In the beginning of this chapter, we have a picture of the abasement, distress, and disgrace of the people of God which they fell into for many years before they went into Babylonian captivity. “Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek!” (verse 1) This is a prophetic challenge to Zion’s friends, who had troops at command, to come and do their best for her. “Let them gather in troops,” says the prophet; “yet it shall be to no purpose.” Why? Because the king of Babylon would lay siege against them so that they would not be able to defend themselves. And in contempt of the Jewish leaders and their dignity, the enemy would smite them and treat them as shamefully as any of the common captives. Complaint had been made of the judges of Israel (chapter 3:11), that they were corrupt and took bribes; and this disgrace would justly come upon them for abusing their power.
Thus the prophet showed how low the house of David would be brought, and how vilely the shield of that mighty family would be cast away. But then, in order to encourage the faith of God’s people, who might be tempted now to think that His covenant with David and his family was abrogated (according to the Psalmist’s complaint, in Psalm 89:38-39), Micah now adds an illustrious prediction of the Messiah and His Kingdom – in Whom that Davidic covenant would be established forever in its fullest sense. In Christ, the honors of the house of David would be revived, advanced, and perpetuated.
Let us take notice of how the Messiah is described here. He is the One Who was to be the Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth were as old as the days of eternity. He alone was able to say, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He was to be the Ruler in Israel, and the King of His Church; He was to reign over the family of Jacob forever (Luke 1:32-33). It is a spiritual Israel that He reigns over – that is, all the children of promise, and all the followers of believing Abraham and praying Jacob.
But what is here foretold concerning the Messiah? First of all, it is said that Bethlehem would be the place of His nativity (verse 2). This was the Scripture which the scribes consulted when – with the greatest assurance – they told King Herod where Christ was to be born (Matt. 2:6); and hence it was universally known among the Jews that the Messiah would come from David’s hometown of Bethlehem (John 7:42). Bethlehem means “the house of bread” – which was the fittest birthplace for Him Who is the Bread of Life. Bethlehem was little among the thousands of Judah; it had nothing in it that made it worthy to have this honor put upon it. But God, as in other instances, chose to exalt those of low degree (Luke 1:52).
Jesus is a glorious Prince, and His subjects are happy under His government; and that is exactly what is foretold in verse 4: “He shall stand and feed” – that is, He shall both teach and rule; and He shall continue to do so, as the Good Shepherd, with wisdom and care and love. Isaiah also prophesied that “he shall feed his flock like a shepherd.” He provides green pastures for them, and He gives them faithful under-shepherds to lead them into these pastures. He is the Good Shepherd Who goes before the sheep – and He does not do this as an ordinary man; but rather, in the strength of the Lord. He was clothed with a Divine power to go through His work, and He breaks through all the difficulties in His way without failure or discouragement.
Moreover, He shall secure the peace and well-being of His people against all the attempts of His and their enemies (verses 5-6). “This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land.” This has an immediate reference to the deliverance of Hezekiah and his kingdom from the power of Sennacherib the Assyrian; but under the shadow of that, it is a promise of the safety of all believers from the malicious designs and evil attempts of the powers of darkness, which seek to devour the Church and all who belong to her. And Jesus finds proper instruments to be employed for His children’s protection and deliverance, and for the defeat of their enemies. “Then shall we raise against him” – that is, the Assyrian – “seven shepherds and eight principal men.” In other words, a competent number of persons shall be raised up, who are ready and willing to oppose the enemy; and they shall protect the Church of God in peace. And the persons that He raises up to do this work are men who have the care and tenderness of shepherds, and the courage and authority of princes.
In verses 7-15, glorious things are spoken of the remnant of Jacob – that remnant which was raised up out of her that halted, in chapter 4:7. God’s people are only a remnant, for they are a small number in comparison with the many that are left to perish. They are a little flock; but they are a people who are in covenant with God, and in His favor. This remnant is as dew from the Lord, for they are of a heavenly extraction; they are born from above, and are not of the earth. They are also like a lion among the beasts of the forest, which treads down and tears in pieces all enemies! But those who endeavor to stand it out against the Gospel of Christ, and who continue in league with their idolatries and witchcrafts, shall fall and be consumed under the wrath of God!
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being our wise, tender, and loving Shepherd Who stands and feeds Your needy flock, and protects us from all our enemies! Amen.
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