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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Micah 6

 

 

Verse 1-2

CRITICAL NOTES.] The third division now begins, after declaration of judgment and salvation which awaits the future remnant. Hear] Plead with God in controversy. Mts.] Witness and murmur with the echo (Deu ; Isa 1:2). Contend] in strife or quarrel (Jud 8:1; Isa 1:8.

Mic . His] Emphatic intentionally to indicate Jehovah's right to contend, and to sharpen their conscience by pointing to their calling [Keil].

HOMILETICS

A LISTLESS PEOPLE REBUKED.—Mic

These words are an introduction to what follows, an expostulation to an ungrateful people. God wishes them to see their guilt, and hear his voice in the controversy. A sinful people are obstinate and listless. But they must be roused and reproved:

I. By the voice of God. "Hear ye now what the Lord saith." God speaks to us and reasons with us in his word. He pleads with his people in condescension and grace, requires them to justify, if possible, their cause, and seeks to prove the equity of his dealings. "Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."

II. By the earnestness of the Prophet. The Prophet was reluctant to herald woe to his people, but the command was urgent. Arise.

1. He was earnest in his tone. "O my people," Mic . Bedewed with the spirit of his message.

2. He was earnest in his attitude. Arise, stand up as one having authority to rebuke, ready and undaunted before men. He must rouse himself that he may rouse his hearers. A cold frosty heart can never touch and kindle others into a flame.

3. He was earnest in his method. "Let the hills hear thy voice"—any way to stir up a careless people.

III. By the stability of creation. "Hear, O ye mountains." Mountains remain steadfast and hills are not carried from their place. The earth changes in its surface and its inhabitants pass away, but rocks endure for ever. Yet Nature is subject to its Creator and trembles at his voice, but men are stupefied and hardened by sin. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me."

THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.—Mic

I. Man's complaints against God. He complains,

1. Of a corrupt nature;

2. Of the power of temptation;

3. Of the dealings of Providence.

II. God's complaints against man.

1. Mercies despised.

2. Grace refused.

3. Calls neglected.

4. Judgments sent in vain [F. Wagstaff].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 6

Mic . Hear. If Adam needed to hear his Father's voice, sounding amid the fair bowers and the unshaded glory of Paradise, surely much more does this prodigal world, that has gone astray from him, need to hear a Father's voice asking after us, and the first intimations of a Father's desire that the lost may be found, and the dead at length become alive [Dr Cumming].


Verses 3-8

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Mic . What] opens the suit. Israel, tired with the dealings of God, had backslided from him. Wearied] By demanding what is irksome (Isa 43:23; 1Jn 5:3); or failing to perform what is promised (Jer 2:31).

Mic . For] God had done good only, deliverance from Egypt and guidance by Moses the chief proofs of it.

Mic . Now] A very tender word, like our "do now remember," or "do remember," beseeching instead of commanding [Pusey]. The special period mentioned and the wonderful acts performed in it display the justice, mercy, and righteousness of God (Jud 5:11; Psa 24:5).

Mic .] Remembrance calls ingratitude to mind, and leads to inquiries. Come] (Deu 23:5.) God enthroned on high (Isa 57:15; Psa 115:3. Burnt] Prescribed Leviticus 1. Calves] Thought to be most important (Lev 9:2-3).

Mic .] "In case of calves value is heightened by quality, in rams by quantity" [Keil]. Climax culminates in first-born. lint this only, of external, heathen origin, atones for sin by sin.

Mic .] God has showed them in the moral law that he requires; not outward sacrifices of any kind; but the fulfilment of moral obligations in three ways—do justly, love mercy (which are the sum of the second table), and walk humbly, i.e. as a holy nation should, in fellowship with God (cf. Deu 8:14; Deu 10:12; 1Sa 15:22).

WEARINESS IN GOD'S SERVICE UNJUSTIFIABLE.—Mic

Many, like Israel, are weary in the service of God, complain of their lot, and seek to return to the world. God pleads with such, proves that their conduct is unjustifiable. No wrong has been done to them; on the other hand, they have sinned against God. "Wherein have I wearied thee?"

I. God's claims upon men are just. "O my people." Israel were God's people by covenant relationship. God chose them and they promised to serve him. All men are God's by creation and providence. They are raised to this rank and gifted in their mind by him. Hence God has a just claim upon their homage and life. To refuse is ingratitude and insult.

