Micah 7

CHAPTER VII

The prophet begins this chapter with lamenting the decay of

piety and the growth of ungodliness, using a beautiful allegory

to imply (as explained in Mic 7:2)

that the good man is as seldom to be met with as the early fig

of best quality in the advanced season, or the cluster after

the vintage, 1, 2.

He then reproves and threatens in terms so expressive of great

calamities as to be applied in the New Testament to times of

the hottest persecution, 3-6.

See Mt 10:35, 36.

Notwithstanding which a Jew is immediately introduced

declaring, in the name of his captive people, the strongest

faith in the mercy of God the most submissive resignation to

his will, and the firmest hope in his favour in future times,

when they should triumph over their enemies, 7-10.

The prophet upon this resumes the discourse, and predicts their

great prosperity and increase, 11, 12;

although the whole land of Israel must first be desolated on

account of the great wickedness of its inhabitants, 13.

The prophet intercedes in behalf of his people, 14.

After which God is introduced promising, in very ample terms,

their future restoration and prosperity, 15-17.

And then, to conclude, a chorus of Jews is introduced, singing

a beautiful hymn of thanksgiving, suggested by the gracious

promises which precede, 18-20.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII

Verse 1. Wo is me!] This is a continuation of the preceding

discourse. And here the prophet points out the small number of the

upright to be found in the land. He himself seemed to be the only

person who was on God's side; and he considers himself as a

solitary grape, which had escaped the general gathering. The

word kayits, which is sometimes used for summer, and summer

fruits in general, is here translated late figs; and may here,

says Bishop Newcome, be opposed to the early ripe fig of superior

quality. See on Ho 9:10, and Am 8:1, 2. He desired to see the

first-ripe fruit-distinguished and eminent piety; but he found

nothing but a very imperfect or spurious kind of godliness.

Verse 2. The good man is perished out of the earth] A similar

sentiment may be found, Ps 12:1; Isa 57:1. As the

early fig of excellent flavour cannot be found in the advanced

season of summer, or a choice cluster of grapes after vintage, so

neither can the good and upright man be discovered by searching in

Israel. This comparison, says Bp. Newcome, is beautifully implied.

They hunt every man his brother with a net.] This appears to be

an allusion to the ancient mode of duel between the retiarius and

secutor. The former had a casting net, which he endeavoured to

throw over the head of his antagonist, that he might then despatch

him with his short sword. The other parried the cast; and when the

retiarius missed, he was obliged to run about the field to get

time to set his net in right order for another throw. While he

ran, the other followed, that he might despatch him before he

should be able to recover the proper position of his net; and

hence the latter was called secutor, the pursuer, as the other was

called retiarius, or the net man. I have explained this before on

Job, and other places; but because it is rarely noticed by

commentators, I explain the allusion here once more. Abp. Newcome

by not attending to this, has translated

ish eth achihu yatsudu cherem, "They hunt every man his brother

for his destruction;" though he put net in the margin.

Verse 3. That they may do evil with both hands] That is,

earnestly, greedily, to the uttermost of their power. The Vulgate

translates: Malum manuum suarum dicunt bonum; "The evil of their

hands they call good."

The prince asketh] A bribe, to forward claims in his court.

The judge asketh for a reward] That he may decide the cause in

favour of him who gives most money, whether the cause be good or

evil. This was notoriously the case in our own country before

the giving of Magna Charta; and hence that provision, Nulli

vendemus justitiam aut rectum: "We will not sell justice to any

man." And this was not the only country in which justice and

judgment were put to sale.

The great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire] Such consider

themselves above law, and they make no secret of their unjust

determinations. And so they wrap it up-they all conjoin in doing

evil in their several offices, and oppressing the poor; so our

translators have interpreted the original vayeabtuha,

which the versions translate variously. Newcome has, "And they do

abominably."

Verse 4. The best of them is as a brier] They are useless in

themselves, and cannot be touched without wounding him that comes

in contact with them. He alludes to the thick thorn hedges, still

frequent in Palestine.

The day of thy watchmen] The day of vengeance, which the

prophets have foreseen and proclaimed, is at hand. Now shall be

their perplexity; no more wrapping up, all shall be unfolded. In

that day every man will wish that he were different from what he

is found to be; but he shall be judged for what he is, and for the

deeds he has done.

