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Mic 7:1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: [there is] no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit.
Ver. 1. Woe is me, for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits ] Allai li, Alas for me. This last sermon of his the prophet begins with a pathetic queritation, bewailing his own unhappiness in the little good success of his ministry. Mirifice autem nostris temporibus hic sermo convenit, saith Gualther. This discourse suits well with these times; wherein we may justly cry out with the prophet Isaiah, "Who hath believed our report?" And again, "O my leanness, my leanness! woe is me, for there is only as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done," Isaiah 24:13 ; Isaiah 24:16 . Hei mihi quam pingui macer est mihi taurus in arvo. Though he had worn himself to a very skeleton in the Lord’s work; yet had he laboured in vain, Israel was not gathered, Isaiah 49:4-5 , and hence his woeful complaint. The like we read of Elias, 1 Kings 19:10 , where he bitterly bewails his aloneness; so did Athanasius in his age; and Basil in his Fasciculus temporum, A. D. 884, cries out, for the paucity of good people, Heu, heu, Domine Deus, Alas, Lord, how few appear to be on thy side.
“ Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto. ”
And Gualther complains, that the Anabaptists in Germany urged this as a chief argument to draw people from communion with our Churches, that there was so little good done by preaching, and so few souls converted. Hence some ministers despond, and are ready to kick up all. Latimer tells of one who gave this answer why he left off preaching, because he saw he did no good. This, saith Latimer, is a naughty, a very naughty answer. A grief it will be, and fit it should be; piety to God and pity to men calls for it. Christ wept over Jerusalem; Paul had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart (not inferior to that of a woman in travail ’ Oδυνη , Rom 9:2 ) for his contumacious countrymen; neither could he speak of those lewd lowlies at Philippi with dry eyes, Philippians 3:18 . But an utter discouragement it should not be, since our reward is with God however, Isaiah 49:5 , and perhaps a larger, because we have wrought with so little encouragement: we have ploughed when others have only trod out the grain: they trod and fed together, when as those that plough have no refreshing till the work be done, Hosea 10:13 . Certain it is that God will reward his faithful servants, secundum laborem, non secundum proventum, according to their pains taken in the ministry, and not according to their people’s profiting, Kατα κοπον ου κατα καρπον ..
There is no cluster to eat ] None to speak of: hedge fruit there is great store; wild grapes not a few; grapes of Sodom, clusters of Gomorrah; but for good grapes, pleasant fruit, godly people, there is a wondrous scarcity of such. Diogenes lighted a candle at noonday to look for a man; the host of Nola went to the graves to call for the good men of the town. Cicero saith, that if there be one good poet in an age it is well. Christ wondered at one good Nathaniel, and tells us in the same chapter, that they are but few that receive him, and with him the adoption of sons, John 1:12 . Clusters we must not look for; but if there be found two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches, it is well, Isaiah 17:6 . Sufficit mihi auditor unus, sufficit nullus. Paul when he came first to Philippi had a poor audience, only a few women, Acts 16:13 , and one convert: neither had he much better success at Athens, and no Church could be planted there, Acts 17:33-34 .
My soul desired the firstripe fruits ] Praecocem fructum, the early ripening fruit, as a great dainty, a precious rarity. We highly prize nettlebuds when they first bud; so doth God our young services. Jeremiah 1:11 , he made choice of the almond tree because it blossometh first; so of Jeremiah from his infancy. He called for firstfruits of trees, and of the earth, in the sheaf, in the threshingfioor, in the dough, in the loaves. He would have ears of corn dried by the fire; and wheat beaten out of the green ears, Leviticus 2:14 . He would have the primrose of our childhood. There were three sorts of firstfruits. 1. Of ears of grain offered about the passover. 2. Of the loaves, offered about Pentecost. 3. About the end of the year, in autumn. Now of the two first God had a part, not of the last. He likes not of those arbores autumnales, autumn trees, Judges 1:12 ( φθινοπωρινα ), that bud at latter end of harvest. Conversion (as divines observe) usually occures between eighteen years of age and twenty-eight: besides Abraham in the Old Testament, and Nicodemus in the New, we have not many instances of men converted in old age. When people grow crooked and rooted in evil practices they are hardly ever set straight again. "Remember therefore thy Creator in the days of thy youth"; his soul delighteth in the first ripe fruits. Remember that Jesus Christ shed his blood for thee when he was but eight days old when he was circumised; and took thee into his family by baptism when thou didst hang on thy mother’s breast.
Mic 7:2 The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
Ver. 2. The good man is perished out of the earth ] Heb. The saint, or, gracious man, that out of mercy obtained from God, can extend mercy to men. Rari quippe boni. Of such it may be said, as one doth of faithful friends in this age, that they are all (for the most part) gone on pilgrimage; and their return is uncertain.
And there is none upright among men ] None (to speak of) that maketh straight paths for his feet, Hebrews 12:13 , that foots it aright ( ορθοπαδει ), according to the truth of the gospel, Galatians 2:14 , that walketh evenly, Genesis 17:1 , and accurately ( ακριβως ), as it were by line and by rule, Ephesians 5:15 , and that halts not between two opinions, as those Israelites; but is right in his judgment, and undefiled in his way, Psalms 119:1 , rather desiring to be good than to seem to be so: few such to be found surely; black swans you may count and call them.
“ Sed nec Brutus erit, Bruti nec avunculus usquam ”( Juven.).