II. God's commands are reasonable. God does not demand what is impossible or unreasonable. He does not, like an Eastern tyrant, compel men to serve him with rigour and hardships. God might weary them by unlawful requirements (Isa ); or unfulfilled promises (Jer 2:31); but they weary him with their iniquities (Isa 43:24). "His commands are not grievous," why then complain or get wearied? "What iniquity have your fathers found in me?"

III. God's kindness is remarkable. "I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt," &c Israel were specially blessed.

1. They were redeemed from bondage. "And redeemed thee out of the house of servants." Instead of a nation of slaves they were priests to God.

2. They were guided in the wilderness. "I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." They had instruction, intercession, and praise.

3. They were defended in their progress. The power of Balak and the device of Balaam were frustrated, and the curse was turned into a blessing. From Shittim to Gilgal their progress was safe and triumphant. God could have done no more for them, yet they "forgot God their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt; wondrous things in the land of Ham." In the review of our life we see goodness and mercy, and abundant reason for gratitude. In deliverance from trouble and the destruction of the enemy, we may read the fulfilment of the promise and the display of the righteousness of God. "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"

MAN'S QUESTIONS AND GOD'S ANSWERS.—Mic

Come before God not merely with respect, like bowing to a superior—but come with acceptance, in honour and duty (Deu ; Psa 105:2). In whatever spirit these words were uttered, they indicate the importance and necessity of coming to God. They are the recurring question, pressing upon all ages and all individuals—"How shall man be just with God?" They set forth God's answer to the question and specify the way of acceptance before him.

I. Man's questions. "Wherewith shall I come," &c. Convicted by the previous appeal the people inquire how Jehovah may be appeased.

1. By external forms? "With burnt offerings—with calves of a year old?" Men naturally cling first to outward forms, trust to customary rites to heal the schism of the soul. They are liberal in their offerings, zealous in their profession, and ready to sacrifice anything for peace of conscience. But the blood of bulls and of goats cannot take away sin.

2. By human sacrifices? "Shall I give my firstborn?" Nations have "burnt their children in the fire" (2Ki ). They have been driven to desperation in their sin and superstitions, and sought to please God by inventions of their own. Jewish rites and heathen sacrifices were alike in vain. No spotless beast nor human blood could quench the fire of the soul. "There was wanting," says Porphyry, "some universal method of delivering men's souls, which no sect of philosophy had ever yet found out."

II. God's answer to man's questions. God has revealed his will to man and showed what is required from him.

1. It is revealed in the written word of God. "He hath showed thee, O man." In the Scriptures we have an answer to the questions of the soul and the problems of life. Without the Bible man is in the dark. The world by wisdom knew not God. The light of nature is insufficient, and the doings of providence say, It is not in me. We have no need to guess nor grope the way, "the word is nigh unto thee."

2. It is declared by the servants of God. The prophet plainly declares what God requires. Nothing ceremonial, nothing impracticable. Three things are specially mentioned.

(1) To do justly. Not mere profession, but practice. Justice to God and integrity to man in all our dealings. God's religion destroys injustice and oppression. We must do injury to none, but right to all. Render to all their due.

(2) To love mercy. We must not only be just, but kind to all. Our mercy, like God's, must be allied with equity. We must not merely show mercy but love and delight in mercy. Mercy gives more than justice demands. The hard exacting man is not a child of God. "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."

(3) To walk humbly with God. To walk with God implies reconciliation, faith, and constant intercourse (Gen ; Heb 11:5). This is the essence of religion and the whole duty of man (Ecc 12:13). This is what God requires from us. The heart, not outward forms; sincerity and truth, not fair profession. "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?"

IS IT NOT TRUE.—Mic

Our knowledge of good and evil comes from God. Conscience uninstructed by him is useless. Some things which only seem to be good are sought after most diligently by men who are strictly conscientious. Other things good in themselves, which seem undesirable, are eschewed by the same persons. Human conscience is a depraved conscience. In the text we read the doctrine that God has showed to man that which is both acceptable to himself and profitable to us.

I. The revelation. He hath showed,

1. "What he has revealed. Himself as the chief good. His attributes a subject for praise. His service delightful employment. His favour of infinite value.

2. How he has revealed these things.

(1) By nature. Here he faintly exhibits somewhat of himself.

(2) By history, especially inspired history.

(3) By Jesus Christ. Whatever nature or history has taught, by Jesus is amplified and confirmed. By him we behold the Father's loving-kindness, tender mercy, forbearing grace.

