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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Micah 6

 

 

Verse 1

Micah 6:1 Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.

Ver. 1. Hear ye now what the Lord saith] Exordium breve est, sed plane patheticum, saith Gualther. This is a short, but pithy and pathetic preface, wherein he woos their attention: Audite quaeso, Hear, I pray you. Ministers are spokesmen for Christ, and must therefore give good words: and yet remembering on whose errand they come, it is required that they be found faithful, 1 Corinthians 4:2.

Arise, contend thou] Surge, age, O Micah! Debate thou God’s cause against this rebellious and ungrateful people, as it were in judgment; calling all, even the insensible creatures, to be judges. See the like Deuteronomy 32:1, Isaiah 1:2, Micah 1:2 (for these two prophets have many things common), and be sensible, that some sit as senseless before a preacher still as the seats they sit on, pillars they lean to, dead bodies they tread upon; so that we have need (as one did once in my hearing) to call to the walls and windows to hear the word of the Lord. This heavy ear is meted for a singular judgment, Matthew 13:13-14, Isaiah 30:8-9. The philosopher was angry with his Boeotians: telling them that they had not their name for nought, since their ears were ox ears, and that they were dull creatures, and incapable of counsel. Demosthenes also, for like cause, called upon his countrymen of Athens to get their ears healed; and Diogenes used to tell his tale to the statues and images, that he might inure himself to lose his labour, as he had so often done, in speaking to the people. Let us, to the wearing of our tongues to the stumps, preach and pray never so much, men will on in sin, said blessed Bradford, in that excellent sermon of his of repentance. We cry till we are hoarse (saith another rare preacher), we speak till we spit forth our lungs; but all to as little purpose as Bede did, when he preached to a heap of stones. Asino quispiam narrabat fabulam: at ille movebat aures. But shall people thus carry it away, and God lose the sweet words? Never think of it. Those that will not hear the word shall bear the rod, Micah 6:9 : and if they could but see their misery they would do as the prophet requires, cut their hair and cast it away, under the sense of the horror of God’s indignation, Jeremiah 7:27; Jeremiah 7:29, they would beg of God a hearing ear (which is as an earring of gold, Proverbs 25:12), and beseech him to make the bore bigger, that his word might enter; yea, to draw up the ears of their souls to the ears of their bodies, that one saving sound might pierce both at once. Let him that hath an ear to hear, hear; or if yet any think good to forbear, let him forbear, Ezekiel 3:27, but he will certainly repent it. He that now gives God occasion to call to the hills, &c., shall one day tire the deaf mountains, saying, Fall on me, hide me, dash and quash me in a thousand pieces. Oh that I might trot directly to hell, and not stay to hear that dreadful discedite, Go, ye cursed!


Verse 2

Micah 6:2 Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD’S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.

Ver. 2. Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy] Although the people would neither hear nor obey God, the prophet doth; and, according to command, he summoneth the mountains to hear and testify; the Lord seeming to say unto him, as once he did to Ezekiel, "But thou, son of man, be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house; but hear what I say unto thee, and do it." It might seem to him a senseless thing to cite the mountains. But he knew that if God command a thing, to argue or debate upon it were bold presumption, to search the reason of it proud curiosity, to detract or disobey it flat rebellion. To the mountains and foundations of the earth he applies himself; haply with like mind and in like manner as the host of Nola did to the churchyard, and there called at the graves of the dead, Oh, ye good men of Nola, come away; for the Roman censor calls for your appearance; for he knew not where to call for a good man alive.

And ye strong foundations of the earth] Those "roots of the mountains," Jonah 2:7; yet not so strong but God can shake them, Job 9:5-6, Nahum 1:5-6; and that by so weak a creature as air, gotten underground, and seeking a vent. He can lift them off their foundations, Deuteronomy 32:22, and carry them to another place to hear his controversy, as he did the hill in Herefordshire, A. D. 1571, and that other in the territories of Bern, that removing out of his place in an earthquake, covered a whole village, that had ninety families in it. {See Trapp on "Amos 1:1"}

For the Lord hath a controversy with his people] {See Trapp on "Hosea 4:1"} Learn to tremble before this great God, who "sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers," Isaiah 40:22; which he can shake out of their place at pleasure, and send them packing to hell. O consider what a fearful thing it is to be at controversy with God, and to have him both our accuser, witness, and judge. O the terror of the Lord at that great and last day of the world! Utinam ubique de hoc iudicio differetur! "Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us" (but they shall reply, We are witnesses against you for your detestable unthankfulness), "and to the hills, Cover us," Luke 23:30, but they shall echo out, Cover us; for who can dwell with this devouring fire? who can abide these everlasting burnings?

