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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Micah 2

 

 

Verse 1

Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Ver. 1. Woe to them that devise iniquity] Or, labour, affliction, vanity, a lie. The Hebrew word Aven is of large use; applied to all kinds of sin which causeth pain, sorrow, and misery; and here in particular to covetousness, that root of all evil to a man’s self and others, 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Our prophet flings a woe at it, as doth likewise Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:9, calling it an evil covetousness, as the prophet Isaiah tells us, that for the iniquity of his covetousness God was wroth with Israel and smote him, Isaiah 57:17. The world counts it a light offence; and casts a cloak of good husbandry over it, 1 Thessalonians 2:5. But this disguise will serve such no better than that which Ahab once put on and perished. "Let no man deceive you with vain words" (those plastered words, πλαστοις λογοις, 2 Peter 2:3, used by bell’s proctors): "for because of these things" (sc. fornication, covetousness, &c., those peccadillos as they are counted) "cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience," Ephesians 5:6. For what reason? They devise iniquity, cogitant quasi coagitant, they plot and plough mischief, being men of wicked devices, Proverbs 14:2, talking again to themselves, as that covetous wretch did, Luke 12:17, beating their brains about their worldly projects, and resting no more, no, not upon their beds by night (a time and place appointed for rest, when men should together with their clothes put off their cares, and compose themselves to sleep, that nurse of nature, and sweet parenthesis), than one doth upon a rack or bed of thorns.

Thus they work evil upon their beds] They work hard at it, having the devil for their taskmaster, who shall therefore also be their paymaster. He hath their souls here as in a sling, 1 Samuel 25:29, violently tossed about and restless; they are his drudges and dromedaries, driven about by him at his pleasure, 2 Timothy 2:26, wholly acted and agitated by him, Ephesians 2:2, having as many lords as lusts, wherewith their hearts are night and day exercised, 2 Peter 2:14, without intermission. See this in Felix, who at the same instant trembled and coveted a bribe; in Ahab, who, sick of Naboth’s vineyard, laid him down upon his bed, but rested not, 1 Kings 21:4. His heart did more afflict and vex itself with greedy longing for that bit of earth than the vast and spacious compass of a kingdom could counter comfort.

When the morning is light they practise it] And so they lose no time, being up and at it by peep of day; when others are fast asleep, and so more easily surprised and circumvented by them. The morning is the most precious part of the day; and should be employed to better purpose. But "wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, as saith the proverb of the ancients," 1 Samuel 24:13, and as they like not to have God in their heads, Psalms 10:4, nor hearts, Psalms 14:1, so neither in their words, Psalms 12:4, nor ways, Titus 1:16, but the contrary; surely Satan is rightly called the god of this world; because as God at first did but speak the word and it was done, so, if the devil do but hold up his finger, give the least hint, they are ready pressed to practise.

Because it is in the power of their hand] The Vulgate hath it, Because their hand is against God; and, indeed, the same word El signifieth God and power. The Seventy render it, Because they have not lifted up their hands to God (an exercise proper and fit for the morning, Psalms 5:4). The Tigurine, Quia viribus pollent, They have strength enough to do it. Their hand is to power (so the original hath it), that is, saith Calvin, quantum possunt, tantum audent, they dare do their utmost, they will try what they can do; their hand is ever ready to rake and scrape together commodity; neither can they be hindered either by the fear of God or any respect to righteousness. Nihil cogitant quod non idem patrare ausint. (De Monachis, Lutherus).


Verse 2

Micah 2:2 And they covet fields, and take [them] by violence; and houses, and take [them] away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

Ver. 2. And they covet fields, and take them by violence] See here the several degrees of sin, and what descents covetous men dig to hell, and beware betimes. Surely as the plot of all diseases lies in the humours of the body, so of all sin in the lust of the soul. The heathen could say (Laertins),

Pαντων μεν πρωτιστα κακων επιθυμια εστιν.

