The sins and desolations of Israel. (1-5) Their evil practices. (6-11) A promise of restoration. (12,13)
Verses 1-5 Woe to the people that devise evil during the night, and rise early to carry it into execution! It is bad to do mischief on a sudden thought, much worse to do it with design and forethought. It is of great moment to improve and employ hours of retirement and solitude in a proper manner. If covetousness reigns in the heart, compassion is banished; and when the heart is thus engaged, violence and fraud commonly occupy the hands. The most haughty and secure in prosperity, are commonly most ready to despair in adversity. Woe to those from whom God turns away! Those are the sorest calamities which cut us off from the congregation of the Lord, or cut us short in the enjoyment of its privileges.
Verses 6-11 Since they say, "Prophesy not," God will take them at their word, and their sin shall be their punishment. Let the physician no longer attend the patient that will not be healed. Those are enemies, not only to God, but to their country, who silence good ministers, and stop the means of grace. What bonds will hold those who have no reverence for God's word? Sinners cannot expect to rest in a land they have polluted. You shall not only be obliged to depart out of this land, but it shall destroy you. Apply this to our state in this present world. There is corruption in the world through lust, and we should keep at a distance from it. It is not our rest: it was designed for our passage, but not for our portion; our inn, but not our home; here we have no continuing city; let us therefore arise and depart, let us seek a continuing city above. Since they will be deceived, let them be deceived. Teachers who recommend self-indulgence by their doctrine and example, best suit such sinners.
Verses 12-13 These verses may refer to the captivity of Israel and Judah. But the passage is also a prophecy of the conversion of the Jews to Christ. The Lord would not only bring them from captivity, and multiply them, but the Lord Jesus would open their way to God, by taking upon him the nature of man, and by the work of his Spirit in their hearts, breaking the fetters of Satan. Thus he has gone before, and the people follow, breaking, in his strength, through the enemies that would stop their way to heaven.
Micah 2:1-13 . DENUNCIATION OF THE EVILS PREVALENT: THE PEOPLE'S UNWILLINGNESS TO HEAR THE TRUTH: THEIR EXPULSION FROM THE LAND THE FITTING FRUIT OF THEIR SIN: YET JUDAH AND ISRAEL ARE HEREAFTER TO BE RESTORED.
1. devise . . . work . . . practise--They do evil not merely on a sudden impulse, but with deliberate design. As in the former chapter sins against the first table are reproved, so in this chapter sins against the second table. A gradation: "devise" is the conception of the evil purpose; "work" ( Psalms 58:2 ), or "fabricate," the maturing of the scheme; "practise," or "effect," the execution of it.
because it is in the power of their hand--for the phrase see Genesis 31:29 , Proverbs 3:27 . Might, not right, is what regulates their conduct. Where they can, they commit oppression; where they do not, it is because they cannot.
2. Parallelism, "Take by violence," answers to "take away"; "fields" and "houses," to "house" and "heritage" (that is, one's land).
3. against this family--against the nation, and especially against those reprobates in Micah 2:1 Micah 2:2 .
I devise an evil--a happy antithesis between God's dealings and the Jews dealings ( Micah 2:1 ). Ye "devise evil" against your fellow countrymen; I devise evil against you. Ye devise it wrongfully, I by righteous retribution in kind.
from which ye shall not remove your necks--as ye have done from the law. The yoke I shall impose shall be one which ye cannot shake off. They who will not bend to God's "easy yoke" ( Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:30 ), shall feel His iron yoke. not walk as now with neck haughtily uplifted, for the yoke shall press down your "neck."
this time is evil--rather, "for that time shall be an evil time," namely, the time of the carrying away into captivity (compare Amos 5:13 , Ephesians 5:16 ).