They all lie in wait for blood ] A company of sanguinaries, blood suckers, hunting for the precious lives of men; but especially of such as reprove them in the gate. If you touch them in their lusts, they will seek to touch you in your life, as Joash did Zechariah, and as the priests and people said of Jeremiah, This man worthy to die. All malice is bloody, and wisheth him out of the world whom it spiteth.
They hunt every man his brother with a net ] They add fraud to their force and craft to their cruelty; these seldom go sundered: as some write of the asp, he never wanders alone without his companion with him; and as the Scripture speaks of those birds of prey and desolation, none of them shall want their mate, Isaiah 34:16 . The matter is made the worse, because it is a brother whom they hunt: whether he be so by race, place, or grace, a brother should be better dealt with.
Mic 7:3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge [asketh] for a reward; and the great [man], he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
Ver. 3. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly ] Heb. for good and all, or, for ado; that they may speak and do evil as they can, Jeremiah 3:5 , and seek to outsin one another; like unhappy boys that strive who shall go farthest in the dirt. Nolunt solita peccare, saith Seneca: Et pudet non esse impudentes, saith Austin. Luther testifieth of the monks in Germany, that they were so desperately wicked, ut nihil cogitent quod non idem patrare ausint, that they could not devise that wickedness which they dared not do.
The prince asketh ] A beggarly practice for a prince, but so base they were grown, and so greedy of filthy lucre. "The prince asketh," and, by asking only, compelleth; for who dare deny him? If some Naboth do, he shall die for it. There is a memorable story of a poor man in Spain, to whom, when the lord’s inquisitors sent for some of his pears, which they had cast their eye upon, he, for fear of offending, brought them his pears, tree and all by the roots.
And the judge asketh for a reward ] Heb. The judge for a reward, sc. will gratify that sordidum poscinummium, the prince (Plaut.); who, when he giveth him his commissions, hinteth to him haply, as Nero did to his public officers, Scis quid nobis opus est (Dio.), Thou knowest what I want, and must have; see then that thou help me to it. Such trading there was likewise between our Richard II and judge Belknap with his fellows. To this purpose the Chaldee paraphrast here. The prince, saith he, requireth supplies of the judge, and this bespeaketh him, Fac pro me, et retribuam tibi; Negotiate for me, and I will be thy paymaster; favour me, help me at my need, and I will requite thy courtesy, whensoever thou wilt. Thus muli mutuo scabunt, one hand scratches another; and between the oppressive prince and unconscionable judge "the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth," Habakkuk 1:4 .
And the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire ] Heb. he speaketh out the corruption of his soul. "He" doth it. Emphaticum est pronomen Ipse, saith Calvin. This same "he" hath a special emphasis in it, q.d. This impudent man, being now past all grace (for Illum ego periisse dico, cui perit pudor ), boasteth of his villany; and thinks to bear it out bravely, because it is facinus maiores abollae, the fact of a great one. But who is this "he," this great man in the text, that dares thus obtrude, and justify to the world his most malapert misdemeanour? The rich client, saith Calvin, that hath his money to plead for him; for in suits both of love and of law, money mostly maketh mastery ( Ibi fas ubi maxima merces ); and angels trouble the current of justice (saith one) at certain seasons. Others understand it of counsellors, pleaders, advocates, solicitors, and other officers of justice; who, when as they ought to reprove the iniquity of the judges, do rather help it forward, by justifying the wicked for a reward, and taking away the righteousness of the righteous from him, Isaiah 5:20 , by making the law a nose of wax, and by quirks and devices varnishing falsehood and wrongdealing.
So they wrap it up ] Contorcuplicant: they wreath their wrong dealings together, as a rope twisted of many threads, till their iniquity be found to be hateful; till there wanteth but a hurdle, a horse, and a halter (as Belknap said of himself) to do the right. They make a league together, they join and strengthen their evil counsels and frauds, so Mr Diodati. These men agree among themselves, and conspire with one consent to do evil; so the Genevists.
Mic 7:4 The best of them [is] as a brier: the most upright [is sharper] than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen [and] thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
Ver. 4. The best of them is as a brier ] Which a man cannot handle without harm. See 2Sa 23:6 Psalms 55:21 ; Psa 58:10 Eze 2:6 Matthew 7:16 ; Matthew 13:7 ; Matthew 13:22 ; so, you cannot deal with them without danger; guilt, or grief you shall be sure of. Lot felt it so at Sodom, 2 Peter 2:7-8 , and so did those that set up that bramble Abimelech for their king, Judges 9:15-16 .
The most upright is sharper than a thornhedge ] Ut ibi inveniatur dolor, ubi sperabatur auxilium, saith Jerome here; so that a man shall have grief where he hoped for help and succour; as a man that, taking hold of a thorn hedge to get over, hath his fingers pricked by it, and is glad to let go; or, as a sheep that, fleeing to the bush for defence in weather, loses part of her fleece. Now if the best and most upright among them were no better, what can be imagined of the many ( οι πολλοι )? and what better can be hoped for by us (for one egg is not more like another than these times are those here described; it is but the same fable acted over again, only everything is now worse than ever) than a day of visitation, a time of perplexity, as it followeth here? For while they be folded together as thorns, and while they be drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry, Nahum 1:10 , as sear thorns under the pot, Ecclesiastes 7:6 . I will go through these briers, saith God, I will burn them together, Isaiah 27:4 , they shall be utterly burnt with fire in the same place, 2 Samuel 23:7 , that is, in hell, as some interpret it.
