Bible Commentaries
Micah 1

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-2


Micah 1:2. Hear] Lit. Hear, ye peoples all of them “Some 140 or 150 years had flowed by since Micaiah, son of Imlah, had closed his prophecy in these words. Now they burst out anew. From age to age the Word of God holds its course, ever receiving new fulfilments, never dying out, until the end shall come” [Pusey]. All therein] Heb. the fulness thereof (Psalms 24:1). Similar appeals in Isaiah 1:2, and Deuteronomy 32:1. Witness] in a hostile sense, in judgment, as 1 Samuel 12:5; Malachi 3:5. Temple] i.e. from heaven where he is enthroned (Psalms 11:4), and from whence wrath is revealed (Romans 1:18).



“The Prophet’s first address is throughout of a threatening and punitive character; it is not till quite the close, that the sun of Divine grace breaks brightly through the thunder-clouds of judgment” [Keil]. In these words we have an appeal to all nations to observe the message of the Prophet.

I. A message from God. “The word of the Lord.” All prophets have the same truth to assert. Their message is Divine and not from “the will of man.” It declares the purpose, reveals the mercy and the judgment of God. It is seen in prophetic vision, felt and known to be certain and true. It bears witness to God in the hearts of men and in the nations of the earth.

II. A message from God through man. “That came to Micah.” The Prophet and no other man of his day was specially chosen to declare the word of the Lord. He was qualified by vision and spiritual intercourse with God. There is a human as well as a Divine element in the spoken or written word. God acts not on, but in and through, man. Vital energy was not lost in a passive state, and growth reduced to mere existence. The prophets spoke not by mechanical impulse or dictation. Their natural and spiritual gifts were not set aside. They had sympathy with truth and men. Their intellect and heart were fixed on the same pursuit, and God’s word found them in a waiting position.

III. A message from God through man for all people. For the people of the present and the future generations.

1. The present. Samaria and Jerusalem were immediately concerned, the chief cities of the two kingdoms. Judgment first begins at the house of God. Jerusalem, God’s people, must not be spared. But other people are often prominent in sin and punishment. Samaria is put first as chief in provocation. God deals in equity with men and chastises according to desert. Some are threatened and comforted; others judged without mercy. We expect equity in our intercourse with each other. Shall not the Judge of the earth do right, mete justice to each individually and to all men in everything? At last all ranks will be adjusted, and to every one will be given his due.

2. The future. “Hear, all ye people.” God warns the future through the present generations. Angels and men, heaven and earth, are cited to witness the solemn scene. The whole creation stands in court, to reprove the sins of men, and testify to the justice of Divine pleading. The guilty cannot escape. The “holy temple” will not protect the hypocrite, as tutelar deities were thought to protect the heathen. The majesty of God from heaven will overawe and silence the sinner. God will purge his floor, and discern between his nominal and real people. “He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.”


Micah 1:2. The Word. Micaiah son of his lmlah closed his prophecy with these words (1 Kings 22:28). The ministrations of one prophet are a continuation of his predecessors. They are not parts or parcels, but connected with Divine revelation in every age, and fill up one grand design. Hence learn,

1. The benevolence of the Word.

2. The adaptation of the Word.

3. The perpetuity of the Word.

Hear, all people. The judgment of Israel

1. A warning to all people.

2. A type of final judgment. God by the fulfilment of this word is a “witness” to the guilt of sin and the equity of his conduct. He warns before the stroke. Seek to be saved, and rest not in holy places and carnal security.

Hearken, O earth.

1. The trial of the Great Judges 2:0. The parties accused.

3. The witnesses called.
4. The seat of the Judge—The Judgment of the visible Church. It is Divine, public, searching, solemn, and righteous.

Holy temple. The elevation, supremacy, and invisibility of God’s throne [Spurgeon]. “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.”


Micah 1:1. Word. The Word of God is the bodying forth of his mind, the incarnation of his thought, the vehicle of his will; by which he would bring himself near to us, to woo us and awe us, to attract us by his love or terrify us by his judgments. It is the sum of all that the world knows of him. It is the expression of his character, the history of his procedure [Legge].

