners of vengeance to whom God has given them up.

(8) Without the blessing of the Lord, the sewer sows in vain, and even the reaper reaps in vain. God's blessing cannot be with us really and abidingly, so long as we regard "the statutes" of man, rather than the statutes of God. This was Judah's sin. Though at variance with Israel on all things else, yet she was in Micah's days at one with her idolatrous sister in apostasy. The "works" and "counsels" of the house of Ahab, politic as they seemed to the followers of worldly-wise expediency, in the end proved fatal both to their originators and to their imitators. The very name of which they boasted, as the people of God, only turned to their "reproach" when they walked unworthy of such a name (Micah 6:16). Let us remember, if we would have true honour and blessedness, we must seek them in the ways of the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Micah 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/micah-6.html. 1871-8.
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