Micah 7:19
He will turn again, he will have compassion on us; he will subdue our iniquities; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
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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.He will turn again - who seemed to be turned away from us when we were turned away from Him. "He will subdue, or trample under foot" Joel 2:14, our worst enemy, "our iniquities", as He saith, "He shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" Romans 16:20. Hitherto, sinful passions had not rebelled only, but had had the mastery over us. Sin subdued man; it was his lord, a fierce tyrant over him; he could not subdue it. Holy Scripture says emphatically of man under the law, that he was sold under sin Romans 7:14, a slave under a hard master, oppressed, weighed down, and unable to throw off the bondage. "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin" Romans 3:9; "the Scripture hath concluded all under sin" Galatians 3:22. Under the Gospel, God, he says, would subdue sin "under us," and make it, as it were, our "footstool ." It is a Gospel before the Gospel. God would pardon; and He, not we, would subdue sin to us. He would bestow, "of sin the double cure, Save us from its guilt and power" . "Not I, but the grace of God, which was with me" 1 Corinthians 15:10.

And Thou wilt cast - - Not, some ( "for it is impious to look for a half-pardon from God") but - "all their sins into the depths of the sea", so that as in the passage of the Red Sea there was not one Egyptian left of those who pursued His people, so neither shall there be one sin, which, through Baptism and on Repentance, shall not through His free mercy be pardoned. As they, which "sank as lead in the mighty waters" Exodus 15:10, never again rose, so shall the sins, unless revived by us, not rise against us to condemnation, but shall in the Day of Judgment be sunk in the abyss of hell, as if they had never been.

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.

He will turn again; spoken after the manner of man, who in his anger went away resolved to right himself, but on second thoughts, laying aside his anger, turns again to be reconciled and forgive. So the next words explain these.

He will have compassion upon us; with tender bowels he will show himself gracious to us, Jonah 3:9.

He will subdue our iniquities; as our enemies and his, God will break the power, abolish the dominion of sin, which whilst it reigned provoked God and undid us, it polluted and ruined us; but God will pardon the guilt and abrogate the law of sin, and so restore his people, suitable to that Ezekiel 36:29-34.

Thou wilt cast: here is a hypallage of the person from the third to the second person, yet without any lessening the sense in strength or clearness.

All their sins; a usual expression in Scripture to set forth the full and eternal pardon of sin; here it is emphatical, all their sins.

Into the depths of the sea; whence ordinarily we account things can never rise or be found more. He will turn again,.... From his anger, and show his face and favour; which is not inconsistent with his everlasting and unchangeable love; for anger is not opposite to love, and is only a displicency at sin, and not at the persons of his people; and, properly speaking, is not in God; is rather in appearance than in reality; when his people sin against him, he shows himself as if he was angry; he turns away from them, and withdraws his gracious presence and sensible communion from them; but when they are brought to a sense of sin, and acknowledgment of it, he returns to them, manifests his love to them again, and applies his pardoning grace, which is the thing believed would be done; it is only another expression of that, as all the rest that follow are: the prophet, or the church, dwells on this article of grace, and heaps up words to express it by, as if they could never say too much or it, or sufficiently explain it. The Targum is,

"his word shall return;''

he will have compassion upon us; the Lord is naturally compassionate; he is full of compassion, he has a heart of compassion; these are tender mercies, and never fail, and which are exercised in a sovereign way; pardon of sin flows from hence; every manifestation or it is a display thereof: sin brings afflictions on the saints, and then the Lord pities them, and is afflicted with them; sin grieves them, and he is as it were grieved for them; it wounds them, and then, as the good and compassionate Samaritan, he pours in the oil and wine of pardoning grace, and heals them; they are, while in this state, in such circumstances often as need his compassion, and they may be assured of it, Psalm 78:38;

he will subdue our iniquities; which maybe understood also as a further explanation of the grace of pardon: sin is an enemy to God and his people; it is too strong and mighty for them; it reigns over them in a state of nature; they are under the power of it, and cannot get rid of it, its influence, guilt, and punishment; Christ has conquered it, made an end of it, and took it away; God tramples upon it, as a conqueror does upon the necks of his enemies; it ii subdued by him, and is under his feet; which he treats with contempt, disdains to look upon, keeps it under, so that it shall never rise again to the condemnation of his people; he overcomes the provocation of it, removes the guilt by pardon, and secures from the punishment of it: or this may be considered as the effect of pardon; as what is done in consequence of it, by the Spirit and grace of God in sanctification; when not only the deeds of the body are mortified through the Spirit, or the outward conversation reformed, but the inward power of sin is weakened; it is laid under the restraints of efficacious grace, and is kept under by it; so that it shall not and cannot have the dominion over the saints again, of which they may be confident, Romans 6:14;

and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea; never to be seen any more; though they are seen with the eye of omniscience, and taken notice of by the eye of providence, yet not beheld with the eye of avenging justice, that being satisfied by Christ; besides, all the sins of God's people have been removed from them to Christ, and by him carried away into the land of oblivion; so that they are no more to be seen on them, who are through his blood and righteousness without fault, spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and, being out of sight, they are out of mind, never remembered any more, and like things cast into the sea, destroyed and lost: perhaps there may be some allusion to the Egyptians drowned in the Red sea; and what is cast into the sea, especially into the depths of it, is irrecoverable, not to be fetched up again, nor does it rise more; and so it is with the sins of God's people, forgiven for Christ's sake, even "all" of them; for they have all been bore by Christ, and are covered, blotted out, and pardoned, not one remains unforgiven; see Isaiah 38:17. This is an apostrophe of the prophet unto God. The Targum is,

"and he will cast into the depths of the sea all the sins of Israel;''

and it may denote their being loathsome and abominable to him, and therefore here cast by him. It is very common in Jewish writings to say of anything that is useless, abominable, accursed, and utterly rejected, that it is to be east into the salt sea. For instance

"Aquila the proselyte divided an inheritance with his brother (a Gentile), and he cast the profit of it into the salt sea: three doctors there were; one said, the price of the idol he cast into the salt sea; another said, he cast the price of his part of the idol into the salt sea; and the other said, he cast the idol itself into the salt sea (u).''

Again it is said (w),

"a sin offering, whose owner is dead, goes into the salt sea.''

The Heathens used sea water for the purgation and expiation of sin; hence the poet (x), to aggravate the wickedness of a very wicked man, observes, that the ocean itself could not wash away his sins. And Cicero (y), speaking of the law of the Romans for the punishment of parricides, which ordered that they should be sewed up alive in sacks, and cast into the river, observes the wisdom and propriety of it; they would not, says he, have them cast naked into the river, lest, when they should be carried into the sea, they should pollute that by which other things that are defiled are thought to be expiated. So Iphigenia is made to say (z) that the sea washes away all the sins of men. These are the Jewish and Heathenish notions; whether there is any allusion to them may be considered; however, certain it is, that nothing short of the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, or the sea of Christ's blood, can wash away sin; that cleanses from all sin; and happy are they whose sins are cast in thither, or are expiated and purged away thereby!

(u) T. Hieros. Demai, fol. 25. 4. (w) Ibid. Sotah, fol. 19. 1. Vid. ibid. Avoda Zara, fol. 39. 2. & Nazir, fol. 53. 1.((x) "Suscipit, O Gelli, quantum non ultima Thetis, Nec genitor lympharum abluit Oceanus". Catullus. (y) Oratio 2. pro Sexto Roscio. (z) Euripides in Tauro.

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all {t} their sins into the depths of the sea.

(t) Meaning his elect.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 19. - He will turn again, and have compassion upon us. The verb "turn again," joined with another verb, often denotes the repetition of an action, as in Job 7:7; Hosea 14:8, etc.; so here we may translate simply, "He will again have compassion." He will subdue; literally, tread underfoot. Sin is regarded as a personal enemy, which by God's sovereign grace will be entirely subdued. So, according to one interpretation, sin is personified (Genesis 4:7; comp. Psalm 65:8). Cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt blot out and bury completely and forever, as once thou didst overwhelm the Egyptians in the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1, 4, 10, 21). The miraculous deliverance of the Israelites at the Exodus is a type of the greater deliverance of the true Israelites in Christ (Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:7; comp. Isaiah 43:25). Jonah sets out upon his journey; not to Nineveh, however, but to flee to Tarshish, i.e., Tartessus, a Phoenician port in Spain (see at Genesis 10:4 and Isaiah 23:1), "from the face of Jehovah," i.e., away from the presence of the Lord, out of the land of Israel, where Jehovah dwelt in the temple, and manifested His presence (cf. Genesis 4:16); not to hide himself from the omnipresent God, but to withdraw from the service of Jehovah, the God-King of Israel.

(Note: Marck has already correctly observed, that "this must not be understood as flight from the being and knowledge of God, lest we should attribute to the great prophet gross ignorance of the omnipresence and omniscience of God; but as departure from the land of Canaan, the gracious seat of God, outside which he thought, that possibly, at any rate at that time, the gift and office of a prophet would not be conferred upon him.")

The motive for this flight was not fear of the difficulty of carrying out the command of God, but, as Jonah himself says in Jonah 4:2, anxiety lest the compassion of God should spare the sinful city in the event of its repenting. He had no wish to co-operate in this; and that not merely because "he knew, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the repentance of the Gentiles would be the ruin of the Jews, and, as a lover of his country, was actuated not so much by envy of the salvation of Nineveh, as by unwillingness that his own people should perish," as Jerome supposes, but also because he really grudged salvation to the Gentiles, and feared lest their conversion to the living God should infringe upon the privileges of Israel above the Gentile world, and put an end to its election as the nation of God.

(Note: Luther has already deduced this, the only true reason, from Jonah 4:1-11, in his Commentary on the Prophet Jonah: "Because Jonah was sorry that God was so kind, he would rather not preach, yea, would rather die, than that the grace of God, which was to be the peculiar privilege of the people of Israel, should be communicated to the Gentiles also, who had neither the word of God, nor the laws of Moses, nor the worship of God, nor prophets, nor anything else, but rather strove against God, and His word, and His people." But in order to guard against a false estimate of the prophet, on account of these "carnal, Jewish thoughts of God," Luther directs attention to the fact that "the apostles also held at first the carnal opinion that the kingdom of Christ was to be an outward one; and even afterwards, when they understood that it was to be a spiritual one, they thought that it was to embrace only the Jews, and therefore 'preached the gospel to the Jews only' (Acts 8), until God enlightened them by a vision from heaven to Peter (Acts 10), and by the public calling of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13), and by wonders and signs; and it was at last resolved by a general council (Acts 15), that God would also show mercy to the Gentiles, and that He was the God of the Gentiles also. For it was very hard for the Jews to believe that there were any other people outside Israel who helped to form the people of God, because the sayings of the Scripture stop there and speak of Israel and Abraham's seed; and the word of God, the worship of God, the laws and the holy prophets, were with them alone.")

He therefore betook himself to Yāphō, i.e., Joppa, the port on the Mediterranean Sea (vid., comm. on Joshua 19:46), and there found a ship which was going to Tarshish; and having paid the sekhârâh, the hire of the ship, i.e., the fare for the passage, embarked "to go with them (i.e., the sailors) to Tarshish."

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