Micah Chapter One
The wrath of God against Israel. (1-7) Also against Jerusalem and other cities, Their precautions vain. (8-16)
Commentary on Micah 1:1-7
The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.
Commentary on Micah 1:8-16
The prophet laments that Israel's case is desperate; but declare it not in Gath. Gratify not those that make merry with the sins or with the sorrows of God's Israel. Roll thyself in the dust, as mourners used to do; let every house in Jerusalem become a house of Aphrah, "a house of dust." When God makes the house dust it becomes us to humble ourselves to the dust under his mighty hand. Many places should share this mourning. The names have meanings which pointed out the miseries coming upon them; thereby to awaken the people to a holy fear of Divine wrath. All refuges but Christ, must be refuges of lies to those who trust in them; other heirs will succeed to every inheritance but that of heaven; and all glory will be turned into shame, except that honour which cometh from God only. Sinners may now disregard their neighbours' sufferings, yet their turn to be punished will some come.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Micah》
 The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Hezekiah — The best son, of the worst father. How long Micah prophesied during his reign, we can but conjecture, possibly 'till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. So this prophet may be supposed to have prophesied sixteen years in Jotham's time, as many under Ahaz, and fourteen under Hezekiah, in all forty-six years. And he survived the captivity of Israel ten years, which he lamented as well as foretold.
 Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
O earth — This seems to be an appeal to the senseless creatures, or a summons to bring them in evidences for God against those kingdoms.
Therein — Animate or inanimate creatures, all that are on the earth.
Temple — Either from his temple at Jerusalem, or from heaven.
 For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.
The Lord — He comes forth as a judge, to hear, determine, and punish.
His place — Heaven, the place of his glorious throne.
Come down — Shew, by the effects of his power, justice, and wisdom, that he is more eminently present there.
Tread upon — Trample under foot all that is high, excellent, and matter of your glorying.
 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
Cleft — Or rent in sunder, broken up and slide away.
 For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?
Jacob — The sons of Jacob, the ten tribes.
What — Or, who is the spring, and cause of that overflowing transgression? Of Jacob - The kingdom of the ten tribes, the head of which was Samaria, where the kings had their residence, where they worshiped idols, and set an example to the rest of the Israelitish kingdom.
And what — Or, who is the cause of the high places, and the idolatry there practised? Jerusalem - Which was the chief city of that kingdom, and had the same influence over Judah, as Samaria had on the ten tribes.
 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.
As an heap — As a heap of ruins.
Of a vineyard — In planting vineyards, they dig up the earth, and cast it up in hillocks; so shall they make this city.
Into the valley — The city was built on a high hill, and a deep valley beneath it.
I will discover — I will raze the walls, fortresses, and public buildings of this city, to the very foundations.
 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
The hires — The rich gifts given for the honour and service of the idols by deceived idolaters.
She — The kingdom of Samaria.
It — Their wealth, or the rich presents made to their idols.
Of an harlot — As harlots get rich gifts of their lovers.
They — These rich presents shall be turned by the Assyrians to the service and honour of their idols.
 Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
Therefore — Because of those dreadful slaughters in Israel and Samaria.
And naked — As one that in bitterness of passion hath cast off his upper garment.
Dragons — Or rather, Jackals, which haunt desolate places, and make a great and hideous noise by night.
 For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.
Her wound — The wounds of Samaria, her own sins, and God's just displeasure.
It is come — The contagion of her sins, and the indignation of God against it, have reached to Judah also, yea, to Jerusalem.
 Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.
Declare ye it not — Lest the Philistines triumph.
Weep ye not — Make no public weeping.
Aphrah — This was farther from the Philistines.
Roll thyself — Express thy sorrow.
 Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.
Pass ye away — The imperative is here put for the future; they shalt go into captivity.
Saphir — Probably Samaria and Jerusalem.
Naked — Stript by the conquering enemy.
Zaanan — It is thought, this was a considerable garrison full of people and soldiers.
Came not forth — To help their neighbouring town Beth-ezel.
Beth-ezel — A strong town taken by the Assyrians.
His standing — The enemy shall encamp among you, shall stand on your ground, so that you will have no opportunity of coming out to help your neighbours.
 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.
Maroth — A town in Judea.
But evil — The flood of affliction by the Assyrian, swallowed up other cities, and swelled even to the head city, Jerusalem.
 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.
Lachish — A strong fortress on the confines of Judah.
Bind the chariot — To fly from the sword of the enemy.
She — Lachish, which being the nearest to idolatrous Israel, took the infection of them, and conveyed it to Jerusalem.
The transgressions — Not only the idolatry, but other sins also.
