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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Micah 7

Verses 1-2

CRITICAL NOTES. The Church now mourns itself, and confesses that its condition is like a vintage after gleaning. No cluster] to be found. Ripe fruit] of excellent flavour chiefly desired.

Micah 7:2. Good] Heb. merciful and good to man (Psalms 12:1); delivered from the evil to come (Isaiah 57:1); or cut off by those in wait for blood—lit. bloods, i.e. blood-shedding. Net] used for hunting (Habakkuk 1:15). Brother] Bound by law to love another as himself (Leviticus 19:18).

HOMILETICS

THE SCARCITY OF GODLY MEN.—Micah 7:1-2

The prophet mourns that he lives in a degenerate age. Good men have perished. Instead of finding the nation like a ripe vintage, there is not “a cluster to eat.” It is gleaned of the best and filled with the worst of men.

I. Godly men are scarce upon the earth. “The good man is perished out of the earth.” We should not complain, like Elijah, for we are not left alone in the present day. Yet good men are few.

1. Some are removed by cruelty. They are cut off by those who “lie in wait for blood.” In all ages the blood of martyrs has been freely spilt. The wicked plot and persecute, lie in ambuscade for the reputation and life of the godly now. All malice is cruelty, and would put to death those whom it hates. “Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men.”

2. Others perish by moral defection. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many grows cold. Difficulties and dangers terrify some, others are not sincere, get disappointed, and “draw back unto perdition.” “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us no doubt they would have continued with us.”

3. Many are taken away by death. Good men ripen on earth for the blessedness of heaven. They are gathered like the summer fruits, and thus escape the severity of winter. “Merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”

II. The scarcity of godly men upon the earth is a cause of regret. “Woe is me!” Godly men are precious and profitable as the first ripe fruits; useful to the Christian Church and the world.

1. They are a loss to the Christian Church. Their presence and example adorn and strengthen the Church. They are pillars, “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” We require the wisdom and zeal, the faith and power, of former ages. Every death seems to diminish the faithful, and make them “as the grape-gleanings of the vintage.”

2. They are a loss to the world. As lights their influence is diffusive and blessed. “Like the sun,” says Hume, “they cheer, invigorate, and sustain the surrounding world.” As salt they preserve the earth from corruption, and quicken men to higher life. Their prayers draw blessings from heaven, and ward off judgments from men. They refresh and fructify the place in which they dwell. When they die, justice, benevolence, and beauty depart. “The world is upheld by the veracity of good men,” says Emerson; “they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious.” “The saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.”

MATURITY REQUIRED BY GOD.—Micah 7:1

These words may be taken as expressing God’s desire for ripeness or maturity in grace. Hence they relate to our experience, character, and efforts.

I. God requires maturity in human experience. “My soul desired the first ripe fruit.”

1. The unconverted must be renewed. No clusters of grace and beauty adorn their conduct. They are like trees without foliage and fruit. Barren and unfruitful in the works and ways of God.

“Here elements have lost their uses,
Air ripens not, nor earth produces” [Swift].

2. The penitent must ripen in humility. Not mere blossoms of sorrow, but fruits meet for repentance must be produced. Penitence and pardon, faith and holiness, must be visible. “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”

II. God requires maturity in Christian character. Christian character grows. In this growth are seed time and harvest; progress in knowledge and holiness. There are babes, but we must come to the full stature, not the mere outline, but the perfect likeness in Christ. “He is but the counterfeit of a Christian who hath not the life of a Christian,” says one. All the virtues of Christian conduct must ripen. God is glorified, and ministers glad, when we bring forth much fruit. “I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”

III. God requires maturity in personal effort. There must be thought and maturity in everything.

1. In efforts we must put forth our strength and work earnestly. Whatsoever our hands find to do, must be done with all our might. Decision and energy must be thrown into every undertaking.

2. In offerings we must give the first ripe fruit. In sacred worship and daily life let there be nothing sour and unripe. In the Sunday-school and the sick-room, think, prepare, and do your best. David would not offer to God of that which cost nothing. If we spare the seed we shall reap no harvest (Proverbs 11:24; 2 Corinthians 9:6); but thorough consecration will secure overflowing vintage. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Micah 7:1. The moral contrast or,

1. What is desired. “The first ripe fruit.”

2. What is really found. “There is no cluster to eat” (Micah 7:1).

Micah 7:2. The picture of a good man.

1. The good man in his character. Good here means merciful, actively good and benevolent to men.

2. The good man in his influence. He upholds justice, checks corruptions, and testifies to God. When merciful men die, uprightness goes and cruelty enters the land. “The good man is perished, and there is none upright.”

3. The good man in his death. The Church and the servants of God lament the loss. “Woe is me!”

“A combination, and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man.” [Shakespeare.]

Brotherly cruelty. “They hunt every man his brother.”

1. Wicked men plan to assail others.
2. These plans are crafty. Nets of various kinds laid to ensnare.
3. These crafty plans often succeed. Fraud is added to force, and craft to cruelty. The guilt is greater because a brother, by race or grace, is humbled. Nearest friends are often entrapped like birds by the fowler.

Every man is the brother of every man, because he is a man, born of the same first parent, children of the same Father: yet they lay wait for one another, as hunters for wild beasts (cf. Psalms 35:7; Psalms 57:7; Jeremiah 5:26) [Pusey].