Verse 5. Trust ye not in a friend] These times will be so evil,

and the people so wicked, that all bonds will be dissolved; and

even the most intimate will betray each other, when they can hope

to serve themselves by it.

On this passage, in the year 1798, I find I have written as

follows:-

"Trust ye not in a friend.-Several of those whom I have

delighted to call by that name have deceived me.

"Put ye not confidence in a guide.-Had I followed some of these

I should have gone to perdition.

"Keep the door of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.-My

wife alone never deceived me."

It is now twenty-seven years since, and I find no cause to alter

what I then wrote.

Verse 6. For the son dishonoureth the father] See the use our

Lord has made of these words, where he quotes them,

Mt 10:21, 25, 36, and the notes there.

Verse 7. Therefore I will look unto the Lord] Because things are

so, I will trust in the Lord more firmly, wait for him more

patiently, and more confidently expect to be supported, defended,

and saved.

Verse 8. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy] The captive

Israelites are introduced as speaking here and in the preceding

verse. The enemy are the Assyrians and Chaldeans; the fall

is their idolatry and consequent captivity; the darkness, the

calamities they suffered in that captivity; their rise and

light, their restoration and consequent blessedness.

To rejoice over the fall or miseries of any man, betrays a

malignant spirit. I have known several instances where people

professing to hold a very pure and Christian creed, having become

unfaithful and fallen into sin, their opponents, who held a very

impure and unchristian creed, have exulted with "Ha, ha! so would

we have it!" and have shown their malignity more fully, by giving

all possible publicity and circulation to such accounts. Perhaps

in the sight of God this was worse than the poor wretch's fall, in

which they exulted as having taken place in one who held a creed

different from their own. But these arose again from their fall,

while those jesters at holiness continued in the gall of

bitterness and bonds of inward corruption.

Verse 9. I will bear the indignation of the Lord] The words of

the penitent captives, acknowledging their sins and praying for

mercy.

Until he plead my cause] And wo to the slanderers, when God

undertakes to plead for the fallen who have returned to him with

deep compunction of heart, seeking redemption in the blood of

the cross.

Verse 10. Then she that is mine enemy] This may refer

particularly to the city of Babylon.

Shall she be trodden down] Literally fulfilled in the sackage of

that city by the Persians, and its consequent total ruin. It

became as mire; its walls, formed of brick kneaded with straw and

baked in the sun, becoming exposed to the wet, dissolved, so

that a vestige of the city remains not, except a few bricks digged

from under the rubbish, several pieces of which now lie before me,

and show the perishing materials of which the head of this proud

empire was composed.

Verse 11. In the day that thy walls are to be built] This refers

to Jerusalem; the decree, to the purpose of God to deliver the

people into captivity. "This shall be far removed." God having

purposed their return, I cannot think, with some commentators,

that this verse contains threatenings against Jerusalem, and not

promises. See the first chapter of Haggai, Hag 1:1, &c. where

the subject is similar; and the restoration of Jerusalem is

certainly what the prophet describes.

Verse 12. In that day also he shall come] Bp. Newcome

translates:-

"And in that day they shall come unto thee

From Assyria and the fenced cities;

And from Egypt even unto the river."

Calmet translates:-

"They shall come to thee from Assyria even unto Egypt;

And from Egypt even to the river; (Euphrates;)

And from one sea to another, and from one mountain to

another."

This, says he, gives an easy sense; whereas we cannot tell where

to find those fortified cities spoken of by other translators. The

Israelites were to return from their captivity, and re-occupy

their ancient country from Assyria to Egypt; that is, from the

river Euphrates to the river Nile; and from the Mediterranean

Sea to the Ocean, and from Mount Libanus to the mountains of

Arabia Petraea, or Mount Seir. See Am 8:12. This prediction was

literally fulfilled under the Asmoneans. The Jewish nation was

greatly extended and very powerful under Herod, at the time that

our Lord was born. See Calmet.

Verse 13. Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate] This

should be translated in the preter tense, "Though the land HAD

been desolate;" that is, the land of Israel had been desolate

during the captivity, which captivity was the "fruit of the evil

doings of them that had dwelt therein."