And he will plead with Israel] At which time they shall find that an empty title hath but an empty comfort; and that tribulation and anguish shall be on every soul of man that doeth evil: but of the Jew first, because of his privilege, and then of the Gentile, Romans 2:9. None so deep in utter darkness as those that once were angels of light. Let us all pray with holy David, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord," Psalms 143:2. And with Job, "If thou shouldest contend with me, I could not answer thee one of a thousand," Job 9:2-3. And with Daniel, "O Lord, righteousness belongs unto thee; but to us confusion of face, because we have sinned against thee," Daniel 9:7-8.


Verse 3

Micah 6:3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.

Ver. 3. O my people, what have I done unto thee?] Or rather, what have I not done to do thee good? "O generation, see ye the word of the Lord," and not hear it only; was ever anything more evidencing and evincing than what I now allege? "Have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of darkness?" Jeremiah 2:31. May I not well say unto you, as Themistocles did to his ungrateful countrymen, What? are ye weary of receiving so many benefits from one man? But say, What harm have I ever done you? and wherein have I wearied you, or been troublesome to you? unless it be by daily loading you with lovingkindnesses, Psalms 68:19, and bearing with your provocations? Forgive me that injury, 2 Corinthians 12:13.

Testify against me] "Put me in remembrance, let us plead together, declare thou against me, that thou mayest be justified," Isaiah 43:26. See here, first, with what meekness and mildness God proceedeth against sinners: so Isaiah 5:3. Iudicate quaeso. See, next, that God is content, for our better confliction, to submit his courses unto scanning, and to bring his proceedings with us to a trial before he pass sentence; that "he might be justified when he speaketh, and cleared when he judgeth," Psalms 51:4. Here he wills them to plead the cause with him, as it were at even hand; offering to make answer to whatsoever they could object or lay to his charge. Seipsum quasi reum sistit (Gaulther). He maketh himself the defendant, and bids them put in their bill of complaint against him, freely and without fear. This is stupenda sane dignatio, a wonderful condescension indeed. Should he use martial law against us, and as soon as ever we offend (like Draco) write his laws in blood upon us (as one well saith), it were but just and right. But for him to reason and plead with us about the justice of his cause before he proceeds to judgment, this deserves admiration and acknowledgment in the highest degree. O the depth!


Verse 4

Micah 6:4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Ver. 4. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt] Here God twits them with his former favours; which he never doth but in case of brutish unthankfulness. Now there was brutish, and worse. To render good for evil is divine; good for good is human; evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good devilish. This makes God, contrary to his custom, upbraid people with what he hath done for them; and angrily call for his love tokens back again, as Hosea 2:9. For their deliverance out of the Egyptian servitude how great a mercy it was, {See Trapp on "Hosea 11:1"} such as they were again and again charged never to forget, Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 26:5-12. How much more bound are we to God for our redemption by Christ! for what is Pharaoh to Satan? Egypt to this present evil world? Egyptian bondage to sin’s slavery? Seeing then that our God hath given us such deliverance as this, should we again break his commandments? Well might the hills and mountains testify against such a monstrous unthankfulness and disingenuity.

And redeemed thee out of the house of servants] Gradatim progreditur, saith Calvin. It was something to be brought out of the land of Egypt, a most superstitious place, where they turned the glory of the incorruptible God to the similitude of the image of a corruptible man, Romans 1:23 (for they deified their king, Osiris), and of birds (for they worshipped the hawk and ibis), and of four-footed beasts (for they worshipped an ox, a dog, a cat, a swine), and of creeping things, for they worshipped the crocodile, ichneumon, &c., yea, they worshipped plants and pot herbs. Hence Juvenal,

Felices genres, quibus haec nascuntur in hortis Numina ” -

To be brought out, therefore, from among such hateful idolaters was no small favour, lest they should smell of their superstitions, as Micah’s mother did after all that erring sin in the desert, 17:3; and Jeroboam, by being there a while, had learned calf worship; hence that strict charge never to make league with them. But to be redeemed out of the house of servants was more; out of the iron furnace, Deuteronomy 4:20, Jeremiah 11:4, where they wrought night and day in latere et luto, Exodus 1:11, in setting up those famous pyramids and treasure cities for Pharaoh, where they served with rigour, Exodus 1:13; their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, Exodus 1:14, till God withdrew their shoulders from the burden, and their hands did leave the pots, Psalms 81:6, "till they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone," Exodus 24:10, to show that God had now changed their condition, their bricks made in their bondage to sapphires. Confer Isaiah 54:11, and consider what God hath done for us, by bringing us into the glorious liberty of his own children, who were once the devil’s drudges and dromedaries, "serving divers lusts and pleasures," Titus 3:3, which gave laws to our members, Romans 7:23, and held us under in a brutish bondage, much worse than the heathen’s mill house, the Turks’ galleys, Bajazet’s iron cage, the Indian mines, or Egyptian furnace. For there, if they did their task they escaped stripes; but here, let men do the devil never such doughty service, they are sure of scourges and scorpions after all, armies and changes of sorrows and sufferings, terrors and torments, without any the least hope of ever either mending or ending. This should make us lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to our most powerful Redeemer; saying with St Paul, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen," 1 Timothy 1:17.

