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The church, complaining of her small number, and the general corruption, putteth her confidence not in man, but in God. She triumpheth over her enemies. God comforteth her by promises, by confusion of the enemies, and by his mercies.
Before Christ 710.
Micah 7:1. For I am as when they have gathered— For I am like to those who are about to gather the summer fruits, and to him who is about to pluck the vintage: there are no grapes which I can eat, nor first-fruits which my soul desireth. Houbigant; who supposes, that the prophet here introduces our Saviour speaking; and certainly the discourse of the prophet, and the conduct of our Lord, Mar 11:13 have a great conformity to each other.
Micah 7:3. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly— Their hands are prepared for evil, not for good: the prince asketh, and the judge demandeth for him. He who is great openly avows the wickedness of his soul, and they detest him. Houbigant.
Micah 7:4. The most upright is sharper than a thorn-hedge— Rauwolff tells us, that about Tripoli there are abundance of vineyards and fine gardens, inclosed for the most part with hedges; between which gardens, run several roads and pleasant shady walks. The hedges, he says, chiefly consist of the rhamnus, paliurus, and other thorny plants. The prophet alludes to these. See the Observations, p. 217.
Micah 7:7. Therefore I will look unto the Lord— The same divine Person, says Houbigant, goes on to speak, who said in the Gospel, A man's enemies are those of his own household; and who clearly foretels here both his passion and resurrection.
Micah 7:9. Because I have sinned against him— Because I am about to be his victim, or sacrifice for sin. Nothing is more common in the sacred Scripture, than to denote the expiation of sin by the word חטא cheit. See Houbigant.
Micah 7:11. In the day, &c.— In the day that thy walls shall be rebuilt, that day shall remove from thee the decree or judgment; that is to say, thine established laws; the laws of thy kingdom and temple. That threats, not promises, are contained in this passage, will appear probable to the reader who attends to what follows; particularly the words, The land shall be desolate. The Jews then lost their rites, and the laws of their kingdom, when they had but just repaired their walls under the reign of Herod, who rebuilt and enlarged the temple, and fortified the city. See Houbigant.
Micah 7:12. In that day, &c.— That day shall bring thine enemies, as from Assyria, so also from Egypt; as from Egypt, so also from the river, &c. The Roman forces came against the Jews, both from Egypt, and from the countries of the East, which were formerly subject to the Assyrians. Houbigant.
Micah 7:13. Notwithstanding, the land shall be desolate— And the land shall be laid waste, with its inhabitants; this shall be the fruit of their doings. Houbigant.
Micah 7:14. Feed thy people— These are the words of the prophet to the same divine Person who had said that he should arise after he had fallen, Mic 7:8 considering whom as a shepherd, he prays him to feed his flock in fertile pastures; for this is meant by Bashan, Gilead, and Carmel. The prophet, therefore, prays for those sheep of whom Christ himself hath said, My sheep hear my voice. The Messiah answers the prophet in the 15th verse, where, instead of Thy coming out, we should read, His coming out.
Micah 7:16. The nations shall see— The prophet speaks here, to the end of the chapter; foretelling the miracles of the rising church, and the pardon of sins to be given by the Lord Jesus Christ. See Houbigant.
Micah 7:19. And thou wilt cast all their sins, &c.— Houbigant very properly joins the preceding clauses in this verse to the 18th, because the words pass into the second person, which continues to be used in the 20th verse. The whole is a beautiful prediction of gospel grace and mercy.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The prophet here bewails his unhappy fate, compelled to dwell among such an abandoned people; for a gracious heart is pained to behold the overflowings of ungodliness.
1. He was singular and solitary, and scarcely could find a gracious companion amid the thousands of his countrymen; so few good men remained, as the berries which hung on the vine after the gleanings. There is no cluster to eat, no society of upright men to join with; my soul desired the first ripe fruit, longed for the converse of such as had the first fruits of the Spirit, as the holy men of old; but there were none remaining. The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men, at least the prophet could not find them; but, like Elijah, thought he was left alone. Note; It is a sad symptom of a nation's ruin, when good men are taken away, and they who rise up in their places appear utterly degenerated from the piety of their ancestors.
2. They stop at nothing to get wealth, lying in wait for blood, that they may seize the spoil of the innocent; and, like wild beasts, hunting their very brethren into their toils, that they may plunder and oppress them. With both hands earnestly they set themselves to the practice of wickedness; and even the magistrates and princes are chief in the transgression, judging for reward; money, not justice, ever carrying the cause before them: and the great man he uttereth his mischievous desire; so they wrap it up, or twist it together; emboldened by the known corruption of the judges, he is not afraid to appear openly in a bad cause; and having the princes on his side, they make the cords of iniquity strong, or they perplex it, rendering the matter so intricate, that the truth cannot be easily unravelled. The best of them, and bad indeed is that best, is as a brier, mischievous and hurtful; and the most upright is sharper than a thorn-hedge; they who have any transactions with them are sure to be scratched and torn; and for such abominations God will visit them; the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh, the day which the true prophets predicted, and the time when judgment should pass on the wicked watchmen in church and state; now shall be their perplexity, unable to extricate themselves from the troubles in which they were involved.
3. All good faith was lost among them; no such thing as a friend was to be met with, and no confidence to be put in any who pretended to be a guide in church or state; nay, the very wife of their bosom was not to be trusted, being in those degenerate days base enough to betray the secrets of her husband.
4. All reverence of parents was banished, the son dishonoureth the father, speaking contemptuously of him, behaving disrespectfully and disobediently; and the daughter riseth up against the mother, with sauciness unbecoming her sex, as well as her relation; the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies are the men of his own house; his children, his servants, who should he most solicitous to advance his interest, conspiring to ruin him. Note; Nothing shews an abandoned heart more strongly than contempt of parental authority.
2nd, In these calamitous times the prophet looks upward; thence cometh his hope. I will look unto the Lord, since no dependence was to be placed on man; I will wait for the God of my salvation, for the performance of his promises, the removal of the present distresses, or for Christ's appearing, whose incarnation the good men of old so earnestly desired; my God will hear me, and answer my prayers, of which also all his believing people may be confident, when they patiently wait upon him. Having thus cast his care upon God, the prophet, in the person of his people,
1. Professes his confidence in God. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; though cast down, God's believing people were not destroyed from the face of the earth; and short would be the triumphing of their enemies; when I fall, I shall arise, strengthened with divine power; when I sit in darkness, disconsolate, dejected, the Lord shall be a light unto me, reviving, comforting, and quickening me, and bringing me out of all my afflictions; and thus at all times ought believers to stay themselves upon him.
2. He humbly bows before the chastening rod, and owns the righteousness of the sufferings brought upon the land. I will bear the indignation of the Lord with patient submission, because I have sinned against him, and therefore should not dare to murmur against God's righteous judgments; for all true penitents lay their mouths in the dust; whatever indignation is upon them, their sins have deserved it, and they will justify God in his judgments; and, so doing, they may hope for God's appearing on their behalf; until he plead my cause, as he assuredly will for all such in due time; and execute judgment for me, pouring down vengeance on all the oppressors of his people; and he will bring me forth to the light, espouse their quarrel; and, rescuing them from their calamities, make his favour towards them openly appear; and I shall behold his righteousness; his justice in punishing their wicked enemies, his grace in succouring his afflicted people, his faithfulness in accomplishing his promises; for they who humbly submit themselves to God, and cast their care upon him, shall ever find that he careth for them.
3. Their enemies, covered with confusion, shall behold this salvation, so unlike what they looked for. They once tauntingly asked, Where is the Lord thy God? and now are they answered, Lo! this is our God, and we have waited for him: mine eye shall behold her; their enemies, reduced to the lowest state of abject wretchedness; now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets: which was fulfilled in the conquest of Babylon by the Persians, and shall be proved true in the destruction of all the foes of God's spiritual faithful Israel. In the day that thy walls are to be built, the walls of Jerusalem, after their return from Babylon; in that day shall the decree be far removed, which obstructed the building for a while. In that day also he shall come even to thee, multitudes of the Jews returning to Jerusalem from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, where they had been captives, and from all places whither they had been dispersed and fled for shelter. And in a spiritual sense this may be applied to the building of the walls of the spiritual Zion; into which, from all parts, multitudes of converts will flock together. Notwithstanding, the land shall be desolate, because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings, these gracious prophesies shall not supersede the divine threatenings going before, so as to embolden the impenitent with hopes of impunity. See the Annotations for another interpretation of this passage.
3rdly, We have,
1. The prophet's prayer on the behalf of his people, Feed thy people with thy rod, directing them in their way, and bringing them into green pastures; the flock of thine heritage, whom he had as a nation called to be a peculiar people; which dwell solitarily in the wood, separated from the rest of mankind, to preserve the worship of Jehovah, the one true and only God; and even in their captivity unmixed with the nations; in the midst of Carmel, scattered in Assyria, as sheep upon a mountain without a shepherd: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old, in the richest pastures, abounding in all blessings spiritual and temporal; as will be the case when they shall be gathered from their dispersion into the gospel-church, and made one fold with the Gentiles under one shepherd.
2. God is pleased graciously to answer the prophet's prayer. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt, will I shew unto him marvellous things; as wonderful should be their deliverance from Babylon, as from Egypt; and more amazing his work of redemption by Jesus Christ, rescuing his believing people from their spiritual enemies, and eclipsing all the former manifestations of his power and grace exerted on their behalf. Their insulting foes shall then be confounded, silent with shame, and stopping their ears, as unwilling to hear the wonders of God's love towards his faithful ones. Yea, the curse of the serpent shall be upon them, Gen 3:14 trodden into the dust, and prostrate before those whom once they trampled upon like worms of the earth, scarcely daring to lift their heads from their lurking-places; for fear of the Lord our God, whose judgments are upon them; and because of thee, whom they have abused, but now behold triumphant over them. And so low shall every enemy of Christ's church and people be brought at last.
3. With wonder, love, and praise, the prophet beholds what God is about to do for his church. Who is a god like unto thee? None can be found like him for the perfections of his nature, and the works of his providence and grace; especially that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage; this being God's distinguishing glory, that he is a pardoning God; and this above all things raises the admiration, and engages the affections of the miserable, broken-hearted sinner: he retaineth not his anger for ever; though for a time, by our unfaithfulness, we provoke him to visit our iniquities with the rod, and our sin with scourges, he is not implacable nor inexorable, if we look to him in true contrition; but ready to receive the returning soul, because he delighteth in mercy, and waits to be gracious; more ready to pardon than we to pray, and willing to give exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think. He will turn again towards the penitent sinner, though he withdraw for a little moment his loving-kindness in displeasure, and turn away his face from him; he will have compassion upon us, when we mourn his absence, and seek his return; he will then lift up again the light of his countenance, removing our sorrows, and speaking peace to our troubled but longing souls: he will subdue our iniquities, delivering us from the power as well as punishment of them; breaking the yoke of corruption, and putting our inbred enemies under our feet. His grace shall overcome our depravity, and sin shall not have any longer the dominion over us: which a soul that has tasted the bitterness of sin looks upon as the most inestimable blessing: and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea; they shall be not only forgiven, but, as it were, forgotten; totally done away in the blood of a Redeemer. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham; the faithfulness of God is engaged to every faithful soul for the fulfilment of the covenant, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible that God should lie, we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge, to lay hold of the hope set before us. And for this, for ever and for ever praise the Lord, O my soul!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Micah 7". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27