“O what are these?

Death’s ministers, not men: who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men; and multiply
Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew
His brother” [Milton].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7

Micah 7:1-2. Good men few. They say that fish smell first at the head, and when godly men decay, the whole commonwealth will soon go rotten. We must not, however, be rash in our judgment on this point, for Elijah erred in counting himself the only servant of God alive, when there were thousands whom the Lord held in reserve [Spurgeon].

Verses 3-6

CRITICAL NOTES.

Micah 7:3. Evil] Lit. Their hands are for evil, that they may do it earnestly, i.e. well, cleverly. Great] man. He] Emphatic, expresses desire, lit. the lust of his soul. They] Venal judges are ready to wrap, Heb. to weave or twist together; they pervert the cause of the poor.

Micah 7:4. Best] The prince asks, the judge grants, and the rich co-operate; all resemble the brier and thorn-bush, which only prick and injure. Visit.] Corruption is so high that judgment will break in upon them. Perplex.] They will be caught as victims, and not know what to do.

Micah 7:5. Trust] All are treacherous and pervert justice (Jeremiah 9:2-6); confidence will be unsafe. Guide] And heads of families to whom we naturally look, unworthy of confidence.

Micah 7:6. Dishon.] Treats the father as a fool (Deuteronomy 32:15; Jeremiah 14:21). Daughter] witnesses against her mother (Psalms 27:12). Treachery and faithlessness reach the nearest friends, and dissolve every family tie (cf. Matthew 24:10-12).

HOMILETICS

WITH BOTH HANDS EARNESTLY.—Micah 7:3

There is little of excellence in mere earnestness. The more earnest a man is in vital error, he inflicts, of necessity, the deeper injury on the interests of truth and men. The wicked men, in this picture of the prophet, stand in the very attitude which every good man should assume in the work of God.

I. Without hands. Some good men seem to be without hands. “They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not.” They work with hands in other things; strive manfully in a political struggle, or in a question of social right. They are diligent in business, but in Christian work idle, both hands drop down and there they stand—without hands. “Curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly!” Why? What had Meroz done to merit the curse? Nothing. That was the sin, that she had “not come up to the help of the Lord.”

II. With one hand. This is the second state in which many serve God. This is well to begin with, but a little more must be added, and so the service must grow into fulness. The Apostles were grand workers, learned by watching and following him who went about doing good. They were but one-handed men, made many mistakes, but got the use of both hands in time. The Master has always a great company of young workers, some young in life, some young in toil, but all learning and needing the word of encouragement from those of more experience. If you are speaking for Christ, anywhere, at any time, doing but a little service in a quiet way; God speed you in your work.

III. With both hands we say to all one-handed men; for there is no perfection, even of a relative kind, with one. Both hands are given for use; the other will not be idle, but will grasp at something, raise up another force of evil to balance Christian activity; so life in a little while will be in poise, not in motion; then in a little longer there will be motion, but in a wrong way. “With both hands” for safety. With all the powers and with all the talents given. None of them must rust, all must go out in use. How few things there are in the house, in labour, in business, that we can do with one hand! David’s men “were mighty men, helpers of the war; they were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left.” These are the men whom Christ needs to fight his battles and do his work; “workmen needing not to be ashamed” of the work they do, or of the way in which they do it.

IV. There is a higher, the highest stage of obedience, expressed by all the words of the text, with both hands earnestly. It is not enough that the talents be laid out; they must be laid out to the best advantage. Every power and passion must be enlisted, baptized, inspired and energized in Christian service. This is just the thing to make some happy, heroic, and victorious. They work with both hands—the mechanism is perfect and the action steady—but it is mechanical not vital action. Christian earnestness is not mere vehemence and heat: it is “zeal according to knowledge.” Many reasons might be urged for an earnest life: Self-preservation requires it. Our faculties and senses cannot be kept bright and clear without use. The rust of moral decay will be within us unless we work “with our might.” Honesty requires it. We have undertaken a great service—if at all—on certain terms, clear conditions laid down by the Master. We must fulfil them or we do not live fairly. Benevolence requires it. If we love our fellow-men, the one thing we can do for them above all other things in value is, to live truly and intensely before them. Gratitude requires it. This is all we can do for Christ. He will take nothing from us but this. Time requires it. Not one of us would go out of the world without having lived for some time in it in this way. The future is unknown, and carries secrets undisclosed. We are not fully matched with the day unless working “with both hands earnestly” [Raleigh].

UNIVERSAL CORRUPTION AND UNIVERSAL JUDGMENT.—Micah 7:3-6

Corruption is prevalent in all ranks of the community, rests upon a compromise of the ruling classes, and thus the foundations of morality are destroyed.

I. Universal corruption. Sin was veiled under the name of virtue, or committed in the pretence of justice.

1. In official ranks. Men in authority expose justice for sale and avow bribery. They play into the hands of others to strengthen themselves in evil.

(1.) The prince asks for gifts.

(2.) The judge seeks reward.

(3.) The nobleman utters his mischievous desires.

2. In religous professions. “The best of them is as a briar.” The most upright and moral were carried away with the sins of the day. They were crooked in their dispositions, and sharper than thorns in their ways. Instead of being a protection to others, they were positively injurious and oppressive.