The day of thy watchmen, and thy visitation cometh ] Where sin is in the saddle punishment will be upon the crupper. a God will have a visitation day; and that for his watchmen, prophets, and governors, as well as for the common sort. "Thy visitation cometh," thou shalt share in punishment with them, as thou hast done in sin; neither shall it help thee to say, Our watchmen were in fault; for God will visit you all; and his visitation articles will be very strict and critical.
Now shall be their perplexity ] They shall be so intricated and entangled; so ensnared and ensnarled, as that they shall not know which way to turn them. They shall be in as great a distress as Israel was at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:3 , or as the Jews at Shushan were, when the decree was gone out for their utter destruction, Esther 3:15 , or as Manasseh was, when taken by the Assyrians among the thorns, he was bound with fetters, and carried to Babylon, 2 Chronicles 33:11 .
a A leathern strap buckled to the back of the saddle and passing under the horse’s tail, to prevent the saddle from slipping forwards. ŒD
Mic 7:5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
Ver. 5. Trust ye not in a friend ] Friends (said Socrates), there is no friend: and a friend is a changeable creature, saith another ( ζωον ευμεταβλητον ); all in changeable colours as the peacock, as often changed as moved. Besides, many friends are not more fickle than false, like deep ponds, clear at the top, and all muddy at the bottom. Fide ergo: sed cui vide. Try before you trust; and when you have tried your utmost, trust not overly far, lest you cry out at length, as Queen Elizabeth did, In trust I have found treason; or as Julius Caesar, when stabbed by Brutus among others, What thou, my son Brutus? He was slain in the senate house, with 23 wounds, given, in the most part, by those whose lives he had preserved.
Put ye not confidence in a guide ] Potenti et pollenti consilio et auxilio. Be he never so potent or politic, beyond thousand others, as the word importeth: and as the people said to David, "But now thou art worth ten thousand of us," 2 Samuel 18:3 , thou art the light of Israel, thou art the breath of our nostrils; so that if thou miscarry, we shall all breathe out our last. All which notwithstanding, princes are not to be trusted, Psalms 62:7 ; Psalms 118:8-9 ; Psalms 146:3 , for either they may die, or their affections may die; all their golden thoughts may perish. Great men’s words, saith one, are like dead men’s shoes; he may go barefoot that waiteth for them.
Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom ] From thy wife, thine ακοιτις , called the wife of thy bosom, because she should be as dear unto thee as the heart in thy bosom. Be not too open hearted to her, lest she tell all, as Samson’s wife; or as Fulvia, in Sallust, who declared all the secrets of Cneius, a noble Roman, her foolish lover. A fool telleth all, saith Solomon, Proverbs 29:11 , he is as little able to keep as to give counsel. He is full of chinks, and leaks every way; the doors of his mouth are seldom kept shut; you may know him by his gaping: fools are called by Aristophanes and Lucian, κεχηνοτες ; gapers. "But a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards," Proverbs 29:11 ; Tacitus he holds to be the best historian; and keeps his mouth with a bridle, as David did, Psalms 39:1 , and as the poets feign of Pegasus, that he had a golden bridle put upon him by Minerva, their goddess of wisdom. God and nature have taught us by the site of the tongue in a man’s mouth, to take heed to it, and to keep the doors of it; and when all is done, to pray God to keep that door, Psalms 141:3 . The tongue is ever in udo, in a moisture; but yet tied by the roots, that it may not stir out of place; it is also guarded with a percullis of teeth and a two-leaved gate of lips, which we must carefully keep, and hold that for an oracle,
“ Si sapis, arcano vina reconde cado. ”
“If you have sense, hide your personal wine in a jar”
Mic 7:6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies [are] the men of his own house.
Ver. 6. For the son dishonoureth the father ] Or, revileth the father (Menabbel), be-Nabals him, beknaves him (of Nabal comes Nebulo ), turpitudine afficit, bepastles him, vilifleth him. This is monstrous wickedness, Malachi 1:6 , and a sure sign the devil hath set his limbs in a man that is thus unnatural, fierce, traitorous, heady, high-minded; which yet is foretold of these dregs of time, these last and worst days, both by our Saviour, Matthew 10:21 ; Matthew 10:35-36 , and likewise by St Paul, 2 Timothy 3:3-4 . Such a son was he who, when his father complained that never father had so undutiful a child as he had: Yes, said his son (with less grace than wit), my grandfather had. Such a son was Ham, and Absalom, and Amida, son of Muleasses, King of Tunis, who cast his father out of his kingdom, and put out his eyes; and Henry, eldest son to our Henry II, who rebelled against his father, and died before him of a fever and a flux, with excoriation of the bowels; and, lastly, Adolphus Egmondanus, who imprisoned his own father six years for no other cause but for living so long, and keeping him from the dukedom of Guelderland.
The daughter riseth up against her mother ] As Mr Fox mentioneth some that witnessed against their own parents here in Queen Mary’s days, and were a means of their martyrdom.
A man’s enemies are the men of his own house] See Matthew 10:36 . See Trapp on " Mat 10:36 " Take our Saviour’s counsel there; "Be ye wise as serpents, innocent as doves"; but beware of men, yea, of the men of your own house.
