MICAH CHAPTER 4
The establishment of Christ’s kingdom, Micah 4:1,2; the peace of it, Micah 4:3-5. The restoration, Micah 4:6-10, and victory of the church, Micah 4:11-13.
But: this particle, which ushers in the following promise, doth also bid us look to somewhat before spoken, of a very different complexion; that was news of a total and a long-continued desolation, but this is of a happy restitution, which doth refer both to a temporal deliverance out of Babylon’s captivity, and to a spiritual deliverance out of ignorance, superstition, and all other ways of false worship. This latter is the principal, the former is typical, and so shall we consider them.
The last days; or the latter days, at the expiring of the seventy years’ captivity, (near two hundred years from Micah’s time,) as type of the days of the Messiah’s kingdom, which are most usually called the last days.
The mountain of the house of the Lord; the city Jerusalem; or, more particularly, the mountain on which the temple did stand, called the house of the Lord; the hieroglyphic of the church of Christ in gospel times.
Shall be established; literally, and in the type, fulfilled when the second temple was built by the Jews returned out of captivity. Spiritually, and in the antitype, accomplished when Christ did establish his church by the preaching of the gospel, and laid the foundations of it so that the gates of hell should never prevail against it, and made it this promise.
It shall be exalted above the hills; as the mountain or hill on which the temple stood was by this honoured above other mountains and hills, so shall it, after desolation and reproach of seventy years, be honoured with the temple rebuilt upon it for God’s true worship, whereas on other hills the heathens worship idols. So the gospel church and the way of worship to God shall excel all modes of religion.
People; the Gentiles as antitype, those who came up with Israel out of Babylon, said to be servants and maids, Ezra 2:65, above seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven, many, if not all, of them proselyted to the Jewish religion, and a type, as well as first-fruits, of the Gentiles to be converted in the times of the Messiah. This number we are sure of; as for that Josephus reports of four thousand and seventy four of a mixed multitude, we look on with no more credit given than to his report of four million six hundred and twenty-eight thousand of Judah and Benjamin, Antiq. lib. 11. cap. 4.
Shall flow unto it; come in freely, continually, and in multitudes, which in the type was fulfilled, partly at the return out of Babylon, and partly in after-days when Darius Hystaspes favoured the Jews and encouraged them, as Josephus reports, Antiq. lib. II. cap. 4, consonant with Ezra 6:3-12; and we have reason to believe that God so disposed Darius’s mind to favour them, that it might occasion some to embrace the Jewish religion. But all this type was eminently fulfilled in the conversion of those multitudes we read of brought in to Christ by the preaching of the gospel in the apostolical times.
This was in part, and as a type, fulfilled when so many proselyted and circumcised servants of several nations, amassed in the Babylonish kingdom, left their native country, and in love to their Jewish masters, and more to the God of the Jews and his law, came up with them to Jerusalem and the temple. Afterwards, when the wonderful deliverance of the Jews, and the advancement of their countryman Mordecai in the Persian court, brought the people and their religion into request and credit, many turned Jews, through the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, Esther 8:17, were circumcised, became-proselytes of righteousness. And in the times succeeding through the reigns of five kings, for ninety years, the Jewish affairs and religion continued in a tolerably good condition. In Alexander’s time, and under the Maccabees, also, this prophecy was partly fulfilled, when Ishmaelites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Idumeans submitted to the Maccabees, and by Hyrcanus’s command, and with their own consent, the Idumeans were circumcised; as Josephus, Antiq. lib. 13. cap. 17. This, notwithstanding the words, had a fuller accomplishment, and still shall have, under the gospel days in these times of the Messiah, to which, as to the antitype and principal mark, they are levelled, no doubt. Come; so the captive Jews, by the decrees of Cyrus and Darius released from captivity, did certainly call, persuade, and encourage each other to leave the strange lands in which they had been captives, and to go up to Jerusalem, and to build that and the temple, and to restore the worship of God; and zealous