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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Micah 6

Verses 1-2

Introduction

The previous chapters show God’s outward actions with His people. In the last two chapters we see the ways of His Spirit with this people. Both the political history and the spiritual state of the people are presented by all the prophets, as well as the restoration and conversion of Israel.

Micah 6 is in the form of a dispute. This form is also found, for example, in Isaiah 1 and in Micah 1. The chapter contrasts the appropriateness and righteousness of God’s demands with the ingratitude and superstition of Israel which are the cause of ruin and judgment. The prophet does not look to the future full of blessing, but to the present full of sin.

The Indictment of the LORD

Micah begins this last part of his prophecy with the call to listen to what the LORD says (Micah 6:1; Micah 1:2; Micah 3:1). Before he passes on the word of the LORD, it first comes to himself. The LORD commands him to arise and to let his voice be heard. Micah must call the mountains to account, which means that he makes them witnesses to the indictment which the LORD will have with his people in the verses to come. He also has to let his voice be heard to the hills.

The inanimate creation in all its expanse must listen to the indictment of the LORD (Micah 6:2). The highest heights, these are the “mountains”, and the deepest depths, these are the “enduring foundations of the earth,” which are deep in the earth, the bearers of the earth, and everything in between are called to witness His indictment. That case is mentioned three times in Micah 6:2. It is therefore a very special case because the other party in the courtroom is “His people”, “Israel” (Micah 6:2; cf. Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 2:12-1 Chronicles :).

With “mountains” and “hills” we can also think of the responsible part of the people who hold a certain position of power, perhaps the king or the leaders of the people. The “enduring foundations of the earth” (or the land) may be those who should watch over the principles upon which the society of Israel is based. Perhaps the priesthood.

God always has a dispute with those who disobey Him. He cannot have fellowship with people who do not bow to His Word and certainly not with people He has brought into a special relationship with Himself. He has surrounded His people with all care and provided them with all blessing. But their reaction to this is one of the greatest possible acts of infidelity and ingratitude. They have turned their back on the LORD and treated Him with contempt. From what has He deserved this? That is what He asks the people in the following verse.

How do we respond to the many proofs of His care for us and the many blessings He has given us?

Verse 3

Call to Testify Against the LORD

Here the LORD takes the position of an accused person. Instead of accusing them, He is going to defend Himself against His people. He wants to speak to their hearts when He speaks to them as “My people”. We listen here, as so often in the prophets, to His deep desire that they remember that He made them His people.

He asks His people what He has done to them that causes them to turn away from Him. Has He made their lives so unbearable? Did He tire them with extraordinary demands or excessive requests (cf. Isaiah 43:23; Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 7:13)? He calls them to testify against Him, to accuse Him of something they have to complain about. He wants them to think about it, so that they may come to the conclusion that their whole attitude toward Him is wrong. That he speaks out in this way is condescending grace.

Verse 4

The Care of the LORD for His People

It remains still in the courtroom after the questions of the LORD to His people in the preceding verse. Then the LORD Himself takes the floor again. He will tell them what He has ‘done’ to them. Instead of exhausting them by imposing burdens on them, He has freed them from burdens and overloaded them with blessings and favors. The greatest proof of this is that He ransomed them from Egypt while doing signs and wonders. As a result, they have become a free and independent people (Amos 2:10; Jeremiah 2:6). The deliverance from Egypt is often quoted by the prophets. This deliverance represents the most important act in which God demonstrates His saving love for the people.

He reminds them that after their deliverance, He provided competent guidance in their journey through the wilderness, on their way to the promised land. He gave them the great lawgiver and leader Moses, as well as the high priest Aaron and the prophetess Miriam.

Moses and Aaron, who played an important role in the redemption from Egypt, are together a picture of the Lord Jesus, Who redeemed us from the world and leads us to the promised land. Moses and Aaron are a type of Christ as “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1). In Miriam we see the experience of the relationship (Exodus 15:21), our answer to Who the Lord Jesus is as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

Verse 5

The Righteous Acts of the LORD

Then the LORD reminds His people, that He addresses once more emotionally as “My people” (cf. Micah 6:3), what Balak through Balaam wanted to do against them, but what Balaam by the working of God’s Spirit answered him (Deuteronomy 23:5; Num 22-24). This should also convince them that God is not after their destruction, but after their blessing. He has changed the curse that the king of Moab wanted to bring on them into a rich blessing. God does not allow His people to be cursed (Psalms 105:14-Ezra :).