Covetousness is called the lust of the eyes, 1 John 2:16, because from looking comes lusting, from lusting acting (hence lusts of the soul are called deeds of the body, Romans 8:13), yea, acting with violence, they covet and take, they rob and ravish, Psalms 10:9, there is neither equity nor honesty to be had at their hands; but as they take away fields, houses, heritages shamelessly; so they bear them away boldly, and think to escape scot free; because it is facinus maioris abollae (Juvenal), the fact of a great one, whose hand is to power, as Micah 2:1.

And houses, and take them away] Though a man’s house be his castle, as we say, yet it cannot secure him from these cormorants. Scribes and Pharisees devoured widows’ houses, Matthew 23:14, where was a concurrence of covetousness and cruelty, for these seldom go sundered, besides the putrid hypocrisy of doing this under a pretence of long prayers. A poor man in his house is like a snail in his shell; crush that and you kill him.

So they oppress (or defraud) a man and his house] Either by fraud or force, by craft or cruelty, they ruin a man (a well-set man, virum validum, גבר) and his family, his whole progeny; which might not be done to the unreasonable creatures, Deuteronomy 22:6. This is to be like Uladus, that cruel prince of Valachia; whose manner was, together with the offender, to execute the whole family; yea, sometimes the whole kindred.


Verse 3

Micah 2:3 Therefore thus saith the LORD Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time [is] evil.

Ver. 3. Behold, against this family do I devise an evil] They had devised iniquity, Micah 2:1, and now he deviseth their misery. God usually retaliates, and proportions provocation to provocation, Deuteronomy 32:21, frowardness to frowardness, Psalms 18:26, contrariety to contrariety, Leviticus 26:18; Leviticus 26:21, and device to device, as here. He loves to pay sinners home in their own coin; and to make them know, by sad experience, and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Lord and his fear, Jeremiah 2:19. Woe be to that man against whom the Almighty sets himself to devise an evil; such a one shall find, that thought is not free (as that pestilent proverb would make it), either from the notice of God’s holy eye, the censure of his mouth, or the stroke of his hand, see Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 6:19, Revelation 2:23, Deuteronomy 29:19. And this nature itself had some notion of, as appeareth by his censure who judged that Antiochus did therefore die loathsomely, because he had but an intent to burn Diana’s temple (Polybius). Fecit quisque quantum voluit, saith Seneca; and Incesta est, et sine stupro, quae stuprum cupit, saith the same author. Vain thoughts are very sins, and expose men to punishment; these shall either excuse or accuse at the last day, Romans 2:15. Meanwhile, God is devising what to do to them; he is preparing his bow and making ready his arrows upon the string, even a Tophet of the most tormenting temper will shortly swallow them up, without true and timely repentance.

From which ye shall not remove your necks] It shall so halter and hamper you, that, like "fishes taken in an evil net, and as birds caught in a snare, so shall ye be snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon you," Ecclesiastes 9:12, ye shall never be able either to avoid it or to abide it. But as the bird in a gin, the fish on the hook, the more it strives the more it sticks ( Sic laqueos fera, dum iactat, astringit. Sen.); and as the bullock under the yoke, the more he wriggles the more he galls; so shall it be here. Your fair necks, that would not bear the easy yoke of God’s obedience, shall be ridden on by the enemy and bound to your two furrows, Hosea 10:10-11; yea, a yoke of iron shall be put upon thee, until thou be destroyed, Deuteronomy 28:48.

Neither shall ye go haughtily] Heb. Romah; and hence haply Roma had its surname, from its height and haughtiness; according to that of the poet (Virg. Aeneid. I),

atque altae moenia Romae.

The meaning here is, God would deject and darken them, so as that they shall utterly lose their former renown and splendour. He will thrust them down, as it were, with a thump on the back, and there hold them. See Ezekiel 21:26-27; the scene shall be changed, and the haughty abased.