“ Fide Deo soli: mortali fidito nulli:
Fallunt mortales: fullere Iova nequit. ”
Mic 7:7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Ver. 7. Therefore will I look unto the Lord ] "Therefore," inasmuch as there is no faith nor fair dealing among men, "I will look unto the Lord"; look wishly and intently, as a watchman in his watch tower doth look as far as ever he can see on every side. I also will lift up mine eyes unto those hills of heaven, from whence cometh my help, Psalms 121:1 ; I will pray and look up, Psalms 5:3 ; I will keep close communion with the Lord, and by faith commit the keeping of my soul to him in welldoing, as unto a faithful Creator, 1 Peter 4:19 . This I will do; and yet more than this.
I will wait for the God of my salvation ] If he tarry, I will wait for him; because he will surely come, he will not tarry, Habakkuk 2:3 . This is the voice of faith; and here is the faith and patience of the saints, Revelation 13:10 ; Revelation 14:12 . God sometimes lies off and stays long; even till our eyes even fail with looking for his salvation, Psalms 119:82 ; and all to try what we will do; as Samuel tried Saul, who, because he stayed not out his just time, lost his kingdom. David waited for the kingdom; and had it not till he had learned to quiet and behave himself as a child weaned of his mother, Psalms 131:2 . Those in Esther waited for deliverance; and had it not till almost forsaken of their hopes. "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord," saith dying Jacob, Genesis 49:18 ; and "I will wait for the God of my salvation," saith our prophet here, for a precedent to all the good souls of his time. Let us but consider our distance from God in worth and degree, together with our dependence upon him, our undone condition without him, how long he waited for us, how he hath hitherto helped us, as 1 Samuel 7:12 , and now seems to say unto us, as he did once to Peter, "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," John 13:7 , and we shall be content to wait, as here, and to say,
My God will hear me ] According to my faith, and his own faithfulness. The whole force of faith consisteth in this, saith Luther, Ut quis bene applicet pronomina, that a man will apply pronouns; that he can fiducially say, My God; and, will hear me. Were it not for this word of possession, mine, the devil might say the creed to as good purpose as we. He believeth there is a God, and a Christ, and such a Christ as is there described; but that which torments him is, he can say my to never an article of the faith. At the time in which Christ heard the devil begging that he might enter into the swine; but he could not say, My God hath heard me. Let us secure our interest in God; let us individuate Christ ( ιδιοποιεισθαι ), and appropriate him to ourselves by a particular faith, and then all shall be well with us.
Mic 7:8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD [shall be] a light unto me.
Ver. 8. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy ] Here is the triumph of faith, in the fail of outward comforts, in the midst of the world’s insultations and irrisions. Ne laeteris de me. O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed, thou that art victrix gentium, captiva vitiorum (as Austin said of Rome in her pride), thou that for present carriest the ball upon the foot, and none can come near thee: Rejoice not against me, as forlorn and hopeless; say not, "This is Zion, the outcast, whom no man seeketh after," Jeremiah 30:17 . For assure thyself, The right hand of the Lord will change all this, and
“ Flebile principium melior fortuna sequetur. ”
When I fall, I shall arise ] Because fall I never so low, I cannot fall below the supporting hand of God, which will help me up again, Psalms 37:24 . The wicked fall and never rise, Amos 8:14 , they shall drink of the cup of God’s wrath, "and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more," Jeremiah 25:27 ; their carcases shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them, Jeremiah 9:22 . This is fearful. If Haman fall before Mordecai the Jew, he shall not easily stop, or step back, Esther 6:13 . A Jew may fall before a Persian and get up and prevail. But if a Persian or other persecutor begin to fall before a Jew, he can neither stay nor rise. There is an invisible hand of omnipotence that strikes in for his own, and confounds their opposites.
When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me ] He can lighten the greatest darkness, as be did the dungeons to the martyrs. From the delectable orchard of the Leonine dungeon, so Algerius, an Italian martyr, dated his heavenly epistle. I am now in the Bishop of London’s coal house (saith Mr Philpot), a dark and ugly brison as any is about London; but my dark body of sin hath well deserved the same; and the Lord now hath brought me into outer darkness, that I might be the more lightened by him; as he is most present with his children in the midst of darkness. And in his letter to the Lady Vane, I thank the Lord, saith he, I am not alone, but have six other faithful companions, who in our darkness do cheerfully sing hymns and praises to God for his great goodness. We are so joyful that I wish you part of my joy. The posy of the city of Geneva stamped round about their money was formerly out of Job, Post tenebras spero lucern, After darkness I look for light; but the Reformation once settled among them, they changed it into Post tenebras lux (Scultet. Annul.), Light after darkness. Like as the Saxon princes, before they became Christians, gave for their arms a black horse; but being once baptized, a white.
Mic 7:9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, [and] I shall behold his righteousness.
Ver. 9. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him ] The Church had sinned, and God was angry with her. So Zec 1:12 Isaiah 57:17 . What mean, then, the Antinomians to tell us that God is never angry with his people for their foul and flagitious practices; no, not with a fatherly anger? nor chastiseth them for the same; no, not so much as with a fatherly chastisement? Is not this contra Solem mingere? Godliness is no target against affliction. Blind Nature saw this.
“ nec te tua plurima, Pantheu,
Labentem texit pietas ” -
Only it helps to patient the heart under affliction by considering, 1. That it is the Lord. 2. That, a man suffers for his sin; as the penitent thief also confessed, Luke 23:41 Luke 23:3 . That the rod of the wicked shall not lie long upon the lot of the righteous, το πικρον μικρον . Say we then, every one, with David, I know that thy judgments are right, and thou hast afflicted me justly, Psalms 119:75 ; yea, in very faithfulness hast thou done it, that thou mightest be true to my soul: and with that noble Du-plessy, who when he had lost his only son, a gentleman of great hopes (which was the breaking of his mother’s heart), quieted himself with these words of David, "I was silent and said no word, because thou, Lord, didst it," Psalms 39:9 . See my Love Tokens. It shall be our wisdom in affliction to look to God, and to reflect upon our sins, taking his part against ourselves; as a physician observes which way nature works, and helps it.
