Micah 7:16
The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
7:14-20 When God is about to deliver his people, he stirs up their friends to pray for them. Apply spiritually the prophet's prayer to Christ, to take care of his church, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to go before them, while they are here in this world as in a wood, in this world but not of it. God promises in answer to this prayer, he will do that for them which shall be repeating the miracles of former ages. As their sin brought them into bondage, so God's pardoning their sin brought them out. All who find pardoning mercy, cannot but wonder at that mercy; we have reason to stand amazed, if we know what it is. When the Lord takes away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn us, he will break the power of sin, that it may not have dominion over us. If left to ourselves, our sins will be too hard for us; but God's grace shall be sufficient to subdue them, so that they shall not rule us, and then they shall not ruin us. When God forgives sin, he takes care that it never shall be remembered any more against the sinner. He casts their sins into the sea; not near the shore-side, where they may appear again, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there, for when God forgives sin, he forgives all. He will perfect that which concerns us, and with this good work will do all for us which our case requires, and which he has promised. These engagements relate to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time, the future restoration of Israel, and the final prevailing of true religion in all lands. The Lord will perform his truth and mercy, not one jot or tittle of it shall fall to the ground: faithful is He that has promised, who also will do it. Let us remember that the Lord has given the security of his covenant, for strong consolation to all who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ Jesus.The nations shall see - God had answered, what He would give to His own people, to see. Micah takes up the word, and says, what effect this sight should have upon the enemies of God and of His people. The world should still continue to be divided between the people of God and their adversaries. Those who are converted pass from the one to the other; but the contrast remains. Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, pass away or become subject to other powers; but the antagonism continues. The nations are they, who, at each time, waste, oppress, are arrayed against, the people of God. When the Gospel came into the world, the whole world was arrayed against it. These then, he says, "shall see", that is, the marvelous works of God, which God should shew His people, and be ashamed at, that is, "because of all their might", their own might. They put forth their whole might, and it failed them against the marvelous might of God. They should array might against might, and be ashamed at the failure of "all their might".

The word all is very emphatic; it implies that they had put forth all, and that all had failed them, and proved to be weakness. So the pagan might was often put to shame and gnashed its teeth, when it could avail nothing against the strength to endure which God gave to His martyrs. Its strength to inflict and to crush was baffled before the hidden might of God's Spirit. "They shall lay their hand upon their mouth", in token that they were reduced to silence, having no more to say ; for He promised, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (Luke 21:15, compare Acts 5:29); and they had to own, "indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them, and we cannot deny it. Their ears shall be deaf" Acts 4:16; they shall be silent, as though they had heard nothing, as if they were both dumb and deaf .

Yet it seems too that they are willfully deaf, shutting their ears out of envy and hatred, that they might not hear what great things God had done for His people, nor hear the voice of truth and be converted and healed. Rup.: "The nations and the Emperors of the nations saw, Jews and Gentiles saw, and were ashamed at all their might, because their might, great as it was accounted, upheld by laws and arms, could not overcome the mighty works, which the Good Shepherd did among His people or flock by His rod, that is, by His power, through weak and despised persons, the aged, or oftentimes even by boys and girls. They were then ashamed at all their might which could only touch the "earthen vessels" 2 Corinthians 4:7, but could not take away the treasure which was in them. What shall I say of the wisdom of those same nations? Of this too they were ashamed, as he adds, "They shall put their hands upon their mouths". For, in comparison with the heavenly wisdom, which spake by them and made their tongues eloquent, dumb was all secular eloquence, owning by its silence that it was convicted and confounded."

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.

The nations; the heathen, enemies to the Jews, as Psalm 126:1-3.

Shall see and be confounded; amazed at what they see and know done amongst these nations for the deliverance of his people. The enemy shall neither be able to bear the sight, nor deny the certainly of the thing; it will make them enviously look on the prosperity of the good and godly among the Jews.

They shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf: as men seldom fail to hear the first report of what they desire, and as seldom open their ears to that they like not; so shall, it be here, though they will not speak of it, nor desire others should speak of it, yet they should, to their great grief, see their poor captives raised out of depth of shame to the height of honour, from a contemptible remnant to a mighty nation. As this had its typical complement in the reduction of Israel out of Babylon, so it had its antitypical completion in our redemption by Christ. As 1 Corinthians 2:9.