Verse 14. Feed thy people with thy rod] beshibtecha,

"with thy crook." The shepherd's crook is most certainly designed,

as the word flock immediately following shows. No rod of

correction or affliction is here intended; nor does the word

mean such.

Solitarily] They have been long without a shepherd or spiritual

governor.

In the midst of Carmel] Very fruitful in vines.

Bashan and Gilead] Proverbially fruitful in pasturages.

Verse 15. According to the days] This is the answer to the

prophet's prayer; and God says he will protect, save, defend, and

work miracles for them in their restoration, such as he wrought

for their fathers in their return from Egypt to the promised land.

Verse 16. The nations shall see and be confounded] Whether the

words in these verses (Mic 7:15-17) be applied to the return from

the Babylonish captivity, or to the prosperity of the Jews under

the Maccabees, they may be understood as ultimately applicable to

the final restoration of this people, and their lasting prosperity

under the Gospel.

Verse 18. Who is a God like unto thee, &c.] Here is a challenge

to all idol worshippers, and to all those who take false views of

the true God, to show his like. See his characters; they are

immediately subjoined.

1. He pardoneth iniquity. This is the prerogative of God alone;

of that Being who alone has power to save or to destroy.

2. He passeth by transgression. He can heal backsliding, and

restore them that are fallen.

3. He retaineth not his anger forever. Though, justly displeased

because of sin, he pours out his judgments upon the wicked; yet

when they return to him, he shows "that he retaineth not his anger

forever," but is indescribably ready to save them.

4. He delighteth in mercy. Judgment is his strange work: he is

ever more ready to save than to destroy. Nothing can please him

better than having the opportunity, from the return and repentance

of the sinner, to show him that mercy without which he must perish

everlastingly.

5. Because he is such a God-1. "He will turn again." His face

has been long turned from us, because of our sins. 2. "He will

have compassion upon us" pity our state, and feel for our sorrows.

3. "He will subdue our iniquities." Though they have been mighty,

he will bring them down, and bruise them under our feet. 4. "He

will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Will fully

pardon them, and never more remember them against us. Instead of

chattotham, THEIR sins, five MSS. of Kennicott's and De

Rossi's, with the Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic read

chattotheynu, OUR sins. He will plunge them into eternal

oblivion, never more to come into sight or remembrance; like a

stone dropped into the "depths of the sea."

Verse 20. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob] The promises

which he has made to Jacob and his posterity. Not one of them can

ever fall to the ground. "And the mercy to Abraham, which thou

hast sworn;" viz., that "in his Seed all the families of the earth

should be blessed;" that the Messiah should come from ABRAHAM,

through his son ISAAC, by JACOB and DAVID; be a light to lighten

the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. And this

promise, and this oath, God has most signally fulfilled by the

incarnation of Christ, who was sent to bless us by turning away

every one of us from his iniquities; and for this purpose he was

delivered for our offenses, and rose again for our justification;

and repentance and remission of sins are preached in his name to

all nations. The proclamation was first made at Jerusalem; and

that the prophet refers to this, is evident from the use made of

these words by Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, when,

under the full afflatus of the Spirit of God, he quoted this

prophecy of Micah, as fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ,

Lu 1:72, 73. The

Chaldee paraphrases this last verse with spirit and propriety:

"Thou wilt give the truth to Jacob his son, as thou hast promised

by oath to him in Beth-el. And the mercy to Abraham and to his

seed after him, as thou didst swear to him amidst the divisions.

Thou wilt be mindful of us on account of the binding of Isaac, who

was bound upon the altar before thee. And thou wilt do us that

good, which, from the most ancient days, thou hast promised to our

fathers by an oath." Between the divisions, refers to the covenant

made between God and Abraham, Ge 15:9-11, 17, 18. Well might the

prophet exult in his challenge to earth and hell. WHO IS A GOD

LIKE UNTO THEE! Hell is speechless, earth is dumb. Infidels dare

not open their mouths!!! Hallelujah! mi El camocha!

JESUS is the mighty God and Saviour, pardoning iniquity,

transgression, and sin, and saving to the uttermost all that come

unto God through him. Blessed be God! Reader, lay this to heart.

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