For this time is evil] Both sinfully and penally evil. The apostle seemeth to allude to this text when he saith, "Redeem the time, because the days are evil"; and "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof" ( κακια, i.e. κακωσις), that is, the misery of it, saith Christ, Matthew 6:34. And again, Those very days shall be affliction, θλιψις (so the Greek text hath it), Mark 13:19, as if the time were turned into affliction; because of that evil, that only evil, without mixture of mercy, Ezekiel 7:5, here foretold, and therefore foretold that it might have been prevented, ideo minatur Deus ut non puniat.


Verse 4

Micah 2:4 In that day shall [one] take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, [and] say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed [it] from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.

Ver. 4. In that day shall one take up a parable, &c.] In that day, that doleful and dismal day of their calamity.

Shall one] Any one that is moved at your misery, and would work you to a sense of your sin, the mother of your misery.

Shall take up a parable] Tristem et querulam, sad and sorrowful.

And lament with a doleful lamentation] Heb. with a lamentation of lamentations, or with heigh-ho upon heigh-ho, as the word seems to signify.

We be utterly spoiled] Plundered to the life, laid naked to the very foundation, Micah 1:6, put into such a condition as that there is neither hope of better nor place of worse.

He hath changed the portion of my people] That is, God, or the Assyrian, by God’s appointment, hath taken away our country, and given it to strangers. The Pope took upon him, in Henry VIII’s days, to give England, Primo occupaturo, to him that could first win it. This brutum fulmen briding of lighning came to nothing; but when God’s people changed their glory for that which profited not, Jeremiah 2:11, he soon changed their portion; he caused that good land to spew them out, he turned their weal into woe, and brought wrath upon them to the utmost. Neither profited it them any more to have been called God’s people than it did Dives in flames, that Abraham called him son; or Judas, that Christ called him friend.

How hath he removed it from me!] This is lamentation-like indeed, see Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 4:1, all beginning with the same word, How. The speech is concise and abrupt, meet for mourners. There is an elegance in the original not to be translated. How uncertain are all things here! God sits upon the circle of the earth, and shakes out the inhabitants at pleasure, as by a canvas, Isaiah 40:22. Persons and things are said to be in heaven, but on earth; on the outside of it only, where they have no firm footing. Dionysius was driven out of his kingdom; which yet he thought was tied to him with chains of adamant, saith the historian (Aelian. lib. 2).

Turning away (from us as a loathsome object, being so incorrigibly flagitioas) he hath divided our fields] sc. to the enemy for a reward, as he gave Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar for his pains at Tyre. Or thus. Instead of restoring (which now we are hopeless of) he hath divided our fields, our fertile and fat country, to those that will be sure to hold their own in it, as the Gauls and Goths did in Italy, after they had once tasted the sweetness of it. Vatablus rendereth the text thus: How hath he taken from me those fields of ours, which he seemed ready to restore! He hath even divided them, sc. to others.


Verse 5

Micah 2:5 Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.

Ver. 5. Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot] Fields were divided with cords of old, and inheritances also. See Psalms 16:5; Psalms 105:11; Psalms 78:55, 2 Samuel 8:2. This hope is henceforth cut off from revolted Israel; the ten tribes never returned, the other two did, and some few of the ten among them. Whether upon their conversion to Christ they shall be restored to the promised land, Time, the mother of Truth, will make manifest.

In the congregation of the Lord] So you were once, but now nothing less. A congregation ye are still, but of malignants; a rabble of rebels conspiring against heaven. A name ye have to live, but ye are dead; ye cry out Templum Domini, The temple of the Lord are we; but in truth ye are no better than those Egyptian temples, beautiful without, but within nothing to be seen but a cat, rat, or some such despicable creature. Here they are called the congregation of the Lord by an irony, as the Cardinal of Ravenna is so called by way of derision.


Verse 6

Micah 2:6 Prophesy ye not, [say they to them that] prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, [that] they shall not take shame.