The nations; the heathen, enemies to the Jews, as Psalm 126:1-3.

Shall see and be confounded; amazed at what they see and know done amongst these nations for the deliverance of his people. The enemy shall neither be able to bear the sight, nor deny the certainly of the thing; it will make them enviously look on the prosperity of the good and godly among the Jews.

They shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf: as men seldom fail to hear the first report of what they desire, and as seldom open their ears to that they like not; so shall, it be here, though they will not speak of it, nor desire others should speak of it, yet they should, to their great grief, see their poor captives raised out of depth of shame to the height of honour, from a contemptible remnant to a mighty nation. As this had its typical complement in the reduction of Israel out of Babylon, so it had its antitypical completion in our redemption by Christ. As 1 Corinthians 2:9.

The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might,.... The Chaldeans or Babylonians, when they shall see the wonderful things done by the Lord in the deliverance of his people out of their hands, shall be ashamed of their own power and might, in which they trusted, and of which they boasted; but now shall be baffled and defeated, and not able to stop the progress of the arms of Cyrus, or detain the Jews any longer their captives; or they shall be confounded at the power and strength the Jews will have to repossess their land, rebuild their city and temple, under the encouragement and protection of the king of Persia; and as this may refer to a further accomplishment in Gospel times, it may respect the confusion the Gentile world would be in at the mighty power and spread of the Gospel, in the conversion of such multitudes by it, and in the abolition of the Pagan religion. Kimchi interprets this of the nations that shall be gathered together with Gog and Magog against Jerusalem in the latter day; see Ezekiel 38:15;

they shall lay their hand upon their mouth: be silent, and boast no more of themselves; nor blaspheme God and his word; nor insult his people; nor oppose his Gospel, or open their mouths any more against his truths and his ordinances:

their ears shall be deaf; hearing so much of the praises of God, of the success of his interest, and of the happiness of his peopled dinned in their ears, they will be stunned with it, and scarce know what they hear; become deaf with the continual noise of it, which will be disagreeable to them; and will choose to hear no more, and therefore through envy and grief will stop their ears at what is told them.

The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall {p} lay their hand upon their mouth, {q} their ears shall be deaf.

(p) They will be as dumb men, and dare brag no more.

(q) They will be astonished and afraid to hear men speak, lest they should hear of their destruction.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. confounded at all their might] Ashamed because all their might has come to nothing.

lay their hand upon their mouth] A mark of reverence; comp. Job 21:5, Isaiah 52:15.

