In this chapter, the prophet – in the name of the Church – sadly laments the woeful decay of religion in the age wherein he lived. He grieves over the deluge of impiety and immorality which overwhelmed his country and tore down the fences of all that is just and sacred. But then, for the sake of the Church, Micah also prescribes comforts for such a time.
The first six verses give a description of some very bad times. Micah cries out, “Woe is me!” He bemoans himself that his lot was cast in such a degenerate age, and he thinks it a great unhappiness that he lived among a people who were so speedily ripening for ruin. He laments that there were so few good people to be found, even among those who were called by the name of God’s people; and this was a great reproach to them. There were none upright among them (verse 2). And what was even worse was that the magistrates – who, by their office, ought to have been the patrons and protectors of right – were the practicers and promoters of wrong! (verse 3) When all flesh have thus corrupted their way, what can be expected but a deluge of judgments, as that which drowned Noah’s world when the earth was filled with violence? These people in Micah’s day had grown so universally treacherous that a prudent man knew that he could not even tell his heart’s secrets to his own wife (verse 5), for she would betray him like Delilah did to Samson. In these terrible times, children also behaved ill toward their parents; and none could find any comfort or satisfaction in their own families and nearest relations (verse 6). It is sad when a man’s betrayers and worst enemies are the men of his own family, who should be his guardians and his best friends. Alas! The contempt and violation of the laws and duties of family love are a sad symptom of a universal corruption of society.
Having sadly complained of the wickedness of the times in which he lived, Micah fastens upon some considerations for the comfort of himself and his friends in reference thereunto (verses 7-13). The case was bad, but it was not desperate. There was still hope in Israel. In verses 7 and 9, the prophet acknowledged that they were under the indignation of the Lord; He was justly angry with them, because they had sinned against Him.” But when a child of God has so much reason to cry, as the prophet did here, “Woe is me!” – yet it is a comfort to him that he has a God to look to and fly to, in Whom he may rejoice and have satisfaction! All may then look bright above him, even when all looks black and dark around him. The prophet had been complaining that there was no comfort to be had in friends and family members upon earth, and this drove him to his God: “Therefore I will look unto the Lord!” If men are false, our comfort is that God is faithful.
Although the Church’s enemies may seem to triumph over her and insult her, they shall be silenced and put to shame (verses 8, 10). How proudly they trample upon Christ’s people in their distress! They say, “Where is the Lord their God?” – as if He had forsaken them because they were afflicted. But see how comfortably the people of God, by faith, bear themselves up under these insults! “Rejoice not against me, O my enemy!” shouts the prophet (verse 8). We may be down now, but we shall not always be down! The deliverance of the Church will be the confusion of her enemies; and their shame shall be double when they shall find themselves being trampled upon, just as they have trampled upon God’s people.
Micah speaks of how the land of Israel would continue desolate for a great while; yet at length, it would be replenished again, when the set time of its deliverance came (verses 11-13). God had a controversy with the land, and it must lie long under His rebukes because of the iniquity of those who dwelled therein. But when their time of deliverance out of Babylon did come, it was to be a complete salvation; and it was to be a picture or a foreshadow of our redemption by Christ. The walls of the spiritual Zion (the Church) may lie in ruins for a long time, but there will come a day when they shall be repaired. And all who belong to the spiritual Israel – wherever they are dispersed – shall come flocking to it again (verse 12); for when God’s time comes, even though Pharaoh will not let the people go, He will fetch them out with a high hand!
Beginning in verse 14, we have the prophet’s prayer to God to take care of His own people and their cause. The prophet prayed that the Lord would feed His people, and do kind things for them; but God answers that He will show them marvelous things! (verse 15) He will do for them more than they are able to ask or think; He will out-do their hopes and expectations, and show them His marvelous lovingkindness (Ps. 17:7). And the Book concludes (verses 18-20) with the prophet’s thankful acknowledgment of God’s mercy, in the name of the Church; as well as a believing dependence upon His promise. As the Lord’s people look back with thankfulness upon His pardoning of their sins, they also look forward with assurance upon what He will yet do for them in the future. His mercy endures forever; and therefore, as He has shown mercy in the past, so He will continue to do (verses 19-20). His compassions shall be new every morning!
Lord, we confess that we have often contributed to the national guilt of our present times, which may very well be described by Micah’s description of degeneracy in the opening of this chapter. But we thank You that for Jesus’ sake, You have mercifully cast all our sins into the depths of the sea of His blood! Amen.
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