(4) By our own experience. We are convinced of the blessedness of holiness, of justice, of a humble walk with God; indeed of everything the Lord has declared is good.

II. The requisition. God does not show us what is good merely to enlarge our knowledge, but to insure our service. Every good thing if rightly used redounds to his glory.

1. He requires us to demonstrate our knowledge. The light must not be put under a bushel. The man who hid his Lord's money was condemned.

2. He requires us to display this in a particular way.

(1) To do justly. It is not enough to speak fairly. Unpractical religion is unscriptural religion.

(2) To love mercy. It is not enough to do merely from a sense of duty. We must delight in the things of God.

(3) To walk humbly with thy God. Nor does God require deeds of justice and love of mercy, without dispensing that grace without which these things can exist. In order to do justly we are invited to walk with God, deserving his justice, receiving his mercy. As a little child, observe the Father's practice, and as far as you can do like him [Stems and Twigs].

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Mic . Remember, &c. I. God's dealings with his people attest—

1. His love;

2. His faithfulness; and

3. His power. II. These dealings are often forgotten. This displays,

1. Thoughtlessness, and

2. Ingratitude. "Micah speaks by a rare idiom of the righteousnesses of the Lord, each act of mercy being a separate effluence of his righteousness. The very names of the places suggest the righteous acts of God, the unrighteous of Israel" [Pusey].

Mic . Showed good.

1. The thing desired. Good. "Who will show us any good?" Righteousness, love, justice, and humility. II. The method of getting it. God reveals it, hath showed thee. It is not a discovery of man, &c. "Do justly. To do judgment are, chiefly, all acts of equity; to love mercy, all deeds of love. Judgment is what right requires; mercy, what love. Yet, secondarily, to do judgment is to pass righteous judgment in all cases; and so, as to others, judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment; and as to one's self also. Judge equitably and kindly of others, humbly of thyself. He addeth, love mercy; being merciful out of love, not of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver (2Co ). These acts contain the whole duty of man, corresponding with and formed upon the mercy and justice of God (Psa 101:1; Psa 61:7). All which is due, any how, or in any way, is of judgment; all which is free toward man, although not free toward God, is of mercy. There remains, walk humbly with thy God; not bow thyself only before him, as they had offered (Mic 6:6); nor, again, walk with him only, as did Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Job; but walk humbly (lit. bow down the going). Yet still with thy God; never lifting up thyself, never sleeping, never standing still, but ever walking on, yet ever casting thyself down; and the more thou goest on in grace, the more cast thyself down, as our Lord saith, Luk 17:10" [Pusey].

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 (Eph ), with all modesty of demeanour, especially when he draweth nigh to God in holy exercises. Then it must be his care to exercise three-fold 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, It is of thine own, Lord (1Ch 29:14). 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" (Heb 12:28); which is an awful respect to the Divine Majesty with whom we have to do (Heb 4:13). The third is subsequent; when having done his best he is dejected with a sense of his failings, and looking on his plumes he is abashed before God. As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (Trapp).

Walk humbly.

1. In prosperity; for God is our benefactor. Everything comes from him.

2. In adversity; for he corrects in wisdom and truth.

3. In all circumstances of life; for he disposes our lot. We are dependent creatures. Our times are in his hands. Wait upon God. He will renew your strength and guide your life.

To doubt thy goodness would be base

Ingratitude in me:

Past favours shall renew my hopes,

And fix my faith in thee.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 6

Mic .Well fare their hearts who will not only wear out their shoes, but also their feet, in God's service, and yet gain not a shoe latchet thereby [Thos. Fuller].

Remember. Wherever thou be, let the voice of God be still in thine ear. My son, return inwardly to thy heart, abstract thyself from all things, and mind me only [Leighton].

Mic . God desires not merely outward virtue, but inward purity, and the penitent's sense of sin is greatly deepened as with astonishment he discovers this truth, and how far he is from satisfying the Divine command. Always has the Holy One estimated men by their inner nature, and not by their outward professions; to him the inward is as visible as the outward, and he rightly judges that the essential character of an action lies in the motive of him who works it [Spurgeon].


