Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.Micah 6:1-2. Hear now what the Lord saith — Here begins a new discourse, respecting the causes of the evils which hung over the Jewish nation. Arise — This is God’s command to Micah; contend thou before the mountains — Argue the case between God and thy people; and speak as if thou wouldest make the mountains hear thee, to testify for me. Hear, O ye mountains — God often appeals to inanimate creatures for the justice of his proceedings, thereby to upbraid the stupidity of men; the Lord’s controversy — Or the Lord’s cause or matter of complaint. Here the prophet begins to execute what he had been commanded in the preceding verse. And ye strong foundations of the earth — He alludes to a fabric raised on immoveable foundations, but, strictly speaking,
“The earth self-balanced on her centre hangs.”
For the Lord hath a controversy with his people — He will enter into judgment with them, for their impieties, as being injurious to his honour, and for which his justice demands satisfaction.
Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.
O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.Micah 6:3-4. O my people, what have I done unto thee? — What injustice or unkindness? Wherein have I wearied thee? — What grievous, burdensome impositions have I laid upon thee? Or, what have I done, or said, or enjoined, to cause thee to be weary of me? The words allude to the forms of courts of justice, wherein actions are tried between man and man. God allows his people to offer any plea which they could in their own behalf. For I brought thee out of Egypt, &c. — Here, on the other hand, God puts them in mind of the great favours he had bestowed upon them in delivering them out of the Egyptian bondage, by the conduct of Moses and Aaron, and Miriam their sister, who is here mentioned as having been endued with the spirit of prophecy, and raised up to be an assistant to her brothers, and an example and counsellor to the women.
For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.Micah 6:5. O my people, remember, &c. — Call to remembrance what Balaam said in answer to Balak, when he consulted him, namely, that there was no enchantment against Jacob, &c., nothing that could be done against them, nothing that could overthrow them but their own sins; that they were blessed, and it could not be reversed by any thing but their own forsaking God and his service, under whose particular protection they were. From Shittim unto Gilgal — From the encampment at Shittim, Numbers 25:1, on the way to that at Gilgal, Joshua 4:19. Balaam gave different answers in the interval between those places. But some think this sentence should not be connected with what goes before, but that it begins a new sentence, the purport of which is, Remember, O my people, from Shittim unto Gilgal; that is, what things I did, what benefits I bestowed upon you, from the time you were at Shittim till you came to Gilgal. God had indeed before bestowed upon them great benefits, but at this particular time they received more than ordinary instances of his kindness toward them, particularly in causing the waters of Jordan to run back, to let them pass through; and in the fall of the walls of Jericho. That ye may know the righteousness of the Lord — His mercy, justice, truth, and faithfulness.
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?Micah 6:6-7. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord — After the preceding reproof of the people’s ingratitude, they are here introduced as anxiously inquiring how they may propitiate God’s displeasure, and avert his judgments. They intimate that they are ready to offer any expiatory sacrifices, though never so costly, for that purpose. Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, &c. — Will God accept of the ordinary sacrifices, such as we have offered on other occasions, as an atonement for sin? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, &c. — With a prodigious number; or ten thousands of rivers of oil — Were it possible to give them? Doth he expect more costly sacrifices than ordinary? We are ready, if that will appease him, to offer up to him multitudes of rams, and to add meat-offerings, prepared with oil, in proportion, though it should cost us an immeasurable quantity of that article. Shall I give my firstborn, &c. — The dearest of my offspring, or any other of my children, to Jehovah, by way of atonement for my transgression? It is well known that the Phenicians, and their descendants the Carthaginians, sacrificed their children to Saturn or Molech, and in their great dangers they were wont to offer the dearest of them. And some of the idolatrous Jews and Israelites imitated this horrid practice: see note on Leviticus 18:21, where God in a solemn manner prohibits it, as he frequently does elsewhere. These two verses give us an exact description of the character of hypocrites and habitual sinners, who hope to obtain God’s favour by performing certain external ceremonies; and are willing to purchase their own pardon upon any terms, except that of reforming their lives.
