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MICAH CHAPTER 6
God’s controversy with his people for ingratitude, Micah 6:1-5.
What service is acceptable to him, Micah 6:6-9.
He reproveth them for their injustice, Micah 6:10-15, and idolatry, Micah 6:16.
Hear ye: see Micah 1:2.
Now; whilst the Lord is willing to debate with you, before it be too late for you.
What the Lord saith: though it is a man like yourselves who speaketh, yet he comes from the Lord, and with the Lord’s message, and it is the Lord who speaketh by Micah.
Arise: this is God’s command to Micah, who is bidden to arise; so Jonah, Micah 1:2, See Poole "Jonah 1:2". Prophets, as other men, could be content to sit at ease, and neither be troubled by others or troublesome to others; and perhaps the little success of Micah’s preaching had occasioned him to retire and sit down; now God rouseth him, Get up, prepare thyself, contend thou; plead, Micah, the present cause, argue the case that is between thy God plaintiff, and thy people delinquents.
Before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice; plead openly, vehemently, let there be witnesses to hear the case, which is so clear on God’s side, and so full against thy people, that the very mountains and hills, on which they have sinned against me notoriously, on which I have blessed them abundantly, had they eyes, and ears, and voice, would testify that I have planted them with vines, olives, fig trees, and clothed them with grass and flocks, and stored them with springs, and beautified them with cedars, oaks, and all pleasant trees of the forest; this I have done upon the mountains and hills for my people, and there they have made their groves, set up their idols, sacrificed to devils, and committed other lewdnesses not to be named. O Micah, speak as if thou wouldst make mountains hear thee to testify for me, Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2.
Hear ye, O mountains: in the first verse God directs Micah to take the mountains and hills for witnesses; now in this verse he doth call upon those mountains to hear: it is a prosopoeia, an elegant personating of hearers and witnesses, as Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 2:2. Some by
mountains understand princes and nobles, and by
strong foundations of the earth inferior magistrates, as Psalms 75:3; but it may as well, or better, be an appeal to these creatures in so just a cause for their Creator.
The Lord’s controversy, whose sovereign Majesty may well command what he pleaseth, and expect to be obeyed, and whose unparalleled goodness to Israel ought to have been uncontroverted motives to obey him in all things; yet the sovereign goodness is slighted and disobeyed; on which he now impleads his people, brings his action against them.
Ye strong foundations of the earth; called before hills: it is an explanation of the former, mountains; or it may be an appeal to those deep foundations which are hid from any eye, and which seem most remote from what is done on earth; but the ill carriage, the disobedience, and sin of Israel is so notorious, that the whole creation may be subpoenaed witnesses against them.
The Lord hath a controversy with his people; covenant, redeemed, and only people, as Amos 3:2.
He will plead with Israel; no longer put off the cause, nor forbear to punish them and right himself, he will bring the cause to hearing judgment, and execution too.
O, my people; you whole house of Israel, my people chosen in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, multiplied in Egypt, and by many miracles owned, redeemed, and carried through the wilderness, and settled in the Promised Land.
What have I done unto thee? If I have done only good, why art thou weary of me? if thou know any evil I have done, declare it, say what iniquity hast thou found in me, as Jeremiah 2:5,Jeremiah 2:31.
Wherein have I wearied thee? what grievous or burdensome impositions, that thou mightest justly groan under?
Testify against me; speak, declare, spare not; thou who canst not recount all the good I have done for thee, and who canst not find out one evil I ever did to thee, declare what it is hath caused thee to be weary of me.
Look as far back as thy coming out of Egypt, near seven hundred and forty years agone;
for I brought thee up, with an out-stretched arm, out of the land of Egypt, where by servants thou wert oppressed, where thy oppressors did plot thy utter extirpation, where thou servedst in the iron furnace.
Redeemed thee; delivered thee by mighty power, and gave Egypt for thy ransom; I made them pay dear for their detaining thee, and ill using of thee.
Out of the house of servants; being offspring of Canaan, they were in their father’s curse doomed to be servants, and were (as servile minds are) most barbarously cruel to Israel, as appears by the bloody edict against the male children, and by requiring brick without straw; their bondage was a cruel bondage under which they groaned.