Verse 9

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Mic .] Israel lacks these virtues. Crieth] Earnestly and loudly in Jerusalem. Wisdom] Wise men will hear and discover God's authority in the message. "Thy name sees wisdom, i.e., has the true wisdom of life in sight" [keil]. Thy name looks out, the holy manifestation of thyself in judgment (Isa 30:27; cf. Psa 14:2) [Lange]. Rod] Judgment threatened (Isa 9:13).

HOMILETICS

THE VOICE OF GOD IN THE DISPENSATIONS OF HIS PROVIDENCE.—Mic

These words refer to the solemn warnings given to Israel by the ministry of the prophets, and to the judgments about to fall upon Samaria and Jerusalem, because of their sins.

First. In what way may it be said that "the Lord's voice crieth" unto cities and nations. God has spoken by the prophets (Heb ); by his Son and by his Spirit in Apostles and teachers. In an indirect way the voice of God is heard in his works (Rom 1:20; Psa 19:12; Act 14:17). But especially in providential dispensations, of mercy or judgment, in events of an afflictive nature. He speaks to cities and nations when he exposes them to war and their young men fall by the sword—when the fruits of the earth are blasted or rot in the ground—when famine succeeds and thousands pine away with hunger. In pestilence, in dreaded cholera, the voice of God is distinctly heard. Secondly. Mark the impression which the voice of God produces upon different classes of individuals. Some boldly deny that he has ever spoken to men, except perhaps by the voice of natural conscience, and treat the doctrine of providence as superstitious (2Pe 3:3-4). Others are insensible to what is passing around them (Isa 26:11). Others brave the threatenings of the Almighty, as if secure against all attacks (Isa 5:19; Isa 28:15). On some only a temporary impression is made: it alarms but fails to convert (Isa 26:16). Others lay claim to superior wisdom, think in the discovery of the proximate or second causes of calamity that they have solved the mystery, and exclude the great First Cause that moves and regulates the whole. "The man of wisdom," the enlightened and consistent believer, "hears a voice they cannot hear, and sees a hand they cannot see." Thirdly. Notice the proper improvement to be made of such afflictive dispensations. "Hear ye the rod and who hath appointed it." View it not merely as a national calamity, but as a chastisement from the hand of God. While others treat it with mute surprise or affected indifference, and refuse to acknowledge a Divine hand in it, beware of such a pernicious course. Let us search and try our ways and turn to the Lord. Deep humiliation and sincere repentance should be accompanied with proofs of active and self-denying works (Isa 58:6-8), in nations and individuals [Scottish Cong. Mag. 1847].

"THE MEN OF WISDOM."—Mic

Wise men are here contrasted with ignorant, careless, and wicked men. Wisdom here signifies essence, and the men of wisdom are the men of essence, not men of emptiness and folly. They hear the voice of the rod and understand the purpose for which it is sent.

I. Wise men discern the providence of God in the calamities of life. "The Lord's voice crieth unto the city."

1. The rod of God speaks to men. It has a voice and cries aloud. Scourges and calamities speak of the neglect and sins of men. They are the voice of God speaking in power and authority. Awful judgments and visitations are a rod to check and chastise for sin, to prevent folly and further misery. Yet many see but hear them not. God speaks once, yea twice, yet men perceive it not (Job ).

2. The rod of God is appointed for men. "Who hath appointed it." Hume in his English History ascribes famines and desolating events, to the ignorance of the people, the rude methods of agriculture practised by our forefathers, and affirms that the progress of science and art will prevent calamities eventually. Men ascribe them to chance or to second causes, and ridicule the idea of Divine appointment. But these men recognize Divine purpose and direct interposition—believe in a fixed time and place; hear the rod and know it for their good (Job ). "For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me; and many such things are with him" (Job 23:14).

II. Wise men learn the lessons of God in the calamities of life. "The man of wisdom shall see thy name." They hear the voice and discern the majesty of God. They see the name of God, the power and presence of God in his dealings with men. The glory of the Divine attributes is displayed in the administrations of providence.

1. They understand afflictive dispensations. They hear and read what is spoken. They see the mind, the word of the Lord (Jer ). Few are wise and understand these things. But wise men discern the truth of the rod in its reports of evil deeds and God's displeasure. "The knowledge of the Holy (One) is understanding."

2. They submit to afflictive dispensations. God's voice cries to all men, but the wise only hear and obey. They bow to the rod as under the command of God. They mourn for sin, learn righteousness (Isa ), and find that "the school of the cross is the school of light." By humiliation they seek to avoid or mitigate the stroke. When the blow has fallen they look to God "who hath appointed it," and learn the lessons of spiritual profit for which it was sent. "Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see." "Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?"