And I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam] As three principal guides, and Miriam for one who did her part among the women, Exodus 15:20, and having a prophetic spirit, became a singular instrument in the hand of God, who spake by her, Numbers 12:2. But her weak head was not able to bear such a cup of honour without being intoxicated; which caused her father to spit in her face, Numbers 12:2; Numbers 12:14. Her death is recorded in Scripture, Numbers 20:1, but not her age, as is Sarah’s, Genesis 23:1. Some have observed that God thought not fit to tell us of the length of the life of any woman in Scripture but Sarah, to humble that sex. But as souls have no sexes, so of some women (such as were Miriam, Deborah, the Virgin Mary, Priscilla, Blandina, the Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth) it may be said, that in them, besides their sex, there was nothing woman-like or weak: as if (what philosophy saith) the souls of these noble creatures had followed the temperament of their bodies, which consist of a frame of rarer rooms of a more exact composition than man’s doth. It is possible that Miriam might (till that matter of emulation between her and Moses’s wife occured) be as helpful to Moses and Aaron as Nazianzen’s mother was to his father; not a help fellow only, but a doctress and governess, Non solum adiutricem in pietate, sed etiam doctricem et gubernatricem (Nazian.).


Verse 5

Micah 6:5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

Ver. 5. O my people, remember now what Balak] There must be a recognition of God’s mercies, or else there will neither follow estimation nor retribution; else we that should be as temples of his praises shall be as graves of his benefits. Our souls are naturally like filthy ponds, wherein fish die soon and frogs live long; rotten stuff is remembered, memorable mercies are forgotten; whereas the soul should be as a holy ark, the memory like the pot of manna preserving holy truths, as the law; and special blessings, as Aaron’s rod, fresh and flourishing. This Israel did not, and are therefore justly blamed, Psalms 106:7; Psalms 106:13; Psalms 106:21, and here again reminded of one signal mercy among many, that they might take notice of the enemies’ malignity, God’s benignity, and their own indignity and ingratitude, that parching wind, that drieth up the fountain of Divine favours, Ventus urens et exsiccans.

What Balak king of Moab consulted] Joshua saith, that he arose and fought against Israel, Joshua 24:9, that is, he had a good mind to have fought, but he did not because he dared not. So Esther 8:7. Haman is said to have laid his hand upon the Jews, because he intended and attempted such a matter. They, that is the Sortilegi, or Lot-sorcerers, with whom, Balak-like, he consulted, "cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month," Esther 3:7; viz. to find out what month or day would be lucky for the accomplishment of his intended massacre of the Jews; but before that black day came Mordecai was advanced and Haman hanged. Now, as there, by the special providence of God over ruling the superstition of that wicked wretch, way was made for the preservation of God’s people; so was it here. Balak consulted, and Balaam answered him; that is, he was as willing to curse as the other would have had him, but might not; for God would not hearken unto him, but blessed his people still, and delivered them out of his hand, Joshua 24:10. Yea, though at length he was resolved to curse howsoever, and therefore went not forth as at other times to seek for enchantments, but set his face towards the wilderness, as if he would do the deed, whatever came of it, Numbers 24:1; yet his endeavour was fruitless and frustrated. So shall the malicious attempts of Rome and hell be against the Reformed religion and the professors thereof (whom the Romish Balaam banns and curses with bell, book, and candle at the instigation of the Spanish Balak, with his factors the Jesuits), so long as they adhere to him, and pray as Psalms 109:26-29, "Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy: that they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it. Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed: but let thy servants rejoice. Salvation is of the Lord: his blessing is upon his people."

From Shittim unto Gilgal] Oratio elliptica: q.d. Remember what I did for you at Shittim in the wilderness, and so all the way until you came into the promised land, even to Gilgal, where you first pitched tent, Joshua 5:8-10. At Shittim it was, where, by the pestilent counsel of Balaam (the devil’s spellman), the Midianites out witted them, by setting fair women before them as a stumblingblock, Numbers 25:1; Numbers 25:18, to draw them to those two sisters sins, adultery and idolatry. Then and there the heads of the people were hanged up before the Lord against the sun, and some others; when as God might justly have cut them all off, and cast them away from being a people before him, Digni qui funditus delerentur (Gualth.). Nonne illic refulsit admirabilis Dei gratia? saith Calvin; was not this a miracle of God’s mercy?

That ye may know the righteousness of the Lord] i.e. The faithfulness and goodness of God in keeping promise with your fathers, notwithstanding your provocations. Or my righteous dealings with those fornicators and adulterers, whom I there judged; preserving the innocent, or penitent, till they came to Gilgal, and onwards. Or, that thou mayest know how just my complaint is of thee, and mine action against thee. So Vatablus expounds it.