Verses 3-9


Micah 1:3. Tread upon the proud and idolatrous (high places) people, as Ruler over all the earth.

Micah 1:4.] Imagery from storms and earthquakes, to describe the terrors of God’s judgments (Psalms 18:8). The similes, “like wax.” (as in Psalms 68:3), and “like water,” are intended to express the complete dissolution of mountains and valleys. “The actual facts answering to this description are the destructive influences exerted upon nature by great national judgments” [Keil].

Micah 1:5. Trans.] as the cause of this judgment. Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitals of Israel and Judah, are the centres and source of corruption which has filled the kingdoms.

Micah 1:6. Heap] Samaria, judged first, will be destroyed—not a trace of the city will be left—and become like a heap of stones gathered from the field. Pour] Dash down the stones of the city into the valley beneath. “The stones of the temples and palaces of Samaria have been carefully removed from the rich soil, thrown together in heaps, built up in the rude walls of terraces, and rolled down into the valley below” [Porter’s Handbook].

Micah 1:7.] Her treasures were gathered from the hire of a harlot, and to the hire of a harlot must they return. Literal prostitution was practised in Babylon and Syria, and the hire was dedicated to the support of the priesthood, and idolatrous worship.

Micah 1:8.] The Prophet first laments himself, that he may touch others. Stripped] i.e. of shoes or sandals. Naked] i.e. without upper garment (1 Samuel 19:24). This representation accords with Isaiah 20:2, and symbolizes what would befall the people. Dragons] Jackals or wolves (Job 30:29), whose howlings are at night most lamentable. Ostrich] Remarkable for its peculiar shrieks in pain.

Micah 1:9. Wounds] Lit. the strokes inflicted upon her. Public calamities are often compared to diseases (Isaiah 1:6). Gate] “Because in it, par excellence, the people went out and in.” Even the capital would not be spared.



To quicken attention to his message, the Prophet declares God’s purpose to humble the most eminent and manifest his justice to all.

I. The seat of judgment. “The Lord cometh forth out of his place.” If the place means either the temple or heaven itself, the procedure is not ordinary. God quits the temple, and turns the mercy-seat into a throne of judgment. He has not retired from the government of the world, but rends the heavens and comes down in awful justice to sinful nations. His daily providence affords no rule to guide us when he “comes out of his place.” He manifests himself in surprising wrath (Isaiah 26:21), and performs “terrible things which we looked not for.”

II. The circumstances of judgment. “The mountains shall be molten under him,” &c. This may be figurative language, but it conveys a real truth. Nature trembles, and its stability dissolves at God’s presence. The hills melt like wax before the fire, the mountains pour down like floods into the valley. The earth in its lowest depths feels the indignation of a righteous God. Nature often realizes the destructive power of Divine judgments. History proves that all her forces are yoked to accomplish God’s purposes. The hardest will melt, the strongest cannot resist; “for, behold, the Lord will come with fire, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.”

III. The cause of judgment. “For the transgressions of Jacob, is all this.” Jerusalem, the centre of holiness, and the residence of Jehovah, was the seat of idols, and the fountain of uncleanness (2 Chronicles 28:24). The unity, the claims, and the being of God were denied in the worship of Baal (Ezekiel 16:31; 2 Chronicles 28:24-25). Samaria, the rival capital, was the seat of injustice, and the corrupter of the country. The sins of these places were obstinate and aggravating. Sin is the cause of all ruin, material and moral. Multiplied sins (transgressions) will bring severe strokes. External rites and outward profession will not secure “the house of Israel.” Wealth and population cannot defend Samaria. All have provoked God to anger, and must feel his severity. Those who take no warning and feel no shame, ought to learn that shame and warning are a desert and a presage to ruin. “They are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.”