Until he plead my cause ] As a faithful patron and powerful avenger; for though it be just in God that I suffer, yet it is unjust in mine enemies, who shall shortly be soundly paid for their insolence and cruelty.
He will bring me forth to the light ] He will uncloud these gloomy days, and in his light I shall see light.
I shall behold his righteousness ] That is, his faithfulness in fulfilling his promise of deliverance in due time. Meanwhile I will live upon reversions, live by faith, and think to make a good living of it too. All the ways of God to his people are "mercy and truth," Psalms 25:10 : this is a soul satisfying place of Scripture indeed. All the passages of his providence to them are not only mercy, but truth and righteousness; they come to them in a way of a promise, and by virtue of the covenant, wherein God hath made himself a voluntary debtor to them, 1 John 1:9 .
Mic 7:10 Then [she that is] mine enemy shall see [it], and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
Ver. 10. Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, &c. ] Not only shall I behold his righteousness (as before), but mine enemy shall see it, and feel it too, to her small comfort. They shall see it when it is too late to remedy it; as they say the mole never opens her eyes till pangs of death are upon her.
And shame shall cover her ] When she shall see that thou hast showed me a token for good; that thou hast helped me, and comforted me, Psalms 86:17 .
Which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? ] So laying her religion in her dish, whereby God became interested in her cause, and concerned in point of honour to appear for her. The Church is no less beholden to her enemies’ insolence for help than to her own devotions; for God will right himself and her together. See Joel 2:17 . See Trapp on " Joe 2:17 "
Mine eyes shall behold her ] And feed upon her misery, not as mine enemy, but as God’s; nor out of private revenge, but out of zeal for his glory.
Now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets ] Exit infra omnes infimos: she shall be as mean as may be. Nineveh, that great city, is now a little town of small trade; Babylon is nothing else but a sepulture of herself. Those four monarchies that so heavily oppressed the Church are now laid in the dust, and live by fame only; so shall the Romish hierarchy and Turkish empire. All Christ’s enemies shall shortly be in that place that is fittest for them; sc. under his feet, as was before noted; he will dung his Church with the carcases of all those wild boars and bulls of Bashan that have trod it down.
Micah 7:11 [In] the day that thy walls are to be built, [in] that day shall the decree be far removed.
Ver. 11. In the day that thy walls are to be built ] In the type, by Nehemiah, Nehemiah 3:1-32 , who did the work with all his might; and having a ready heart, made riddance and good dispatch of it. In the truth, and spiritually, when the gospel was to be "preached to every creature," Mark 16:15 , and a Church collected of Jews and Gentiles. The Church is in the Canticles said to he a garden enclosed; such as hath a wall about it and a well within it, Song of Solomon 4:12 . See Trapp on " Son 4:12 " God will be favourable in his good pleasure unto Zion, and build the walls of Jerusalem, Psalms 51:18 . His spirit also will set up a standard in his saints, against strong corruptions and temptations; and make them more than conquerors, even triumphers, Isa 59:19 Romans 8:37 2 Corinthians 2:14 .
In that day shall the decree be far removed ] That decree of the Babylonians, forbidding the building of the temple and city, shall be reversed; and those statutes that were not good (given them by Gods permission, because they had despised his statutes, Eze 20:24-25 ), shall be annulled, and removed far away. Some read it, In that day shall the decree go far abroad; and interpret it, by Psalms 2:7-8 , of the doctrine of the gospel.
Micah 7:12 [In] that day [also] he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and [from] the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and [from] mountain to mountain.
Ver. 12. In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria ] To thee, Jerusalem, in the type, shall recourse be had from all parts, as if thou wert the chief city of the world (Pliny saith, that in his time she was the most famous of all the cities of the East; and Titus himself is said to have wept at the last destruction of it by his soldiers, whom he could not restrain from firing the temple). To the new Jerusalem, the Church of the New Testament, in the antitype: from whence the gospel was sent out to "every creature which is under heaven," Colossians 1:23 , and whereunto people of all sorts flowed, and many nations came, Micah 4:1-2 , with highest acclamations, most vigorous affections, and utmost endeavours bestowing themselves upon the Lord Christ, Acts 2:9 . Jerusalem in the Hebrew tongue is of the dual number; in regard of the two parts of the city, the upper and the nether town. Or (as the Cabalists give the reason), in regard of a two-fold Jerusalem, the heavenly and the earthly; and the taking away of the earthly, they say, was signified by the taking away of the letter jod out of Jerushalajim, 2 Samuel 5:13 . "But Jerusalem which is above is free," firm and full; "the desolate" (once so) "having many more children than she that hath a husband," Galatians 4:26-27 , "Whom the Lord of hosts also doth bless, saying" (as a father to them all), "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance," Isaiah 19:25 .
And from the fortress even to the river ] i.e. from all bounds and borders of the land, yea, of the world, Psalms 89:12 , Tabor and Hermon are put for the east and west parts of the world shall people come to the new Jerusalem, which hath "twelve gates: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates," Revelation 21:12-13 . See Trapp on " Rev 21:12 " See Trapp on " Rev 21:13 "
Mic 7:13 Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings.