Ver. 6. Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy] Prodigious impudence thus to silence the prophets, or else to prescribe to them, according to the other reading of the text. Prophesy not, as they prophesy, for they are too tart; therefore drop not ye, who thus drop vinegar and nitre, who vex our galled consciences no less then the cruel Spaniards do the poor Indians’ naked bodies, which, for a sport, they do day by day drop with burning bacon. But let these drop that can smooth us up, that can utter toothless truths, that will drop oil into our ears, and give us silken words ( byssina verba), these be prophets for our turns, &c. God cannot please some hearers unless he speak tinkling and tickling words. Now, these must get their ears healed (as Demosthenes advised his countrymen of Greece) ere they can be in case to hear with profit. They must learn of bees, to pass by roses and violets and sit upon thyme; to heed, I mean, sound rebukes rather than smooth supparasitations. There are those who note a jeer in the term drop. It is well known that the word preached is often compared to rain, Deuteronomy 32:2, Isaiah 55:10-11. The prophets therefore are here in derision called droppers or distillers, and forbidden to do their office, or at least, to drop in that sort. Thus their successors in evil, the Pharisees, who were likewise covetous, derided Christ, Luke 16:14. And thus their predecessors also, in Isaiah’s time, put a scoff upon him and his preaching, Isaiah 28:10, where the sound of the words in the original carries a taunt, as scornful people, by the tone of their voice and rhyming words, gibe and jeer at those whom they vilify.

They shall not prophesy to them] q.d. You shall have your wish; my droppers shall give over dropping, and be no further troublesome, nor take shame any more by prophesying to such a perverse people, so shamefully, so lawlessly wicked.

That they shall not take shame] Or, shall they not take shame? q.d. though they will not hear of it, that shame shall be their promotion and confusion their portion; yea, they shall surely feel and find it so.


Verse 7

Micah 2:7 O [thou that art] named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? [are] these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

Ver. 7. O thou that art named the house of Jacob] That hast a name to live but art dead, Revelation 3:1; that art called a Jew, and makest thy boast of God, Romans 2:17; thou hast a form of knowledge, Romans 2:20, and a form of godliness, 2 Timothy 3:3; a semblance of sanctimony, Luke 8:18; acting religion, playing devotion, as if it were a name only, or as if it were enough to be named the house of Jacob, or to have his voice, though the hands are the hands of Esau, the practice nothing suitable to the profession. Thus many among us content themselves with the bare name of Christians, as if many a ship hath not been called safeguard or good speed which yet hath fallen into the hands of pirates. The devil will surely sweep and hell swallow all such Nominalists; such shall find that an empty title yields but an empty comfort at the last. What was Dives the better for this, that Abraham called him son, or Judas, that Christ called him friend, or the rebellious Jews,. that God styleth them his people? Doth he not elsewhere disclaim them, and call them a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity; the people of his wrath and of his curse? May not all formalists fear Jacob’s fear, Genesis 27:12, "My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver, and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing." Our heavenly Father will surely feel us in our addresses, and if he find us but complimenting and contenting ourselves to be called the house of Jacob, he will confute our vain confidences, and cut us out of the roll, as he did Dan and Ephraim, who were named the house of Jacob, and yet, for their wickedness, are passed by in the reckoning up of the twelve tribes, Revelation 7:4-8, as if they were soldiers put out of pay and cashiered.