3. In social circles. Faith was not kept anywhere; all to a man were treacherous (Jeremiah 9:2-6).

(1.) A friend was not to be trusted.

(2.) The heads of families would not help and advise. The guide or counsellor, and the wife of his bosom (Deuteronomy 13:6), were alike guilty.

(3.) The members of families were in a state of lawlessness and impiety. Natural relationship was perverted. The son called the father a fool. The daughter testifies against her mother, and a man’s foes were found in his own household. Oppression was followed by inhumanity. The strongest ties of nature and religion were dissolved. A moral condition descriptive of the last times of the gospel dispensation (Luke 21:16; 2 Timothy 3:1-3).

II. Universal judgment. When men become oppressive and dangerous, and moral disease becomes universal, it is a sign of approaching ruin.

1. There will be a day of visitation. “Thy visitation cometh.” Men’s actions and lives are seen by God. God will reckon with them and visit them with punishment for sin.

2. This day of visitation is foretold. Watchmen and prophets foresee it and warn men of its speedy approach. 3. When it comes and finds men unprepared it is terrible. “Now shall be their perplexity.” Sinners are heedless, and the day breaks suddenly upon them. They will be caught in their own snares and, as they entangled others, they will not be able to escape their own retribution. “For it is a day of trouble and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of Hosts.”

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Micah 7:3. The triple alliance for evil. Union is good, is necessary and advantageous, but alliance for evil is disgraceful and injurious.

1. The Prince asks i.e. for the condemnation of the righteous and innocent.

2. The Judge grants for recompense or reward.

3. The great man co-operates with both. “So they wrap it up,” turn and twist their efforts into a threefold cord which cannot easily be broken.

Micah 7:4. Men as briers. Giving grief for help, and fleecing when they ought to protect. Hard and sharp in their dealings; piercing and injurious in their conduct. “Folden together as thorns” (Nahum 1:10).

Micah 7:5-6. It is a part of the perplexity of crooked ways, that all relationships are put out of joint. Selfishness rends each from the other, and disjoints the whole frame of society. Passions and sin break every band of friendship, kindred, gratitude, nature. The words describe partly the inward corruption, partly the outward causes which shall call it forth. There is no real trust in any, where all are corrupt. The words deepen as they go on. First, the friend, or neighbour, the common band of man and man; then the guide (or, as the word also means, one familiar, united by intimacy, to whom by continual intercourse the soul was used); then the wife who lay in the bosom, nearest to the secrets of the heart; then those to whom also reverence is due, father and mother [Pusey].

1. There is no sure hold upon any man, however strictly he be bound, who is declining from God, and hath not a tender conscience standing in awe of him; for in this declining time, friends, guides, wives, &c., are not to be trusted in.

2. In times of defection and backsliding, the godly out of love should believe all things (1 Corinthians 13:7), and not easily take prejudice, and to walk warily and prudently; Trust not, saith he, put no confidence, keep the doors of thy mouth, especially trust in or look to none for help, but only in God [Hutcheson].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7

Micah 7:3-4. Man is nothing but insincerity, falsehood, and hypocrisy, both in regard to himself and in regard to others. He does not wish that he should be told the truth; he shuns saying it to others; and all these moods, so inconsistent with justice and reason, have their roots in his heart [Pascal].

“Faithless is earth, and faithless are the skies!
Justice is fled, and truth is now no more.” [Virgil, Æneid.]

Micah 7:5-7.

“Lean not on earth; twill pierce thee to the heart:
A broken reed at best, but oft a spear:
On its sharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.” [Young.]

Micah 7:7-9. A holy silence unstrings every affliction, it takes off the weight of every burden, it adds sweet to every bitter, it changes dark nights into sunshiny days. The smallest sufferings will easily vanquish an unquiet spirit, but a quiet spirit will as easily triumph over the greatest sufferings [Brooks]. Micah 7:9. Indignation. Though of all burdens the indignation of the Lord be the greatest burden, yet Divine indignation is but a light burden in comparison of sin. A gracious soul can better stand under the burden of God’s indignation for sin, than it can stand under the burden of sin itself, which hath kindled that indignation [Ibid.].

Verses 7-10

CRITICAL NOTES.

Micah 7:7.] Having no hope from man, the prophet looks to God, and speaks in the name of the Church. Salv.] i.e. from whom all help comes.

Micah 7:8. Rejoice] The enemy must not think this condition to be perpetual; light will break through the darkness.

Micah 7:9.]. Hence bear patiently the inflicted punishment (Lamentations 3:39), until] the promise of Micah 7:8 is fulfilled.

Micah 7:10. Then] the enemy will discover her mistake, be covered with shame, and be prostrated in the dust (Isaiah 10:6).

HOMILETICS

THREE RESOLUTIONS.—Micah 7:7

The prophet is predicting a period which marvellously corresponds to the first age of the Christian era. For, he says, the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh, the time our Lord foretold, when Jerusalem was destroyed. Then the Church was as sheep among wolves. Princes indeed did evil with both hands earnestly. Judges like Pilate could pronounce in a breath, that the accused was innocent and yet condemn. Treachery crept into every home. Hypocrisy prevailed the land over. The Church was in the midst of uncompromising enemies. The nearest of their relatives, as fathers and sons, betrayed them to persecution and death. There was no help for them in man. So the eyes of faith turned to God alone. He would not fail them. Each of us should adopt these resolutions. Many reasons indicate the wisdom of so doing.