I sent before thee Moses; a man excellently qualified to be a conductor to them, a very learned, martial, and experienced man; he improved his forty years by the advantages of a royal education first, and next by the great employments which such persons are called to: for his wisdom and learning, his might and valour, you have witness, Acts 7:22; the Hebrew tradition is, that he fought and got many battles, in which he commanded as generalissimo for Pharaoh. Moses was beside this admitted to extraordinary consults with God: by this means their model of polity was made very exact.
Aaron; a person called to the exercise of the highest office in the priesthood, to offer sacrifice, and make atonement for the sins of the people, and to be a type of the great Intercessor.
Miriam; a prophetess, to be assistant to her brothers last mentioned, to be example and counsellor to the women: God furnished them with magistrate, priest, and prophet.
O my people, remember now; O Israel, think well of it, what I did then was worthy of a grateful remembrance to this day.
What Balak king of Moab consulted: this man, though a great and warlike prince, yet would not adventure by plain force to set upon Israel; he wished their ruin, he contrived it, and had he succeeded in his first attempt to bring Israel under a curse, he was resolved next to attack them by force.
And what Balaam, a man accounted to be a prophet and a holy man, able to blast any by his curse, and able to advance any affairs by his blessing, but really he was a soothsayer, and a man of pernicious counsels, answered him; forced against his interest and inclinations to bless Israel, Deuteronomy 23:4,Deuteronomy 23:5; Joshua 24:10, and to confess he could not prevail with God to curse Israel; so also remember how Balaam counselled Balak to draw your fathers to sin, how this snare took, and how it cost twenty-four thousand lives. The story at large you have Numbers 22:0; Numbers 23:0; Numbers 24:0.
From Shittim: this the place where Balak began by fair but lewd women of Midian to debauch Israel as Balaam had counselled, and so continued to Gilgal all along the borders of his dominion: or else thus, Remember, O my people, how I spared thee in the matter of Baalpeor, for which thou deservedst to be destroyed at Shittim; remember also the mercies I gave under the conduct of Joshua after Moses’s death, which fell out whilst you abode at Shittim, Joshua 3:1.
Gilgal; where Israel first took possession of the Promised Land, and saw visibly the faithfulness of their God.
That ye may know the righteousness of the Lord; the mercy, justice, uprightness, veracity, as it signifies; but here it rather denotes the right on God’s side in this controversy with his people.
In the foregoing part of the chapter you have God’s resolution to have a hearing, Micah 6:1,Micah 6:2, and his plea for himself against an ungrateful people, Micah 6:3-5. Now in this verse you have the result, which is either an unfeigned submission, and justification of God’s just proceedings, made by some of the best of this people, or else an inquiry made by men among them, who did yet retain some opinion of their own integrity; much like those Isaiah 58:3, they were ready to say, We have offered sacrifices as required, &c.; what would God have us do more? Or else it is an inquiry what the prophet would further direct them to do in this case, with an intimation that they were ready to offer any sacrifices God should require of them. Or else this verse is the prophet’s supposition, that some among them would be ready to inquire how they should in this case behave themselves, and so this prosopoeia fairly makes way for further direction to this people.
Wherewith? Heb. With what? what preparation shall I make for a due and right address unto God?
Shall I, in the person of all the people, or else in the person of the most thinking among them: this I is the people of the Jews.
Come before the Lord: it is a temple phrase, and contains the solemn attendance on God in his worship; well paraphrased in the Chaldee paraphrase, With what shall I serve before the Lord?
And bow myself before: this is exegetical to the former phrase, When I come to bow myself and worship the Lord, with what shall I appear?
The high God; such was the God of Israel, heaven his throne, the earth his footstool; idols are dunghill gods, our God alone is the God who dwells on high.
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings? shall these suffice for testimony that I owe my all to God, or appease his displeasure, which justly might devour me as the fire the sacrifice?
With calves of a year old: it is probable this repeats (as is usual in Scripture, to confirm and affect us the more) the thing before mentioned.
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? the law did direct the offering of rams, single beasts for single sacrifices; if this be too little, they shall be multiplied, we will give many, very many; for the phrase is a hyperbole.