Verse 6

Micah 6:6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, [and] bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

Ver. 6. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?] This is vox populi, the voice of the people now convinced in part; or at least of some one for them. Praestat herbam dare quam turpiter pugnare: Better yield than disgracefully hold out the contest. God, say they, hath the better of us; neither need he now call upon heaven and earth to arbitrate, nor on the mountains and strong foundations to hear the quarrel, for we are self-condemned, Titus 3:11. Our own consciences read the sentence against us, we have deserved to be destroyed; but O, what may we do to avert and avoid his wrath? "what shall we do that we might work the works of God?" John 6:28. Lo, this is the guise of graceless men; fain they would pacify God, and work themselves into his grace and favour by ceremonies and frivolous businesses; yea, they offer largely for a dispensation to live in their sins, which they had as lief be knocked on the head as part with. Interea per flexuosos circuitus fingunt se ad Deum accedere, a quo tamen semper cupiant esse remoti, saith Calvin; they fetch a compass about God, but care not to come near him. Heaven they would either steal if they could, or buy at any hand, if they might; fain would they pass e coeno ad coelum, a deliciis ad delicias, from Delilah’s lap to Abraham’s bosom; fain they would (as one saith) dance with the devil all day, and then sup with Christ at night. They seem here very inquisitive and solicitous about their soul’s health; they give the half turn, sed ad Deum usque non revertuntur, but they return not even to God; like a horse in a mill, they move much, but remove not at all; like those silly women, 2 Timothy 3:6-7, or as ants that run to and fro about a mole hill, but grow not greater.

And bow myself before the high God] Or, shall I bow myself, will that, or any like bodily exercise, please him or pacify him? If cringing or crouching will do it, if sackcloth and ashes, if hanging down the head and going softly, if penances and pilgrimages, &c., hypocrites do usually herein outdo the upright. Doth the publican look with his eye on the ground? the hypocritical Jews will hang down their heads like bulrushes. Doth Timothy weaken his constitution by abstinence? the Pharisee will never give over till his complexion be wholly withered and waned. Doth Paul correct his body with milder correction, as it were a blow on the cheek? the Jesuit will martyr his sides with the severe discipline of scorpions. But although God must be glorified with our bodies also, 1 Corinthians 6:20, and external service is required (whatever the Swenkfeldians say to the contrary), yet bodily exercise of itself profiteth little, 1 Timothy 4:8, and let those that brag of or bind upon their outward worship of Christ consider, that the devil himself in the demoniac of Gadara fell down and worshipped him. What comfort can there be in that which is common to us with devils? who, as they believe and tremble, so they tremble and worship. The outward bowing is the body of the action; the disposition of the soul is the soul of it.

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, &c.] Shall I prevent him, and propitiate him with burnt offerings? shall I meet him marching against me, and thus make my peace with him? The Jews were much in sacrifices, till they wearied God’s soul therewith, and all his senses, Isaiah 1:13-15; but they were sacrificing Sodomites, Micah 6:10, they stuck in the bark, they pleased themselves in the work done, not attending the manner, which either makes or mars every action, and is mainly eyed by God; their devotions were placed more in the massive materiality than inward purity; and hence rejected David could tell (though these questionists could not) that God desired not sacrifice further than as thereby men were led to Christ; and that the sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit, Psalms 51:16-17; that no burnt offering is acceptable, nor calf of a year old, unless laid on the low altar of a broken heart, which sanctifieth the sacrifice.


Verse 7

Micah 6:7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, [or] with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, the fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul?

Ver. 7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?] It was taken for a maxim among all nations that no man was to come before God empty handed, nor to serve him of free cost. And although Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian made a law that no man should be at very great charge for a sacrifice, lest he should grow weary of God’s service; yet when the famous carver Phidias advised the Athenians to make the statue of Minerva rather of marble than of ivory, 1. Because more durable (this passed with allowance), 2. Because less chargeable, at the mention hereof, with infinite indignation, they commanded him silence. Pliny tells us of Alexander the Great, that when, as being yet a youth, he cast great store of frankincense upon the altar, and his schoolmaster told him he must not be so liberal till he had subdued the frankincense countries; when once he had conquered Arabia he sent his schoolmaster a shipfull of frankincense, largely exhorting him to worship the gods therewith. Superstition is, for the most part, not liberal only, but prodigal and no wonder, when as good works are by Bellarmine said to be mercatura regni coelestis the price and purchase of heaven. Hence their churches are so stuffed with vowed presents and memories, as at Loretto, and elsewhere, they are fain to hang their cloisters and churchyards with them. What would not men give, what will they not suffer, that they may be saved? I would swim through a sea of brimstone, said one, that I might come to heaven at last. But those that would buy heaven, and do offer, as these here, a bribe for a pardon, shall hear, Thy money perish with thee; and those that seek to be saved by their works Luther fitly calls the devil’s martyrs; they suffer much and take much pains to go to hell, they buy their damnation, as one saith the Pharisees did when they gave Judas those thirty pieces, for which he sold his salvation.