Ver. 13. Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate ] Understand it, not of the land of Chaldea, as A Lapide doth; but of Judea, which must be desolated before the coming of Christ in the flesh. And this is here foretold. 1. Lest the impenitent, by misapplying the former promises, should dream of impunity, saeculi laetitia est impunita nequitia (Aug.); and, 2. Lest the godly, because of this desolation shortly to ensue, should despair of the former promises.
Because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their delays ] What their doings were, and what the fruit thereof, see Jeremiah 9:3-5 ; Jeremiah 9:12-16 . This prophet could not but tell them of both, though he had small thanks for his love and labour; even as little as Moses had of that perverse people in the wilderness. His service among the Jews was in some sense like that of Manlius Torquatus among the Romans; who gave it over, saying, Neither can I bear their manners, nor they my government. Jeremiah once thought to have done so, Jeremiah 20:9 , but might not. He lived to see this prophecy of Micah fulfilled; and was afterwards carried down to Egypt by his ungrateful countrymen; where also (for a reward of his 41 years’ incessant pains in the ministry as a prophet) they stoned him to death, who had been a brazen wall to his country, eiusque commodis adaugendis natus, and a common blessing.
Mic 7:14 Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily [in] the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed [in] Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
Ver. 14. Feed thy people with thy rod ] Rule them with thy sceptre, or feed them with thy pedum pastorale, thy shepherd’s rod, or staff, Psalms 23:4 . This, say some, is the speech of God the Father to God the Son, or (as others), of God to the ministers and pastors, charging them to take heed to his flock, and to feed his Church; but it seems rather to be a prayer of the Christian Church (seeing the ruin of the Jewish synagogue) that Christ (the chief shepherd) would do all good offices for his poor people, feeding them with his rod, that is, with his word and Spirit, guiding them with his eye, Psalms 32:8 , leading them in the way everlasting, Psalms 139:24 , lest, seduced by their own lusts, or other men’s evil lives, they should any way miscarry.
The flock of thine heritage ] Those poor of the flock, Zechariah 11:7 , that hear his voice and follow him, John 10:3-5 ; John 10:27 , being holy, harmless, tractable, sociable, patient, profitable as sheep; which have wool for raiment, skin for parchment, flesh for meat, guts for music. Such shall go in and out, and find pasture, John 10:9 , pasture that will breed life, and life in more abundance; see Psalms 23:1-6 , David’s pastoral, where he assureth himself, as a sheep of Christ’s heritage, that he shall have all things needful for life and godliness; and so may every poor Christian, grounding his faith upon the covenant, Ezekiel 34:25 ; Ezekiel 34:28 .
Which dwell solitarily in the wood ] Sleepeth in the woods, Ezekiel 34:25 , where they meet with many a brush; yea, many a bruise, Ezekiel 34:28 ; where they walk in dark and dangerous paths, even in the valley of the shadow of death, Psalms 23:4 , of the darkest side of death, of death in its most horrid and hideous representations. Feed them, therefore; fence them with thine omnipotent arm, bear them in thy bosom, see to their safety.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead ] Not bite upon the bare ground, but feed pleasantly, plentifully; feed among the lilies, frequent also the foddering places, turn to the under-shepherds, the ministers, and so return to the Arch-shepherd and Bishop of their souls, following the Lamb wheresoever he goeth; who will teach them many things, and that out of deepest compassion, Mark 6:34 , who will also show them great and mighty things, that they knew not, Jeremiah 33:3 .
As in the days of old ] As thou wast with the Church of the Old Testament, so be not wanting to that of the New; but feed them according to the integrity of thine heart, and guide them by the skilfulness of thine hands, Psalms 78:72 . Pull them out of the lion’s mouth, seek them up when lost, tend them, handle them, heal them, wash them, drive them as they can go, bearing the lambs in thy bosom, Isaiah 40:11 . Do for them as thou hast ever done for thy people in former ages. "So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations," Psalms 79:13 .
Mic 7:15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous [things].
Ver. 15. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt ] Here is a present and full answer to the Church’s prayer; so ready is the Lord to fulfil the desires of the righteous. It is but ask and have; and they are worthily miserable that will not make themselves happy by asking. The sum of Christ’s answer is this: As I led Joseph like a flock out of Egypt through the wilderness, and fed them there daily and daintily, with angels’ food (never was prince so served in his greatest pomp), so will I show thee marvellous things at Babylon, and bring thee thence with a mighty hand, Ezekiel 20:34 , to make me a glorious name, Isaiah 63:14 , and both these deliverances shall be a most certain type of thy spiritual redemption by Christ. Lo, thus will I do for thee as in the days of old, Micah 7:14 , and so fit mine answer, ad cardinem desiderii, give thee not only the desire of thine heart, but the request of thy lips, Psalms 21:2 , let it be to thee even as thou wilt, Matthew 15:28 .
Mic 7:16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay [their] hand upon [their] mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
Ver. 16. The nations shall see and be confounded ] Considering how I have defeated and befooled them, how I have made all their might to melt and moulder, they shall stand amazed, and be made a common table talk; as Belshazzar and the Babylonians were, when Cyrus (God’s servant) suddenly brake in upon them and surprised their city, which they held insuperable: and as the heathen emperors of Rome were, when the Christians, under the conduct of Constantine, carried it against them.