Verse 16. - Shall see. The heathen shall see these marvellous things. Be confounded at (ashamed of) all their might. Hostile nations shall be ashamed when they find the impotence of their boasted power. Compare the effect of the Exodus on contiguous nations (Exodus 15:14, etc.; Joshua 2:9, 10). They shall lay their hand upon their mouth. They shall be silent from awe and astonishment (Judges 18:19; Job 21:5; Isaiah 52:15). Their ears shall be deaf. Their senses shall be stupefied by the wonders which they see - that which Job (Job 26:14) calls "the thunder of his mighty deeds." There may also be an allusion to their wilful obstinacy, and unbelief. Micah 7:16The promise of salvation impels the congregation to pray that it may be granted (Micah 7:14); whereupon the Lord assures it that His covenant mercies shall be renewed, and promises the thorough humiliation of the hostile nations of the world (Micah 7:15-17). Micah 7:14. "Feed thy people with thy staff, the sheep of thine inheritance, dwelling apart, in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of the olden time." The question in dispute among commentators, whether this prayer is addressed to the Lord by the prophet on behalf of the nation, or whether the prophet is still speaking in the name of the believing church, is decided in favour of the latter by the answer addressed to the church in Micah 7:15. The Lord is addressed as the shepherd of Israel, the title by which Jacob addressed Him in Genesis 49:24 (cf. Psalm 80:2; Psalm 23:1 ff.). The prayer is related to the promise in Micah 5:3 ff., viz., that the ruler coming forth out of Bethlehem will feed in the strength of Jehovah, and involves the prayer for the sending of this ruler. "With this staff," i.e., the shepherd's staff (cf. Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4), is added pictorially; and as a support to the prayer, it designates the people as the sheep of Jehovah's inheritance. צאן נחלה, instead of עם נחלה, which occurs more frequently, is occasioned by the figure of the shepherd. As the sheep need the protection of the shepherd, lest they should perish, so Israel needs the guidance of its God, that it may not be destroyed by its foes. The following apposition שׁכני לבדד determines the manner of the feeding more precisely; so that we may resolve it into the clause, "so that thy people may dwell apart." The words contain an allusion to Numbers 23:9, where Balaam describes Israel as a people separated from the rest of the nations; and to Deuteronomy 33:28, where Moses congratulates it, because it dwells in safety and alone (bâdâd, separate), under the protection of its God, in a land full of corn, new wine, etc. The church asks for the fulfilment of this blessing from Jehovah its shepherd, that it may dwell separate from the nations of the world, so that they may not be able to do it any harm; and that "in the wood in the midst of Carmel," that promontory abounding in wood and pasture land (laetis pascuis abundat: Jerome on Amos 1:2). The wood is thought of here as shutting off the flock from the world without, withdrawing it from its sight, and affording it security; and the fact that dangerous wild beasts have their home in the forest (Jeremiah 5:6; Psalm 80:14) is overlooked here, because Israel is protected from them by its own shepherd. ירעוּ, which follows, is not future, but optative, corresponding to the imperative רעה. Gilead and Bashan are also named as portions of the land that were rich in pasture (cf. Numbers 32:1 ff.), namely, of the land to the east of the Jordan, Carmel belonging to the western portion of Canaan. These three portions individualize the whole of the territory which Israel received for its inheritance, and not merely the territory of the kingdom of the ten tribes. The simple reason why no districts in the kingdom of Judah are mentioned, is that Judah possessed no woody districts abounding in grass and pasture resembling those named. Moreover, the prayer refers to the whole of Israel, or rather to the remnant of the whole nation that has been rescued from the judgment, and which will form an undivided flock under the Messiah (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:15 ff.). ימי עולם, "the days of old," are the times of Moses and Joshua, when the Lord brought Israel with His mighty arm into the possession of the promised land. The Lord answers this prayer, by promising, according to His abundant goodness, more than the church has asked. Micah 7:15. "As in the days of thy going out of the land of Egypt will I cause it to see wonders. Micah 7:16. Nations will see it, and be ashamed of all their strength: they will lay the hand upon the mouth, their ears will become deaf. Micah 7:17. They will lick dust like the snake, like the reptiles of the earth they come trembling out of their castles: they will go trembling to Jehovah our God, and before thee will they fear." The wonders (niphlâ'ōth; cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 78:11) with which the Lord formerly smote Egypt, to redeem His people out of the bondage of that kingdom of the world, will the Lord renew for His people. In צאתך the nation is addressed, whilst the suffix of the third pers. attached to אראנּוּ points back to עמּך in Micah 7:14. The miraculous deeds will make such an impression, that the heathen nations who see them will stand ashamed, dumb and deaf with alarm and horror. Ashamed of all their strength, i.e., because all their strength becomes impotence before the mighty acts of the Almighty God. Laying the hand upon the mouth is a gesture expressive of reverential silence from astonishment and admiration (cf. Judges 18:19; Job 21:5, etc.). Their ears shall become deaf "from the thunder of His mighty acts, Job 26:14, the qōl hâmōn of Isaiah 33:8" (Hitzig). With this description of the impression made by the wonderful works of God, the words of God pass imperceptibly into words of the prophet, who carries out the divine answer still further in an explanatory form, as we may see from Isaiah 33:17. The heathen will submit themselves to Jehovah in the humblest fear. This is stated in Micah 7:17. Licking the dust like the serpent contains an allusion to Genesis 3:14 (cf. Psalm 72:9 and Isaiah 49:23). זחלי ארץ, earth-creepers, i.e., snakes, recals the זחלי עפר of Deuteronomy 32:24. Like snakes, when they are driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmers make them come out of their holes, so will the nations come trembling out of their castles (misgerōth as in Psalm 18:46), and tremble to Jehovah, i.e., flee to Him with trembling, as alone able to grant help (see Hosea 3:5), and fear before thee. With ממּךּ the prayer passes into an address to Jehovah, to attach to this the praise of God with which he closes his book.
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