4. one take up a parable against you--that is, Some of your foes shall do so, taking in derision from your own mouth your "lamentation," namely, "We be spoiled," &c.
lament with a doleful lamentation--literally, "lament with a lamentation of lamentations." Hebrew, naha, nehi, nihyah, the repetition representing the continuous and monotonous wail.
he hath changed the portion of my people--a charge of injustice against Jehovah. He transfers to other nations the sacred territory assigned as the rightful portion of our people ( Micah 1:15 ).
turning away he hath divided our fields--Turning away from us to the enemy, He hath divided among them our fields. CALVIN, as the Margin, explains, "Instead of restoring our territory, He hath divided our fields among our enemies, each of whom henceforward will have an interest in keeping what he hath gotten: so that we are utterly shut out from hope of restoration." MAURER translates as a noun, "He hath divided our fields to a rebel," that is, to the foe who is a rebel against the true God, and a worshipper of idols. So "backsliding," that is, backslider ( Jeremiah 49:4 ). English Version gives a good sense; and is quite tenable in the Hebrew.
5. Therefore--resumed from Micah 2:3 . On account of your crimes described in Micah 2:1 Micah 2:2 .
thou--the ideal individual ("me," Micah 2:4 ), representing the guilty people in whose name he spoke.
none that . . . cast a cord by lot--none who shall have any possession measured out.
in the congregation of the Lord--among the people consecrated to Jehovah. By covetousness and violence ( Micah 2:2 ) they had forfeited "the portion of Jehovah's people." This is God's implied answer to their complaint of injustice ( Micah 2:4 ).
6. Prophesy ye not, say they--namely, the Israelites say to the true prophets, when announcing unwelcome truths. Therefore God judicially abandons them to their own ways: "The prophets, by whose ministry they might have been saved from shame (ignominious captivity), shall not (that is, no longer) prophesy to them" ( Isaiah 30:10 , Amos 2:12 , 7:16 ). MAURER translates the latter clause, "they shall not prophesy of such things" (as in Micah 2:3-5 , these being rebellious Israel's words); "let them not prophesy"; "they never cease from insult" (from prophesying insults to us). English Version is supported by the parallelism: wherein the similarity of sound and word implies how exactly God makes their punishment answer to their sin, and takes them at their own word. "Prophesy," literally, "drop" ( Deuteronomy 32:2 , Ezekiel 21:2 ).
7. O thou . . . named the house of Jacob--priding thyself on the name, though having naught of the spirit, of thy progenitor. Also, bearing the name which ought to remind thee of God's favors granted to thee because of His covenant with Jacob.
is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?--Is His compassion contracted within narrower limits now than formerly, so that He should delight in your destruction (compare Psalms 77:7-9 Isaiah 59:1 Isaiah 59:2 )?
are these his doings?--that is, Are such threatenings His delight? Ye dislike the prophets' threatenings ( Micah 2:6 ):but who is to blame? Not God, for He delights in blessing, rather than threatening; but yourselves ( Micah 2:8 ) who provoke His threatenings [GROTIUS]. CALVIN translates, "Are your doings such as are prescribed by Him?" Ye boast of being God's peculiar people: Do ye then conform your lives to God's law?
do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly--Are not My words good to the upright? If your ways were upright, My words would not be threatening (compare Psalms 18:26 , Matthew 11:19 , John 7:17 ).
8. Your ways are not such that I can deal with you as I would with the upright.
Even of late--literally, "yesterday," "long ago." So "of old." Hebrew, "yesterday" ( Isaiah 30:33 ); "heretofore," Hebrew, "since yesterday" ( Joshua 3:4 ).
my people is risen up as an enemy--that is, has rebelled against My precepts; also has become an enemy to the unoffending passers-by.
robe with the garment--Not content with the outer "garment," ye greedily rob passers-by of the ornamental "robe" fitting the body closely and flowing down to the feet [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU] ( Matthew 5:40 ).
as men averse from war--in antithesis to (My people) "as an enemy." Israel treats the innocent passers-by, though "averse from war," as an enemy" would treat captives in his power, stripping them of their habiliments as lawful spoils. GROTIUS translates, "as men returning from war," that is, as captives over whom the right of war gives the victors an absolute power. English Version is supported by the antithesis.
9. The women of my people--that is, the widows of the men slain by you ( Micah 2:2 ) ye cast out from their homes which had been their delight, and seize on them for yourselves.
from their children--that is, from the orphans of the widows.
taken away my glory--namely, their substance and raiment, which, being the fruit of God's blessing on the young, reflected God's glory. Thus Israel's crime was not merely robbery, but sacrilege. Their sex did not save the women, nor their age the children from violence.
for ever--There was no repentance. They persevered in sin. The pledged garment was to be restored to the poor before sunset ( Exodus 22:26 Exodus 22:27 ); but these never restored their unlawful booty.