They shall lay their hand upon their mouth ] Be struck dumb, as if they had seen Medusa’s head; they shall not be able to contradict the gospel, or to hinder the progress of it. Valens, the Arian Emperor, coming upon Basil while he was in holy duties, with an intent to do him harm, was not only silenced, but so terrified, that he reeled, and had fallen had he not been upheld by those that were with him.
Their ears shall be deaf ] With the sudden bursting forth of God’s wonderful and terrible works, saith Mr Diodati.
Mic 7:17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.
Ver. 17. They shall lick the dust like a serpent ] That is, be reduced not only to extreme hunger and penury, but to utmost vility and baseness of condition, so as to lick the very dust. And whereas it is added, like a serpent, he puts them in mind of that old malediction, Gen. iii., and gives them to know, that as, like that old serpent, they have lifted themselves up against God, so will God cast them down again to the condition of serpents, and abase them to the very dust. See Psalms 22:29 ; Psa 72:9 Isaiah 49:23 .
They shall move out of their holes like worms (or creeping things) of the earth] They shall tumultuate, and be all on a huddle, like ants when their molehill is thrown up with a spade. The Hebrew word imports great commotion and bustle.
They shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee ] O God, or, O Church, terrible as an army with banners. Impiety triumpheth in prosperity, trembleth in adversity: and contrarily, saith holy Greenham, since the fall, we tremble before God, angels, and good men. What have I to do with thee, thou man of God (said she), art thou come to call to mind my sin and to kill my son? At the siege of Mountabove, in France, the people of God within the walls ever before a sally sang a psalm: with which holy practice of theirs, the enemy becoming acquainted, when they heard them singing would so quake and tremble, crying, They come, they come, as though the wrath of God had been breaking out upon them.
Mic 7:18 Who [is] a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth [in] mercy.
Ver. 18. Who is a God like unto thee? ] No God surely (whether so reputed or deputed; whether heathen deities, heavenly angels, or earthly rulers) can compare with our God, or come near him, for pardoning of sin. Indeed, none can do it at all but he; as the blind Pharisees saw and could say. Men may pardon the trespass, but God alone the transgression. But say they could do something that way; yet nothing like our God, who maketh his power appear to be great, Numbers 14:17 , in pardoning such offences as no God or man besides would pardon. See Jer 3:1 Nehemiah 9:31 . He forgiveth iniquity, transgression and sin, Exodus 34:6-7 , that is, all sorts of sins, to all sorts of sinners, without exception, Matthew 12:31 . This is the express letter of God’s covenant, which we ought not either to obliterate or to interline; but to believe it in the full latitude and extent. We are apt to cast God’s pardoning grace into a mould of our own; and to measure it by our model. But against this we are cautioned, Isaiah 55:8 . God must be magnified in our thoughts, his quarters there enlarged, high and honourable conceptions are to be had of him; or else we wrong him no less than we should do a king by respecting and receiving him no otherwise than we would do another ordinary man. He is set forth here as a God imparallel, and that not without an interrogation of admiration, O! who is a God like unto thee? Thy mercy is matchless, thy grace aboundeth even to an overflow, 1 Timothy 1:14 , it is more than exceeding, it hath a superpleonasm, υπερεπλεονασε , saith the apostle here. Surely as the sea swallows up huge rocks, and as the sun scattereth greatest mists; so doth he pardon enormities as well as infirmities, and blotteth out the thick cloud as well as the cloud,. Isaiah 44:22 . His mercy rejoiceth against, or glorifieth over, judgment, James 2:13 , and is ready to say of a great sinner indeed
- “ Iam dignus vindice nodus: ”
The more desperate the disease is, the greater glory redoundeth to him that cureth it. Our Saviour received a glorious name by curing incurable diseases; and gained greatest love by frankly forgiving Mary Magdalen’s and others’ sins, Luke 7:42 ; Luke 7:47 , which were many and mighty, or bony, as the prophet’s word signifies, Amos 5:12 . Adam’s apostasy, Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s incest, David’s blood guiltiness, Manasseh’s idolatry and witch craft, Peter’s thrice denying and abjuring his Master, Paul’s blasphemy and persecution, - all these sins and blasphemies, have been forgiven, to the sons of men neither can they commit more than he both can and will remit to the penitent. Note this against Novatus, that proud heretic; and strive against that natural Novatianism that is in the timorous conscience of convinced sinners, to doubt and question pardon for sins of apostasy, and falling after repentance, and to say as those unbelievers of old, Can the Lord prepare a table for us in the wilderness? so, can he forgive such and such iniquities so often reiterated? This is a question, no question; what cannot our God do in this kind, who pardoneth sin naturally, Exodus 34:6 (and therefore freely as the sun shineth, or as the fountain casteth out waters); who doth it also abundantly, Isaiah 55:7 , multiplying pardons as fast as we multiply sins; and lastly, constantly, Psa 130:4 John 1:29 Zechariah 13:1 . It is his perpetual act; and it should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts. We should go on our way toward heaven, as Samson did toward his parents, feeding on this honeycomb.
That pardoneth iniquity ] Heb. that taketh away, sheer away, non ne sit, sed ne obsit, not sin itself, but the guilt of it; the damning and domineering power of it: this David calleth the iniquity of his sin; and saith that this God forgave him, Psalms 32:5 , pronouncing himself and all such happy as are so dealt with, Micah 7:1-2 .
