Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit.
Mic 7:1-20. The Universality of the Corruption; the Chosen Remnant, Driven from Every Human Confidence, Turns to God; Triumphs by Faith over Her Enemies; Is Comforted by God's Promises in Answer to Prayer, and by the Confusion of Her Enemies, and So Breaks Forth into Praises of God's Character.
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"; see on Isa 28:4) which "my soul desireth" [Maurer]. So I look in vain for any good men left (Mic 7:2).
The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
2. The Hebrew expresses "one merciful and good in relation to man," rather than to God.
is perished out of the earth—(Ps 12:1).
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
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 successfully).
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" (Ec 4:12); 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.
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
4. as a brier—or thorn; pricking with injury all who come in contact with them (2Sa 23:6, 7; Isa 55:13; Eze 2:6).
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 [Calvin].
now—at the time foretold, "at that time"; the prophet transporting himself into it.
perplexity—(Isa 22:5). They shall not know whither to turn.
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
5. Trust ye not in a friend—Faith is kept nowhere: all to a man are treacherous (Jer 9:2-6). 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 household" (Mt 10:35, 36; Lu 12:53).
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 translated in Jos 22:14 and "chief friends" in Pr 16:28 [Grotius].
her that lieth in thy bosom—thy wife (De 13:6).
For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
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 (compare Lu 21:16; 2Ti 3:1-3).
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
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 (Mic 7:4) to feel her sin (Mic 7:9), casts herself on the Lord as her only hope," in patient waiting (La 3:26). She did so under the Babylonian captivity; she shall do so again hereafter when the spirit of grace shall be poured on her (Zec 12:10-13).
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
8. Rejoice not—at my fall.
when I fall, I shall arise—(Ps 37:24; Pr 24:16).
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.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
the indignation of the Lord—His punishment inflicted on me (La 3:39). 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 promises (Ps 103:17).
Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
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 (Mt 27:43).
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 (Isa 66:24; Re 16:5-7).
shall she be trodden down—herself, who had trodden down me.
In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.
11. thy walls … be built—under Cyrus, after the seventy years' captivity; and again, hereafter, when the Jews shall be restored (Am 9:11; Zec 12:6).
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 good" (Eze 20:25) [Calvin]. Ps 102:13-16; Isa 9:4. 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 (Mic 7:12; Isa 49:20; 54:2).
In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.
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," &c. [Ludovicus De 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 Isa 19:23 [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") [Maurer]. Compare Isa 11:15, 16; 19:23-25; 27:13; Ho 11:11; Zec 10:10.
Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings.
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" (compare Pr 1:31; Isa 3:10, 11; Jer 21:14).
Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
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 people (Mic 5:4, 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 (Ps 23:4). No longer the rod of punishment (Mic 6:9).
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 Mic 6:5, where also Balaam is referred to). "Lo, the people shall dwell alone" (Nu 23:9; compare De 33:28). 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 security (Eze 34:25). So that the Jews' "security," as well as their distinct nationality, is here foretold. Also Jer 49:31.
Bashan—famed for its cattle (Ps 22:12; Am 4:1). Parallel to this passage is Jer 50:19. Bashan and Gilead, east of Jordan, were chosen by Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, as abounding in pastures suited for their many cattle (Nu 32:1-42; De 3:12-17).
According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.
15. thy … him—both referring to Israel. So in Mic 7:19 the person is changed from the first to the third, "us … our … their." Jehovah here answers Micah's prayer in Mic 7:14, 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).
The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
16. shall see—the "marvellous things" (Mic 7:15; Isa 26:11).
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; Ps 107:42; Isa 52:15). 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.
They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.
17. lick the dust—in abject prostration as suppliants (Ps 72:9; compare 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 (Ps 18:45), 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 (De 32:24).
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 Ho 3:5, and Jer 33:9).
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, Israel" [Henderson].
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
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 (Pr 19:11). Contrast Am 7:8, and "mark iniquities," Ps 130:3.
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—(Ps 103:9).
delighteth in mercy—God's forgiving is founded on His nature, which delights in loving-kindness, and is averse from wrath.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
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.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
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 surely performed (Lu 1:72, 73; 1Th 5:24).
sworn unto our fathers—(Ps 105:9, 10). The promise to Abraham is in Ge 12:2; to Isaac, in Ge 26:24; to Jacob, in Ge 28:13. 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).