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, &c.] The superstitious Jews used, we know, to offer up their children in sacrifice to Moloch, or Saturn, 2 Kings 17:15-17; 2 Kings 21:5-7; 2 Kings 23:10, and that in an apish imitation of Abraham’s offering his son Isaac. To the same Saturn the Phoenicians are said to have sacrificed the best of their sons (Euseb. Praep. Evang. lib. 4). So did the Carthaginians, as Diodorus Siculus testifies. And when as they had for a while left off so to do, and were overcome by Agathocles, they (supposing that the gods were therefore angry with them, because they had not done as formerly) slew two hundred at once, at the altar, of their young nobility, to pacify the offended deity. Of like sort were Anammelech and Adrammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim, unto whom that people "burnt their children in the fire," 2 Kings 17:31. And little better were our ancestors, the old Britons, who not only sacrificed their strangers, but their children too, non ad honorem sed ad iniuriam religionis (Cared. Britan.). Here then the prophet seemeth to speak by way of concession, that he may show these questionists how little it would avail them to sacrifice their children, if such a thing were lawful to be done.


Verse 8

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Ver. 8. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good] i.e. what is right, just, and acceptable to himself. He showed it by the light of Nature; for Aristotle (Nature’s secretary) saith, It is not likely that God is so well pleased with the costliness of the sacrifices as with the godliness of the sacrifices. He hath showed it much more by the light of Scripture; there he hath told thee what is the unum necessarium, one thing necessary; in comparison whereof all other things are but side businesses; what is the totum hominis, the whole duty of man, sc. to "fear God, and keep his commandments," Ecclesiastes 12:13; what is the bonum hominis, as here, yea, the summum bonum, or chiefest good of man attainable in this life, viz. communion with God and conformity to God.

And what doth the Lord require of thee] But thee? Quia in omni creatura terrena nihil melius fecit te, ipse quaerit te a te, quia perdideras te in te, as Augustine elegantly paraphraseth this text: Inasmuch as God hath among all earthly creatures made nothing better than thee, therefore he requireth thee of thee.

But to do justly, and to love mercy] This is the sum of the second table; as that which followeth is of the first, to walk humbly with thy God. Here then is a brief of the whole Bible, a little Bible, as the eleventh to the Hebrews is by one not unfitly called a little book of martyrs. Do this and live: do this here enjoined, and thou shalt never fall; yea, thou shalt go gallantly into heaven, as St Peter hath it, 2 Peter 1:10-11. Certa semper sunt in paucis, saith Tertullian. Things simply necessary, whether to be believed or practised, are few in number but many in virtue; in sight small, but great in weight; like gold, which being solid, is contracted into a narrow room; but may be drawn into so large an extent that one angel may cover an acre of ground, as the naturalists have observed. To do justly is the duty, not only of magistrates, whom God hath intrusted with the administration of his earthly kingdom, by the due execution of vindictive and remunerative justice, but also of all other persons in their various places and stations, whose rule must be that golden saying of our Saviour, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets," Matthew 7:12. {See Trapp on "Matthew 7:12"}

And to love mercy] This is more than to show mercy; for that a man may do, and yet, for want of love, lose all, 1 Corinthians 1:3. He must not only draw out his sheaf, but his soul to the hungry, Isaiah 58:10, nor distribute spiritual alms, but do it out of deep affection, as Titus, 2 Corinthians 7:15; he must be "ready to distribute, willing to communicate," 1 Timothy 6:18; his mercy must flow from him as water doth from the fountain, or light from the sun; it must not be wrung from him, as verjuice (a) from a crab apple, or as distilled water is forced out by the heat of the fire. Let the love of Christ constrain us to look out some of his receivers (as David did Jonathan’s flock), to whom we may show mercy for his sake. What though we be weak, yet if willing to show mercy, God accepteth according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not, 2 Corinthians 8:12. The widow’s mite is beyond the rich man’s magnificence, because it came out of a richer mind. The apostle bids, "put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness," Colossians 3:12, such as the jailer had toward Paul and Silas; such as the Samaritan had toward the wounded man by the wayside; such as those primitive Christians had, who came to the church with strong affections, with large contributions, Acts 4:34. The like is foretold of Tyre, when converted, Isaiah 23:18; and of Ethiopia, Psalms 68:31, that she shall "hastily stretch her hands unto God," Heb. she shall make them run, noting her readiness and speediness in giving her goods unto the saints. The tender mercies of the Almighty, shed forth abundantly upon his, leave a compassionate frame upon their hearts, and do dye their thoughts, as the dye vat doth the cloth.