IV. The effects of judgment. “The order of the sin was the order of the punishment,” says one.

1. High places would be overturned. God will “tread upon the high places of the earth.” Men of eminence, scenes of idolatry, and military fortifications; everything set in opposition to him would be trampled down and levelled in the dust. The lofty and the proud, the mighty and the secure, will be cast down. Those who trust in the height of the mountain or in the fertility of the valley, the munitions of rocks or the abundance of wealth, will be disappointed. There is no security against Divine judgment but in Christ Jesus.

2. Idolatry would be derdolished. The idols themselves would be stripped by the foe and destroyed. All graven images would be beaten to pieces. Gross superstitions and refined idolatry are spiritual adultery, and provoke God to jealousy. The hire and support of idolatry would be taken away. Micah adopts the language of Hosea (Hosea 2:5-8; Hosea 9:1; Hosea 10:6). The wealth or rewards received for worshipping idols, the gifts and votive offerings laid upon the altars, would enrich another nation. They had been gathered as the hire of a harlot, “and they shall return to the hire of a harlot.” Riches gained without God will be scattered away. Cursed in their origin, cursed in their end. “Ill got, ill spent.” “Whatever material prosperity is gained by ignoring or dethroning God is the hire, the price of the soul, and shall be burned out with fire.” Men shall be put to shame that abuse their gifts, and their sinful gain shall turn to everlasting loss.

3. The city would be destroyed. Samaria, the crown of pride (Isaiah 28:1), was to be reduced to its original meanness, the site of vine-plantings. Its gorgeous palaces and noble temples would be destroyed. The stones would be rolled down the hills, and gathered into heaps as monuments of ruin. The foundations would be laid bare, and not one stone left upon another. The destruction would be complete; fragments of human habitations, emblems of man’s labour and luxury, should lie amid the beauty and fertility of nature. Traces of sin and punishment are written in commercial ruin, national disgrace, and natural scenery. Whatever we build without God, church systems or family fortunes, and cement by strongest sins, will be hurled down with the storm; great will be their fall and eternal their ruins. “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.”


The strokes inflicted by God are most severe. The wound is incurable. Morally and politically, individually and generally, the case is desperate. Hence the Prophet is moved to bitter sorrow.

I. The moral disease of men is incurable. Obstinacy in sin will bring Divine judgments, and no hand can cure the wounds that God inflicts but his own.

1. It is a deadly disease. “Her wound is incurable,” lit. she is grievously sick of her wounds. The centre, the vital parts of the kingdom, are tainted, the capital is corrupted.

2. It is a universal disease. The calamity begins with Samaria and comes to Jerusalem, the seat of justice and of religion.

3. It is a hopeless disease. The Prophet saw no remedy in the present state of things. This is a sad picture of the condition of the sinner. He is not simply in distress, but morally diseased and morally incurable. “There are anodynes that may deaden their pains, and death will relieve them of their torture,” says a writer; “but a morally incurable soul is destined to pass into anguish, intense and more intense as existence runs on, and peradventure without end.” “Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous.”

II. This morally incurable wound should create intense sorrow. The Prophet vents his grief in all ways of expressing grief. He goes stripped, “half-naked,” as we say, without garments of beauty, despoiled, plundered by an enemy. He wails like the pitiable cry of a jackal in the night, or an ostrich bereaved of her young. He mourns with increasing feeling for the chastisement, and as an example to his people. We should lament not only the sufferings of saints but the punishments of sinners. Ministers themselves must be affected with the message they deliver to others. To win souls they must be men of sympathy. The impending ruin of the ungodly must move them to tears before God. “I will grieve from the heart over those who perish,” said one. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” “Why is my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed?”


Micah 1:3-4. Earth. Inanimate nature knows its Creator, and worships him in its own fashion. “States and kingdoms which stand out upon the world like mountains are utterly dissolved when he decrees their end. Systems as ancient and firmly-rooted as the hills pass away when he does but look upon them” [Spurgeon].

“Macbeth is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments” [Shakespeare].

Micah 1:5. Transgression. God’s justice on offenders goes not always in the same path, nor the same pace; and he is not pardoned for the fault who is for a while reprieved from the punishment [Fuller].

