Micah 6

CHAPTER VI

This chapter reproves and threatens. The manner of raising the

attention by calling on man to urge his plea in the face of all

nature, and on the inanimate creation to hear the expostulation

of Jehovah with his people, is awakening and sublime. The words

of Jehovah follow, 3-5.

And God's mercies having been set forth to his people, one of

them is introduced, in a beautiful dramatic form, asking what

his duty is towards a God so gracious, 6, 7.

The answer follows in the words of the prophet, 8;

who goes on to upbraid the people of his charge with their

injustice and idolatry, to which he ascribes want of success in

their lawful undertakings, and those heave calamities which are

now impending, 9-15.

NOTES ON CHAP. VI

Verse 1. Arise, contend thou] This chapter is a sort of dialogue

between God and the people. GOD speaks the five first verses, and

convicts the people of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The

PEOPLE, convinced of their iniquity, deprecate God's judgments, in

the sixth and seventh verses. In the eighth verse God prescribes

the way in which they are to be saved; and then the prophet, by

the command of God, goes on to remonstrate from the ninth verse to

the end of the chapter.

Verse 2. Hear ye, O mountains] Micah, as God's advocate, summons

this people into judgment, and makes an appeal to inanimate

creation against them. He had spoken to the priests, to the

princes, to the people. He had done every thing that was necessary

to make them wise, and holy, and happy; they had uniformly

disobeyed, and were ever ungrateful. It was not consistent with

either the justice or mercy of God to permit them to go on without

reprehension and punishment. He now calls them into judgment; and

such was the nature of their crimes that, to heighten the effect,

and show what reason he had to punish such a people, he appeals to

inanimate creation. Their ingratitude and rebellion are sufficient

to make the mountains, the hills, and the strong foundations of

the earth to hear, tremble, and give judgment against them. This,

then, is the Lord's controversy with his people, and thus he will

plead with Israel.

Verse 3. O my people, what have I done unto thee?] They are

called to show why God should not pronounce sentence upon them.

This condescension is truly astonishing! God appears to humble

himself to his creatures. You have acted basely, treacherously,

and ungratefully to me; this had already been proved by the

prophets. What cause have I given you for such conduct? I have

required a religious service from you; but have I wearied you by a

fatiguing round of difficult duties? If I have, now testify

against me; and you shall be first heard, and your plea received,

if it be reasonable and good. They are silent; and God proceeds,

and states what he has done for them.

Verse 4. I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt] Where you

were slaves, and grievously oppressed; from all this I redeemed

you. Was this a small benefit? I sent before thee MOSES, my chosen

servant, and instructed him that he might be your leader and

lawgiver. I sent with him AARON, that he might be your priest

and transact all spiritual matters between myself and you, in

offerings, sacrifices, and atonements. I sent MIRIAM, to whom I

gave the spirit of prophecy, that she might tell you things to

come, and be the director of your females. To this sense the

Chaldee, "I have sent three prophets before you; Moses, that he

might teach you the tradition of judgments, Aaron, that he might

make atonement for the people; and Miriam, that she might instruct

the females."

Verse 5. Remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted] He sent

for Balaam to curse your fathers; but by my influence he was

obliged to bless them. See Nu 22:5, 6 &c., and Nu 23:5-8, 20-24

&c., and the notes there, where this subject is largely

considered.

From Shittim unto Gilgal] From the encampment at Shittim,

Nu 25:1, on the way to that of Gilgal, Jos 4:19. Balaam gave

different answers in the interval between these places. We may

suppose that the encampments of Israel advanced slowly to that

part of Jordan which was opposite to Gilgal. The Chaldee has,

"Were there not wonderful things done in your behalf from the

valley of Shittim to the house of Gilgal?" See Jos 3:1; 4:20.

Thus there will be a reference to the miraculous passage over

Jordan. See Newcome.

That ye may know the righteousness] The just, equitable, and

merciful dealing of the Most High. Recollect those things, that ye

may have a proper impression of this. There are many

interpretations given of this rather obscure clause; what I have

proposed seems to me the most simple.