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 6

Mic . Rod. The rod hath a voice that is in the hands of earthly fathers, but children hear it not, they understand it not till they are hushed and quiet, and brought to kiss it, and sit silently under it; no more shall we hear or understand the voice of the rod that is in our heavenly Father's hand, till we come to kiss it, and sit silently under it [Brooks].


Verses 10-12

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Mic . Yet] notwithstanding warnings, treasures acquired by fraud and oppression. Scant] Lit. lean ephah, the measure forbidden (too small), not the right measure (Deu 25:16; Deu 25:16; Lev 19:36). Abom.] Smitten by God (Pro 22:14); cursed (Num 23:7; Pro 24:24).

Mic . Pure] Men dream that they can be clean by sacrifices to God, in spite of daily sins. The prophet destroys this hope, reproves the rich for violence and the people for deceit. Bag] In which money and weights were carried (Deu 25:13; Pro 16:11).

COMMERCIAL IMMORALITY.—Mic

Here we have a special accusation of sins which procure the rod. Sins which are common in all ranks and committed after many admonitions. In social intercourse and business transactions covetousness, violence, and deceit prevailed. Riches were sought and acquired by cruel and unlawful means.

I. Fraud in the shops. Trickery has never lacked its representatives in all departments of trade.

1. Dishonest dealings. "Wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights." Rich sellers gave scant measure and short weight. They cheated and deceived the poor in the necessities of life. The law is violated in the present day. Are grocers, drapers, and corn-merchants always honest in business transactions? Why so many fines for "colouring," "adulteration," and fraud? "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete-yard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin shall ye have."

2. Ill-gotten gains. "The treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked." Wealth was sought by wickedness. The house was a store-room of vanity, a monument of injustice, and an abomination to God. To heap up wickedness is to treasure up wrath (Rom ). "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing" (Pro 10:2).

II. Oppression in the market-place. "For the rich men thereof are full of violence:" not the poor out of distress, but the rich in covetousness and luxury, lived by violence. Dishonest bargains, hard dealings, and rapacity were daily events. Equity was ignored. Justice, the foundation of the state and the right of the citizen, was openly defied. Commerce was a means of gain, not of mutual help. National injustice was the fundamental sin of commercial life. Rank and power used in violence will crush the possessor. Robbery with authority will bring a curse. "Envy thou not the oppressor (a man of violence, marg.), and choose none of his ways."

III. Falsehood in the month of the poor. "The inhabitants thereof have spoken lies."

1. This was a common practice. As often as they speak, in daily intercourse and conversation, "their tongue is deceitful (lit. deceit) in their mouth." Nothing but deceit, and deceit to ruin others and enrich themselves.

2. This was a universal practice. No exception is made. "A population of liars," says one. "It cannot be wrong for it is always done," "It would be impossible to carry on business in any other way," are pleas to justify the conduct of some in trade. Christianity requires no concealment, no misrepresentation, but strict adherence to truth. No earthly tribunal, no ancient custom, can exempt from eternal justice. An honest man will be guilty of no fraud. "The obligation of an honest man can never die," said De Foe. "Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Mic . Treasures of wickedness. I. Illegal in their acquisition. Gained,

1. By dishonest means;

2. In opposition to Divine warning. II. Risky in their position. "In the house of the wicked," which is exposed to danger and decay. III. Unsatisfactory in their nature. IV. Doomed in their existence. No power or combination of circumstances can keep them from the judgment of God.

Mic . He also has a false weight who judges not his neighbour with the same measure as himself [Lange]. God requires exact justice in all our dealings, and therefore it is our duty to take care that the weights and the balance be just [Wells]. Impositions; double-dealings; the hard bargain struck with self-complacent shrewdness (Pro 20:14)—this is the false balance forbidden alike by law (Lev 19:35-36), and gospel (Mat 7:12; Php 4:8). Men may "commend its wisdom" (Luk 16:1-8); God not only forbids, but he abominates it (Pro 11:1) [Bridge].

Mic . I. Men are apt to sin even after many admonitions. "Are there yet treasures," &c. II. Men are apt to dream of God's approbation in their sinful ways. Hence the challenge, "Shall I count them pure?" III. After they have enriched themselves by sinful ways they grow worse and openly oppress. "Full of violence." But God is a righteous judge, and will not acquit the guilty (Exo 34:7). As men deal towards their fellow-men, so God deals with them. "Neither will he help the evil-doers" (Job 8:20).

