Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Church's Penitential Prayer, and the Divine Promise - Micah 7
The prophet responds to the threatening of the Lord (Micah 6:9-16) in the name of the believing church with a penitential prayer, in which it sorrowfully confesses the universality of the deep moral corruption, and painfully bemoans the necessity for the visitation of God (Micah 7:1-6); after which it rises, through belief in the fidelity of God, to the confidential hope that the Lord will cause the light of His grace to rise again upon the church, which is bearing the merited punishment, and will not let its enemies triumph over it, but will procure it justice, and deeply humble the foe (Micah 7:7-13); and to this it appends a prayer fore the renewal of the former manifestations of grace (Micah 7:14). The Lord answers this prayer with the promise that He will renew for His people the wonders of the olden time (Micah 7:15-17); whereupon the prophet closes by praising the mercy and grace of the Lord (Micah 7:18-20).
Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit.That the prophet is speaking in Micah 7:1 ff. not in his own name, but in the name of the church, which confesses and bemoans its rebellion against the Lord, is indisputably evident from Micah 7:7 ff., where, as all the expositors admit, the church speaks of itself in the first person, and that not "the existing corrupt Israelitish church," as Caspari supposes, but the penitential, believing church of the future, which discerns in the judgment the chastising hand of its God, and expresses the hope that the Lord will conduct its conflict with its foe, etc. The contents of Micah 7:1-6, also, do not point to the prophet in distinction from the congregation, but may be understood throughout as the confession of sin on the part of the latter. Micah 7:1. "Woe to me! for I have become like a gathering of fruit, like a gleaning of the vintage: Not a grape to eat! an early fig, which my soul desired." אללי, which only occurs again in Job 10:15, differs from הוי, and is "vox dolentis, gementis, et ululantis magis quam minantis" (March); and כּי is not "that," but "for," giving the reason for אללי. The meaning of הייתי כאס is not, "it has happened to me as it generally happens to those who still seek for early figs at the fruit gathering, or for bunches of grapes at the gleaning of the vintage" (Caspari and others); for כּאספי קיץ does not mean as at the fruit-gathering, but like the fruit-gathering. The nation or the church resembles the fruit-gathering and gleaning of the vineyard, namely, in this fact, that the fruit-gathering yields not more early figs, and the gleaning of the vintage yields no more grapes to eat; that is to say, its condition resembles that of an orchard in the time of the fruit-gathering, when you may find fruit enough indeed, but not a single early fig, since the early figs ripen as early as June, whereas the fruit-gathering does not take place till August (see at Isaiah 28:4). The second simile is a still simpler one, and is very easily explained. אספי is not a participle, but a noun - אסף the gathering (Isaiah 32:10); and the plural is probably used simply because of עוללת, the gleaning, and not with any allusion to the fact that the gleaning lasts several days, as Hitzig supposes, but because what is stated applies to all gatherings of fruit. קיץ, fruit; see at Amos 8:1. אוּתה is to be taken in a relative sense, and the force of אין still extends to בּכּוּרה (compare Genesis 30:33). The figure is explained in Micah 7:2 ff.
The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net."The godly man has disappeared from the earth, and there is no more a righteous man among men. All lie in wait for blood, they hunt every man his brother with the net. Micah 7:3. Their hands are after evil, to make it good. The prince asks, and the judge is for reward; and the great man, he speaks the evil of his soul: and they twist it together." The grape and the early fig signify the good and the righteous man. חסיד is not the God-fearing man, but, according to the context, the man who cherishes love and fidelity. אבד, not "to have perished," but to be lost, to have disappeared. מן הארץ, not "out of the land," but, as the parallel בּאדם shows, from the earth, out of the world. For the fact itself, compare Psalm 12:2 and Isaiah 57:1. They all lie in wait for blood, i.e., not that they all go about committing murder, but simply that they set their minds upon quarrels, cheating, and treachery, that they may rob their neighbour of his means of existence, so that he must perish (cf. Micah 3:2-3; Micah 2:1-2); at the same time, even murderous thoughts are not excluded. The same thing is implied in the hunting with the net. אח, the brother, is the fellow-countryman (for this figure, compare Psalm 10:9; Psalm 35:7-8, etc.). In Micah 7:3 the words from על הרע to להיטיב are not to be joined to what follows so as to form one sentence. Such a combination is not only opposed to the accents, but is at variance with the structure of the whole verse, which consists of several short clauses, and it does not even yield a natural thought; consequently Ewald proposes to alter the text (שׁואל). הרע is hardly the inf. hiph. "to do evil," but most likely a noun with the article, "the evil;" and the thought is therefore either "both hands are (sc., busy) with evil," or "both hands are stretched out to evil," to make it good, i.e., to carry out the evil well (היטיב as in Jeremiah 2:33), or to give evil such a form that it shall appear to be good, or right. This thought is then made special: the prince, the judge, and the great man, i.e., the rich man and mighty man (Leviticus 19:15; 1 Samuel 25:2), weave a thing to make evil good. עבּת, to weave, to twist together, after