Is the spirit of the Lord straitened?] Or shortened? Is he a penny father? Hath he but one blessing? Is there not with him "the residue of the spirit," Malachi 2:15; plenteous redemption, an exceeding abundant goodness, even to a super redundancy? υπερεπλεονασε, 1 Timothy 1:14. Where, then, is the fault that you are no more Jacob-like, plain hearted and persuasible; that ye refuse to be reformed, hate to be healed, saying to me, Depart, and to my prophets, Drop not, &c. Neither curse ye nor bless ye, as he said to Balaam. Wherein if they should hearken to you, and be ruled by you, yea, should you straitly threaten them with bonds to speak henceforth to no man in my name, as Acts 4:17; yet my word is not bound, 2 Timothy 2:9, but runs and is glorified, 2 Thessalonians 3:1; my Spirit is not straitened, but is free and not fettered. I tell you that if these (prophets) should hold their peace, and not drop, the stones would immediately cry out, Luke 19:40; which against change of weather do stand with great drops of water to confute your unyieldingness. "Turn ye therefore now at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you," Proverbs 1:23. I will do it howsoever; yea, in despite of you I will do it, as some sense the foregoing verse, reading it thus, and the original will bear it, Drop ye not, but they shall drop.

Are these his doings?] i.e. Such as God doth approve of, or rather, are these Jacob’s doings? Tread you in the steps of your father Jacob? Did he ever silence the prophets and withstand those that were sent unto him? Did he not rather lie low, put his mouth in the dust, and cry out, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth?" Good is the word of the Lord which ye have spoken. And whereas ye will be apt enough to reply that Jacob had no other cause, for the prophets never spake but good and comfortable things to him, it is answered in the next words:

Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?] Heb. upright; that pondereth his paths by the weights of my word, and turneth not to the right hand nor to the left, Proverbs 4:26-27, but walketh exactly, accurately, and precisely, Ephesians 5:15, keeping within my precincts. Do not my words do good to such, and speak they not peace to him? David felt it as sweet as honey, Psalms 119:103. But as honey causeth pain to exulcerate parts, though of itself it be sweet and medicinal, so doth the word of God to exulcerate consciences. Children, though they love to lick in honey, yet they will not endure to have it come near their lips when they have sore mouths: so is it here, δριμυ το μελι τοις ελκεσι. Excellently saith St Austin, Adversarius est nobis, quamdiu sumus et ipsi nobis. The word of God is adversary to none but such as are their own greatest adversaries. It may well be compared to Moses’s rod, which, while he held it in his hand, it flourished and brought forth almonds, but being cast on the ground it turned into a serpent. Did it not take hold of those refractories, Zechariah 1:6, that would not take hold of God’s covenant, and choose the things that pleased him? Isaiah 56:4. Does it not still sting wicked people with unquestionable conviction and horror, when as "great peace have they which love God’s law, and nothing shall offend them?" Psalms 119:165.


Verse 8

Micah 2:8 Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.

Ver. 8. Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy] Heb. yesterday, no longer ago; to all their former flagitious practices they have now newly added this of execrable rapine and robbery, which is still fresh, and as it were flagrant in mine eyes. Although the truth is, that God looketh upon former sins as presently committed, for as there is no beginning of eternity, so neither is there any succession. But let men take heed how they heap up sin, lest they heap up wrath, for although God may bear with people for one or two backslidings, yet when once it comes to three transgressions and to four, he will not turn away the punishment, Amos 1:2; and one new sin may set many old to work in the conscience, making it like Ezekiel’s scroll, wherein was written "lamentations, and mourning, and woe," Ezekiel 2:10. "Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the Lord," 2 Kings 9:26. The word signifieth last night, though it were done some while before. See the word yesterday so used by the apostle Hebraizing with his Hebrews, Hebrews 13:8. Some read the text thus, He that was yesterday my people is risen up on the other side as against an enemy, viz. raging against God and ranging against all men, biting all they came near, as mad dogs. See Isaiah 9:21, 1 Thessalonians 2:12; they please not God, but rise up in rebellion against him, and are contrary to all men, being rather Ishmaelites than Israelites, Genesis 16:12; and therefore not rightly named the house of Jacob (that plain man, Genesis 25:27, without welt or guard, guile or gall), nor could the word of the Lord do good unto them so long as their deeds were evil, and they "loved darkness rather than light," John 3:19.