This is the sum of the address; and here the case of the

plaintiff terminates, the prisoners being called to show why the

sentence of the law should not be pronounced. I make no apology

for using any forensic terms, as the passages before us refer to a

case brought into a court to be judged, and the terms in the

original are all such as are proper for a court of justice; and

the thing itself is called the Lord's controversy, rib

Yehovah, Jehovah's suit at law. And hence it is said, He will

plead, litigate, with Israel.

Verse 6. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord] Now the people,

as defendants, appear; but instead of vindicating themselves, or

attempting to dispute what has been alleged against them, they

seem at once to plead guilty; and now anxiously inquire how they

shall appease the wrath of the Judge, how they shall make

atonement for the sins already committed.

Bow myself before the high God] They wish to pray, and to make

supplication to their Judge; but how shall they come before him?

They have no right to come into his presence. Some offering must

be brought; but of what kind, or of what value? Their sin is

unprecedented, and usual methods of access will not avail. They

are distracted in their minds, and make a variety of proposals to

themselves, some rational, some absurd and impossible, and some

even sinful.

Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings] This is reasonable,

and according to the law; but this will be insufficient.

Verse 7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams] These

might be procured, though with difficulty; but conscience says

neither will these do.

With ten thousands of rivers of oil] This is absurd and

impossible; but could even these be procured, could they all

make atonement for such guilt, and ingratitude, and rebellion?

Shall I give my first-born for my transgression] This was sinful

and wicked; but such offerings had been made by the Phoenicians,

and their successors the Carthaginians; and this very custom was

copied by the corrupt Israelites. See some cases of such

offerings, 2Ki 3:27; Le 20:27.

The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?] This clause is an

explanation of the former. Shall I make the first-born, the best

and goodliest of my children, chattath, a SIN-OFFERING for my

soul? And thus the original is used in a multitude of places.

When they had put all these questions to their reason and

conscience, they found no satisfaction; their distraction is

increased, and despair is about to take place, when Jehovah, the

plaintiff, in his mercy interposes:

Verse 8. He hath showed thee, O Man, what is good] All the modes

of expiation which ye have proposed are, in the sight of God,

unavailable; they cannot do away the evil, nor purify from the

guilt of sin. He himself has shown thee what is good; that which

is profitable to thee, and pleasing to himself. And what is

that? Answer, Thou art-

I. To do justly; to give to all their due.

1. To God his due; thy heart, thy body, soul, and spirit;

thy wisdom, understanding, judgment. "To love him with all thy

heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thy neighbour as thyself."

This is God's due and right from every man.

2. Thou art to give thy neighbour his due; to do to him as thou

wouldst that he should do to thee, never working ill to him.

3. Thou art to give to thyself thy due; not to deprive thy soul

of what God has provided for it; to keep thy body in temperance,

sobriety, and chastity; avoiding all excesses, both in action and

passion.

II. Thou art to love mercy; not only to do what justice

requires, but also what mercy, kindness, benevolence, and charity

require.

III. But how art thou to do this? Thou art to walk humbly with

thy God; , hatsnea, to humble thyself to walk. This

implies to acknowledge thy iniquity, and submit to be saved by his

free mercy, as thou hast already found that no kind of offering or

sacrifice can avail. Without this humiliation of soul there never

was, there never can be, any walking With God; for without his

mercy no soul can be saved; and he must be THY God before thou

canst walk with him. Many, when they hear the nature of sin

pointed out, and the way of salvation made plain through the blood

of the Lamb, have shut their eyes both against sin and the proper

sacrifice for it, and parried all exhortation, threatening, &c.,

with this text: "God requires nothing of us but to do justly, love

mercy, and walk humbly with him." Now I ask any man, Art thou

willing to stand or fall by this text? And it would cost me

neither much time nor much pains to show that on this ground no

soul of man can be saved. Nor does God say that this doing justly,

&c., shall merit eternal glory. No. He shows that in this way all

men should walk; that this is the duty of EVERY rational being;

but he well knows that no fallen soul can act thus without

especial assistance from him, and that it is only the regenerate

man, the man who has found redemption through the blood of the

cross, and has God for HIS God, that can thus act and walk.

Salvation is of the mere mercy of God alone; for by the works of

the law shall no flesh be justified.