They must also remember what happened “from Shittim to Gilgal”, that is, during the journey to the promised land after the event with Balak and Balaam. Shittim is the last place in the wilderness where the people camped (Numbers 33:49; Joshua 3:1) and Gilgal is the first place in the promised land where the people camped (Joshua 4:19). During that journey they witnessed how the LORD defeated Midian, that the Jordan was dried up for them and that Jericho was conquered out of Gilgal and after that the whole country was conquered.

These two places are a summary of the enormous change in their circumstances after their deliverance from Egypt. From slavery in a foreign country they were brought by the LORD into their own country with an abundance of blessings. If they would think about all those things, they would have to admit how good God had been to them, how great His faithfulness and how righteous His actions have always been.

It is important that we are regularly determined by everything the Lord has done for and with us. We easily forget that He saved us from the world to live for Him. Life with all its prosperity and hustle and bustle can occupy us so much that we no longer think of Him. That is why it is good to proclaim the Lord’s death every first day of the week by celebrating the Lord’s Supper at His Table. Then we are reminded again of what He has done and also from which He has redeemed us and what He has given us.

Verses 6-7

With What Come to the LORD?

After the obvious proofs of God’s faithfulness in the previous verses, the people ask Micah what they should do. This is done by means of a member of the people. The question seems to indicate that they recognize that there is distance between them and the LORD. They speak about “God on high”, the God Who is far away from them, while in His warm love He has addressed them twice as “My people”.

They do have some ideas about how they could bridge the distance between them and God. These have to do with bringing offerings. They are well informed about this in their religion. At the same time it makes it clear that their conscience has not come into God’s light. The proposals they make to obtain God’s favor show that they have not understood anything of what is due to God. He does not seek outward rituals, but the sacrifices of a broken spirit and a defeated heart (Psalms 51:16-Esther :; 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11-Proverbs :; Jeremiah 7:21-Isaiah :; Hosea 6:6; Amos 4:5; Amos 5:15Amos 5:22-Jeremiah :).

The people speak of burnt offerings, while sin offerings are appropriate, because the fellowship broken by sin must be restored through confession and reconciliation. This is clearly shown in Leviticus 4, in the description of the sin offering. That they ignore it shows that they still believe to be in connection with the LORD as His covenant people. They must not change but God must change, they think. That they want to offer calves of one year old, shows that they do not want to sacrifice too much. An adult animal is worth much more. But their sacrifices are worthless because they are not brought with the right mind. Such sacrifices are called “worthless offerings” (Isaiah 1:10-1 Chronicles :).

But if they have to, they also want to satisfy the LORD by making a great number of sacrifices. In this way they suddenly go to the other extreme. It is characteristic of people who do not live in fellowship with God that they do not have a healthy balance in their spiritual life. Maybe they want to imitate Solomon with this (1 Kings 8:63). As if the LORD is concerned with the number. Another idea is to bring an enormous amount of oil for grain offerings. Yes, they are willing to invest heavily to secure God’s favor. Let Him tell it.

If that still is not enough for Him, they even propose to sacrifice their children. Maybe that way they can obtain His favor. That is how pagan their way of thinking has become. But the firstborn already belongs to the LORD (Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:12) and the sacrifice of children is forbidden by law (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-Deuteronomy :; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:10). However, the idolaters do not take this into account (Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:62 Kings 3:27).

The LORD does not want body flesh to be sacrificed, but that the spirit of man should submit to Him. He seeks and rejoices in “truth in the innermost being” (Psalms 51:6). Their religion has been reduced to a mere outward honor of God. He does not seek their gifts, He seeks themselves. What is condemned is not the sacrifice prescribed by God, but the sacrifice that serves as a substitute for obedience.

Verse 8

What the LORD Has Told

If they want to know how to please God, they should ask for the known way. God has already told this (Deuteronomy 10:12-1 Chronicles :). Micah points out what they should know when it comes to what God wants. The people are addressed as “man”, which indicates the general validity of what the LORD asks for. The word “man” also refers to the nullity of man in the face of God on high. The LORD has told “what is good”. Things that are “good” are things that have a good effect, things that serve for the good of others and themselves.