Micah 1:6-8. Heap. Travellers speak of the site of Samaria as strewed with masses of ruins; of its rich soil now cultivated in terraces; and of the stones that are collected together into heaps. The whole face of this part of the hill suggests the idea that the buildings of the ancient city had been thrown down from the brow of the hill. Ascending to the top, we went round the whole summit, and found marks of the same process everywhere [Narrative of Scottish Mission].

Micah 1:7. Broken. Its idols in whom she trusts, so far from protecting her, shall themselves go into captivity, broken up for the gold and silver whereof they were made. The wars of the Assyrians being religious wars, the idolatry of Assyria destroyed the idolatry and idols of Israel [Pusey].

Micah 1:9. Incurable. Moral disorganization can never be remedied by intellectual culture. Social reforms may alter circumstances, but the gospel only can remove the evils of society.

“Pause not; for the present time’s so sick
That present medicine must be ministered,
Or overthrow incurable ensues” [Shakespeare].

Verses 10-16


Micah 1:10.] The Prophet thinks now of the malicious joy of heathen neighbours. Ten places are mentioned in Micah 1:10-15 to depict what would happen in them. In most cases the things said of each city are a play upon the name of that city, a method of writing well adapted to impress the memory [Cowles].

Micah 1:11. Forth] To console others (Jeremiah 6:25). Standing] i.e. the sustenance of the foe.

Micah 1:12. Waited] for better fortune, but in vain [Calvin].

Micah 1:13. Bind] Flee as fast as possible from the advancing enemy. Begin.] The first to introduce false gods.

Micah 1:14. Thou] Israel would renounce all claim to Mor. and give it up to the foe; and Ach. would answer to its name, and disappoint Israel’s hopes.

Micah 1:15. Heir] A new possessor, viz., the Assyrian shall occupy the place, as they expelled former inhabitants, and Israel’s glory (Adullam) shall decay.

Micah 1:16. Bald] A token of deep mourning (Job 1:20; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 16:6). Children] wept for, as the loss of a mother. Eagle] Not the common eagle, but the bearded or carrion vulture. Judgments in general are described, not particular definite punishments, without precise methods of accomplishment, so that the predictions embrace all the judgments against Judah which took place from the Assyrian invasion until the Roman catastrophe [Keil].


The calamity of God’s people and the sorrow of the Prophet were such that should be unknown to the enemy, lest he should indulge in malignant joy, and add to affliction. Hence, in language borrowed from 2 Samuel 1:20, they are urged to conceal distress, suppress weeping, lest the Philistines in Gath should hear.


I. That some rejoice in the affliction of God’s people. “Declare it not,” &c. Many would be glad to see the Church in deepest misery. Strange to say that nearest neighbours are often bitterest enemies. Gath was next to the borders, but did not partake of the spirit of Judah. But God’s servants have great sympathy with his people, and constant jealousy for his honour. “Let none that wait on thee be ashamed.”

II. That God’s people cannot always hide their affliction. “Weep not,” it will be of no avail. Sometimes grief may be smothered by concealing it. At other times it is impossible to hide it. God will publish it as a discipline to his people and a warning to the world. Our afflictions must be noted by men, and under them they may be permitted to insult and reproach us. But God will defend his honour and his church. “Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants” (Cf. Psalms 89:50; 1 Peter 2:20).

III. That Gods people should humble themselves under their affliction. “Roll thyself in the dust.” If not to mourn in Gath, they may in Aphrah. Silent before the wicked, they may grieve in private. Noisy lamentation may be imprudent, but silent tears are becoming. When weeping would be the joy and laughter of God’s enemies it is often acceptable to God. From the dust we sprang, to the dust we must return, and affliction is designed to remind us of this. “O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation.”


Whether the following places be figurative or real, they set forth the greatness of the calamity which falls upon them by their names, qualities, and condition.

I. Great cities are often guilty of great sins. Proximity and commercial intercourse corrupt. Popular sins spring from certain ranks and certain places. Each has its special sin, and all are involved in idolatry and its miseries.

