The peace of the kingdom of Christ. (1-8) The judgments to come upon Jerusalem, but the final triumph of Israel. (9-13)
Verses 1-8 The nations have not yet so submitted to the Prince of Peace, as to beat their swords into ploughshares, nor has war ceased. But very precious promises these are, relating to the gospel church, which will be more and more fulfilled, for He is faithful that has promised. There shall be a glorious church for God set up in the world, in the last days, in the days of the Messiah. Christ himself will build it upon a rock. The Gentiles worshipped their idol gods; but in the period spoken of, the people will cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and delight in doing his will. The word "halteth," describes those who walk not according to the Divine word. The collecting the captives from Babylon was an earnest of healing, purifying, and prospering the church; and the reign of Christ shall continue till succeeded by the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Let us stir up each other to attend the ordinances of God, that we may learn his holy ways, and walk in them, receiving the law from his hands, which, being written in our hearts by his Spirit, may show our interest in the Redeemer's righteousness.
Verses 9-13 Many nations would assemble against Zion to rejoice in her calamities. They would not understand that the Lord had collected them as sheaves are gathered to be threshed; and that Zion would be strengthened to beat them to pieces. Nothing has yet taken place in the history of the Jewish church agreeing with this prediction. When God has conquering work for his people to do, he will furnish them with strength and ability for it. Believers should cry aloud under distresses, with the prayer of faith, not with despondency.
Micah 4:1-13 . TRANSITION TO THE GLORY, PEACE, KINGDOM, AND VICTORY OF ZION.
1-3. Almost identical with Isaiah 2:2-4 .
the mountain of the house of the Lord--which just before ( Micah 3:12 ) had been doomed to be a wild forest height. Under Messiah, its elevation is to be not that of situation, but of moral dignity, as the seat of God's universal empire.
people shall flow into it--In Isaiah it is "all nations": a more universal prophecy.
3. rebuke--convict of sin ( John 16:8 John 16:9 ); and subdue with judgments ( Psalms 2:5 Psalms 2:9 , Psalms 110:5 Psalms 110:6 , Revelation 2:27 , 12:5 ).
many people . . . strong nations afar off--In Isaiah 2:4 it is "the nations . . . many people."
4. sit every man under his vine, &c.--that is, enjoy the most prosperous tranquillity ( 1 Kings 4:25 , Zechariah 3:10 ). The "vine" and "fig tree" are mentioned rather than a house, to signify, there will be no need of a covert; men will be safe even in the fields and open air.
Lord of hosts hath spoken it--Therefore it must come to pass, however unlikely now it may seem.
5. For--rather, Though it be that all people walk after their several gods, yet we (the Jews in the dispersion) will walk in the name of the Lord. So the Hebrew particle means in the Margin, Genesis 8:21 , Exodus 13:17 , Joshua 17:18 . The resolution of the exile Jews is: As Jehovah gives us hope of so glorious a restoration, notwithstanding the overthrow of our temple and nation, we must in confident reliance on His promise persevere in the true worship of Him, however the nations around, our superiors now in strength and numbers, walk after their gods [ROSENMULLER]. As the Jews were thoroughly weaned from idols by the Babylonian captivity, so they shall be completely cured of unbelief by their present long dispersion ( Zechariah 10:8-12 ).
6. assemble her that halteth--feminine for neuter in Hebrew idiom, "whatever halteth": metaphor from sheep wearied out with a journey: all the suffering exiles of Israel ( Ezekiel 34:16 , Zephaniah 3:19 ).
her . . . driven out--all Israel's outcasts. Called "the Lord's flock" ( Jeremiah 13:17 , Ezekiel 34:13 , 37:21 ).
7. I will make her that halted a remnant--I will cause a remnant to remain which shall not perish.
Lord shall reign . . . in . . . Zion--David's kingdom shall be restored in the person of Messiah, who is the seed of David and at the same time Jehovah ( Isaiah 24:23 ).
for ever--( Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:7 , Daniel 7:14 Daniel 7:27 , Luke 1:33 , Revelation 11:15 ).
8. tower of the flock--following up the metaphor of sheep the King and Shepherd observes and guards His flock: both the spiritual Jerusalem, the Church now whose tower-like elevation is that of doctrine and practice ( Solomon 4:4 , "Thy neck is like the tower of David"), and the literal hereafter ( Jeremiah 3:17 ). In large pastures it was usual to erect a high wooden tower, so as to oversee the flock. JEROME takes the Hebrew for "flock," Eder or Edar, as a proper name, namely, a village near Beth-lehem, for which it is put, Beth-lehem being taken to represent the royal stock of David ( Micah 5:2 ; compare Genesis 35:21 ). But the explanatory words, "the stronghold of the daughter of Zion," confirm English Version.
stronghold--Hebrew, "Ophel"; an impregnable height on Mount Zion ( 2 Chronicles 27:3 , 33:14 , Nehemiah 3:26 Nehemiah 3:27 ).
unto thee shall . . . come . . . the first dominion--namely, the dominion formerly exercised by thee shall come back to thee.
kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem--rather, "the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem shall come (again)"; such as it was under David, before its being weakened by the secession of the ten tribes.