With ten thousands of rivers of oil: oil was required too in their sacrifices, in the meat-offerings of them, but in no great quantities, a log, or hin, i.e. half a pint, or three quarts; but we know such gifts are infinitely short of the Divine goodness bestowed on us; he who is our God is worthy of rivers of oil, multiplied to thousands; had we such store it should be all his. Such-like hyperbole you meet with in Isaiah 40:15-17.
Shall I give my first-born? this is proposed not as a thing practicable by any rule of reason or religion, but as a proof of their readiness, as Abraham, to offer up their first-born, as he did offer up his Isaac to God. It is much to part with any of our children, but it is more to part with the strength, and glory, and hope of our families; yet, like hypocrites, or like unnatural heathen, this they would do, rather than what would please the Lord.
For my transgression; to appease the anger of the Lord for my sins; would these be expiatories?
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? the question is repeated to affect us the more: the words would bear this reading, Shall I give my first-born? This would be my sin. The fruit of my body? These would be the sin of my soul.
The prophet answers the inquiry made Micah 6:7 otherwise than these inquirers did expect: You who make this inquiry might have spared this pains.
He, God himself, hath already plainly enough told you this.
Thee, O Jews, every one of you, might from the law of God know what would please your God, and with what you ought to come before him; you might have read, 1 Samuel 15:22, that he delighteth in your obeying his word; and more early, Deuteronomy 10:12,Deuteronomy 10:13,Deuteronomy 10:20. the same practical rule was laid down.
What is good in itself for you, and well-pleasing to your God; from his own mouth your holy and righteous fathers did know, and so might you, what is that good with which you should appear before God.
What doth the Lord require of thee? what so much? or what without? or doth he require any thing without? It is a question that must be resolved in a negative, comparative, or absolute; the Lord doth not require sacrifice without moral duties, nor doth he require sacrifice so much as such duties after mentioned.
To do justly; to render to every one what is their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and oppress none, in body, goods, or name; in all your dealings with men carry a chancery in your own breasts, and do according to equity.
To love mercy; be kind, merciful, and compassionate towards all that need your kindness, do not use severity towards any; though the laws of man did not require you to remit of your pretences, and if you exacted all your right you did not break the laws of men, yet you should have respect to the law of love, and show mercy with delight in showing it, Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Hebrews 13:16.
To walk humbly with thy God; in all duties which immediately refer to the precepts of the first table, in all religious exercise and deportment toward God, keep the heart sincerely humble toward God; think highly of him, his laws and determinations, murmur not against the final determinations God by his providence makes, complain not of any of his precepts; know and own it, thou art an unprofitable servant if thou hast done all, Luke 17:10.
The Lord’s voice; either by his judgments, each of which is the Lord’s voice, he speaks by them; or rather by his prophets; and whether people hear it, or forbear, the Lord himself is concerned in it.
Crieth, as to deaf or to sleepy and secure men, who will not hear the milder and softlier calls; the prophet must cry to them in the loudest manner he can speak.
Unto the city; to every city in Israel and Judah, but principally to Jerusalem and Samaria, places of greatest concourse, and where the men of greatest sense may reasonably be supposed to dwell, who should hear and consider.
The man of wisdom: man is supplied to make the sense entire, but without that supply the sense might have run plain, and wisdom will hear, which must have been resolved some way like to our translation, and I know none that better fits than that our learned translators have supplied. I know not but that the abstract, used here for the concrete, may express a superlative degree, wisdom, i.e. the wisest, will hear, &c.
Shall see my name; rightly apprehend and duly reverence the holiness, justice and necessariness of the proceedings of the Lord with his power and majesty in the execution of his just displeasure on brutish, hardened sinners.
Hear; consider well and discern.
Ye; citizens both of Jerusalem and Samaria, and every other city in the twelve tribes.
The rod; the punishments that God is now sending, by which he will plead his cause. These are called the rod, either because they are from God, who once was, and still would be, a Father to them, or because it is a comprehensive word, which takes in the various punishments inflicted.
And who hath appointed it; hath commissioned it, handleth the rod, hath chosen it out, and strikes with it, whether it be Assyrian, or Babylonian, or both, at several times. This is the plain literal sense; others there are, which are omitted because they suit not the design of this work.