And passeth by the transgression ] Heb. passeth over it, taketh no notice of it, as a man in a deep muse, or as one that hath haste of business, seeth not things before him; his mind being upon another matter, he neglects all else besides that. As David, when he saw in Mephibosheth the features of his friend Jonathan, took no notice of his lameness, or any other defect or deformity; so God, beholding in his people the image of his Son: winks at all faults, that he might soon find in them. That which Cicero said flatteringly of Caesar is truly affirmed of God, Nihil oblivisci solet praeter iniurias, He forgetteth nothing but the wrongs that are daily done him by his; and as it is said of our Henry VI, that he was of that happy memory that he never forgot anything but injury: so here.
Of the remnant of his heritage? ] Not of all, but of those poor few that confess and forsake their sins, Proverbs 28:13 , and "in whose spirit there is no guile," Psalms 32:2 ; that are mortified persons, Rom 11:26 cf. Isaiah 59:20 . It is a privilege proper to the communion of saints.
He retaineth not his anger for ever ] Angry he may be, and smite in his anger, Isaiah 57:17 ; yea, he may take vengeance of the inventions of those whom he hath pardoned, Psalms 99:8 , temporal vengeance I mean; but it soon repenteth him concerning his servants; and a little punishment serveth turn for a great offence, Jeremiah 31:19-21 . David no sooner said, "I have sinned," but he heard, "The Lord hath taken away thy sin," 2 Samuel 12:13 .
Because he delighteth in mercy ] And hence he pardoneth iniquity of free grace, ex mero motu, out of his pure and unexcited love, out of his philanthropy and undeserved favour, the sole impulsive cause of pardon. What a man delighteth to do he will do howsoever. If the sun delight to run his race, who shall stop him? If God so delight in mercy that he will save for his name’s sake, and come in with his Non obstante, as he doth, Psalms 106:8 , who or what shall hinder him?
Mic 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Ver. 19. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us ] Here is the pith and power of faith, particularly applying promises to a man’s self. Say that sin hath separated between us and our God, Isaiah 59:2 , and made him send us far away into captivity; yet he will turn again and yearn toward us, he will turn again our captivity as the streams in the south. His compassions are more than fatherly, Psalms 103:13 ; motherly, Isaiah 49:15 ; brotherly, Hebrews 2:12 . This the Church knows, and therefore cries after him, "Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart," Song of Solomon 8:14 , which when it fleeth looketh behind it, saith the Chaldee paraphrast there. And this that he will do, she is bold to believe. He will, he will, and that to us, saith the prophet here. Lo, this is that work of faith, to wrap itself in the promises as made to us in particular, 1 Timothy 1:15 ; and unless faith be on this sort actuated, it is, as to comfort, as good as no faith. See Mat 8:26 cf. Mark 4:30 .
He will subdue our iniquities ]. By force and violence (as the word signifieth), subiugabit, pessundabit, conculcabit. Sin is sturdy, and will rebel where it cannot reign. It hath a strong heart, and will not easily yield. But yield it shall, for God will subdue it. And this is a further favour (as every former is a pledge of a future). To pardon of sin God will add power against sin; to justification by Christ’s merit, sanctification by his Spirit; he will let out the life blood of sin, and lay it a dying at our feet; he will tread Satan with all his black train under our feet shortly, Romans 16:20 . He will not only turn us again, but turn his hand upon us, and purely purge away our dross, and take away all our tin, Isaiah 1:25 . In fine at the end he will so mortify the deeds of the body by his Spirit, that sin shall not have dominion over us, Romans 6:14 , shall not play Rex King in us; the traveller shall not become the man of the house, as Nathan’s parable speaketh.
And thou wilt cast all their sins into the bottom of the sea ] Wherehence they shall never be buoyed up again. Thus the prophet, by an insinuating apostrophe, turneth himself to God, and speaks with much confidence. Such is the nature of true faith, sc. to grow upon God, and, as I may so say, to encroach; as Moses did, Exodus 33:12-13 ; Exodus 34:10 ; and as David did, 1 Chronicles 17:23 , &c. See how he improves God’s promise, and works upon it, 1 Chronicles 17:24-25 , he goes over it again, and yet still encroacheth; and the effect was good, 1 Chronicles 18:14 . We hinder ourselves of much happiness by a sinful shamefacedness. Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16 ; so shall we see our sins, as Israel did the Egyptians, dead on the shore.
Mic 7:20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, [and] the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
Ver. 20. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham ] Heb. Thou wilt give; for all is of free gift. His love moved God to promise, his truth binds him to perform; 2 Samuel 7:18 ; 2 Samuel 7:21 , "For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these things." Having made himself a voluntary debtor to his people, he will come off fairly with them; and not be worse than his word, but better. Hence, Revelation 10:1 , Christ is said to have a rainbow upon his head; to show that he is faithful and constant in his promises, and that tempests should blow over, the sky be cleared. "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me," saith the Lord: "for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart," &c., Isaiah 54:9-10 . God hath hitherto kept promise, with nights and days, Jeremiah 33:20 ; Jeremiah 33:25 , that one shall succeed the other; therefore much more will he keep promise with his people.
Which thou hast sworn unto our fathers ] And, in them, to us, by virtue of the covenant. So he spake with us, when he spake with Jacob at Bethel, Hosea 12:4 ; and that the promises sworn to the fathers of the Old Testament belong also to us of the New, see Luke 1:55 ; Luke 1:73-74 . Now, that God swore at any time to them, or us, he did it for our sakes doubtless; "that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us," Hebrews 6:17-18 . See Trapp on " Heb 6:17 " See Trapp on " Heb 6:18 "
Gloria Deo in excelsis.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Micah 7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30