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God's controversy for unkindness, for ignorance, for injustice, and for idolatry.
Before Christ 710.
Micah 6:1. Hear ye now, &c.— This is a new discourse, addressed to the ten tribes. The Lord commands the prophet to call Israel to judgment before the mountains and the hills, and to receive the condemnation of their ingratitude, infidelity, injustice, and impiety.
Micah 6:2. And ye strong foundations of the earth— And ye valleys in the lower parts of the earth. Houbigant. Schultens has it, Ye abiding,—or everlasting foundations, &c. And instead of testify against me, Micah 6:3. Houbigant reads answer me.
Micah 6:5. From Shittim unto Gilgal— From Shittim even unto the mountainous places, whither Balak carried Balaam, that he might thence curse the people of Israel. The original word is הגלגל hagilgal, the root whereof is גל gal, a heap, or high place. See Genesis 46:34; Genesis 46:34. Balak was beyond Jordan, at its eastern bank, where we do not read of there having been any such place as Gilgal; for the Gilgal where the ark continued for some time was situated on this side Jordan. Instead of righteousness, Houbigant reads goodness. See his note, and Calmet.
Micah 6:6. Wherewith shall I come, &c.— This is the answer of the people; they offer nothing in their justification; they oppose nothing to what the Lord hath said; for what could they say against a God who had convinced them in so strong and affecting a manner? They declare themselves ready to offer any expiatory sacrifice, however costly, if that would propitiate the displeasure of the Almighty, and avert his judgments; representing exactly the temper of hypocrites and habitual sinners, who hope to obtain God's favour by performing the external duties of religion.
Micah 6:7. Of rivers of oil— Of fatted sheep. Houbigant. The LXX read, Fat kids. It was usual with the Phoenicians, in great dangers, to offer to their gods the dearest of their children. See 2 Kings 3:27.
Micah 6:8. He hath shewed thee, O man, &c.— See here the true spirit of the law of the Lord! See here what makes a true Israelite! A truth, which the carnal Jews could never comprehend. In vain did their legislator and their prophets inculcate it upon every occasion. They had always recourse to their gross conceptions, their attachment to sacrifices, and merely external services: herein they imagined their piety, their religion, to consist; while they neglected the more essential duties of man, and the practice of the most solid virtues, justice, benevolence, and piety. Compare Titus 2:12. Houbigant reads, I will shew thee, O man, &c.
Micah 6:9. The Lord's voice crieth, &c.— The voice of the Lord crieth to the city, that there may be salvation to him who shall fear his name: they have heard him rebuking; but who yet acknowledged him? Micah 6:10. While there are, &c. Houbigant.
Micah 6:11. Shall I count them pure, &c.— Shall I use the wicked balance, and the stones of deceitful weight, that I may absolve this city. Micah 6:12. Whose rich men are full, &c. Houbigant.
Micah 6:13. Sick— Sore. Schultens.
Micah 6:14. Thy casting-down shall be, &c.— Darkness shall be upon thee; thou shalt fly away, but shalt not escape; and if any one shall escape, I will give him up to the sword. See Houbigant and the LXX.
Micah 6:16. For the statutes of Omri are kept— Because thou keepest the statutes, &c. and followest their counsels, that I should make thee a desolation, and thine inhabitants a hissing; therefore, &c. See Houbigant.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, This chapter begins a new subject.
1. The prophet is summoned to arise, and contend before the mountains; he must cry so loud, that the hills may echo again, publicly to expose the shame of Israel, and call even these inanimate creatures, the very foundations of the earth, to witness against the stupidity and insensibility of this people, who, when God spoke, turned a deaf ear to his admonitions. Note; They who plead earnestly for God, must cry aloud, though mockers revile the vehemence of their discourse.
2. The cause of this earnestness is, the controversy which God hath against his people, whose sins are great and aggravated, and call for vengeance upon them. Though they are called Israel, their national relation to God serves to aggravate their offence.
3. He expostulates with them on their base ingratitude. He challenges them to shew that he had ever done aught to provoke their ill-usage, or been a severe master to them in the services which he had enjoined them. He reminds them of the repeated and inestimable favours that he had showered upon them; bringing them from their bondage in Egypt, raising them up divinely-appointed leaders, guiding them safely through the wilderness, baffling the devices of Balak, and compelling Balaam, the prophet whom he had sent for to curse Israel, to answer him with blessings instead of curses upon their heads; from Shittim to Gilgal he brought them into the promised land, notwithstanding the abominations which they had committed with the Moabites: and all this was done that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord, the faithfulness of God to his promises, his goodness to them, and the justice of his present controversy against them for the base returns that they had made. Whenever he pleads against us, surely there is a cause.