proselytes did, as the eunuch lord treasurer to queen Candace came up to Jerusalem to worship. So that we meet many proselytes at Jerusalem, Acts 2:5,10,11, whither they were wont to come before the gospel was published. Now as this was a fulfilling of this prophecy in part, so the conversion of the multitude of the Gentiles to Christ Is much more eminently a fulfilling of it. To the mountain of the Lord; to the temple at Jerusalem, type of Christ and the gospel church. To the house of the God of Jacob: this explains the former passage, and doth, as that, respectively look to the worship of God at Jerusalem, and in gospel days. He will teach us of his ways, out of his law, both in points of worship and judicature, by such as Ezra and Nehemiah, by such as Zechariah and Haggai, and by scribes acquainted with the law of God; this to last till Elias, forerunner to Christ, should prepare his way, and the Messiah should come to teach his people, and publish the gospel of the kingdom, by apostles and succeeding preachers. We will walk in his paths; as was the duty of returning captives, and as, indeed, many of them did after their return walk more exactly in the ways of God, and especially kept themselves from idolatry; yet this was a fulfilling of this prophecy in type, presignifying what hath been done this one thousand six hundred years and more, under the preaching of the gospel; before Jacob only, now all nations see the salvation of God. For the law shall go forth of Zion; in Jerusalem and Zion is declared the only way of worshipping God before Messiah comes, and from thence the only law of right worshipping God shall go forth. when Messiah is come. And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; an elegant ingemination of the same thing in somewhat different words, which as they respect both type and antitype, so must be applied to each respectively.
And he; God, by those governors, high priests, and prophets (taking his word for their rule) set up of God, types and servants of the Messiah, who in due time and in a fuller accomplishment of this prophecy shall by himself, during the days of his dwelling in flesh, and by his Spirit, and word, and officers he hath appointed, unto the end of the world.
Judge; rule persons, determine controversies, appoint ordinances, enlighten minds, convince sinners, and convert them, as Psalms 2:8.
Among many people; as the knowledge of God, and the worship of God, after the restitution of the captivity, was somewhat more extended by the coming in of many proselytes, as is noted Micah 4:1,2, and this as a type prefiguring the largeness of the kingdom of the Messiah or the gospel church, so when Christ set up his visible kingdom, and commissioned his apostles, it was to teach all nations, Matthew 28:18,19.
Rebuke strong nations afar off; by the captive Jews he did convince some of those mighty nations among whom the Jews did live seventy years; and though they were far off from God, his law, his temple, and true worship, he brought them over, they were made proselytes to the true God; so now much more is this fulfilled in the turning the mighty nations, the Roman empire and many other nations, from dumb idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10.
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; all that do heartily embrace the gospel shall be of a peaceable disposition both in their private and public capacities, and shall, as much as in them is, follow peace with all men. They shall gladly see wars cease, and turn their weapons of war and slaughter into instruments of husbandry, Isaiah 2:4.
Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation; those which receive and obey the gospel shall not, unless necessitated to it, enter into a course of war and bloodshed.
Neither shall they learn war any more, to make it the employment of their life for their maintenance, or the chosen way to riches and honour.
But they, the redeemed of the Lord, redeemed from Babylonish captivity, and brought back into their own land, the type of a greater redemption by Jesus Christ,
shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree: the planting vines and fig trees was one part of that husbandry which the Jews made great profit by; to this husbandry they were much addicted in times of peace, 1 Kings 4:25, and when peace, security, and riches or plenty are promised, among other ways of expressing it, this is one: so Zechariah 3:10. So in the type, the Jews returned (whilst they walked in the ways of the God of Jacob) did enjoy safety and plenty, as Ezekiel 34:25-28 36:8,9, &c. This was made good in the gospel days more universally and fully, both in outward and inward peace under the Messiah.