Micah calls three good things and nothing else. There is no need for anything else. This is what suffices. They don’t have to come up with anything else or think of something else instead. The three things relate to the three relationships in which man stands: to his neighbor, to himself and to God (cf. Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).

1. The first is “to do justice” or to act righteously toward one’s neighbor, that is, to act according to the norms of God’s Word. With our neighbor we can think of our housemates, fellow members of the church and our colleagues.

2. The second is “to love kindness” as a mind of one’s own heart. This means that we have the mind of God. Then we are not hard, have no self-esteem and do not put ourselves above the other, but seek the well-being of the other.

3. The third is “to walk humbly with your God”, which is a walk to His honor and joy (cf. Genesis 5:29; Genesis 6:9). Walking with God means that we live in conscious fellowship with God in humility of spirit. This includes the whole life in all its manifestations, the whole behavior that is shown. In order to be able to live like this, someone must have new life. These things cannot be accomplished by the not born again human being. We see it perfectly in the Lord Jesus and can learn it from Him, for He is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

For the Christian who knows and enjoys the blessings of the heavenly land, this means that he lives “righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24), is “kind” to others (Ephesians 4:32) and tolerates the other in love “with all humility” (Ephesians 4:2).

Verse 9

Hear the Rod

But what the LORD asks in Micah 6:8 is not found among the people. That is why the prophet resumes his preaching of repentance and tells the city of its sins. The city that is addressed will be Jerusalem as the center of sinful practices (Micah 1:5). It testifies of wisdom when God’s actions are observed in judgment and when they are accepted as righteous. There is salvation for those who bow down to God’s voice announcing judgment and thereby acknowledging that it is justified to come.

The Name of the LORD, through which He comes forth in all His attributes in His whole Being, looks forward to a true conversion.

He who is wise shall fear the LORD and listen to his voice of the LORD. Through this he will be freed from judgment. The true wisdom appears from doing what He says. Only what He says is important and the rest does not matter.

The last sentence of this verse can also be translated with: “Hear the rod and Who has appointed it for you” (Darby Translation). This is a remarkable way of expression. The rod is the symbol of discipline (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:24). Here the rod speaks, which may mean that it does not strike yet. Pointing to an expected punishment can prevent the exercise of the discipline if the warning is taken to heart. He who listens does not need the rod. If the rod then comes and someone is still listening, he will repent and not be given up to eternal judgment. In the rod the voice of the LORD can be heard, for he is the One Who has appointed it for His people.

Verses 10-11

A Short Measure and False Weighing Instruments

In these verses the reason for the announcement of the rod is given. In Micah 6:13-Nehemiah : the rod is described.

The indictments in Micah 6:10-1 Kings : are made in questioning form. Despite the various warnings, the wicked still hide their wicked gains in their homes. They continue to collect treasures in this way. They pile them up in their homes, as if they are safe there and that no one sees them and can reach them. But God sees it. He can reach them and will judge them for it (James 5:1-Deuteronomy :).

The “short measure”, literally “shrunken ephah” is a too small measure of content (cf. Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:14; Amos 8:5; Proverbs 22:14). An ephah is a grain measure of probably between twenty and forty-five liters. They make the ephah smaller. As a result, one pays for the specified number of liters while getting less. This deception is despised by the LORD. This cunning behavior is completely contrary to the justice He asks of man (Micah 6:8).

Apart from a short or shrunken measure, they also use “wicked scales“ and “deceptive weights”. This wicked, deceptive practice has also contributed to the multiplication of their possessions. “Wicked scales” are scales that do not accurately reflect weight, which indicate more than the weight on them. The use of weights that are too heavy also makes the price too high. God hates such practices.

How could He “be pure” (Darby Translation) if He did not condemn the use of such methods? They defile themselves through their behavior, but this does not taint Him in His purity. On the contrary, in His purity, He cannot allow any staining by sinful acts among His people. He is “too pure to approve evil” (Habakkuk 1:13).