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?Micah 6:8. He hath showed thee, O man, what is good — He hath showed thee that there is no forgiveness without repentance, and that repentance is but a name, unless there be a ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well: and that this implies the practice of every branch of piety and virtue; the performance of every duty that we owe to God, our neighbour, and ourselves; 1st, To do justly — To render to all their dues, to superiors, equals, inferiors; to be true and just to all, and to oppress none, in their persons, property, or reputation; in our dealings with others to carry a chancery in our own breasts, and to act according to equity. 2d, To love mercy — Not to use severity, or exercise malice, envy, revenge, enmity, or hatred toward any, but to be compassionate, merciful, forgiving, kind, and beneficent toward all, according to our ability. And, 3d, To walk humbly with thy God — To humble thyself before the holy and just God, under a deep sense of thy past guilt and present unworthiness, renouncing all high thoughts of thyself, and all dependance on thy own righteousness for justification before him, but relying solely on his mercy, through the Mediator. The words imply, too, that we should keep up constant communion with God, by the exercise of an humble, holy, loving, and obedient faith, serving the Lord, as the apostle says of himself, in all humility of mind, and with continual reverence and godly fear. “See here the true spirit of the divine law! See here what makes a true Israelite! a truth which the carnal Jews could never comprehend: in vain did their legislator and their prophets inculcate it upon every occasion. They always had recourse to their gross conceptions, their attachment to sacrifices, and merely external services: herein they imagined their perfection to consist; while they neglected the more essential duties of man, and the practice of the most solid virtues, justice, benevolence, and piety.”
The LORD'S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.Micah 6:9. The Lord’s voice crieth — Either by his judgments, each of which is his voice, or by his prophets; unto the city — To every city in Israel and Judah, but principally to Jerusalem and Samaria. The man of wisdom — Every wise man; shall see thy name — Will perceive God in that cry. Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it — Who hath chosen it out, and strikes with it; that is, Hear ye the voice of God in the punishments he is now sending. Or, Hear what severe judgments are threatened against you, and who it is that threatens them, and is able to put them in execution.
Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?Micah 6:10-12. Are there yet the treasures of wickedness, &c. — Notwithstanding all the express laws, the exhortations and reproofs given you upon this subject, and so many examples of punishment set before you; still are there many that use unjust and fraudulent means to enrich themselves? who keep scant measures to sell their goods by, which the law of God often declares to be an abomination to him? The reproof is the same with that of Amos 8:5, where see the note. Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, &c. — Shall I approve or acquit them, as if they were righteous? For the rich men thereof — Namely, of the city, spoken of Micah 6:9; are full of violence — Not only of fraud and injustice, but oppression, tyranny, and cruelty. And the inhabitants have spoken lies — Have gone aside from truth, integrity, and fidelity, and have deceived each other by falsehood.
Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?
For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.Micah 6:13-15. Therefore will I make thee sick in smiting thee —
Therefore, upon account of these thy sins, I will, ere long, so smite thee, O Israel, that the strokes shall reach thy heart, and make thee sick unto death of thy wounds. Or, the punishment wherewith I will afflict thee shall waste thy strength like a consuming sickness which preys upon the vitals. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied — See note on Hosea 4:10. And thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee — Thou shalt be depressed within thee, or have no courage, or spirits, left to support thee. Thou shalt take hold, but not deliver, &c. — Thou shalt lay hold on things to secure them to thee, but thou shalt not be able to save them from the enemy. All the advantages that thou hast made by any means shall become a prey to them. Archbishop Newcome translates it, Thou shalt take hold, but shalt not carry away; contrary to what is said of thy enemies, Isaiah 5:29; They shall lay hold of the prey, and carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it, or retake it. Thou shalt sow, but shalt not reap — Thou shalt not enjoy the fruit of thy labour: a curse often threatened for disobedience.
Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.
Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.
For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.Micah 6:16. For the statutes of Omri are kept — An idolatrous king, of whom it is said, 1 Kings 16:25, that he did worse than all that were before him, and therefore we may judge of the corruption of the people who imitated the example, and followed the institutions of such a one. By his statutes, seem to be intended some idolatrous rites, which he instituted while he was king of Israel. And all the works of the house of Ahab, &c. — Ahab was the son of Omri, and exceeded his father and all his predecessors in impiety. He did more (it is said, 1 Kings 16:33) to provoke the Lord God than all the kings of Israel that were before him. For he not only walked in the sins of Jeroboam, who instituted the worship of the golden calves, under which idolatrous representation Jehovah was worshipped, but he also went and served Baal, a false god, and built a house, or temple, and erected an altar for him in Samaria, &c., 1 Kings 16:30-33. But, impious as Ahab was, he found imitators, not only in Israel, where he had power to command, but also in Judah. It is said, The works of the house of Ahab, because all his posterity followed his example in idolatry. And we learn, 2 Kings 21:3, that even the king of Judah, Manasseh, reared up an altar for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel. That I should make thee a desolation — The event will be, that the country and city shall be laid desolate; and the inhabitants thereof a hissing — That is, a subject of scorn and derision to their enemies. Therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people — This is addressed to the rich men, spoken of Micah 6:12, and the meaning is, that the people in general should reproach them with being the principal cause of their calamities and desolation.