None shall make them afraid; those that were once enemies shall be friends; the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, Isaiah 11:6-9. These proverbial allusions do assure us that they who were redeemed out of Babylon, and the servitude of sin, should enjoy their own with great safety and security, which literally was performed to the returned, resettled captives, and spiritually or mystically is made good among those that are redeemed by Christ, and who embrace the gospel.
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it: this gives us the greatest confirmation and assurance of the future accomplishment of the prediction and promise; the merciful, wise, faithful, and almighty God hath spoken it; he hath promised it, whose word spoken, commanding it should be, can make their state what he saith it shall be.
For: this is either a reason why they should be so safe, or else.a declaration of their resolution to take this course, that it may be so with them, and so the Hebrew particle may certainly be rendered.
All people will walk every one in the name of his god; it is a received rule that they ought, and it is a constant practice with the nations, they will pray to, depend on, and serve their gods, and think by this course to receive their expected blessings; they are constant to their gods, Jeremiah 2:11.
We will walk in the name of the Lord our God; seek the Lord, embrace his law and worship, wait on him as the Fountain and Giver of all good: as he is the Lord who can give us vines and fig trees, and can give us safety under them; as he is our God, and engaged by promise to do all this for us; in his name we will walk, and so shall we be safe and enjoy all good from him; we will have no other lovers, nor go after them, though we. have done so, Hosea 2:6,7. This was in letter and in part fulfilled, when upon their return out of captivity they did abandon all false gods, and worshipped God alone. And it is fulfilled more eminently in all the Israel of God, who turn from dumb idols to serve the living and true God.
For ever and ever; unchangeably, through the succession of ages, among the restored Jews and the redeemed Gentiles.
In that day; called last or latter days, Micah 4:1; in the day wherein I shall restore my captived people, and in the day I shall redeem mine elect. I will assemble; first, and in part, by the edicts of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, for the release of the captives, their return to Jerusalem, and for the rebuilding the temple, and for restoring the worship of God; but more fully by the preaching of the gospel, publishing salvation by Christ, to whom the gathering of the Gentiles was to be, Genesis 49:10.
Her that halteth; see Zephaniah 3:19; weakened with the hard usages of oppressing conquerors; who were as lamed ones, unable to walk: such were the impoverished Jews in the Babylonish captivity, utterly unprovided for so long a journey; and it is likely they were unresolved, too, whether to go or not go, halted between a desire of going and a fear of the difficulties that would unavoidably attend their poverty. Now the bounty and favour which God moved in the Persian kings toward the Jews was such, that these poor were encouraged to set forward on the journey. This word is to this day fulfilled, in that Christ doth by the power of his Word and Spirit make his people a willing people, determines their resolution, and enables them to perform it, and to give up themselves to God.
I will gather her that is driven out: in this phrase,
I will gather, does God by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 28:25, promise the recovery of his people from captivity; and so does Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:8, almost in the same manner promise the restoring of captive Judah. Here they are said to be
driven out, i.e. of their own land, into a strange land, where they are captives, Jeremiah 8:3,16:15 23:24:8,9 29:14 Ezekiel 4:13. The Lord will by his power and goodness gather those whom Nebuchadnezzar scattered through his kingdom, and Christ will much more gather to his filled those who were captives to Satan.
Her that I have afflicted: this in the letter refers to wasted and impoverished Israel, on whom God laid an affliction of seventy years.
Her that halted: see this phrase opened, Zephaniah 3:19, and in this chapter, Micah 4:6.
A remnant; which, as they were preserved for a seed, so they should as fruitful seed take root and increase, and continue to the coming of the Messiah.
That was cast far off; that was cast off by God, and by the hands of Babylonians were carried away captives into remotest parts of the Babylonish kingdom.
A strong nation; so the Jews did grow up in multitudes and strength, as appears by the Jewish wars which were by them waged in the days of the Maccabees.
The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion; the true God, Lord of heaven and earth, shall be their God alone, him they shall obey in his worship, law, and temple in Jerusalem.
From henceforth, even for ever, i.e. to the end or period fixed for the Mosaic and legal institutions, for a very long time, not simply for ever. This was partly fulfilled to this people in their return, and reestablishment ill their own land arid in Jerusalem; but the final, full, and eternal accomplishment hereof is now fulfilling, and shall continue so, under the Messiah, till fulfilled in the gathering all the elect to Christ in grace on earth, and in glory in heaven.
O tower of the flock: some refer this to that tower Edar, in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, built there for the shepherds’ more convenient watching over their flocks. The prophet may possibly allude to this. In the church, Christ’s flock, there is a tower built for defence of his flock, but it is that name which is a strong tower, to which the righteous run, and are safe. But there was a tower of this denomination in Jerusalem, through which tower the flocks of sheep were driven into the sheep market; this one tower, by synecdoche, put for the whole city Jerusalem.
The strong hold; Ophel, as it is in the Hebrew, and perhaps were better rendered a proper name of that impregnable fort, 2 Chronicles 27:3; another considerable part put for the whole.
The daughter of Zion; or, O daughter of Zion; so it will be an explication of what the prophet before meant by the tower Edar and Ophel, i.e. O Zion, O Jerusalem, both in the typical and in the mystical sense.
The first dominion; the former dominion, not in outward splendour, but because the government and supreme dignity among this people was restored (after seventy years’ captivity) to the former royal family, and continued in it till Shiloh came. This in the type was fulfilled upon the settlement under Zerubbabel and his successors; but the whole antitype concerns the Messiah’s kingdom, and the gospel Jerusalem, and is fulfilled in the spiritual glory of it. Christ’s kingdom is the ancient, supreme, and most glorious kingdom; and by his redeeming us from the bondage of hell, is set up, and shall be continued firm and unmovable, more than Edar, Ophel, Zion, or Jerusalem typical, as Luke 1:32,33, and more large than ever David’s or Solomon’s kingdom, Daniel 7:14, and therefore greater in glory, for Christ is King of kings, Revelation 17:14 19:16. This spiritual kingdom came first to the Jews, Acts 13:46. It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you. The gospel was to be preached first to the daughter of Jerusalem. There the preachers of repentance and remission of sins were to begin, and thence they were to publish it to all nations, Luke 24:47. This text, and such like, the blinded Jew doth take in a literal sense only, as if it promised a temporal dominion over all nations, and worldly kingdom to the Messiah, in which they expect a large share; but what is literal, and concerned the Jews alone, was limited to them that came out of the Babylonish captivity, and hath been fulfilled to them.
Now; now that I have from the Lord promised such great good things to you, after the seventy years’ captivity, and in the days of the Messiah,
why dost thou cry out aloud? as if this case were desperate, or as if it would be ever night with thee, or as if thy hopes would not outweigh thy fears, or thy future joy would not counterbalance thy present griefs.
Is there no king in thee? thou hast lost thy king Zedekiah, and now art become tributary, but thy God, thy King, is with thee. and will be with thee to preserve, restore, establish, enlarge, enrich, and beautify thee with salvation, and to reign over thee in Mount Zion for ever, Micah 4:7. Thy loss at present is great, but thy future advantage may well stop these outcries.
Is thy counsellor perished? hast thou none among thy wise counsellors left in thee? Hath Nebuchadnezzar cruelly slain all he took of them, and are the rest fled? Yet the wonderful Counsellor is with thee, doth consult and resolve that thou shalt not be undone, and perish for ever. Messiah, the wisdom of his Father, hath the conduct of thy sufferings, deliverance, and re-establishment, in which thou mayst at last glory.
For pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail: this great distress of spirit appears by thy outcries, like those of a woman in travail; of which no great reason can be given, all things considered, no more than of those of a woman at her full time, and bringing forth the fruit of her womb, to the present increase and future honour of the family; whose pains end in joy, John 16:21.
Be in pain, and labour to bring forth; it may be read, Thou shalt be in pain, and thou shalt labour, &c.; so it will be a prediction of the troubles, sorrows, and dangers that they shall meet with in the wars against the Babylonians, and in their captivity under them.