And to walk humbly with thy God] Or, bashfully, with a holy shamefacedness, and solicitousness of doing anything that may offend the eyes of God’s glory. "Yea, what care," saith the apostle, 2 Corinthians 7:11, sc. of walking worthy of the Lord, unto all-pleasing, Colossians 1:10, as proving your hearts and lives to him in every part and point of obedience. This the Lord in a mystery taught his people, Deuteronomy 23:13-14, when commanding them to cover their excrements with a paddle, he giveth this reason thereof: "For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee." They that stand in the presence of princes must be every way exact; and give them all due respect. Now a good man, like a good angel, is ever in God’s presence; and must therefore walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called, with all lowliness and meekness, Ephesians 4:1-2, with all modesty, and demission of mind and of demeanour (as the word here signifieth), and especially when he draweth nigh to God in holy duties. Then it must be his care to exercise a threefold humility. First, precedent: before he sets upon God’s service, he must in heart devote and dedicate all that he is, and hath, as a due debt to the Almighty, saying with David, 1 Chronicles 29:14, It is of thine own, Lord, that I give thee: τα σα εκ των σων, as that good Emperor Justinian said. The second is concomitant; when in the performance of good duties he hath grace (this lovely grace of humility especially), "whereby he may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear," Hebrews 12:28; which is nothing else but an awful respect to the Divine majesty, with whom we have to do, Hebrews 4:13. The third is subsequent; when after he hath done his best he is dejected in the sense of his many failings in the manner; and looking on his plumes, he looketh also on his black feet, and is abashed and abased before the Lord. Lo, this is to humble himself to walk with his God. And as many as walk according to this rule peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.


Verse 9

Micah 6:9 The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and [the man of] wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

Ver. 9. The Lord’s voice crieth unto the city] Or, shall cry, viz. by his prophets. φιλει ο θεος προσημαινειν, said the heathen. God loves to forewarn, to warn before he woundeth, to foretell a judgment before he inflicteth it. He had shown his people what was good, and what he required of them; but to little purpose, through their unteachableness and stubbornness. He threateneth, therefore, here to take another course with them.

And the man of wisdom shall see thy name] Gualther rendereth it, And the man of essence, &c., that is, qui revers vir est, non caudex aut truncus, he that is a man indeed, or not a stock, or trunk (such a one as was that sapless fellow Nabal, in whom all true reason was decayed and faded), will easily see God’s name, that is, the Divine majesty of the word working powerfully upon his heart, as the sunbeams beat upon Jonah’s head, and disquieted him. Danaeus rendereth it, And wisdom seeth thy name, that is, wisdom’s children, as Luke 7:35, which will justify her, when others are either so froward that nothing can please them (neither John fasting, nor Christ eating, Matthew 11:16, &c.), or so dull that nothing can affect them, as these here; the word of God was worse than spilt upon them. Sure it is, that wisdom’s children are not many. "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things," saith Hosea, Hosea 14:9, the very question imports a paucity; see the note there. Though a gun be discharged at a whole flight of birds, there are but a few killed; though the net be spread over the whole pond, but a few fishes are taken. Rari sunt qui philosophantur, saith Ulpian. It is with our hearers as it was with Jonathan’s signal arrows, two fell short, and but one beyond the mark; so where one shoots home to the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus, many fall short. Three sorts of four of those that heard our Saviour were naught, Matthew 13:4-8. And of those that heard Paul at Athens, some derided, others doubted, and but a very few believed; as Dionysius, and Damaris, and some others with them, Acts 17:34.

Hear ye the rod] Since ye would not hear the word, and so redeem your own sorrows. All God’s rods are vocal, they are speaking as well as smiting; they are not mute, but mingled with instructions. They are his free school teachers ( Dιδασκαλοι αμισθοι); curst and crabbed, but such as whereby he openeth men’s ears (till then uncircumcised, and stopped with the superfluity of naughtiness) to discipline, and commandeth them to return from iniquity, Job 36:10. By chastening men God teacheth them out of his law, Psalms 94:12. Hence Luther calleth affliction Theologium Christianorum the Christian man’s divinity; and another saith, that Schola crucis est schola lucis, The school of the cross is the school of light. There shall be only fear to make you understand the hearing, Isaiah 28:19. As God is said to hold his peace when he punisheth not, Psalms 50:21, Isaiah 41:14, so, to preach and teach when he doth. And look bow Gideon, by threshing the men of Succoth with thorns and briers of the wilderness, taught them, 8:7; 8:16, so here. "I have a message from God unto thee, O king," said Ehud, 3:20. Lo, his dagger was God’s message. Whence one well observeth, that not only the vocal admonitions, but the real judgments, of God are his errands and instructions to the earth, the inhabitants of the world. "For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness," Isaiah 26:9. Smart makes wit, and vexation giveth understanding.

And who hath appointed it] God, who hath not only a permissive, but an active hand in all our afflictions. Others render the text, Quis sit, qui accersat istud, Who is it that hath procured it, or sent for it, who, but yourselves? according to Hosea 13:9, see the note there. Nemo laeditur nisi a seipso. Men may thank themselves for all their sufferings; for God afflicteth not willingly, Lamentations 3:33. He cometh forth of his place to do it, Isaiah 26:21, and counteth it "his work, his strange work," Isaiah 28:21. He doth justice (when there is no other remedy), but he loveth mercy, and so requireth us to do in the verse next before going.


Verse 10

Micah 6:10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure [that is] abominable?