עבות, twist or string. The subject to ויעבּתוּה is to be found in the three classes already named, and not merely in the judge and the great man. There is just as little reason for this limitation as for the assumption that the great man and the prince are one person. The way in which the three twist the thing or the evil plan together is indicated in the statements of the three previous clauses. The prince asks, sc. for the condemnation of a righteous or innocent man; and the judge grants this for recompense against compensation; and the rich man co-operates by speaking havvath napshō. Havvâh in most passages is universally allowed to signify hurt, mischief, destruction; and the only question is, whether this meaning is to be traced to הוה equals אוה, to breathe (Hupfeld on Psalm 5:10), or to הוה, to occur, an occurrence, then specially an evil occurrence (Hengstenberg, Diss. on the Pentateuch, vol. i. p. 252). Only in Proverbs 10:3 and the passage before us is havvâh said to signify desire in a bad sense, or evil lust. But, as Caspari has shown, the meaning is neither necessary nor established in either of these two passages. In Proverbs 10:3 the meaning aerumna activa aliisque inferenda is quite sufficient; and C. B. Michaelis has adopted it for the present passage: "The great man speaks the mischief of his soul," i.e., the injury or destruction of another, for which he cherishes a desire. Nephesh, the soul as the seat of desire. הוּא is not introduced to strengthen the suffix attached to נפשׁו, "of his, yea of his soul" (Ewald, Hitzig, Umbreit); for not only are the accents against this, but also the thought, which requires no such strengthening. It is an emphatic repetition of the subject haggâdōl. The great man weaves evil with the king and judge, by desiring it, and expressing the desire in the most open manner, and thereby giving to the thing an appearance of right.
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.And even the best men form no exception to the rule. Micah 7:4. "Their best man is like a briar; the upright man more than a hedge: the day of thy spies, thy visitation cometh, then will their confusion follow. Micah 7:5. Trust not in the neighbour, rely not upon the intimate one; keep the doors of thy mouth before her that is thy bosom friend. Micah 7:6. For the son despiseth the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the people of his own house." טובם, the good man among them, i.e., the best man, resembles the thorn-bush, which only pricks, hurts, and injures. In ישׁר the force of the suffix still continues: the most righteous man among them; and מן before ממּסוּכה is used in a comparative sense: "is more, i.e., worse, than a thorn-hedge." The corruption of the nation has reached such a terrible height, that the judgment must burst in upon them. This thought comes before the prophet's mind, so that he interrupts the description of the corrupt condition of things by pointing to the day of judgment. The "day of thy watch-men," i.e., of thy prophets (Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:7), is explained in the apposition peqŭddâthekhâ (thy visitation). The perfect בּאה is prophetic of the future, which is as certain as if it were already there. עתּה, now, i.e., when this day has come (really therefore equals "then"), will their confusion be, i.e., then will the wildest confusion come upon them, as the evil, which now envelopes itself in the appearance of good, will then burst forth without shame and without restraint, and everything will be turned upside down. In the same sense as this Isaiah also calls the day of divine judgment a day of confusion (Isaiah 22:5). In the allusion to the day of judgment the speaker addresses the people, whereas in the description of the corruption he speaks of them. This distinction thus made between the person speaking and the people is not at variance with the assumption that the prophet speaks in the name of the congregation, any more than the words "thy watchmen, thy visitation," furnish an objection to the assumption that the prophet was one of the watchmen himself. This distinction simply proves that the penitential community is not identical with the mass of the people, but to be distinguished from them. In Micah 7:5 the description of the moral corruption is continued, and that in the form of a warning not to trust one another any more, neither companion (רע) with whom one has intercourse in life, nor the confidential friend ('allūph), nor the most intimate friend of all, viz., the wife lying on the husband's bosom. Even before her the husband was to beware of letting the secrets of his heart cross his lips, because she would betray them. The reason for this is assigned in Micah 7:6, in the fact that even the holiest relations of the moral order of the world, the deepest ties of blood-relationship, are trodden under foot, and all the bonds of reverence, love, and chastity are loosened. The son treats his father as a fool (nibbēl, as in Deuteronomy 32:15). "The men of his house" (the subject of the last clause) are servants dwelling in the house, not relations (cf. Genesis 17:23, Genesis 17:27; Genesis 39:14; 2 Samuel 12:17-18). This verse is applied by Christ to the period of the κρίσις which will attend His coming, in His instruction to the apostles in Matthew 10:35-36 (cf. Luke 12:53). It follows from this, that we have not to regard Micah 7:5 and Micah 7:6 as a simple continuation of the description in Micah 7:2-4, but that these verses contain the explanation of עתּה תהיה מבוּכתם, in this sense, that at the outbreak of the judgment and of the visitation the faithlessness will reach the height of treachery to the nearest friends, yea, even of the dissolution of every family tie (cf. Matthew 24:10, Matthew 24:12).