O daughter of Zion; all the house of Judah, particularly you that dwell in Jerusalem and near Mount Zion. Like a woman in travail; whose sorrows are very sharp, but somewhat mitigated by expectation of a good delivery, and the birth of a living child: let your hopes so mitigate your sorrows too.
For now; ere long, within a few years, you will see or hear that Israel is carried captive (which Micah lived to see): this may be an admonition, it is certainly a token that you shall be captives too; and this came upon them one hundred and thirty years after, when in Zedekiah’s time the daughter of Zion was deplorably wasted, conquered, and captivated by Nebuchadnezzar.
Thou shalt go forth out of the city; forced thereto by the prevailing power of the Babylonians, who took Zedekiah and those that accompanied him when they stole out of the city: these did go out when they could keep in it no longer.
Thou shalt dwell in the field; as conquered, made prisoners, and held so in the fields under a strong guard, until all the conquered were brought together, that they might in one body be led away. In their journey to Babylon they were forced to lodge in the fields, also exposed to all the inconveniencies of heat in the day and of cold in the night, weary, hungry, thirsty, and faint near to death.
Thou shalt go even to Babylon; O daughter of Zion, thou shalt certainly be carried captive to Babylon, where thy dwelling shall be little bettered, thou shalt dwell by the river, without the city.
There shalt thou be delivered; by Cyrus first, and by Darius Hystaspes next, and by Artaxerxes in Nehemiah’s time; all this as type of a greater deliverance.
The Lord; the everlasting God, thy God, whose servants the Persian kings that favoured the Jews were, and by whose motion they did incline to release them. Shall redeem; the Hebrew word points out a redemption by the next kinsman, and so fairly minds us of the Messiah, the great Redeemer of the church. And to him, and the redemption of the church by him, do these deliverances ultimately and principally point.
From the hand of thine enemies; who would have detained the people of God longer in slavery, or who would have hindered the rebuilding of the temple, and the re-establishment of the worship of God. Proportionably to this type doth the antitype answer, Luke 1:74,75.
Now, i.e. ere long, the time is near at hand. Many nations; many for number and great for name, mighty in power, all that were at that time confederate with or feudatory to Sennacherib king of Assyria, or else to the king of Babylon.
Are gathered against thee; the present tense for the future, in the prophetic style, to express the certainly and the nearness of the judgment; they will all of them assemble and come up against Judah and Jerusalem, as Sennacherib did when he besieged Jerusalem, or as Nebuchadnezzar did when he took it.
That say; propose it as their design, hope for it as their end, and boast of it as easy.
Let her be defiled; let us use her contemptuously, tread her under foot as a common and polluted thing, let us destroy her with such spite and scorn as a defiled thing deserveth: so the phrase 2 Kings 23:8: let her be polluted with blood, and without respect to her former holiness let us enter, sack, and destroy her temple and palaces.
Let our eye look, delighting ourselves in the ruin; let us feed our envious, revengeful eye.
Upon Zion; upon Jerusalem, the royal palace, and the sacred temple, buried in their own rubbish.
But they, the gathered confederate nations, Zion’s enemies,
know not, neither discern nor consider, the thoughts of the Lord; the design of the holy, just, gracious, and faithful God, who is the God of his people, of Israel; who will humble, but not extirpate; who will purify by, but not consume in, the furnace; God’s thoughts to Israel are, to give him an expected end.
Neither understand they his counsel; the same thing in somewhat different phrase: this elegancy is ever added to confirm the thing foretold.
He shall gather them; by his secret, just, and effectual providence disposing all things to facilitate their gathering together, that they shall do, and yet God also shall do it; he as the first cause, they as the second; he moves according to his own pleasure, they move as they are second and dependent agents; they shall as a fire purge out the dross, or as a wind blow away the chaff and lightest corn, which is that God intendeth; but they consult only to extinguish the people, to cut them off that they be no moro a nation.