Of Israel — Of the ten tribes.
 Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.
Give presents — The inhabitants of Lachish courted the assistance of the Philistines against the Assyrian.
Moresheth-gath — A known city of the Philistines, called Moresheth-gath, to distinguish it from a town of the same name in the tribe of Judah.
Achzib — This was also a city of the Philistines.
A lie — A lying refuge, a prop that will break under them.
 Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.
An heir — The Assyrian, who in the right of conquest shall possess thee.
Mareshah — A town of the Philistines.
Adullam — Perhaps this city was considerable enough at that time, to be the glory of Israel.
 Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
Thee — O Judea and Israel, tear off thy hair. Shave what thou canst not tear off.
For thy children — For the loss of them, some being slain, others starved, or swept away with pestilence, and the residue carried captive.
As the eagle — One species of which is entirely bald.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Micah》
01 Chapter 1
The Word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite
It is the word of the lord. What is a word?
1. A mind manifesting power. In his word a true man manifests himself, his thought, feeling, character. His word is important according to the measure of his faculties, experiences, attainments. Divine revelation manifests the mind of God, especially the moral characteristics of that mind--His rectitude, holiness, mercy, etc.
2. A mind influencing power. Man uses his word to influence other minds, to bring other minds into sympathy with his own. Thus God uses His Word. He uses it to correct human errors, dispel human ignorance, remove human perversities, and turn human thought and sympathy into a course harmonious with His own mind.
II. It is made to individual men. It came to Micah, not to his con temporaries. Why certain men were chosen as the special recipients of God’s Word is a problem whose solution must be left for eternity.
III. It is for all mankind. God did not speak to any individual man specially that the communication might be kept to himself, but that he might communicate it to others. He makes one man the special recipient of truth that he may become the organ and promoter of it. God’s Word is for the world. (Homilist.)
This was a place in the Shepbelah, or range of low hills which lie between the hill country of Judah and the Philistine plain. It is the opposite exposure from the wilderness of Tekoa, some seventeen miles away across the watershed. As the home of Amos is bare and desert, so the home of Micah is fair and fertile. The irregular chalk hills are separated by broad glens, in which the soil is alluvial and red, with room for cornfields on either side of the perennial, or almost perennial streams. The olive groves on the braes are finer than either those of the plain below or of the Judaean table land above. There is herbage for cattle. Bees murmur everywhere, larks are singing, and although today you may wander in the maze of hills for hours without meeting a man, or seeing a house, you are never out of sight of the traces of human habitation, and seldom beyond the sound of the human voice--shepherds and ploughmen calling to their flocks and to each other across the glens. There are none of the conditions, or of the occasions, of a large town. But, like the south of England, the country is one of villages and homesteads, breeding good yeomen--men satisfied and in love with their soil, yet borderers with a fair outlook and a keen vigilance and sensibility. The Shephelah is sufficiently detached from the capital and body of the land to beget in her sons an independence of mind and feeling, but so much upon the edge of the open world as to endue them at the same time with that sense of the responsibilities of warfare, which the national statesmen, aloof and at ease in Zion, could not possibly have shared. Upon one of the westmost terraces of the Shephelah, nearly a thousand feet above the sea, lay Moresheth itself. (Geo. Adam Smith, D. D.)
For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place
God’s procedure in relation to sin
This is a highly figurative and sublime representation of the
Almighty in His retributive work, especially in relation to Samaria and
He is represented as leaving His holy temple, coming out of His place, and marching with overwhelming grandeur over the high places of the earth, to deal out punishment to the wicked. “The description of this theophany,” says Delitzsch, “is founded upon the idea of a terrible storm and earthquake, as in Psalms 18:8. The mountains melt ( 5:4, and Psalms 68:9) with the streams of water which discharge themselves from heaven ( 5:4), and the valleys split with the deep channels cut out by the torrents of water. The similes ‘like wax,’ etc. (as in Psalms 68:3), and ‘like water’ are intended to express the complete dissolution of mountains and valleys. The actual facts answering to this description are the destructive influences exerted upon nature by great national judgments.” The reference is undoubtedly to the destruction of the king of Israel by Shalmaneser, and the invasion of Judah by the armies of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, by the latter of whom the Jews were carried away captive. The passage is an inexpressibly grand representation of God’s procedure in relation to sin.
I. As it apears to the eye of man. The Bible is eminently anthropomorphic.
1. God, in dealing out retribution, appears to man in an extraordinary position. “He cometh forth out of His place.” What is His place? To all intelligent beings, the settled place of the Almighty is the temple of love, the pavilion of goodness, the mercy seat. The general beauty, order, and happiness of the universe give all intelligent creatures this impression of Him. But when confusion and misery fall on the sinner, the Almighty seems to man to come out of His “place,” to step aside from His ordinary procedure. Judgment is God’s strange work. He comes out of His place to execute it.
2. God, in dealing out retribution, appears to man in a terrific aspect. He does not appear as in the silent march of the stars or the serenity of the sun; but as in thunderstorms and volcanic eruptions. “The mountains shall be molten under Him,” etc.
II. As it affects a sinful people. In God’s procedure in relation to sin what disastrous effects were brought upon Samaria and Jerusalem!
1. God, in His procedure in relation to sin, brings material ruin upon people. Sin brings on commercial decay, political ruin; it destroys the health of the body, and brings it ultimately to the dust.
2. God, in His procedure in relation to sin, brings mental anguish upon a people. A disruption between the soul and the objects of its supreme affections involves the greatest anguish. The gods of a people, whatever they may be, are these objects, and these are to be destroyed. Conclusion--Mark well that God has a course of conduct in relation to sin, or rather, that God, in His beneficent march, must ever appear terrible to the sinner, and bring ruin on his head. It is the wisdom as well as the duty of all intelligent creatures to move in thought, sympathy, and purpose, as God moves--move with Him, not against Him. (Homilist.)
God’s way of taking vengeance
The justice of God taking vengeance on enemies is further described from the way of manifesting thereof, which is slowly but certainly; the Lord forbearing, neither because He purposes to give, nor because He wants power; as may appear from His majesty and state, when He appeareth environed with whirlwinds and tempests raised by His power. Doctrine--
1. The Lord, even toward enemies, is long suffering, and slow in executing of anger, that their destruction may be seen to be of themselves, that in His holy providence they may stumble more upon His indulgence, and fill up their measure; and that His Church’s faith and patience may be tried.
2. When the Lord spareth His enemies, it is not because He is not able to meet with them, nor ought we to judge from any outward appearance that they are invincible; for, how unlikely soever the destruction of enemies may be in the eyes of men, yet the Lord who is “slow to anger” is also “great in power.”
3. As the Lord is able to reach His enemies when He pleaseth, so His forbearing of them is no evidence that they shall be exempted altogether; but He will undoubtedly give proof of His power, in dealing with them as their way deserveth.
4. The Lord is able by His power speedily to bring to pass greatest things, and can, when He pleaseth, overturn, confound, and darken all things which appeared to be stable, well ordered, and clear.
5. The Lord, manifesting Himself in His great glory, doth but, so to say, obscure Himself in respect of our infirmity, which cannot comprehend His glory in its brightness; for so much doth His manifestation of Himself environed with dark storms or tempests and thick lowering clouds teach.
6. God’s dispensations, even when they are most dreadful and terrible in effects, may yet be deep and unsearchable, and His purpose and counsel in them hard to discern; for so much doth His way in whirlwinds, storms, and clouds (which involve and darken all) teach. (George Hutcheson.)
For her wound is incurable
Samaria and Jerusalem were, in a material and political sense, in a desperate and hopeless condition.
I. Moral incurableness is a condition into which men may fall.
1. Mental philosophy shows this. Such is the constitution of the human mind, that the repetition of an act can generate an uncontrollable tendency to repeat it; and the repetition of a sin deadens altogether that moral sensibility which constitutionally recoils from the wrong. The mind often makes habit, not only second nature, but the sovereign of nature.
2. Observation shows this. That man’s circle of acquaintance must be exceedingly limited who does not know men who become morally incurable. There are incurable liars, incurable misers, incurable sensualists, and incurable drunkards. No moral logician, however great his dialectic skill, can forge an argument strong enough to move them from their old ways, even when urged by the seraphic fervour of the highest rhetoric.
3. The Bible shows this. “Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.” “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” We often speak of retribution as if it always lay beyond the grave, and the day of grace as extending through the whole life of man; but such is not the fact. Retribution begins with many men here.
II. It is a condition for the profoundest lamentation. “Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked. I will make a wailing like the dragons and mourning as the owls.” Christ wept when He considered the moral incurableness of the men of Jerusalem. There is no sight more distressing than the sight of a morally incurable soul. There is no building that I pass that strikes me with greater sadness than the Hospital for “Incurables”; but what are incurable bodies, compared to morally incurable souls? There are anodynes that may deaden their pains, and death will relieve them of their torture; but a morally incurable soul is destined to pass into anguish, intense and more intense as existence runs on, and peradventure without end. The incurable body may not necessarily be an injury to others; but a morally incurable soul must be a curse as long as it lives. (Homilist.)
An incurable wound
The late Dr. A.J. Gordon gave the following anecdote in one of the last sermons he preached: “Dr. Westmoreland, an eminent army surgeon, tells of a soldier who was shot in the neck, the ball just grazing and wounding the carotid artery. The doctor knew that his life hung on a hair, and one day as he was dressing the wound the walls of the artery gave way. Instantly the surgeon pressed his finger upon the artery, and held the blood in check; and the patient asked, ‘What does this mean?’ ‘It means that you are a dead man,’ answered the doctor. ‘How long can I live?’ ‘As long as I keep my hand on the artery.’ ‘Can I have time to dictate a letter to my wife and child?’ ‘Yes.’ And so the letter was written for him, full of tender farewell messages, and when all was finished he calmly closed his eyes and said ‘I am ready, doctor.’ The purple tide ebbed quickly away and all was over. What a parable is here of a far more solemn fact. Oh, unsaved one, you are by nature ‘dead through trespasses and sins’! But God keeps His hand upon your pulse, preserving your life that you may have an opportunity to repent and be saved.”
Bind the chariot to the swift beast
These words are addressed to the inhabitants of Lachish.
Our subject is promptitude in action.
I. Be quick in your material engagements. The distinction between the secular and the spiritual is not real but fictitious. A man should be quick in all his legitimate temporal engagements, whatever they may be. By quickness is not meant the hurry of confusion, but adroit expertness, skilful promptitude. As Shakespeare said, “What the wise do quickly, is not done rashly.”
1. The quicker you are the more you will accomplish. An expert man will accomplish more in an hour than a slow man in a day.
2. The quicker you are, the better for your faculties. The quick movement of the limb is healthier than the slow; the quick action of the mental faculties is more invigorating than the slow. As a rule, the quick man is in every way healthier and happier than the slow.
3. The quicker you are, the more valuable you are in the market of the world. The skilful man who cultivates the habit of quickness and despatch increases his commercial value every day.
II. Be quick in your intellectual pursuits. You have an enormous amount of mental work to do, if you act up to your duty, and discharge your mission in life.
1. The quicker you are, the more you will attain. The more fields of truth you will traverse, the more fruits you will gather from the tree of knowledge. Some men in their studies move like elephants, and only traverse a small space. Others, like eagles, sweep continents in a day. The quick eye will see what escapes the dull eye, the quick ear will catch voices unheard by the slow of hearing.
2. The quicker you are, the better for your faculties. It is the brisk walker that best strengthens his limbs, the brisk fighter that wins the greatest victories. It is by quick action that the steel is polished and that weapons are sharpened. Intellectual quickness whets the faculties, makes them keen, agile, and apt. “Bind the chariot to the swift beast.”
III. Be quick in your spiritual affairs.
1. Morally you have a work to do for your own soul. The work is great and urgent.
2. Morally you have a work to do for others. There are souls around you demanding your most earnest efforts, etc.
Promptitude in action
An officer of high rank in the British Army relates how he won the first step of the ladder to recognition and promotion, He was then a young sub-lieutenant of engineers in Ceylon. One morning, while at a quiet game in the amusement room, unaware that any duty was being neglected, the governor of the island saw him. “What are you doing here, youngster?” said his chief. “I thought you would have been at Negombo by this time! What to do there, sir? What! Have you not received your orders? Go to the quartermaster-general at once.” But it was nearly one o’clock before the young fellow could find that officer. When found, his instructions were to proceed to Negombo, an old fort twenty-three miles north, make a plan of the barracks there, and note various important details. But the sub-lieutenant was vexed; for that evening he was obliged to attend a dinner party at the Government House, and there was not much time to spare. However, he saddled his Arab horse, that could do almost anything except fly, and covered the twenty-three miles in two hours. Next, field book and tape line in hand, he made the necessary measurements and calculations, sketching plans, and writing down facts and figures. Having drafted an accurate report, he remounted his faithful steed, and was back in Colombo before the dinner hour. Walking in quietly with the other guests, the governor saw him, and exclaimed: “You here, sir! What were your orders? Why are you not attending to them? Be off at once!” “My orders were to go to Negombo, sir,” replied the young officer, repeating the instructions. “Then, what do you mean by neglecting them?” “I have not,” was the answer. “The report is finished, and will be laid before you tomorrow morning.” The governor showed his delight by the glow of satisfaction on his face. He detailed the matter to his staff, dwelling on the smart and accurate obedience manifested, and from that day the young man rose steadily in his profession. (Sunday companion.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》