I. The resolution of faith. “I will look.”

1. The promises encourage me.
2. Experience teaches me.
3. The Lord commands me.
4. The engagement will comfort me.

II. The resolution of patience. “I will wait.”

1. For his time is best.
2. For his blessing is worth waiting for.
3. For I shall not be disappointed.

III. The confidence of hope. “God will hear.”

1. Though my cry be feeble and my faith weak.
2. Though my request be great.
3. Though others disdain me.
4. Though I am alone. Few pleaders in Israel.
5. For he is near [Stems and Twigs].

He turned away from creatures, knowing they were broken cisterns that could hold no water; and turned towards God “the fountain of living waters.” “Therefore,” he says, “I will look unto the Lord.” Observe, first, that this is a designed experience, and not a casual one, on God’s side. God is more concerned for our welfare than we are ourselves—does not wait for our application, but excites it. For this purpose He has given the Sabbath, the Scriptures, the sanctuary, and the preaching of the Gospel. All these dispensations are arranged in subserviency to the purpose of his grace and our afflictions. He therefore says, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offences and seek my face.” Elihu, reviewing afflictive dispensations, says, “All these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit,” &c. Observe, secondly, it is a necessary experience on our part. God does nothing needlessly, and we may be assured that he doth not “afflict willingly.” We have a strong propensity to turn away, to make flesh our arm, and earth our home; but “the prosperity of fools destroys them,” the things ordained for their welfare prove “a trap.” Hence, though trying, these dispensations improve us by the goodness of God. He “hedges up our way with thorns,” that we may not be able to “find our paths.” He embitters earth, that heaven may be endeared, and verifies the language of Dr. Young: “Our hearts are fasten’d to the world,” &c. Oh! it is a blessed experience when, with the Church, we are thrown from ourselves and from creatures upon the Divine resources [Jay].

GOD MAINTAINING THE INTERESTS AND SECURING THE TRIUMPH OF HIS PEOPLE.—Micah 7:8-10

Now the Prophet holds out hope, and gives special grounds of consolation and encouragement. God watches over his people, and will not suffer them to be destroyed.

I. The sad condition of God’s people.

1. Cast into trouble. “When I fall.” The strongest saint is infirm and liable to fall. Sin within and temptation without overcome us. Disasters may strip us of everything, and sorrow bring to the grave. But the fall shall not be fatal. “Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down.”

2. Sitting in darkness. “I sit in darkness.” The darkness of doubt, captivity, and mysterious providence. Clouds hang over us, friends desert us, and shadows hide God from us. “We walk in darkness and have no light” (Isaiah 50:10).

3. Mocked by the enemy. The enemy has advantage sometimes over God’s people, and treats them with insult and reproach. The world exults at the fall of a godly man. “Malice is folly,” says one, “and when it holds a festival its tones and gestures far exceed all the freaks and mummeries of the lord of misrule.” “They opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, Aha, our eye hath seen it.”

II. The blessed hope of God’s people. God chastises his children, but does not give them up to despair. Neither despond nor mistrust him. “He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea, in seven shall no evil touch thee.”

1. Lifted up from trouble. “I shall rise.” Trials have their limits and design. If we “have the will to rise, he is at hand who will cause thee to rise,” says a Father. The sinner lies when he falls, and perishes without recovery. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”

2. Enlightened in darkness. “The Lord a light unto me.” Shadows disperse; joy and brightness beam upon our lot. Darkness of sorrow and ill-repute flee away, and noon-day splendours shine again. “The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light.”

3. Restoration to lost privileges. God will declare the right of his people, make their glory conspicuous, and restore them to former dignities. They shall be publicly honoured and greatly enriched with the covenant blessings. “I shall behold his righteousness.”

III. The sure triumph of God’s people. The truly godly man has been subject to derision in every age. Men have asked in scorn, “Where is the Lord thy God?” But the triumph of the wicked is short.

1. Joy will be turned to shame. The enemy rejoiced in God’s apparent forgetfulness of his people, and laughed at their profession of confidence in him. But God punished the blasphemy cast upon his name and the calumny heaped upon his children. The enemy was disappointed, confounded, and covered with shame.

2. Deliverance from the enemy will be complete. Judgment will be executed upon the enemy. He will be treated as straw, and trodden as mire in the streets. “And they shall be as mighty men which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle; and they shall fight because the Lord is with them.”

LIGHT IN DARKNESS.—Micah 7:7

1. In dark spiritual experience God will be a light unto us. When sin is strong and grace is weak—when comforts fail and sorrows multiply—when faith yields and unbelief prevails—when we search for God and find him not—then he will succour and fill our hearts with light and gladness.

2. In dark providential dispensations God will be a light unto us. When the clouds are black above, and our way is dark, and we know not where to go—when every fresh turn of events serves to increase our perplexity—when the scenes through which we pass defy all mortal wisdom—then he will disperse the gloom and reveal our way before us.

3. In the darkness of death God will be a light unto us. When we enter the damp thick shades of the tomb—when all earthly lights, even those that have burned with the steadiest and purest lustre, will be extinguished—then the Lord will be our light. He will guide our feet, we shall pass through the dark valley without danger, and enter the regions of eternal day.