10. Arise ye, and depart--not an exhortation to the children of God to depart out of an ungodly world, as it is often applied; though that sentiment is a scriptural one. This world is doubtless not our "rest," being "polluted" with sin: it is our passage, not our portion; our aim, not our home ( 2 Corinthians 6:17 , Hebrews 13:14 ). The imperatives express the certainty of the future event predicted. "Since such are your doings (compare Micah 2:7 Micah 2:8 , &c.), My sentence on you is irrevocable ( Micah 2:4 Micah 2:5 ), however distasteful to you ( Micah 2:6 ); ye who have cast out others from their homes and possessions ( Micah 2:2 Micah 2:8 Micah 2:9 ) must arise, depart, and be cast out of your own ( Micah 2:4 Micah 2:5 ): for this is not your rest" ( Numbers 10:33 , Deuteronomy 12:9 , Psalms 95:11 ). Canaan was designed to be a rest to them after their wilderness fatigues. But it is to be so no longer. Thus God refutes the people's self-confidence, as if God were bound to them inseparably. The promise ( Psalms 132:14 ) is quite consistent with temporary withdrawal of God from Israel for their sins.
it shall destroy you--The land shall spew you out, because of the defilements wherewith ye "polluted" it ( Leviticus 18:25 Leviticus 18:28 , Jeremiah 3:2 , Ezekiel 36:12-14 ).
11. walking in the spirit--The Hebrew means also "wind." "If a man professing to have the 'spirit' of inspiration ( Ezekiel 13:3 ; so 'man of the spirit,' that is, one claiming inspiration, Hosea 9:7 ), but really walking in 'wind' (prophecy void of nutriment for the soul, and unsubstantial as the wind) and falsehood, do lie, saying (that which ye like to hear), I will prophesy," &c., even such a one, however false his prophecies, since he flatters your wishes, shall be your prophet (compare Micah 2:6 , Jeremiah 5:31 ).
prophesy . . . of wine--that is, of an abundant supply of wine.
12. A sudden transition from threats to the promise of a glorious restoration. Compare a similar transition in Hosea 1:9 Hosea 1:10 . Jehovah, too, prophesies of good things to come, but not like the false prophets, "of wine and strong drink" ( Micah 2:11 ). After I have sent you into captivity as I have just threatened, I will thence assemble you again (compare Micah 4:6 Micah 4:7 ).
all of thee--The restoration from Babylon was partial. Therefore that here meant must be still future, when "all Israel shall be saved" ( Romans 11:26 ). The restoration from "Babylon" (specified ( Micah 4:10 ) is the type of the future one.
Jacob . . . Israel--the ten tribes' kingdom ( Hosea 12:2 ) and Judah ( 2 Chronicles 19:8 , 2 Chronicles 21:2 2 Chronicles 21:4 ).
remnant--the elect remnant, which shall survive the previous calamities of Judah, and from which the nation is to spring into new life ( Isaiah 6:13 , 10:20-22 ).
as the sheep of Bozrah--a region famed for its rich pastures (compare 2 Kings 3:4 ). GESENIUS for Bozrah translates, "sheepfold." But thus there will be tautology unless the next clause be translated, "in the midst of their pasture." English Version is more favored by the Hebrew.
13. The breaker--Jehovah-Messiah, who breaks through every obstacle in the way of their restoration: not as formerly breaking forth to destroy them for transgression ( Exodus 19:22 , Judges 21:15 ), but breaking a way for them through their enemies.
they--the returning Israelites and Jews.
passed through the gate--that is, through the gate of the foe's city in which they had been captives. So the image of the resurrection ( Hosea 13:14 ) represents Israel's restoration.
their king--"the Breaker," peculiarly "their king" ( Hosea 3:5 , Matthew 27:37 ).
pass before them--as He did when they went up out of Egypt ( Exodus 13:21 , Deuteronomy 1:30 Deuteronomy 1:33 ).
the Lord on the head of them--Jehovah at their head ( Isaiah 52:12 ). Messiah, the second person, is meant (compare Exodus 23:20 , 33:14 , Isaiah 63:9 ).