II. In the punishment of great cities God deals to each its due. Each city of Judah received its due. Saphir with its beauty would be clothed with shame; Zaanan with its flocks and population would be the encampment of the enemy, and unable to sympathize with Beth-ezel, its nearest neighbour. The inhabitants of Maroth would expect good and receive evil; Lachish would be strong only to flee, “like a brook that fails and deceives; her inheritance (Mareshah) inherited; herself taking refuge in dens and caves of the earth, yet even there found and bereft of her glory.” God weighs truly the responsibilities of each, and foremost in privileges will be foremost in punishment for the neglect of those privileges.

III. No earthly power can ward off the punishment of great cities. It may be lawful to defend ourselves in danger; but against God’s fierce anger none can prevail.

1. Human helps will be in vain. Maroth waited anxiously for good, but were disappointed (Micah 1:12). Beauty and strength, splendid positions and large populations, will not succour those who trust to them. Men who hope in sin will find bitterness in the end; and this bitterness may only be the beginning of a greator calamity. “Unto the gate of Jerusalem.”

2. Flight cannot save (Micah 1:13). Lachish had chariots and swift beasts, but where are they now? Shut up in the hand of the enemy, and unable to escape. “The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord.”

3. Presents cannot bribe. Lachish would send gifts to some town or country in Gath to purchase aid against the invader, but would be disappointed. Wicked men employ any means rather than seek God in trouble. They might learn from those whose sins are written on their foreheads, and whose name and nature are a lie. “The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the king of Israel.”

4. Great distance will not secure. Adullam was the remotest border to Assyria (Micah 1:15). Distance, if such there be, can never exempt from God’s judgments. He will find out and chastise the guilty wherever they be. Christ is the only security, and heaven the only abiding inheritance. Secure those blessings from which no enemy can drive you.

IV. Universal mourning results from the ruin of great cities. The body of the people, the mother cities, are called upon to mourn. The people will be taken captive and diminished, or if left behind will be weakened and despised. Sin in the end will turn mirth into bitterness, deprive of liberty, plunge into misery and everlasting lamentation. “And in that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth.”


This refers to the invasion of the Assyrian, the rod of God’s anger. He had subdued and ravaged Israel, and now entered Judah. The Prophet laments the horrors of the scene, and describes the effects of them upon the places in the line of march. Maroth was very interior, and situated nigh Jerusalem; and probably the inhabitants thought on that account they were safer than those who lived on the borders. This may remind us of the disappointments of life, the source of calamity, and the season of deliverance. They “waited carefully for good;” but in vain: “evil came.” Is such a disappointment a strange or unusual thing? What is there in life that is not uncertain, and does not expose the hope resting upon it? Is it Substance? Health? Children? Friends? Does the Scripture only cry, “All is vanity;” and, “Cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils”? Does not all history, observation, and experience tell us the same? Let the young, and all, be sober in expectation of earthly things. It is the way to escape the surprise and anguish of disappointment. Make the Lord your hope. He will not deceive us: he cannot fail us. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” See also the source of calamity. “Evil came down from the Lord.” This seems strange when we are assured that “every good and every perfect gift” comes down from him. Micah speaks of natural evil, or the evil of suffering. And what calamity is there that Scripture has not ascribed to God? A storm at sea? “He breaketh the ships of Tarshish.” Barrenness of soil? “He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness.” The loss of connections? “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me.” We oftener connect war with the follies and passions of men than other evils; but he has “created the waster to destroy.” Never view sufferings, public or private, personal or relative, abstractedly from God. Let not the instruments lead us to overlook his agency. They could have no power at all against us except it was given them from above. But how does this evil come from him? Some view mercy as separate from justice; and others justice as separate from mercy: one of these partial views genders presumption, the other despair. Extremes should be avoided in considering God as the righteous governor and the tender father. Everything in his present administration is adapted to show the union of holiness and goodness, to awaken fear and hope. The evils he sends are the effects of sin; the fruits to take away sin. We deserve them and need them; the one shows that we have no right to murmur, the other that we have no reason to complain. Cheerful submission is required; but this can only be given when we see the relation that affliction has to our desert and improvement. Mark also the time of deliverance. Though God saves his people he may permit destruction to draw very nigh. In this case he could have hindered the calamity at the frontier, but evil came “unto the gate of Jerusalem.” So far, but no farther, did the insulting foe come. Here were his proud waves stayed. Here his power and triumph ended. Hezekiah conquered him on his knees, and the Lord put his bridle into his jaws and drew him back. The angel made a great slaughter in the camp that night, showing that God can not only deliver in the greatest straits, but that he frequently does not interfere till the evil has reached its extremity. The delay is not abandonment. He waits to be gracious, and the season in which he will appear will display his glory and draw forth our praise. It is often darkest just before the break of day. “In the mount it shall be seen” [Jay].