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 6

Mic . Upright simplicity is the deepest wisdom, and perverse craft the merest shallowness [Barrow]. "No man is wise or safe but he that is honest." An upright posture is easier than a stooping one, because it is more natural, and one part is better supported by another; so it is easier to be an honest man than a knave [Skelton].

Mic . Crafty counsels are joyful in the expectation, difficult in the management, and sad in the event [Tacitus]. "There is no law more just than that the contrivers of destruction should perish by their own acts." "The deceiver is often ruined by deceit."


Verses 13-16

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Mic . Sick] i.e. I smite thee mortally (cf. for expression, Nah 3:19; for matter, Mic 1:9).

Mic . Satis.] Fulfilment of Lev 26:26. Food would not be enough, nor sustain. Midst] Cast down in borders and in the metropolis, people will flee into the fortress, but only to die, not to be delivered. What goods and families are carried away will be given to the sword (cf. Jer 50:37; Jer 42:16).

Mic . Reap] The enemy will reap the harvests and plunder the stores (Lev 26:16; Deu 28:38-40).

Mic .] This punishment brought upon themselves. Omri] The conspirator and regicide (1Ki 16:16-28). Statutes] By which this abandoned dynasty had disgraced the throne of Israel; human ordinances, not God's commands (Lev 20:23). Bear] "The present generation is ripe for the curse, which the Lord had cast forth in the law for the future of his people (Isa 65:7) [Lange].

HOMILETICS

MORAL CONSUMPTION.—Mic

God threatens to smite Israel with mortal sickness; not so much bodily sickness, as desolation of land. By oppression they had made others weak, so Divine judgments will crush them by famine and invasion. Their calamity is a wasting sickness. The origin, seat, and consequences of this moral consumption are plainly described.

I. Sickness in the centre. "In the midst of thee." The sinking down, the wasting away, was in the very centre of the country. The capital, the seat of their wickedness and treasures, was smitten, and the plague spread among the people. Inward decay always begins at the heart. And when the vital parts are affected what can arrest its progress?

II. Sickness with sufficiency. "Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied." They had abundance of wealth, an insatiable appetite, but their food did not nourish them. Their desires were a disease, not a moral strength. Like the deadly wasting that assails the human frame, there may be a spiritual atrophy to derange and emaciat the soul. The victim cries out with Job, "Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me, and my leanness, rising up in me, beareth witness to my face."

III. Sickness aided by outward circumstances. God's judgments only hastened on the end. The moral atmosphere was fœtid, and all their surroundings unfavourable to health. In God's favour is life; but he withdrew the fruit of the fields, and the blessings of the skies. When God departs from a people nothing will be left but inherent emptiness and pining consumption. "Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth."

IV. Sickness morally incurable. "I will make thee sick in smiting thee." The sickness was the result of the smiting. "Thy wound is grievous," lit. makes sick. It was an incurable wound: "There is no healing of thy bruise" (Nah ). Robbed of their families, smitten in their vineyards, and helpless in their condition, what hope of recovery was left! Spiritual leanness is the greatest calamity that can befall the Church. If God withdraws his help everything will decay. Life, light, and power, hope, joy, and peace, will die away. Creeds and ceremonies will only hasten the ruin. Nothing can survive the death, the moral consumption, of true religion. "My leanness! my leanness! Woe unto me!"

LABOUR WITHOUT PROFIT.—Mic

The judgments are further enumerated by which God would make them sick and desolate. They would sow and plant for others to reap. They would not be able to rescue what they had lost, nor preserve what they possessed from the foe. One stroke would follow another until the land was desolated, and its inhabitants put to shame.

I. Fields would be sown, but no harvest reaped. "Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap." The crops would be blasted and withered, or the enemy would reap them for himself. They reaped where they sowed not; so they must sow for others to reap. Sin provokes God to frustrate man's efforts to subsist. He takes from the covetous and unjust the fruit of their efforts just when it is within their grasp. If we wish to enjoy the results of our physical and intellectual labours, we must fear God and love justice.

1. The necessities, and

2. The luxuries of life, the fruit of the field, the oil, and the wine, depend upon the providence of God, and may be taken away in his anger. "Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes."