The manner of raising attention, says Bp. Newcome, on

Mic 6:1, 2, by calling on man to urge his plea in the face of

all nature, and on the inanimate creation to hear the

expostulation of Jehovah with his people, is truly awakening and

magnificent. The words of Jehovah follow in Mic 6:3-5. And God's

mercies having been set before the people, one of them is

introduced in a beautiful dramatic form; asking what his duty is

towards so gracious a God, Mic 6:6, 7. The answer follows in the

words of the prophet, Mic 6:8. Some think we have a sort of

dialogue between Balak and Balaam, represented to us in the

prophetical way. The king of Moab speaks, Mic 6:6.

Balaam replies by another question in the two first hemistichs

of Mic 6:7. The

king of Moab rejoins in the remaining part of the verse; and

Balaam replies, Mic 6:8. Bps.

Butler and Lowth favour this. I cannot agree.

Verse 9. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city] No man is found

to hear; but the man of wisdom will hear, tushiyah; a word

frequent in the writings of Solomon and Job, signifying wisdom,

wealth, substance, reason, essence, happiness; any thing that is

complete; or that which is substantial, in opposition to vanity,

emptiness, mere show, unsubstantiality. When God speaks, the man

of common sense, who has any knowledge of God or his own soul,

will see thy name; but instead of yireh, will see, the

Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic, with twelve of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., have read yirey, they

that FEAR. The Vulgate reads:-

Et salus erit timentibus nomen tuum.

"And thou shalt be salvation to them that fear thy name."

The Septuagint-καισωσειφαβουμενουςτοονομααυτου.

And he shall save those who fear his name.-This the Arabic

copies.

The Targum has, "And the teachers shall fear the name." That is,

Yehovah.

The French Bible is very strange:-

Car ton nom volt comme il va de tout.

"For thy name sees how every thing goes."

The word tushiyah, mentioned above, which occasions all

the difficulty, has been read with an ain by the Vulgate and

Septuagint, as coming from the root yasha, to be saved; and

it is very likely that this was the original reading. The two last

letters in the word, , might have been easily mistaken in the

MS. for the letter where I may suppose the word stood thus,

, shall be saved; and as several MSS. read yirey,

they who fear, instead of yireh, he shall see, the

whole clause might have been just what it appears in the Vulgate

and Septuagint. It is also necessary to remark that the word in

dispute has various forms in some MSS., which is a strong

presumption against its authenticity. See Kennicott and De Rossi.

Verse 10. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness] Such as

false balances and deceitful weights. See on Ho 12:7. This shows

that they were not DOING JUSTLY. They did not give to each his

due.

Verse 12. For the rich men thereof are full of violence] This

shows that they did not love mercy.

The inhabitants thereof have spoken lies] This shows that they

did not humble themselves to walk with God.

Verse 13. Will I make thee sick in smiting thee] Perhaps better,

"I also am weary with smiting thee, in making thee desolate for

thy sins." They were corrected, but to no purpose; they had stroke

upon stroke, but were not amended.

Verse 14. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied] All thy

possessions are cursed, because of thy sins; and thou hast no real

good in all thy enjoyments.

And thy casting down] For veyeshchacha, "thy casting

down," Newcome, by transposing the and , reads

veyechshach, "and it shall be dark;" and this is probably the

true reading. The Arabic and Septuagint have read the same. "There

shall be calamity in the midst of thee." It shall have its seat

and throne among you.

Verse 15. Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap] Thou shalt

labour to amass property, but thou shalt not have God's blessing;

and whatever thou collectest, thy enemies shall carry away. And at

last carry thyself into captivity.

Verse 16. The statutes of Omri are kept] Omri, king of Israel,

the father of Ahab, was one of the worst kings the Israelites ever

had; and Ahab followed in his wicked father's steps. The statutes

of those kings were the very grossest idolatry. Jezebel, wife of

the latter, and daughter of Ithobaal, king of Tyre, had no fellow

on earth. From her Shakespeare seems to have drawn the character

of Lady Macbeth; a woman, like her prototype, mixed up of tigress

and fiend, without addition. Omri Ahab, and Jezebel, were the

models followed by the Israelites in the days of this prophet.

The inhabitants thereof a hissing] lishrekah, "for a

shriek;" because those who should see them should be both

astonished and affrighted at them.

There are few chapters in the prophets, or in the Bible,

superior to this for genuine worth and importance. The structure

is as elegant as it is impressive; and it is every way worthy of

the Spirit of God.

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