To pull off the robe with the garment] Robbing and pillaging passengers with greatest inhumanity; not leaving them a rag to cover them or a cross to bless them with, as the proverb is. This was common in Scotland and Africa, saith Dameus here. It was in England also, till the days of King Alfred, who first divided the land into shires, and then the subjects into tenths or tithings; every one of which severally should give bond for the good bearing of each other. By this course men were not careful only of their own actions, but had an eye to all the nine, for which they stood bound, as the nine had over each. Insomuch that a poor girl might travel safely with a bag of gold in her hand, and none dared meddle with her.

From men that pass by securely, as men averse from war] There are a sort of such as delight in war, Psalms 68:30, that make a sport of it, as Abner, 2 Samuel 2:14; that take more pleasure in it than in an empire, as Justin saith of Pyrrhus, King of Epirots, Nulli maior ex imperio, quam illi ex belle fur voluptas. David was none such; and yet he wanted not for courage. His motto was, I am for peace, or (as the Hebrew hath it) I am peace. He had seen the woe of war, and knew well the lawlessness of it. The law is no more, saith the Church in the Lamentations, Lamentations 2:9. Inter arma silent leges, saith the heathen, The noise of wars drowns the voice of laws. A reverend man hath well observed, that as those three commandments, "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal," are ranked together in the law; so they are commonly violated, together, by unruly soldiers. Isaiah 13:16, "Their children also shall be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their waves ravished." These are the miseries of war. But what meant these miscreants to shed the blood of war in peace, 1 Kings 2:5, to strip the innocent and therefore fearless passenger of his raiment, as those thieves did him that went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, dreading no such danger, Luke 10:30; neither to rob him only, but to ravish him too, Psalms 10:8-10, that they might "find all precious substance, and fill their houses with spoil," Proverbs 1:13. And what meant the corrupt rulers to suffer it so to be, and not to brandish the sword of justice against such stigmatical Belialists?


Verse 9

Micah 2:9 The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.

Ver. 9. The women of my people] Or, the wives; once wives, but now widows, and therefore calamitous, friendless, comfortless, as a vine whose root is uncovered, as a wandering bird, or a nest forsaken, Isaiah 16:2.

Have ye cast out from their pleasant houses] Where they had long lived with their husbands in love, peace, and much sweetness, as good Naboth’s wife had. This was barbarous cruelty. God had taken order in the law, that none should harm a bird sitting upon her own nest, how much less a daughter of Abraham! Widows and orphans are his clients, Psalms 146:9.

From their children have ye taken away my glory] i.e. My maintenance and that livelihood that I had allowed them for their better education, which might have redounded to my great glory. Whereas now, being by you bereft both of friends and means, gemunt, fremunt, vobis maledicunt, clamantque vindictam in coelum, saith Montanus, they groan, they moan, they curse you, they cry to me for vengeance.


Verse 10

Micah 2:10 Arise ye, and depart; for this [is] not [your] rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy [you], even with a sore destruction.

Ver. 10. Arise ye and depart] Veteres migrate coloni, make up your fardels and prepare for a deportation. Here is no longer being for you unless ye were better. Behold, "the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants," Leviticus 18:25.

This is not your rest] As you falsely, fancy and vainly vaunt, binding upon the promise, but not performing the condition. It is the guile of graceless men to stuff themselves with promises, till they have made them a pillow for sin. Et sic praesumendo sperant, et sperando pereunt, they presume till they perish, as he did who died with this desperate saying in his mouth, Spes et fortuna valete, Farewell life and hope together.