Ver. 10. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness] What yet? for all that ever I can say or do to the contrary? Though I cry out unto you by my word (and have set it on with my rod, that it might stick the better), Oh do not this abominable thing! is there yet unto every man a house of the wicked and treasures of wickedness (so some read it)? see Micah 2:2. See Trapp on "Micah 2:2"} The Vulgate reads it (and Gualther disliketh it not), Is there yet fire in the house of the wicked? sc. the fire of God’s wrath? and treasures of wickedness, as fuel cast upon it, to consume all? see James 5:1-3. Treasures of wickedness profit not, Proverbs 10:2, since to heap up sin is to heap up wrath, Romans 2:5, and to rake together ill-gotten goods is to carry home a fardel of plaguey clothes, and death with them. Ephraim said, "Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance," Hosea 12:8. But in so doing, Ephraim fed upon the wind, Micah 6:1, yea, upon pestilential air; he daily increased lies and desolation, that is, such lying vanities as bring desolation and not consolation, desolationem potius quam consolationem (Aug.), as hale hell at the heels of them (as we see in the parable of that wretched rich man, Luke 16:19-31); Animam ipsam incendio gehennae mancipant, the fire that is in them shall feed upon their souls and flesh throughout all eternity. Out of doors, therefore, with these treasures of wickedness, by restoring them to the right owners, as Zaccheus did; and as Justinian the emperor, who would not put the vessels of the temple taken by Titus, and recovered from Gensericus, into the treasury, but restored them.

And the scant measure that is abominable?] Heb. the ephah of leanness, so called, both because it lacks its due proportion ( modius macilentus), and makes men lean, full of wrath; q.d. you scant it to those you trade with, but God fills it up with his fierce wrath and indignation. See Amos 8:5. {See Trapp on "Amos 8:5"}


Verse 11

Micah 6:11 Shall I count [them] pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

Ver. 11. Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances?] Shall I clear and acquit such? I that am the righteous judge of heaven and earth, I abhor all injustice; I that have named myself a God that will by no means clear the guilty, nor take the wicked by the hand? Exodus 34:7, Job 8:20. Do they think to draw me in as a party; or, that I will bear with their false and fraudulent dealings, which I have so often declared against, and doomed both in the law, and by my servants Solomon, Amos, and others. No: assure yourselves, your sins shall find you out, and I will curse you, smite you, plague you, and so set it on, as no creature shall be able to take it off. Let earthly judges warp as they will, and wink at sin, I neither can nor will; but as men have sowed, so they shall reap; as they have sowed in hardness of heart, so they shah reap in horror of conscience, et quorum oculos culpa clausit, poena aperiet, as they have lived unconscionably, so they shall die uncomfortably; at which times, their treasures of wickedness shall leave them in the lurch; as the devil leaves witches, when they come to prison.


Verse 12

Micah 6:12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue [is] deceitful in their mouth.

Ver. 12. For the rich men thereof are full of violence] After that they have once enriched themselves by fraud and false dealing, they take the boldness openly to oppress, and to exercise regiment without righteousness, which is no better than robbery with authority; of which before, Micah 2:1-13; Micah 3:1-12 Thus wicked men wax worse and worse, 2 Timothy 3:13, "till wrath come upon them to the utmost," 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

And the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies] Not the rich men only are in fault; but as the Cretians, so these are always liars, loud and lewd liars; their tongue is deceitful in their mouth, so that they no sooner open their mouths but swarms of lies issue out; they are mendaciorum loquacissimi, they have taught their tongues to speak lies, Jeremiah 9:5, they are now become artists at it; yea, they take fast hold of deceit, Jeremiah 8:5, so that they cannot be got off, without striving. This is lamentable, and yet common; especially in trading and trafficking. But oh when shall that golden age return, that the argument may again proceed, Sacerdos est, non fallet: Christianus est, non mentietur. He is a minister, and will not deceive you: He is a Christian, and will not lie! See Isaiah 63:8.


Verse 13

Micah 6:13 Therefore also will I make [thee] sick in smiting thee, in making [thee] desolate because of thy sins.