Micah 1:10. To be indifferent to the honour of God, and to have no sorrow at reproach being brought on the cause of religion through the fall of its professors, is the mark of the carnal, unregenerate mind [Fausset].

Micah 1:11. Selfish men are often so taken up with their own sorrows that they have no sympathy for others. “The inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Beth-ezel.”

Micah 1:13. Beginning of sin. What a world of evil lies in the three words! [Pusey]. To be the first occasion and chief stumbling-block in a land’s defection brings on exemplary judgment [Hutcheson].

Micah 1:14. Learn—I. That in trouble men often flee to human help. Treaties, presents, and bribes are all tried rather than God. II. That God warns men against trusting to human help.

1. By their own experience.
2. By the experience of others. “The houses of Achzib” might have taught wisdom, for they are “a lie.” III. The failure of all human helps is conspicuous. They are known by their names, natures, and results. They deceive, they are “a lie.”

Micah 1:15. All possessions, houses, lands, and families are insecure when God is provoked—may be taken from us, and another may be the heir to them. “I will bring an heir unto thee.”

The glory of Israel.

1. Religious privileges are the glory of a nation.
2. This glory may depart through a nation’s sin. When religious ordinances are neglected or abused, and God is provoked, they cannot ward off judgment. A nation’s glory may then be laid in the dust.

Micah 1:16.

1. The signs of sorrow. Baldness, enlarged baldness. In other cases baldness forbidden Israel, but in sorrow for sin they were called to it (Isaiah 22:12). As the eagle, which not only loses its feathers, but its beauty, swiftness, and courage with them.

2. The causes of sorrow. The captivity of children. Indulgent fathers may become parricides, not parents. “Those who give themselves up to luxury are at least given up to miserable slavery. When a man makes his children effeminate he makes for himself grief and heart-pangs” [Lange].


Micah 1:10-16. God’s providences illustrate his word. Nations are punished for their sins. “History is a practical comment upon revelation, and revelation is a sure key to many parts of history.”

This passage of Micah (Micah 1:10-16) is to be compared with that noble one in Isaiah (Isaiah 10:28-32), where the Prophet describes the panic which spreads from one town to another near Jerusalem, when the Assyrian army under Sennacherib invaded Judah, and took all its fenced cities (Isaiah 36:1). Micah continues the prophetic description of Isaiah. Isaiah represents the panic, alarm, and havoc produced in the days of Hezekiah by the Assyrian army under Sennacherib invading Jerusalem from the north-east. Micah represents his career to the south-west, even to Lachish, mentioned by both the prophets (See Micah 1:13).

We know from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18) that the prophetic warnings and reproofs of Micah wrought powerfully on the mind of the good king Hezekiah; and that for a time the judgments impending over Jerusalem were averted by his repentance. Similar results appear to have been produced on him by the cheering voice of Isaiah, who completed the work of Micah, by inspiring the king with faith and hope; and God blessed the work of the two prophets, and the prayers of the penitent king, who at first had faltered (See 2 Kings 18:14-16), by delivering him and his people, and by destroying the army of Sennacherib, when it returned from Egypt in triumph, beneath the walls of Jerusalem. (See above, on Isaiah 37:36.) [Wordsworth.]

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Micah 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.