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The cruelty of the princes. The falsehood of the prophets. The security of them both.
Before Christ 710.
Micah 3:3. And flay their skin from off them— Who, when ye have flayed the skin from off them, and broken their bones, then throw their flesh as into a pot, or cauldron. These are hyperbolical expressions, to set forth the covetousness and cruelty of the princes of Israel, who, like unnatural shepherds, acted the part of wolves toward their flocks.
Micah 3:5. And cry, Peace— "Who speak nothing but agreeable and friendly things, so long as any thing is given them to satisfy their covetousness; but who proclaim war, and become bitter enemies to those that do not put into their mouths what they demand." See Calmet. Instead of prepare war, we may read proclaim war.
Micah 3:6. And the sun shall go down, &c.— "You shall be in confusion, and in grief, despised and ill-treated; not able to open your mouth, when the people carried with you into captivity shall accuse you of the false and delusive counsels which you would have passed upon them as the oracles of God. Overtaken yourselves by dark days, and dismal calamities, as a just judgment for your frauds and impostures, you shall have no light or revelation from heaven; no answer from God;" Micah 3:7. See Calmet.
Micah 3:8. But truly I am full of power, &c.— "I speak with courage, fully assured that it is the spirit of God which animates me; and, in consequence hereof, I have the honesty and courage to reprove the crying sins of the nations, though practised and encouraged by the greatest of men; contrary to the base soothings and flatteries of the false prophets, for a little wine and strong drink." See Mic 3:11 and chap. Micah 2:11.
Micah 3:12. Therefore shall Zion—be plowed as a field— There is nothing that hinders us from referring this prophesy to the first destruction of Jerusalem; for, though the foundations of the walls were left, yet a great number of houses within the city were overturned, as well by the Chaldeans as by the Jews themselves; who possibly used the materials to repair the breaches made in the walls during the long siege that they underwent; when there could be no wonder if many places were plowed as a field, for the purposes of corn, which before were gardens and houses. See 1Ma 4:38. The prophesy, however, may have a farther respect to the total desolation of Jerusalem, when Terentius Rufus, by the order of Titus, plowed up the very foundations of it. See Houbigant and Calmet.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The higher the station, or the more sacred the office, the more dangerously influential will be an ill example, and the more aggravated is every transgression. The princes and priests, who should have been the support of religion, are chief in sin, and shall be chief in suffering.
1. The princes are arraigned and condemned. With great boldness the prophet charges their crimes upon their consciences, and bids them hear what the prince of the kings of the earth hath decreed concerning them. The duty of their station, as magistrates, required that they should be wise to know and impartial to administer justice: but the very reverse had their conduct been. They hate the good, the righteous man and his cause; and love the evil, approving the wicked, and countenancing them; or they hated goodness itself, and delighted in wickedness and oppression, like wild beasts tearing the flock of God's pasture, fleecing them to the very skin by their exactions and rapine; yea, to the very marrow they devoured them, breaking their bones, and chopping them as for the pot. For which barbarity and rapaciousness God threatens to cast out their prayer in the day of distress, and turn a deaf ear to their cries, as they have done to the cries of the oppressed. And just will be the retaliation.
2. The false prophets are next convicted, and their doom is read. They caused the people to err by their lies, crying Peace, when God had said, There is no peace: they bite with their teeth; either gnash upon the true prophets for their reproofs; or, so long as the people fed them well, they flattered them in their sins: and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him, denounce God's judgments against him, or stir up his neighbours or the princes to persecute him. For which wickedness they shall be brought into the night of dark and dismal calamities, and be for ever silenced, experience giving the lie to their divinations; or because of divination shall these evils come upon them; all their prosperity shall be at an end, their sun shall set, and darkness and dismay surround them: confounded and ashamed, they shall no more dare open their lips; for now it shall be evident to all, that they never had an answer from God, though they made use of his sacred name to preface their pretended revelations. Let those who usurp the office of God's ministers without a divine call remember that the day is near when their sin and shame shall be made manifest to all.
2nd, In opposition to the character of the false prophets Micah declares,
1. Whence he received his commission, and how he discharged it. The Spirit of the Lord had called him, and furnished him with gifts and graces for the work of his ministry; therefore he could say, truly I am full of power: he speaks with confidence; for he knew that he said no more than the truth: and of judgment and of might; he feared neither the many nor the mighty; he delivered his message with dignity, as one having authority; with zeal for God's glory and the good of men's souls; and with judgment, discretion guiding his zeal; and his discernment was clear, both to distinguish truth from falsehood, and to know how to speak a word in season; therefore, being thus qualified for his ministry, he boldly declared to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin, whether they would hear or whether they would forbear. Note; (1.) Those whom God calls into the ministry he qualifies for it. (2.) They who go to bear testimony against a sinful people, need much courage and fidelity to discharge their trust.
2. Being thus sent on God's errand, he, without respect of persons, delivers his message, and calls upon the heads of Jacob, the princes, priests, and prophets, who had been the ringleaders in sin, to hear God's righteous judgments. The princes, as magistrates, abhorred justice, and perverted the law to oppression; the highest bribe with them ever carried the cause, and nothing could be transacted without a fee. They sucked the very blood of the poor, or murdered the innocent to seize their goods, and then built them stately palaces at Jerusalem, or ornamented the temple with the wages of their iniquity. The priests, equally mercenary, and lovers of filthy lucre, taught for hire, not for God's glory, or the good of men's souls; and, if they were well paid, they readily suited their doctrine to the palate of their hearers. The prophets also divined for money; they who inquired of them were sure to hear good news, if they paid them well: and yet, notwithstanding these abominations, They lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? Because they had the temple and the outward ordinances, they flattered themselves that they had God's favour and presence among them; and therefore no evil can come upon us; as if their external privileges would be their protection: but they were fatally deceived; as all will be, who rest on the form while they deny the power of godliness. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, &c. Their sins had provoked God to send utter destruction on the temple and city in which they placed their confidence; not a stone shall be left on another, but the whole be reduced to a ruinous heap; which was in great measure done by the Chaldeans, and most literally fulfilled by the Romans. Note; (1.) Ministers must know no respect of persons when they speak in God's name, but rebuke the greatest with all authority. (2.) Nothing is so opposite to the character of Christ's ambassadors, as that of serving for hire, and loving filthy lucre. (3.) Outward privileges abused aggravate the guilt and hasten the ruin of sinners, while they are placing their confidence in them. (4.) The sins of the great bring down those judgments which overwhelm their own country with desolation.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Micah 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany