Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
UNIVERSALITY OF THE
PRAYER, AND BY THE
1. I am as when, &c.--It is the same with me as with one seeking
fruits after the harvest, grapes after the vintage. "There is not a
cluster" to be found: no "first-ripe fruit" (or "early fig";
which "my soul desireth" [MAURER]. So I look in
vain for any good men left
2. The Hebrew expresses "one merciful and good in relation to
man," rather than to God.
is perished out of the earth--
3. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly--literally, "Their
hands are for evil that they may do it well" (that is, cleverly and
the great man, he--emphatic repetition. As for the great man,
he no sooner has expressed his bad desire (literally, the "mischief"
or "lust of his soul"), than the venal judges are ready to wrest the
decision of the case according to his wish.
so they wrap it up--The Hebrew is used of intertwining
cords together. The "threefold cord is not quickly broken"
here the "prince," the "judge," and the "great man" are the three in
guilty complicity. "They wrap it up," namely, they conspire to carry
out the great man's desire at the sacrifice of justice.
4. as a brier--or thorn; pricking with injury all who come in
contact with them
(2Sa 23:6, 7;
the day of thy watchmen--the day foretold by thy (true) prophets, as
the time of "thy visitation" in wrath
[GROTIUS]. Or, "the day of thy
false prophets being punished"; they are specially threatened as
being not only blind themselves, but leading others blindfold
now--at the time foretold, "at that time"; the prophet transporting
himself into it.
They shall not know whither to turn.
5. Trust ye not in a friend--Faith is kept nowhere: all to a man are
When justice is perverted by the great, faith nowhere is safe. So, in
gospel times of persecution, "a man's foes are they of his own
(Mt 10:35, 36;
guide--a counsellor [CALVIN]
able to help and advise (compare
Ps 118:8, 9; 146:3).
The head of your family, to whom all the members of the family
would naturally repair in emergencies. Similarly the Hebrew is
and "chief friends" in
her that lieth in thy bosom--thy wife
6. son dishonoureth the father--The state of unnatural lawlessness in
all relations of life is here described which is to characterize the
last times, before Messiah comes to punish the ungodly and save Israel
7. Therefore I will look unto the Lord--as if no one else were before
mine eyes. We must not only "look unto the Lord," but also "wait
for Him." Having no hope from man
(Mic 7:5, 6),
Micah speaks in the name of Israel, who herein, taught by chastisement
to feel her sin
casts herself on the Lord as her only hope," in patient waiting
She did so under the Babylonian captivity; she shall do so again
hereafter when the spirit of grace shall be poured on her
8. Rejoice not--at my fall.
when I fall, I shall arise--
when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light--Israel reasons as
her divine representative, Messiah, reasoned by faith in His hour of
darkness and desertion
(Isa 50:7, 8, 10).
Israel addresses Babylon, her triumphant foe (or Edom), as a
female; the type of her last and worst foes
(Ps 137:7, 8).
"Mine enemy," in Hebrew, is feminine.
the indignation of the Lord--His punishment inflicted on me
The true penitent "accepts the punishment of his iniquity"
(Le 26:41, 43);
they who murmur against God, do not yet know their guilt
(Job 40:4, 5).
execute judgment for me--against my foe. God's people plead guilty
before God; but, in respect to their human foes, they are innocent and
undeserving of their foes' injuries.
bring me forth to the light--to the temporal and spiritual redemption.
I shall behold his righteousness--His gracious faithfulness to His
10. shame shall cover her--in seeing how utterly mistaken she was in
supposing that I was utterly ruined.
Where is . . . thy God--
(Ps 42:3, 10).
If He be "thy God," as thou sayest, let Him come now and deliver
thee. So as to Israel's representative, Messiah
mine eyes shall behold her--a just retribution in kind upon the foe
who had said, "Let our eye look upon Zion." Zion shall behold her
foe prostrate, not with the carnal joy of revenge, but with spiritual
joy in God's vindicating His own righteousness
shall she be trodden down--herself, who had trodden down me.
11. thy walls . . . be built--under Cyrus, after the seventy years'
captivity; and again, hereafter, when the Jews shall be restored
shall the decree be far removed--namely, thy tyrannical decree or
rule of Babylon shall be put away from thee, "the statutes that were not
The Hebrew is against MAURER'S translation,
"the boundary of the city shall be far extended," so as to
contain the people flocking into it from all nations
Isa 49:20; 54:2).
12. In that day also--rather, an answer to the supposed question of
Zion, When shall my walls be built? "The day (of thy walls being built)
is the day when he (that is, many) shall come to thee from Assyria,"
DIEU]. The Assyrians (including the Babylonians) who
spoiled thee shall come.
and from the fortified cities--rather, to suit the parallelism,
"from Assyria even to Egypt." (Matzor may be so translated). So
Assyria and Egypt are contrasted in
[MAURER]. CALVIN agrees with
English Version, "from all fortified cities."
from the fortress even to the river--"from Egypt even to the
river" Euphrates (answering in parallelism to "Assyria")
Isa 11:15, 16;
13. However glorious the prospect of restoration, the Jews are not to
forget the visitation on their "land" which is to intervene for the
"fruit of (evil caused by) their doings"
Isa 3:10, 11;
14. Feed thy people--Prayer of the prophet, in the name of his people
to God, which, as God fulfils believing prayer, is prophetical of what
God would do. When God is about to deliver His people, He stirs up
their friends to pray for them.
Feed--including the idea of both pastoral rule and care over His
Margin), regarded as a flock
(Ps 80:1; 100:3).
Our calamity must be fatal to the nation, unless Thou of Thy unmerited
grace, remembering Thy covenant with "Thine heritage"
(De 4:20; 7:6; 32:9),
shalt restore us.
thy rod--the shepherd's rod, wherewith He directs the flock
No longer the rod of punishment
which dwell solitarily in the wood, in . . .
Carmel--Let Thy people who have been dwelling as it were in a
solitude of woods (in the world, but not of it),
scattered among various nations, dwell in Carmel, that is, where there
are fruit-bearing lands and vineyards [CALVIN].
Rather, "which are about to dwell (that is, that they may dwell)
separate in the wood, in . . . Carmel" [MAURER], which are to be no longer mingled with the
heathen, but are to dwell as a distinct people in their own land. Micah
has here Balaam's prophecy in view (compare
where also Balaam is referred to). "Lo, the people shall dwell
To "feed in the wood in Carmel," is to feed in the rich pastures among
its woods. To "sleep in the woods," is the image of most perfect
So that the Jews' "security," as well as their distinct
nationality, is here foretold. Also
Bashan--famed for its cattle
Parallel to this passage is
Bashan and Gilead, east of Jordan, were chosen by Reuben, Gad, and half
Manasseh, as abounding in pastures suited for their many cattle
15. thy . . . him--both referring to Israel. So in
the person is changed from the first to the third, "us . . .
our . . . their." Jehovah here answers Micah's prayer in
assuring him, that as He delivered His people from Egypt by miraculous
power, so He would again "show" it in their behalf
(Jer 16:14, 15).
16. shall see--the "marvellous things"
confounded at all their might--having so suddenly proved unavailing:
that might wherewith they had thought that there is nothing which they
could not effect against God's people.
lay . . . hand upon . . . mouth--the gesture of silence
(Job 21:5; 40:4;
They shall be struck dumb at Israel's marvellous deliverance, and no
longer boast that God's people is destroyed.
ears . . . deaf--They shall stand astounded so as not to hear what
shall be said [GROTIUS]. Once they had eagerly drunk in all rumors as so
many messages of victories; but then they shall be afraid of hearing
them, because they continually fear new disasters, when they see the God
of Israel to be so powerful
[CALVIN]. They shall close their ears so as
not to be compelled to hear of Israel's successes.
17. lick the dust--in abject prostration as suppliants
Isa 49:23; 65:25).
move out of their holes--As reptiles from their holes, they
shall come forth from their hiding-places, or fortresses
to give themselves up to the conquerors. More literally, "they shall
tremble from," that is, tremblingly come forth from their coverts.
like worms--reptiles or crawlers
they shall be afraid of the Lord--or, they shall in fear turn
with haste to the Lord. Thus the antithesis is brought out. They
shall tremble forth from their holes: they shall in trepidation
turn to the Lord for salvation (compare Note, see on
fear because of thee--shall fear Thee, Jehovah (and so fear Israel
as under Thy guardianship). There is a change here from speaking of God to speaking to God
[MAURER]. Or rather, "shall fear thee,
18. Grateful at such unlooked-for grace being promised to Israel,
Micah breaks forth into praises of Jehovah.
passeth by the transgression--not conniving at it, but forgiving it;
leaving it unpunished, as a traveller passes by what he chooses not
to look into
and "mark iniquities,"
the remnant--who shall be permitted to survive the previous judgment:
the elect remnant of grace
(Mic 4:7; 5:3, 7, 8).
retaineth not . . . anger--
delighteth in mercy--God's forgiving is founded on His nature, which
delights in loving-kindness, and is averse from wrath.
19. turn again--to us, from having been turned away from us.
subdue our iniquities--literally, "tread under foot," as being hostile
and deadly to us. Without subjugation of our bad propensities, even
pardon could not give us peace. When God takes away the guilt of sin
that it may not condemn us, He takes away also the power of sin that it
may not rule us.
cast . . . into . . . depths of the sea--never to rise again to view,
buried out of sight in eternal oblivion: not merely at the shore side,
where they may rise again.
our . . . their--change of person. Micah in the first case identifying
himself and his sins with his people and their sins; in the second,
speaking of them and their sins.
20. perform the truth--the faithful promise.
to Jacob . . . Abraham--Thou shalt make good to their posterity the
promise made to the patriarchs. God's promises are called "mercy,"
because they flow slowly from grace; "truth," because they will be
(Lu 1:72, 73;
sworn unto our fathers--
(Ps 105:9, 10).
The promise to Abraham is in
to Isaac, in
to Jacob, in
This unchangeable promise implied an engagement that the seed of the
patriarchs should never perish, and should be restored to their
inheritance as often as they turned wholly to God
(De 30:1, 2).