2nd, Some suppose that the words contained in the 6th and 7th verses are the words of Israel, desiring to make up the controversy with Jehovah, and inquiring the way. Others suppose that they are the words of Balak to Balaam, solicitous to gain, at any rate, an interest in God to curse Israel, though at the expence of the sacrifice of his firstborn. In this latter sense,
1. Balak suggests his readiness to offer the most expensive sacrifices, even thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil, speaking hyperbolically; nay, if a more precious oblation was needful to make the atonement, even the fruit of his body, his first-born son, shall bleed: and this may be applied to the awakened sinner seeking reconciliation with God; trembling before his majesty, inquiring of his ministers what he must do to be saved, brought into the dust of humiliation, solicitous to avert his displeasure and obtain his favour; burthened with sin upon his conscience, to be relieved from which he could willingly part with the dearest thing that he possesses; not that aught we can do could ever satisfy offended justice. The blood of all mankind had never been able to make satisfaction for the least sin; the blood of Jesus alone is the effectual propitiation.
2. Balaam answers his inquiry. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; not external offerings, but moral duties are what he prescribes; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, administering impartial justice to his subjects, and seeing that none be oppressed with wrong; to love mercy, delighting in all acts of kindness and benevolence towards the distressed and indigent; and to walk humbly with thy God, acknowledging his own insignificance, and ascribing to God the glory due unto his name.
If we consider this as an answer given to a guilty conscience seeking reconciliation, we have, (1.) The object of faith proposed in the words thy God; in Christ Jesus he becomes such to the believing sinner, who, through the infinite merit and intercession of the Redeemer, is entitled to an interest in his favour and regard. (2.) The duty which God requires of those who truly turn to him, is not any outward thing merely, but the heart devoted to his will and service; and what he commands is not only good and right in itself, but good for us, conducing to our happiness as well as his glory. And this is, [1.] To do justice, rendering to all their due, and injuring none in body, soul, goods, or fame. [2.] To love mercy, not only extending relief to the necessitous, and pardoning every offence, but delighting to be employed in doing good, and counting the service its own reward. And, [3.] To walk humbly with God, conscious of the poverty and unprofitableness of our best services, submissive to his government, and resigned to his providences.
3rdly, Their ingratitude being too plain, God's controversy proceeds against them.
1. They are commanded to hearken. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, unto the capital, where wickedness most abounded; or to every city in the land: and the man of wisdom shall see thy name, adore his perfections legible in his providences, and in the judgments that he executes on the earth; this being the highest point of wisdom, to know God, and observe his agency in every dispensation. Hear ye the rod, the warnings that God gives in his word and providences, which the man of heavenly wisdom bids us remark; and see God's hand in the stroke, who hath appointed it, in time, measure, and duration, according to his appointing, permissive, or suffering will. Note; (1.) The voice of God's true ministers is the voice of God, and to be heard with reverence and submission. (2.) Every providence has a tongue, if we have but ears to attend the message that it brings. (3.) When we see that God has appointed the rod, it becomes us to bow down in silent resignation, solicitous only to answer the end for which our afflictions are sent.
2. A charge of fraud and violence is brought against them, for which God will not hold them guiltless. By scanty measures, and false weights, they increased their treasures; and the rich by violence and oppression filled their houses with spoil, of which, after all the warnings given them, they had not yet made restitution. And the inhabitants of inferior station, copying after their wealthier neighbours, by lies and deceit imposed on the unwary who dealt with them, and made no scruple of falsehood, in order to make the greater gain of their wares: and as they robbed one another, they robbed God also of his glory by foul idolatry. The statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab; the same abominations were practised as the wicked kings had enjoined, nor would its being the statute law of their kingdom be any exculpation of the crime; no authority can supersede the divine commands.
3. For these things God will judge them. Therefore will I make thee sick in smiting thee, with sore judgments, which should lay waste their kingdom, and make them desolate, because of their sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied, either wanting food, or the curse of God being upon their provision; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee, intestine discords should render them an easy conquest for the invading foe; their attempts to rescue their friends and families from captivity should be fruitless: or if they preserved a part, another enemy should quickly consume it. Their corn, wine, and oil should fail them, blasted, and never coming to maturity; or spoiled and devoured by the enemy. Thus they shall be made a desolation, Samaria, their capital, being destroyed by Salmaneser, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing, the whole land going into captivity, and treated with scorn and derision by their insulting conquerors; therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people, the wrath threatened against them in the law if they proved rebellious; or the reproach due to the oppressors for their cruelty and injustice to God's believing people. Note; (1.) When God will visit, he can permit a spirit of discord to go through a land, and make a sinful people their own executioners. (2.) None deserve severer reproach than those who, by their ungracious conduct, bring a dishonour upon the religious profession which they made.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Micah 6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17