“Then let me not despairing mourn,

Though gloomy darkness spread the sky;

My glorious Sun will yet return,

And night with all its horrors fly” [Adapted].

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Micah 7:8. When I fall, I shall rise. A strange event and a strong hope. Trials (a) must be expected, (b) are temporary, (c) have their results, and (d) must be endured in hope. These words contain sweet comfort for slandered saints.

Micah 7:9.

1. Sin is the cause of Divine indignation. Men make themselves rods by their own guilt. “Because I have sinned against him.”
2. This Divine indignation must be received as fatherly chastisement. If we murmur and get impatient, the end has not been yet answered. “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?”
3. Such as bear Divine indignation in the right spirit will be delivered. Bear it patiently, hopefully. The time is short, “until he plead.” His promise is good. “He will bring me forth.”

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7

Micah 7:5-7.

“Lean not on earth; twill pierce thee to the heart:
A broken reed at best, but oft a spear:
On its sharp point peace bleeds, and hope expires.” [Young.]

Micah 7:7-9. A holy silence unstrings every affliction, it takes off the weight of every burden, it adds sweet to every bitter, it changes dark nights into sunshiny days. The smallest sufferings will easily vanquish an unquiet spirit, but a quiet spirit will as easily triumph over the greatest sufferings [Brooks]. Micah 7:9. Indignation. Though of all burdens the indignation of the Lord be the greatest burden, yet Divine indignation is but a light burden in comparison of sin. A gracious soul can better stand under the burden of God’s indignation for sin, than it can stand under the burden of sin itself, which hath kindled that indignation [Ibid.].

Verses 11-13

CRITICAL NOTES.

Micah 7:11.] This confidence rises. Day] Fences will be built up. Decree] The law imposed upon Israel by heathens, some; others, the decree of God for her captivity.

Micah 7:12. That day] when the walls are built, there shall come to thee. He] i.e. many from Assyria, &c., scattered believers and heathen nations. From sea] i.e. from the Mediterranean to the Persian Sea. Mtn.] i.e. from Sinai in the south to Lebanon in the north.

Micah 7:13. Notwith.] Glorious the prospect of restoration, yet remember judgment. Land] i.e. the earth as opposed to the Church of God. In Zion alone will be deliverance, outside will be desolation.

HOMILETICS

A GLORIOUS DAY.—Micah 7:11-12

The Prophet predicts a glorious time, when Jerusalem shall be divested of enclosures and narrowness; when the Church shall be enlarged by the return of captives and the conversion of nations.

I. A day of deliverance from bondage. “In that day shall the decree be far removed.” God’s decree to punish, and the decree of Nebuchadnezzar to retain in captivity. Tyrannical rule would be destroyed, and perfect freedom enjoyed. No power on earth can detain God’s people in bondage when he intends to deliver.

II. A day of gathering together the scattered tribes. From fortress and fortified cities; from sea to sea, and from the utmost bounds of the earth, shall captive Jews return. As proselytes from all nations came to Jerusalem of old, so shall converts from north and south flow into the Christian Church. “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt,” &c. (Isaiah 19:23).

III. A day of peaceful restoration. The walls of Zion shall no longer be in ruins. They shall be reared for a habitation and defence. Sin pulls down the walls and creates mischief. God alone can prosper and establish the Church. Without his aid we build in vain. Our prayer should ever be, “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.”

THE LAND CURSED BY THE SINS OF ITS INHABITANTS.—Micah 7:13

Salvation may come to the people, but the desolation of their land would remind them of their sins. However glorious the prospect, “the fruit of their doings” would curse the country in which they lived. Many are the sins of a people which are calamities to the land in which they are committed. We notice a few.

I. National idleness is a curse to the land. The ground is cursed by the sin of man, but will yield produce when cultivated. But idleness will bring ruin in all departments of trade. As men sow, so must they reap in this respect.

II. National intemperance is a curse to the land. It squanders financial resources, aggravates the curse of poverty, and leads to failure in the means of comfort and subsistence. It devours savings and capital; and causes theft and destruction of property.

III. National war is a curse to the land. Devastated fields, the destruction of towns and villages, are some of the fruits of men’s doings. In many ways judgments from God, as real as the fire upon the cities of the plain, desolate the ground because of them that dwell therein (Hosea 4:3; Jeremiah 23:10; Genesis 19:25). “A fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell herein.”

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Micah 7:11-12. These words are a promise and consolation to the Jews, for their restoration is here foretold as Micah had already foretold it (ch. Micah 4:10). But the whole is not limited to this. He says with remarkable indefiniteness, there shall come. He does not say who shall come. But he twice sets two opposite boundaries, from which men should come; and since these boundaries, not being coincident, cannot be predicted of one and the same subject, there must be two distinct incomings. While in the first place the restoration of Israel is foretold, there follows that conversion of the world which Micah had before promised (Micah 4:1-3), and which was the object of the restoration of Israel [Pusey].

1. The Lord will in due time restore and make up the ruins of his destroyed Church and people; for thy walls are to be built.

2. God’s time is to be patiently waited for in the restoration of his Church; for there is the day for doing it which he will keep, and no sooner.

3. As it is one of the greatest trials to the Church, to lie under the tyranny and oppression of strangers, who, by decrees and injunctions executed with vigour, labour to ruin her and destroy the work of God; so, when he has wrought his work upon his Church by such trial, the Lord will deliver them from the yoke, set them at liberty to serve him and enjoy tranquillity without interruptions; for, in that day the decree shall be removed [Hutcheson].

The fate of the earth and the glory of Zion are here set forth. Zion is multiplied by the addition of Gentiles, but judgment falls upon a sinful world. Salvation and peace within, danger and destruction without.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7

Micah 7:12. From mountain to mountain probably includes all subdivisions of our habitable earth, as the words, from sea to sea, had embraced it as a whole. For, physically and to sight, mountains are the great natural divisions of our earth. Rivers are but the means of transit. The Euphrates and the Nile were the centres of the kingdoms which lay upon them. Each range of mountains, as it rises on the horizon, seems to present an insuperable barrier. No barrier should avail to hinder the onflow to the Gospel. Isaiah foretold that all obstacles should be removed, “Every valley shall be exalted,” &c. (Isaiah 40:4); so Micah prophesies from mountain to mountain [Pusey].

Verses 14-20

CRITICAL NOTES.

Micah 7:14. Feed] Lit. rule; a prayer in the name of the people, to be fed on the fruitful mountain-range (Carmel) of the western sea-coast (Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 37:24), and by Bashan and Gilead, the rich pasture-land east of Jordan (Numbers 32:1; Deuteronomy 32:14; Jeremiah 1:19).

Micah 7:15. Marvellous] Wonders of grace, special manifestations of God’s mercy, which will be repeated in the days of Messiah, will confound and silence the enemy (Psalms 107:42; Isaiah 52:5).

Micah 7:16. Deaf.] They shall be afraid of hearing them, because they continually fear new disasters, when they see the God of Israel to be so powerful [Calvin].

Micah 7:17. Lick] Abject prostration as suppliants (cf. Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 65:25); an allusion to Genesis 3:14. Worms] Earth-creepers (Deuteronomy 32:24). Like snakes driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmed out of their holes, so nations come trembling out of their castles (Psalms 18:46), and tremble, flee to Jehovah with trembling, as alone able to help [cf. Keil].

Micah 7:18. In allusion to his own name, Micah praises God, and closes the book. Who.] The rescue from Egypt and the restoration predicted, exalt Jehovah above other gods, and reveal his incomparable grace and compassion (cf. Exodus 15:11). Passeth] Not conniving at it, but forgiving it; not choosing to look into it (Proverbs 19:11; cf. Psalms 130:3). Heritage] Surviving judgment, and typifying the remnant of grace (ch. Micah 4:7).

Micah 7:19. Subdue] Littread underfoot as something deadly; guilt and power of sin, both taken away. Depths] Like Egyptians into the Red Sea. All] not some; pardon, full and free.

Micah 7:20. Truth] Faithful promise. Mercy] from which promises spring. Fathers] (Psalms 105:9-10). Mercy and truth are the scarlet threads which run through the unity of God’s plan from beginning to end [Lange]. The seed of the patriarchs should never perish, but would be restored as often as they turned to God. The mystery of this purpose is revealed by the Apostle (Romans 11:25, sqq.). “There is no prophetic denunciation of judgment against Israel, which is not concluded with promises of mercy” [Abarbinel].

HOMILETICS

THE WORK OF GOD.—Micah 7:14

When we consider the symbolic language of the sacred writers, and the typical nature of the Jewish dispensations, we are authorized to pass from the natural to the spiritual Israel.

1. Observe the persons to be favoured; “His people.” He has always had a people for his Name, described as “the flock of his heritage.” This indicates that they are sheep, and collectively all one in Christ. A man may have a flock in his possession, and under his superintendence, but not the flock of his heritage. In the East a person’s whole substance consisted in flocks and herds. He would feel a peculiar concern for them as his own. The Lord takes pleasure in his people. They are his portion, and he derives the revenue of his glory from them.

2. See the blessing implored on their behalf; “feed thy people with thy rod.” The rod is the symbol and the instrument of the shepherd, and the word feed, by a common figure of speech, is significant of the discharge of all his office. The Lord will lead them by his Word and Spirit, heal them when wounded or diseased, guard them in danger, and restore them when astray. Especially does he give repast and repose. Hence the inquiry, when hungry and thirsty, weary and faint: “Tell me where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.” The believer can often say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” &c.

3. But how was the privilege to be dispensed. “In the midst of Carmel let them feed, in Bashan and Gilead, as in days of old.” Thus the richest measure and degree of provisions are indicated. Suppliants may be choosers. God giveth liberally and upbraideth not. “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” When Alexander bestowed a boon the recipient would say, ‘It is too much for me to receive.” But the conqueror of the world would reply, “It is not too much for me to give” [Adapted from Jay].

1. God’s people are a separated people. As Israel was choosen and separated from other nations, so God’s people are in the world but do not belong to it. They “dwell solitarily,” live apart from worldly men, who think only of time and sense. They are alone in their character, tastes, and pursuits (Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 33:28).

2. God’s people are a protected people. God rules, and defends them. He teaches, reproves, and delivers with his “rod.” The flock may be scattered, helpless, and alone, but the kind Shepherd will protect and bless them (Psalms 23:3).

3. God’s people are an enriched people. “Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead.” The greatest pastures of Canaan typify the blessings of God’s people.

(1.) Enriched in a wonderful degree. Rest and refreshment without stint.