Ver. 13. Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee] This is one twig of that rod, Micah 6:9, that now they shall hear and feel too, that would not hearken to God’s word. Bernard telleth us concerning a brother of his; that when he gave him many good instructions and he, being a soldier, minded them not, he put his finger to his sides and said, One day a spear shall make way to this heart of thine, for instructions and admonitions to enter. God can (and, where he intendeth mercy will) make way for his word by his rod; and seal up instructions by chastening men with pain upon their beds, "and the multitude of their bones with strong pain," Job 33:16; Job 33:19. He can fasten them to their beds, as he did Abimelech, David, Hezekiah, and thereby tame them, and take them a link lower, Job 33:17. He can smite them with sickness, and make them desolate, as it is here; with such sickness as shall make their best friends afraid of them, and that none dare look at them, but as through a grate; and all this with a sting too in the tail of it, because of thy sins. "Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat" (so sick they are and stomachless, that nothing will down with them); "and they draw near to the gates of death," Psalms 107:17-18. This was the case of that rich and wretched cardinal, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, in the reign of Henry VI, who, tossing upon his sick bed and perceiving he must die, murmured at sickness and death, that his riches could neither relieve him under the one, nor reprieve him from the other (Fox, Martyrs, tel. 925). This was also the case of that great Emperor Charles V, of whom Duplessy reporteth, that when he was old and crazy he cursed his honours, his victories, trophies, riches, saying, Abite hinc, abite longe, Away, begone, miserable comforters are ye all. Mention is made before of a great man that wrote this a little before his death, Spes et fortuna valete. Farewell hope and prosperity. And surely there are not a few rich cormorants, who may well say to their wealth when they are sick, as Cornelius Agrippa did to his familiar spirit, Abi perdita bestia, quae me perdidisti, Begone, thou wicked beast, thou hast been mine undoing, &c. A promise contrary to this threatening in the text is that Isaiah 33:24, "And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."


Verse 14

Micah 6:14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down [shall be] in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and [that] which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Ver. 14. Thou shall eat, but not be satisfied] Either as not having enough to satisfy, but prisoner’s pittance, so much only as will keep life and soul together; or else, troubled with a bulimy, an appetitus caninus, desire of a dog, a weakness of the digestive faculty, so that thy meat feeds thee not: the staff of it being also broken by God, the nutritive property of it being taken away. {See Trapp on "Haggai 1:6"}

And thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee] Thou shalt be laid low enough by civil and intestine discords, which as a fire feedeth upon the people, Isaiah 9:19, no man shall spare his brother. Or like as a hungry man snatcheth on the right hand and eateth on the left hand, and yet is not satisfied, Isaiah 9:20, till thine unnatural convulsions end in a deadly consumption.

And thou shalt take hold, but shall not deliver] Thou shalt catch up thy children, thy jewels, and think to secure them from the enemy, but shalt not be able. Of this misery we had overly woeful experience in our late unnatural garboils.

And that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword] Other judgments forerun the sword; which, when they will not do, the sword will then contemn the rod, Ezekiel 21:10, that is, it will set at nought whatever the rod hath done, and come furbished and sharpened for the slaughter.


Verse 15

Micah 6:15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

Ver. 15. Thou shall sow, but thou shalt not reap] This had been long since threatened by Moses, Deuteronomy 28:38-40, and was now over seven hundred years after to receive its accomplishment in this people. There is an infallibility in all the menaces of God’s mouth. Men are apt to think that they were uttered in terrorem in fear only; and to put them off, as those in the Gospel did, with a God forbid: "Who knows if the Lord will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that is evil may pass from us?" Jeremiah 21:2. But what saith the prophet Zephaniah? "The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth be bring his judgment to light, he faileth not: but the unjust knoweth no shame," Zephaniah 3:5; sin hath wended such an impudence in his face, that he shuns no sin, dreads no danger.


Verse 16

Micah 6:16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Ver. 16. For the statutes of Omri are kept] Subest verbis hisce sarcasmus. Here the prophet taunteth them for their idolatry; and telleth them plainly what will be the issue of it: q.d. You think you deal wisely and take a safe course for yourselves, that together with Ephraim you are joined to idols, and have such great names as Omri and Ahab to countenance you therein. Omri’s statutes can be observed when mine lie neglected.

Haec tibi pro vili, sub pedibusque iacent ”( Ovid).

The works of the house of Ahab, that non-such, can be imitated, and their counsels embraced, when my work lies undone, and my counsel is rejected, Luke 7:30. "Full well" ( καλως, sane, bene) "ye reject the commandment of God" (being ingrati gratiae Dei, unthankful of the grace of God, as Ambrose speaketh), "that ye may keep your own tradition," Mark 7:9. And do not the Papists even the very same at this day. The Pope’s canons are kept exactly, and all the rites of the Church of Rome; they walk in the track of the Trent conventicle, and hold it worse to deface an idol than to kill a man; to eat flesh or eggs on a fasting day than to commit incest; to work on a holy day than to break the sabbath. There is no command of the moral law but they can dispense with it; but none of their ceremonial laws. Let God (say they, profanely) look to the breach of his own law; we will look to ours.

That I should make thee a desolation] Luther here observeth, that oppression and other violations of the second table God usually punisheth with war, famine, and pestilence; but breaches of the first table, and especially idolatry, with utter desolation. This is a land destroying sin, Jeremiah 22:7-9.

Therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people] That is, of such as had been my people, if you could have held you so; but you are now Loammi, disprivileged. Or, that which I threatened in the law long since to bring upon you, if ye carried not yourselves as my people; or, that which you deserved for having profaned the name and title of being my people, Ezekiel 36:20; Ezekiel 36:28, Romans 2:24 cf. Luke 12:47.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Micah 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/micah-6.html. 1865-1868.

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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