This use of a false measure of content and deceptive means of weighing can also be applied spiritually when it comes to judging something that happens in the church of God. How often does it happen that false criteria are used in the assessment of a case. It just so happens that we don’t let a sin of someone we like or a sin of a family member weigh as heavily as a sin of someone we dislike. God abhors such an approach.

Verse 12

The Iniquity of the People

The rich not only have houses full of illegally acquired treasures, but they themselves are full of violence. They do not shy away from a means of violence to increase their wealth. It is not only the rich who misbehave. The inhabitants of Jerusalem also do the same. Their misbehavior is reflected in the lying language they speak with a deceptive tongue. They are a people of violators and liars and deceivers. They act and speak like that because they are selfish. They want to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Others are the victims of their boundless greed.

Verse 13

The Discipline of the LORD

On the behavior described in the previous verses, the LORD must bring His discipline. He cannot tolerate this behavior. Because of their sins He will make them sick. As a result, they will not be able to enjoy their treasures, nor will they be able to continue their sinful activities. Nothing of their wealth and of themselves will remain, for He will desolate them.

That the LORD will make them sick and desolate them because of their sins, should come as no surprise. He has let His people know this in His law through Moses (Deuteronomy 28:15-Judith :; Leviticus 26:14-Malachi :). They will be smitten with the diseases of Egypt without anyone being able to heal them. For they have rejected the LORD their Savior. What can then be expected for improvement?

Verses 14-15

Much Done, No Result

In His discipline the LORD will bring hunger into the land. They will no longer be satisfied with what they take, but will have a constant feeling of hunger. What they think they can store in a safe place will not be safe for the enemy. What they have tried to remove for safekeeping, will be found (Haggai 1:6; Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:38-Matthew :; Isaiah 62:8-1 Samuel :).

It will be given over to the sword by the LORD, that is, it will be taken from them by force as a judgment of the LORD. They have taken it by force, it will be taken by force from them. He who sows violence shall reap violence.

Of all their efforts of sowing, olive treading, and grape harvesting, they will enjoy nothing themselves. Their efforts will be in vain as far as they are concerned. It will all fall into the hands of the enemy, who will profit from it. Grain, oil and new wine are mentioned several times together as a summary of the blessing of the land (Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 12:17Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 28:51).

The grain to eat is taken from them so that they will go hungry. The oil with which they rub their skin to look beautiful is taken from them so that they will look hideous. The wine as the symbol of joy is taken from them, so that they sink into sorrow and misery.

This has a spiritual application. If we are unfaithful to the Lord, we stop reading in God’s Word, that is, we stop feeding on the Lord Jesus as the bread of life. We also stop being led by the Holy Spirit and the joy disappears from our lives. We will starve spiritually, live according to the flesh and end up spiritually in misery.

Verse 16

The Cause of the Reproach of God’s People

The first half of this verse is related to Micah 6:10-2 Kings :, the second half to Micah 6:13-Ezra :.

With an additional proof of their deviation, the LORD underlines the righteousness of His discipline over them and why it must come. For “the statutes of Omri and all the works of the house of Ahab are observed”. The statutes of the LORD have been replaced by what these wicked kings have devised and done.

The wicked reign of Omri has found its climax in that of Ahab. Omri is said to be worse than all his predecessors (1 Kings 16:25). Ahab introduced the Baal service, persecuted the prophet of God and murdered and robbed his neighbor (1 Kings 16:29-Micah :; 1 Kings 18:9-2 Samuel :1 Kings 21:1-Leviticus :; 1 Kings 21:17-Psalms :), all in the spirit of his father.

The thought and behavior of these wicked persons has not been condemned by God’s people, but embraced. This does not only happen in the area over which they rule, the ten tribes realm, but their pernicious influence has also penetrated into the two tribes realm. The inhabitants of Jerusalem continue in the views of these evil men. Then the LORD can do no other than give them up for destruction by plagues and enemies. They will become a mockery, a ridiculous spectacle for the surrounding countries (Lamentations 2:15). In this way God’s people will have to bear their reproach.

At the same time, it is impressive that God is speaking here again about “My people”. He shares in the reproach He brings upon His people. The discipline that He must exercise also touches Him Himself. Here we see that He does not act out of vengefulness, but out of love that can only act in this way with the people who have left Him.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Micah 6". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/micah-6.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.