(2.) Enriched in a wonderful method. “As in the days of old.” As in Egypt, so now would God display “marvellous things.” Wonders of grace will eclipse miracles of power. God will do for his people more than he has ever done. “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations.”

WONDERFUL ANSWERS TO PRAYER.—Micah 7:15-17

In answer to the prophet’s prayer God declares that he will perform marvellous things, in bestowing good upon his people, and entirely subduing their enemies.

I. In the bestowment of good upon his people. In the deliverance from Egypt and entrance into the land of promise, wondrous things were seen. Redemption from Babylon was a blessing, a “great thing” which gladdened the heart (Psalms 136:1-3). Special manifestations of mercy are seen now. From the beginning to the end of Christian life, God will show them his marvellous loving-kindness (Psalms 17:7).

II. In the overthrow of their enemies. “The nations shall see” these marvellous deeds of God to his people, and be astonished and confounded.

1. They shall be frustrated in their purpose. “Confounded at all their might.” They failed in their opposition. All their might proved weakness. Human power can avail nothing against God’s people and their endurance in suffering. Its strength is baffled before the might of God’s grace.

2. They shall be silenced in their slander. “They shall lay their hand upon their mouth, ashamed of what they have said, and unable to say any more.” Their ears shall be deaf “to the report of God’s dealings,” before the thunder of Jehovah’s mighty deeds (Job 26:14). Extreme astonishment will take away the power of speech (Judges 18:19; Isaiah 52:15).

3. They shall be humbled in their pride. To lick the dust is an emblem of extreme humility. They will be cast down as low as possible, to the very earth. As they lifted themselves up against God, so will they be abased, like the serpent under the curse of old (cf. Psalms 72:9; Psalms 22:29). “They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet.”

4. They shall be exposed in their folly. Brought out of their hiding-places, they will tremble in fear. Like worms of the earth, they shall move out of their holes. No security nor secret place can protect them. Discovered in their designs, ashamed of their conduct, they will stand before God in that fear which is a foretaste of the judgment-day (Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16).

“Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust” [Pope].

GOD DELIGHTING IN MERCY.—Micah 7:18

The Prophet saw mercy unequalled in God’s dealings with Israel. The heathen gods and all imaginary gods of men are unholy, revengeful, and cruel. “Who is God like unto thee,” &c.?

I. God’s mercy is founded upon God’s nature. It is not something without him, or something acquired like human virtues. It belongs naturally to God. It is something without which he would not be God. It is the essence and manifestation of God. “God is love.” All attributes join together in his character and ways, but mercy is the brightest ray. Judgment is strange work, but mercy is a delight to God. He puts his anger by, and while he corrects he ever loves. “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him.”

II. God’s mercy is displayed in God’s works. In the physical and moral world we have abundant illustrations of this truth.

1. In the physical world we have proofs of God’s mercy. Famine, pestilence, and dearth often come, but they pass away. Mercy dawns again in seed-time and harvest, summer and winter. The rain falls and the sun shines upon the just and the unjust. The world, in its laws and constitution, indicates no malevolent Creator.

2. In the moral world we have proofs of God’s mercy. In the Divine for bearance with sin, and the moral constitution of men; in the conversion of the sinner, and the life of the believer, mercy is displayed beyond expression. In Christ we have mercy like a fountain full and free. Paul was a pattern of this mercy to others. If the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return unto God, “he will have mercy upon him and abundantly pardon.” This truth,

(1) Sets forth the highest excellence in every moral being. To be like God is the crown and substance of moral life.
(2) Gives a reason to trust God at all times. A God who delights in mercy can never be indifferent to our happiness.
(3) Furnishes an argument to be merciful to others. “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.”

NO PARDON LIKE GOD’S PARDON.—Micah 7:18

The Prophet here makes a challenge to other deities, and vindicates the glory of God. “Who is a God like unto thee?” exclaim all who have embraced the mercy and received the forgiveness of God.

I. No pardon like God’s in the ground of its bestowment. It is not connivance, nor mere clemency. It does not ignore sin nor set aside justice. It is pardon through substitution and satisfaction, bought with a price and conferred in a method to honour the law and magnify Divine love. God can be just, and the justifier of him that believeth. Cæsar, shaking his sword, said to the Questor, who sought to prevent his entrance into the treasury at Rome, that it was easier for his power than for the goodness of his nature to despatch him. God might justly have punished, but he spares and is ready to pardon.

“Here the whole Deity is known;

Nor dares a creature guess

Which of the glories brighter shone,

The justice or the grace.”

II. No pardon like God’s in the method of its bestowment.

1. In freeness it is unexampled. Men are reluctant to forgive when earnestly desired, begrudge forgiveness and cherish resentment when it is bestowed. But God waits to be gracious, multiplies pardons, and makes overtures, beseeching us to be reconciled to him. “Come now, and let us reason together.”

2. In fulness it is complete. It is not for one but for all sins. “Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” It needs no supplement, no repetition. It is once and for ever—sins are forgiven and forgotten. Cast into the depths of the sea, blotted out as a thick cloud, not to be gathered again. He retains no anger, but looks upon us as if we had never sinned. We are not therefore to judge God by ourselves, and measure his pardoning love by a standard of our own. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

EXULTING CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S MEROY.—Micah 7:19-20

The Jews now avow full confidence in God’s mercy. He had often pitied and delivered them. But his compassions were not exhausted, would be exercised again in displays of power and love. “He will again,” &c.