Are there yet? after so many express laws peremptorily forbidding, so many examples of punishments on such, after so many reproofs, menaces, and exhortations by so many prophets, dare you still do so unjustly?
Treasures of wickedness; gotten by injurious, oppressive courses, ill-gotten wealth; the wickedness wherewith they raked their wealth together is laid up with their wealth, as the like is said, James 5:3.
In the house of the wicked: none have thought of restoring their ill-gotten goods; the wicked fathers, who heaped them together, laid them up in their houses, and the children retain them; the house, i.e. family, of these do as their fathers, store up violence, and so do directly contrary to the first rule, Micah 6:1, to do justly.
The scant measure, which is less than standard; see Amos 8:5; by which these unrighteous ones did both offend against God, and cozen their chapmen.
That is abominable; God abhors such injustice, Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 20:10,Proverbs 20:23; Deuteronomy 25:13-16. It is most hateful in his sight.
Shall I? it may have some reference to the prophet, as speaking of himself, appointed of God to be a reprover and impartial censurer of the sins of this people; When I am so to judge of them by their doings, shall I flatter them, and say they are better than they are? but it better refers to God himself.
Count them pure; approve, justify, or acquit them, as if they were righteous, and not worthy to be punished? Shall I let them escape who are such unjust persons? This question implieth a strong negation.
The wicked balances: this kind is put for all the rest, wherewith things bought and sold were apportioned, and by which buyers and sellers were ascertained how much they bought.
The bag; in which they both kept their weights at home, and carried them about with them.
Deceitful weights, Heb. stones of deceit; they did (as in many places with us men do) use stones for weights, and this unjust people did cheat both at home and abroad, both the balance and its weights were deceitful, and condemned, Leviticus 19:35,Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:13-16.
For: this is given as an evidence of the truth of the charge, and of the justness of the resolution God had declared to punish them.
The rich men; who of all men had least temptation to deal unjustly; they were so well provided for, that without a trade they might live, and in trading they should have been content with honest gain; they should have been examples of charity and bounty, but these are the men deepest in this guilt.
Thereof; of Jerusalem, Samaria, and of every traded city in the land.
Full of violence; full of principles, practices, and fruits of violence and rapine, their minds inclined to cheatings and dishonesty, their practices managed with fraud and falsehood, and their riches heaped up through violence.
The inhabitants: the disease is universal, not some few rich men, but they that dwell in the city, are wholly oppression; or perhaps thus, who come to dwell among them, soon catch the disease, and learn these ways.
Thereof; of all the cities of the land of Canaan.
Have spoken lies; have accustomed themselves to speak falsehood, there is no truth in their affirmations or negations.
Their tongue is deceitful in their mouth; there is not a man of plain-heartedness, integrity, and honesty among them. So David complains of his times, Psalms 12:1,Psalms 12:2.
Therefore, for these many sins of violence, frauds, and lies,
also will I make thee sick in smiting thee; some read, I have begun to smite thee, so it suits well with the history of the wars, rapine, captivity, or desolation by the Syrians, Assyrians, Arabians, &c. brought upon Israel and Judah, which were the beginnings of their sorrows, and God’s just punishments; but as we read it
sick in smiting; it will as well suit with the grammatical construction of the words, with the history too, and thus it will give the greater emphasis to the words; God will ere long so smite, that the strokes of his rod should reach the very heart, and make Israel heart-sick of his wounds, inflicted on him by the Lord.
In making thee desolate: this was fully accomplished, when the kingdom of the ten tribes was overthrown by Shalmaneser, and the kingdom of the two tribes captivated by Nebuchadnezzar.
Because of thy sins; multiplied, aggravated, obstinately retained, and not repented of.
Thou shalt eat; both literally and figuratively taken, for using what they have. So God threatens, Leviticus 26:26. So God did punish the Jews, See Poole "Haggai 1:6". But not be satisfied; not be filled with sweetness or strength in the eating, or using of what thou hast; thy sins shall bring either bitterness or insufficiency upon all thou hast, by both all shall be made useless to thee.