Because it is polluted] sc. by your sin, which is of so sullying a nature that it defileth also the very visible heavens, which are therefore to be purged by the fire of the last day, like as those vessels that held the sin offering were either to be broken, if earthen, or to pass the fire if of better metal; they must not think to rest that let sin lie unrepented of in the conscience. But as a man that hath used himself to drink poison, at the first and second time he may do well, but the last it overcomes and destroys himself; so the next sin, though less, may set all the former to work. And as two poisons met in the stomach make a man restless, so sin and wrath, met in the conscience, raise a great garboil there. Neither must they think to dwell in God’s good land that will not live by God’s good laws, Isaiah 1:19, Psalms 107:39-40; they walk upon fireworks every moment ready to be blown up, "brimstone also is scattered upon their habitations," that is, the fire of God’s wrath do but lightly touch it, they are suddenly consumed. Eusebius telleth us of Dioclesian, that bloody persecutor of the Church, that giving over the empire, he decreed to lead the rest of his life quietly; but he escaped not so. For after that his house was wholly consumed with lightning and a flame of fire that fell from heaven, he hiding himself for fear of the lightning, died within a little after.

It shall destroy you even with a sore destruction] Dissipatione roborata saith Calvin. Perditione praecisa, saith Tremellius. The land longs for a vomit to spue you out, and it shall do it effectually. Poison given in wine works more furiously than in water. Woe be to that people or person whom God will "destroy with a violent destruction!" This he doth not willingly, or from his heart, Lamentations 3:35, but men’s sins compel him to it. Surely as many a fowl is shot with an arrow feathered from her own body, and as of the blackbird’s slime is made the lime whereby he is taken; so out of the dung of men’s sins doth God make his lime twigs (his judgments I mean) to take them also. Long they might rest would they but let him rest; but pollution is the forerunner of perdition.


Verse 11

Micah 2:11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, [saying], I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Ver. 11. If a man, walking in the spirit, &c.] Si vir ventosus, so Junius rendereth it, if a windy and false man lie, saying, &c. Let a man but feed them with vain hopes and frothy fancies; let him but make fair weather before them when the storm of God’s wrath is ready to break out upon them; let him promise them plenty of all things, and prophesy to them of wine and strong drink, as the Popish priests in Gerson’s time publicly preached to the people, that if any one would hear a mass he should not on that day be struck blind, nor die suddenly, nor want sufficient sustenance, &c. These call themselves the spirituality, or men of the Spirit (as Hosea hath it), as if all others to them were carnal, and destitute of the Spirit. They also, after the manner of those false prophets of old, take to themselves big swollen titles, and as they increase in their pretended holiness, so they proceed in their titles from Padre benedicto to Padre Angels, then Archangels, Cherubino, and lastly Serephino, which is the top of perfection. But what is all this more than a light flask, or a pillar of smoke, which the higher it mounteth the sooner it vanisheth? And what are all such vain boasters but gloriae animalia, popularis aurae mancipia vilia, animals of reknown, cheap slaves of the breeze of popularity, as Jerome calls Crates the philosopher? may it not fitly be said of them, as Hosea 9:7, "The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad," and as Ezekiel 13:3. Surely these are "foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing. O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts," &c. "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Jeremiah 5:31. All will be naught, no doubt. There is not a more dangerous creature than a parasitical prophet. Ezekiel calleth them the devil’s dirt daubers, Ezekiel 13:10, his upholsterers, for they sew pillows, &c. And these are prophets for this people, fit lettuce for such lips, dignum patella operculum, a singular plague of God upon the men of this world, who deserve to be deceived; for what reason? they have desired it, and it best pleaseth their vitiated palates. Most people, having first flattered themselves, are well content to be soothed up by others; and I cannot but accord him that saith, If there were judges ordained for flattery they would have no doings, there being so very few that will complain that they are flattered.


Verse 12

Micah 2:12 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of [the multitude of] men.