9. Addressed to the daughter of Zion, in her consternation at the approach of the Chaldeans.
is there no king in thee?--asked tauntingly. There is a king in her; but it is the same as if there were none, so helpless to devise means of escape are he and his counsellors [MAURER]. Or, Zion's pains are because her king is taken away from her ( Jeremiah 52:9 , Lamentations 4:20 , Ezekiel 12:13 ) [CALVIN]. The former is perhaps the preferable view (compare Jeremiah 49:7 ). The latter, however, describes better Zion's kingless state during her present long dispersion ( Hosea 3:4 Hosea 3:5 ).
10. Be in pain, and labour--carrying on the metaphor of a pregnant woman. Thou shalt be affected with bitter sorrows before thy deliverance shall come. I do not forbid thy grieving, but I bring thee consolation. Though God cares for His children, yet they must not expect to be exempt from trouble, but must prepare for it.
go forth out of the city--on its capture. So "come out" is used 2 Kings 24:12 , Isaiah 36:16 .
dwell in the field--namely, in the open country, defenseless, instead of their fortified city. Beside the Chebar ( Psalms 137:1 , Ezekiel 3:15 ).
Babylon--Like Isaiah, Micah looks beyond the existing Assyrian dynasty to the Babylonian, and to Judah's captivity under it, and restoration ( Isaiah 39:7 , 43:14 , 48:20 ). Had they been, as rationalists represent, merely sagacious politicians, they would have restricted their prophecies to the sphere of the existing Assyrian dynasty. But their seeing into the far-off future of Babylon's subsequent supremacy, and Judah's connection with her, proves them to be inspired prophets.
there . . . there--emphatic repetition. The very scene of thy calamities is to be the scene of thy deliverance. In the midst of enemies, where all hope seems cut off, there shall Cyrus, the deliverer, appear (compare Judges 14:14 ). Cyrus again being the type of the greater Deliverer, who shall finally restore Israel.
11. many nations--the subject peoples composing Babylon's armies: and also Edom, Ammon, &c., who exulted in Judah's fall ( Lamentations 2:16 , Obadiah 1:11-13 ).
defiled--metaphor from a virgin. Let her be defiled (that is, outraged by violence and bloodshed), and let our eye gaze insultingly on her shame and sorrow ( Micah 7:10 ). Her foes desired to feast their eyes on her calamities.
12. thoughts of the Lord--Their unsearchable wisdom, overruling seeming disaster to the final good of His people, is the very ground on which the restoration of Israel hereafter (of which the restoration from Babylon is a type) is based in Isaiah 55:8 ; compare with Micah 4:3 Micah 4:12 Micah 4:13 , which prove that Israel, not merely the Christian Church, is the ultimate subject of the prophecy; also in Romans 11:13 . God's counsel is to discipline His people for a time with the foe as a scourge; and then to destroy the foe by the hands of His people.
gather them as . . . sheaves--them who "gathered" themselves for Zion's destruction ( Micah 4:11 ) the Lord "shall gather" for destruction by Zion ( Micah 4:13 ), like sheaves gathered to be threshed (compare Isaiah 21:10 , Jeremiah 51:33 ). The Hebrew is singular, "sheaf." However great the numbers of the foe, they are all but as one sheaf ready to be threshed [CALVIN]. Threshing was done by treading with the feet: hence the propriety of the image for treading under foot and breaking asunder the foe.
13. thresh--destroy thy foes "gathered" by Jehovah as "sheaves" ( Isaiah 41:15 Isaiah 41:16 ).
thine horn--Zion being compared to an ox treading corn, and an ox's strength lying in the horns, her strength is implied by giving her a horn of iron (compare 1 Kings 22:11 ).
beat in pieces many--( Daniel 2:44 ).
I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord--God subjects the nations to Zion, not for her own selfish aggrandizement, but for His glory ( Isaiah 60:6 Isaiah 60:9 , Zechariah 14:20 , with which compare Isaiah 23:18 ) and for their ultimate good; therefore He is here called, not merely God of Israel, but "Lord of the whole earth."