I. Confidence in the bestowment of God’s grace. Grace in the pardon and subduing of sin, in showing compassion and restoring to Divine favour.

1. In the pardon of sin. Sin is passed by, left unpunished, and God does not “mark iniquities” (Psalms 130:3). It is buried in eternal oblivion, never more to rise in view. As in the Red Sea not one enemy of God’s people was left, so in the pardon of sin none are remembered. “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none: and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon them whom I reserve.”

2. In the subduing of sin. “He will subdue our iniquities.” He takes away the guilt and destroys the power of sin. Sin is tyrannical, and reduces man to bondage. It combats the moral principles and is victorious over the moral nature of man. Christ gives freedom from the dominion and consequences of sin, and implants a new rule within us.

“Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.”

3. In the restoration to Divine favour. The Jews were not subdued in Babylon. They were turned again and found that compassion which they had often forfeited. God turns to the sinner and prepares him for his presence. He is reconciled to men in Christ Jesus. When they turn to him, he will turn again to them.

II. Confidence in the performance of God’s word. “Thou wilt perform the truth.” Return from captivity was a striking instance of the fidelity and kindness of God in his covenant promise. But this is only a type of a greater display in the mission of the Messiah.

1. In all ages. In the days of the patriarchs and of the prophets. To Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Micah

2. To all people. Jews and Gentiles. God’s mercy and truth are alike pledged to perform his word. “For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these things.”

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Micah 7:15. Here is a present and full answer to the Church’s prayer; so ready is the Lord to fulfil the desire 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 certain type of thy spiritual redemption by Christ. Lo, this 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) [Trapp].

Micah 7:16-17. The subjugation of the enemies of God’s people, a proof,

1. of Divine power over men;
2. Divine goodness to the Church;
3. a ground of encouragement to trust God.

Micah 7:18. God delights in mercy. Illustrate and prove the text.

1. Scripture proves this truth. In its laws, doctrines, histories, and promises.

2. The works of God prove this truth. The world made for the theatre of mercy, providence displayed in giving mercy.

3. All the perfections of God are employed to illustrate this mercy. God’s name emblazoned in mercy, his hands employed in bestowing mercy. Power, wisdom, justice and truth are on the side of mercy. Let us delight in mercy [Dr. R. Vaughan]. The text is also illustrated: By the beauty and fitness of creation. By the great regard paid to mercy and the merciful in the word of God. By the teachings of providence. By the commission that he gave his Son. By the purpose for which the ungodly are spared. By the urgent way in which God asks sinners to be reconciled to him. By the way in which he receives and pardons sinners. By the way in which he deals with the infirmities of his own people. By the reception he gives them at the end of life. Learn: how had it been with us if God had revealed all concerning himself except his mercy? He might as well not have revealed it, if we have not sought and found it. If we have not found mercy, there is every encouragement to seek it. Let us seek more of this mercy, and show it more to others every day [Class and Desk].

Micah 7:19. He will subdue our iniquities. The term subdue (lit. tread under-foot) is military, and indicates spiritual warfare.

1. The enemies. “Iniquities.” Many, powerful, within and without.

2. The conquest. We are helpless. “Mine iniquities prevail against me.” Hence

(1) Divine. “He” will, &c.

(2) complete. “He will subdue.”

3. The means of conquest. Faith in Christ. Grace in the heart. Sanctification by the Spirit. “By my Spirit, saith the Lord.” “We have purified our souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit.”

God’s pardon.

1. Unequalled in method.
2. Incessant in exercise.
3. Unmerited in principle.
4. Immeasurable in degree.
5. Blessed in results.

Micah 7:20.

1. The different aspects of God’s covenant. Mercy to Abraham, truth to Jacob, an oath to the fathers.

2. The certainty of its performance. Spoken, written, and sworn to.
3. The confidence which this should beget in our minds. God is mindful of his people, and faithful to his word. “Thou wilt perform,” &c.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 7

Micah 7:18. Mercy and pardon. Mercy hath but its name from misery, and is no other thing than to lay another’s misery to heart [Binney]. The forgiveness that there is with God is such as becomes him, such as is suitable to his greatness, his goodness, and all other excellencies of his nature; such as that therefore by which he will be known to be God. It is not like that narrow, difficult, halving, and manacled forgiveness, that is found among men; but it is full, free, bottomless, boundless, absolute; such as becomes his nature and his excellencies [Owen].

Micah 7:19-20. A merchant that keeps a book of debit and credit, writes both what is owing him, and what he oweth himself, and then casteth up the whole; but God does not so, his mercy is triumphant over his justice, and therefore he wipes out what we owe him, and writes down what he owes us by promise; much like the clouds that receive ill vapours from us, yet returning them to us again in sweet refreshing showers. [Nath. Shute, 1626]. Truth. The revolutions caused by the progress of truth are always beneficial to society, and are only burthensome to those who deceive and oppress [Du Marsais]. The light of God’s truth must not be left to burn secretly within the recesses of the sanctuary, but must be applied to the kindling of a thousand torches in the hands of those who are commissioned to carry it forth into the thick darkness of a sinful world [Blomfield].

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Micah 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/micah-7.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.