Thy casting down; thy destruction, partly by thy dissensions, conspiracies, and violences within thyself, and partly by the enemies breaking in upon thee, and bringing the war into thine own bowels.
Shall be in the midst of thee; thou shalt be weakened at home by thine own hands, and be wasted utterly by thine enemy, besieging thee in thy cities, and taking them.
Thou shalt take hold: though there is some variety of readings here, yet the plainest and most obvious sense is as we render it, whether you refer this laying hold to persons, as wife, children, or friends, whom (though they endeavour to save out of the enemies’ hand, yet) they shall not be able to save; or if referred to things, goods, their most valuable and most portable goods and wealth: as men in distress and fleeing out of the reach of enemies, pack up their best movables, lay hold on their children, and carry them away into some remoter place, or strong hold; so it is likely this people did when invaded, Jeremiah 35:11.
But shalt not deliver: where thou lodgest thy children, and layest up thy wealth thither the enemy shall pursue thee, there besiege thee and thine; or if thou flee into other countries, it shall not be a safe refuge to thee.
That which thou deliverest; which thou dost for a little while, for a few weeks or months, preserve from the enemy, that thou thinkest is safe.
Will I give up, by unexpected and unthought of accidents to you, yet guided by the unerring and unresistible hand of Divine wisdom and power; shall be given up, fall into the hands of enemies, so that any considerate eye may see God’s hand in it.
To the sword; to be cut off by either domestic and civil wars, or by the invading, conquering, and wasting troops of the Assyrians.
Thou shalt sow, be at great pains and cost in tilling and sowing,
but thou shalt not reap; it shall either not thrive to a harvest, or, if it does, an enemy shall reap it.
Thou shalt tread the olives, lay out thy labour and weary thyself in it, plant the tree, gather the fruit and tread it,
but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; when thus prepared to use it, an enemy shall rob thee of it. Oil in those countries was much in use, because of the great refreshment it gave to the whole body.
And sweet wine: here is an ellipsis, and must be thus supplied, thou shalt tread the grapes which afford sweet wine.
But shalt not drink wine; in this, as in the other two, thou shalt be disappointed, thou shalt not enjoy thy labour, nor shall thy heart be cheered with new wine, nay, thou shalt be sick with vexing, to see thine enemies’ hearts glad with the wine thou hadst prepared for other guests.
The statutes of Omri; of which you read, 1 Kings 16:25-28. He built Samaria, to be a royal city, and seat of religion brought in by Jeroboam; thus he both strengthened and put more credit upon the idolatrous worship, which was set up by Omri in a royal city. whereas by Jeroboam it was set up in places of meaner account.
Are kept; diligently, very much. All the works of the house of Ahab; summed up, in establishing Jeroboam’s idolatry, introducing the idolatrous worship of Baal, 1 Kings 16:31-33, cutting off the prophets of the Lord, 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:10,1 Kings 19:14, and abolishing the true worship of God; besides the barbarous contriving the death of the innocent, and seizing the estate, 1 Kings 21:8,1 Kings 21:9, &c.
And ye, of the house of Israel, though under the government of families which had no great reason to value the house of Ahab, yet you have done their works of idolatry and oppression, and you also of the house of Judah have degenerated and done like their works.
Ye walk in their counsels; literally fulfilled in Jehoram’s reign, acts, and counsels, 2 Kings 8:17,2 Kings 8:18; and in Ahaziah’s, who was son of Jehoram, and grandson of Jehoshaphat, 2 Kings 8:27; and so did Jehu, and his successors, all persist in the idolatry of the calf-worship, and in oppression of the poor: thus instead of walking humbly with God, they did openly depart from him, contrary to what God required of them.
That I should make thee, & c. eventually this was the end, or in necessary tendency it could not end otherwise, though they did not intend this, nor did God will them to do so that it might so end.
A desolation; an utter waste, such as should astonish those that saw it.
The inhabitants thereof, of the city or land, a hissing, in token of abhorrence and derision, Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 25:9,Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 29:18.
Therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people; the reproach threatened in the law, if my people forsake me; or, Jerusalem shall be as much reproached as Samaria; or as Ezekiel 36:20.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Micah 6". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13