II. Goods would be rescued, but delivered up to the enemy. "That which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword." Children on whose account they got their wealth, goods and substance for which they had toiled, would be suddenly taken from them. If anything at all was rescued, it was only for a time, and could not be held. No effort can deliver from the power of God's executioners. What we hold to be most precious is often most unsafe, and what we are determined not to lose that we lose suddenly.

III. Men would take flight, but could not escape. "Thou shalt take hold," to rescue or remove to a safe place, but in vain, "but shalt not deliver." How can men flee from God's vengeance? No human band can rescue from God's power. No harbour can hide from his presence. Heaven is the seat of his glory, earth the scene of his power, and hell the place of his wrath.

"What can 'scape the eye of God all seeing,

Or deceive his heart omniscient!" [Milton.]

SINS AND PUNISHMENT: AN UNBROKEN LINK.—Mic

This judgment the people brought upon themselves by their ungodly conduct. Their calamities were the results of their sins.

I. What were the sins of which they were guilty. First. They had broken the covenant of God and observed the statutes of men. "For the statutes of Omri are kept." By every motive of hope and fear they were commanded to obey God. This was the purpose of their existence, and the ground on which they held their privileges and country. But the Baal-worship of Omri was patronized and raised into the popular religion (1Ki ). Secondly. They observed the doings of Ahab. Ahab's idolatry and persecuting spirit were commended. The luxury, wickedness, and oppression of the court were sanctioned. Yea, men more wicked than others, men who sold themselves "to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord," were their examples (1Ki 21:25).

1. These customs were diligently observed. The margin gives, He doth keep diligently. One and all were kept as religious acts, in earnestness and diligence.

2. These customs were universally observed. Judah was at variance with Israel in many things, but they were one in apostasy.

3. These customs were continually observed. They had been introduced ages before Micah's time, yet he found them prevalent and all-power-ful. Custom is the deposit of the past in the life of the present; the link which binds the present to the future. Thus evils are preserved and perpetuated from one generation to another.

II. What was the punishment which followed these sins? The actual results were very different from the expected fruits. Their conduct was so framed as if they had purposely desired the punishment. "That I should make thee a desolation."

1. A privileged nation was made desolate. They were deprived of their privileges and honour. Sin will desolate the richest nation and the most flourishing Church; make people an astonishment to some, and a hissing to others.

2. An exalted nation was made a reproach. "You shall bear the reproach of my people." They would have been God's people if they had kept his covenant, but their sins brought shame and reproach. The God whom they had forsaken and offended left them in the hands of the heathen. The conduct which they deemed wise and expedient proved fatal to its originators and imitators. True honour is only found in God's service. Sin and disgrace are bound together by an unbroken link. "We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Mic .

1. The law of God is the standard of right in all ages. The threatenings of the law of Moses were in force in the days of Micah (Lev ; Deu 28:30).

2. The execution of the law in the history of a nation is not always a warning to a people.

3. The punishment of the law to such as continually violate it is most bitter. Disappointment in labour, deprivation of the necessities of life, troubles in the family and the nation. "When our services of God are soured with sin," says a quaint author, "his providences will justly be embittered to us."

Mic . Statutes of Omri. Idolatrous customs.

1. Originated by great men.

2. Sanctioned by a wicked court.

3. Observed by a religious people. Antiquity and priestly or princely authority are of no force against the command of God. Fashion rules with an iron sceptre, and those who ought to stand up for God, often bow to the law of man.

"Custom's the world's great idol we adore,

And knowing this, we seek to know no more." [Pomfret.]

Reproach. Sin in God's people is especially great. And as they have peculiar privileges, so their reproach or punishment is proportionable to their profaning of their privileges (Eze ; Eze 36:23) [Hutcheson]. "If professors of religion ruin themselves, their ruin will be the most reproachful of any; and they in a special manner will rise at the last day to everlasting shame and contempt."

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 6

Mic . Crafty counsels are joyful in the expectation, difficult in the management, and sad in the event [Tacitus]. "There is no law more just than that the contrivers of destruction should perish by their own acts." "The deceiver is often ruined by deceit."

Mic . "The essence of wickedness is forsaking God." "Those are marked for ruin that are deaf to reproof and good counsel." Those that prefer the rules of carnal policy before Divine precepts, and the allurements of the world and the flesh before God's promises and comforts, despise His word, giving the preference to those things which stand in competition with it [Matt. Henry].

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Micah 6:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/micah-6.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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