Ver. 12. I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee] An evangelical promise (saith Diodati, after others) of gathering together the universal Church, under the kingdom of Christ, contrary to the precedent dispersion, Micah 2:10. Assembling, I will assemble, and gathering, gather them, sc. into the bosom of the Church, called therefore ecclesia (as culled and collected out of the world), and Church, or Kirk, of Kυριακη; because it belongs to the Lord Christ, who gathereth his together as the hen doth her chickens, "and died not for that nation of Jews only, but that also he might gather together into one the children of God that were scattered abroad," John 11:51-52. Here he is called the breaker up, and his apostles likewise those that have broken up, and have passed through the gate, doing great exploits, and subduing souls to the obedience of the faith, as here in Britain, where Caesar himself could not break through, but

Territa quaesitis ostendit terga Britannis,

as Pompey in Lucan upbraids him. Hence Tertullian saith, Christ brake into those places of Brittany that the Romans could never come at, Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca Christo patueruut. He is that "king against whom there is no rising up," Proverbs 30:31. He is Jehovah on the head of his people, or in the forefront of them, as their captain general, to lead them on, Quasi antesignanus et ductor (Lapid.), and bring them off safely in all encounters. Habent ista amplissimam promissionem, saith Gualther here; this is an excellent promise, and carrieth in it a most sweet consolation. But I rather think it to be a continuation of the former threatening: "I will surely assemble them," sc. to the slaughter. I will gather them together, sc. that they may be broken in pieces, Isaiah 8:9. I will put them (or pen them up) together as the sheep of Bozrah, that are fat and fit, and appointed for the slaughter. See Isaiah 34:6. Bozrah was a rich pasture country in Edom, from whence most fat sheep and meet for meat were sent to the shambles.

As the flock in the midst of their fold] So will God first shut you up by strait sieges, and then number you out to the sword, and ye shall "all bow down to the slaughter," Isaiah 65:12. There is a memorable story of the suffering of certain good people in Calabria, A.D. 1560, by the hands of the bloody Papists there. A great sort of them being thrust up in one house together, as in a sheepfold, the executioner comes in, and among them takes one, and blindfoldeth him with a muffler about his eyes, and so leadeth him forth to a larger place, where he commandeth him to kneel down, which being done, he cutteth his throat, and so, leaving him half-dead, and taking his butcher’s knife and muffler, all of gore blood, cometh again to the rest; and so leading them one after another, he dispatched them all, to the number of eighty-eight. In Ireland many like barbarous butcheries have been committed by those breathing devils, the Romish rebels, those fat wolves, worrying Christ’s flock in the midst of the land, λυκοι βαρεις, Acts 20:29. But "shall they thus escape by iniquity?" No verily, "in thine anger cast down that people, O God," Psalms 56:7. Give them blood again to drink, for they are worthy. A Lapide saith, that Bozrah signifieth Rome, and that Micah here, after a sort, foretelleth that the Church of Rome should be the common sheepfold of the sheep of Christ, under one chief shepherd, the Pope. But this conceit is far fetched; and Rome (the slaughter house of the saints) is no otherwise Bozrah than that she is of Edom (the Rabbis for Dumah, Isaiah 21:11, read Roma, and call the court of Rome the wicked kingdom of Edom), and that her brats, as the vulture’s young ones, do glut glut blood (so the Hebrew soundeth, Job 39:30, יעלעו־דם), and where the slain are there is she.

They shall make a great noise] Heb. a humming noise. By reason of the multitude of men, or rather wolves, Lycanthropi, wherewith they are environed, to their no small heartbreak.


Verse 13

Micah 2:13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.

Ver. 13. The breaker is come up before them] The πτολιπορθος, τειχεσιπλητης, breach maker shall handle them hardly and cruelly, as galley slaves, or men condemned to the mine pits.

Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem.

They have broken up] Made havoc, and laid heaps upon heaps.

And their king shall pass before them] Not only fex populi, the dregs of the people, but Rex ipse, the king himself shall be carried captive, as were Hoshea and Zedekiah, the city being broken up, Jeremiah 52:7.

And the Lord on the head of them] Jehovah, that man of war, Exodus 15:3, going before them, as captain of the enemies’ forces, to avenge the quarrel of his covenant, Leviticus 26:25.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Micah 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/micah-2.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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