As the sheaves into the floor; a plain and very intelligible simile. The husbandman gathers the sheaves into the floor to thrash them; so God gathers, i.e. in due time he will do this, and bring his enemies and his church’s enemies together, that they may be bruised, broken, and destroyed utterly, This seems to look to Sennacherib’s gathering his power against Jerusalem, and the circumstances well enough suit this; yet is not this to be confined or restrained to Sennacherib, but perhaps to the slaughter made on the enemies in one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in Esther’s time, looking to somewhat that is further off indeed running through all ages of the church, and shall be finally accomplished in the ruin of the antichristian kingdom: then shall that of Zechariah 12:3 be fulfilled, when though all nations gather themselves against Jerusalem, yet it is that they may be cut in pieces; when the vine of the earth shall be gathered into the wine-press of God’s wrath, Revelation 14:19,20 19:15-21.
Arise: this imperative may be read in the future tense, and so be an express promise; it is, however, an implicit promise made to the daughter of Zion, the Jewish church, type of the gospel catholic church, that she shall be raised out of a captive, low, and oppressed state, and this shall be by the reviving power of her God.
Thresh; so in a decorum to the metaphor, Micah 4:12, used to express the gathering of the enemy into the floor to be broken: the future strength of the church, employed successfully (more by the arm of her Redeemer than her own) in the subduing and breaking her enemies, is here foretold and promised, as it is also Isaiah 41:15. Christ will thus punish his enemies. So Babylon typical, as threatened Jeremiah 2:33, was beat to pieces; and so shall antitypical Babylon in due time be broken as straw that is thrashed into smallest pieces like chaff.
I will make thine horn iron: some taking this for the horny part of the hoof of the ox which did tread out the corn, make it to be in sense the same with the hoofs made brass; but they that take it as our version doth, for the horn properly taken, with which the horned beasts do push and thrust down, break, or wound, do express the power and strength of the church firm as iron to beat down her enemies. I will make thy hoofs brass: by this figurative speech is the strength of Zion expressed, by which she treads under foot, and breaks the power of enemies into pieces that it shall never be repaired, as straw that is thrashed in the floor and broken like chaff.
Thou shalt beat in pieces; in the times after the rebuilding of Jerusalem the Jews grew to such strength, that in their wars they did, especially in the Maccabees’ time, break their enemies in pieces. But here is a mystical and spiritual sense of these words, as they refer to the Messiah’s kingdom, in which he will break hard hearts by the power of his word, and convert sinners to himself; and by the power of his almighty arm will defend and support his own subjects, whilst he doth by invincible strength throw down and trample into dust his and their enemies. And this power he hath sometimes evidently exercised already, in the various deliverances he hath wrought for his people, which stand recorded in the church histories. Of this strength you may truly say what is reported of the inscription in the cross appearing to Constantine, In this thou shalt conquer.
Many people; such as were enemies in disposition and carriage towards the Jews though neighbours in their situation; these were both many and mighty enemies: such Christ’s church hath to contest with, and such Christ will conqueror for his church, for he it is who goeth forth conquering and to conquer, Revelation 6:2; and all his enemies shall be made his footstool, Psalms 110:1.
I will consecrate: some refer this to the church, and so it may well enough be applied: the redeemed of the Lord should by their own act and deed become the Lord’s. Others refer it to the Lord, he will consecrate; this is best: but both together, the Lord will, and therefore the church will; God requires it, they consent to it.
Their gain; the spoils of their conquered enemies, what they get out of their hand. So the tabernacle was enriched with the spoils of Egypt, and the temple built with that which David did dedicate of the spoils of enemies; and Persian bounty built the second temple.
Unto the Lord; to the true God, for his honour and in his service.
Their substance; their power, glory, and wealth, all they have and are.
Unto the Lord of the whole earth; with humility and low thoughts of all we do, as done to him that doth not need it, being Lord of all.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Micah 4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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