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me."This confession of sin is followed by a confession of faith on the part of the humiliated people of God" (Shlier.) Micah 7:7. "But I, for Jehovah will I look out; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:8. Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy! for am I fallen, I rise again; for do I sit in darkness, Jehovah is light to me." By ואני what follows is attached adversatively to the preceding words. Even though all love and faithfulness should have vanished from among men, and the day of visitation should have come, the church of the faithful would not be driven from her confidence in the Lord, but would look to Him and His help, and console itself with the assurance that its God would hear it, i.e., rescue it from destruction. As the looking out (tsâphâh) for the Lord, whether He would not come, i.e., interpose to judge and aid, involves in itself a prayer for help, though it is not exhausted by it, but also embraces patient waiting, or the manifestation of faith in the life; so the hearing of God is a practical hearing, in other words, a coming to help and to save. The God of my salvation, i.e., from whom all my salvation comes (cf. Psalm 27:9; Isaiah 17:10). Her enemy, i.e., the heathen power of the world, represented in Micah's time by Asshur, and personified in thought as daughter Asshur, is not to rejoice over Zion. כּי, for, not "if:" the verb nâphaltı̄ is rather to be taken conditionally, "for have I fallen;" nâphal being used, as in Amos 5:2, to denote the destruction of the power and of the kingdom. The church is here supposed to be praying out of the midst of the period when the judgment has fallen upon it for its sins, and the power of the world is triumphing over it. The prophet could let her speak thus, because he had already predicted the destruction of the kingdom and the carrying away of the people into exile as a judgment that was inevitable (Micah 3:12; Micah 6:16). Sitting in darkness, i.e., being in distress and poverty (cf. Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 42:7; Psalm 107:10). In this darkness the Lord is light to the faithful, i.e., He is their salvation, as He who does indeed chasten His own people, but who even in wrath does not violate His grace, or break the promises which He has given to His people.
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness."The wrath of Jehovah shall I bear, for I have sinned against Him, till He shall fight my fight, and secure my right. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall behold His righteousness. Micah 7:10. And may my enemy see it, and shame cover her, who hath said to me, Where is Jehovah thy God? Mine eyes will see it; now will she be for a treading down, like mire of the streets." Confidence in the help of the Lord flows from the consciousness, that the wretchedness and sufferings are a merited punishment for the sins. This consciousness and feeling generate patience and hope: patience to bear the wrath of God manifesting itself in the sufferings; hope that the sufferings, as inflicted by the righteous God, will cease as soon as the divine justice has been satisfied. Za‛aph: lit., the foaming up of wrath (Isaiah 30:30); hence strong wrath. This the church will bear, till the Lord conducts its conflict and secures its rights. ריבי is the judicial conflict between Israel and the heathen power of the world. Although, for example, God had given up His nation to the power of its enemies, the nations of the world, on account of its sins, so that they accomplished the will of God, by destroying the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and carrying away the people into exile; yet they grew proud of their own might in so doing, and did not recognise themselves as instruments of punishment in the hand of the Lord, but attributed their victories to the power of their own arm, and even aimed at the destruction of Israel, with scornful defiance of the living God (cf. Isaiah 10:5-15; Habakkuk 1:11). Thus they violated the rights of Israel, so that the Lord was obliged to conduct the contest of His people with the heathen, and secure the rights of Israel by the overthrow of the heathen power of the world. For ריב ריבי, see Psalm 43:1; for עשׂה משׁפּט, Psalm 9:4-5; and for the fact itself, Isaiah 49:25; Isaiah 51:22. Mishpât is Israel's right, in opposition to the powers of the world, who would destroy it. The following word יוציאני is not governed by עד אשׁר, as the absence of the copula Vav shows. With these words the hope takes the form of the certain assurance that the Lord will remove the distress, and let Israel see His righteousness. Tsedâqâh is the righteousness of God revealing itself in the forgiveness and restoration of Israel to favour; like tsedâqōth in Micah 6:5 : in actual fact, the salvation of Israel about to be secured, regarded as an emanation of the righteousness of the covenant God; hence parallel to אור. ראה with ב, to look at, so that one penetrates, as it were, into an object, seeing with feasting of the eyes (so also in Micah 7:10). This exaltation of Israel to new salvation it is hoped that the enemy will see (ותרא, opt.), and be covered with shame; for the power of the world is overthrown, in order that Israel may be redeemed out of its power. This desire is a just one, because the enemy has despised the Lord God. For the expression, "Where is Jehovah thy God?" compare Joel 2:17. And Israel will see its fulfilment (תּראינּה with Nun doubled after a sharpened ; see Ewald, 198, a). ‛Attâh, now (seeing the future in spirit, as having already come), the enemy will be trodden down like mire of the streets (for this figure, see Isaiah 10:6).
Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.The confident expectation rises in Micah 7:11 ff. into an assurance of the promise; the words of the prophet in the name of the church rising into an address to Zion, confirm its hope by the promise of the restoration of Zion, and the entrance of crowds of people into the city of God. Micah 7:11. "A day to build thy walls (cometh); in that day will the ordinance be far away. Micah 7:12. In that day will they come to thee from Asshur and the cities of Egypt, and from Egypt to the river, and (to) sea from sea, and (from) mountain to mountain. Micah 7:13. And the earth will become a desert because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings." Micah 7:11 consists of two clauses; for we may easily supply to yōm "is" or "will be" equals come. The daughter Zion is addressed (cf. Micah 4:8) not as a church, but as a city, as the centre and representative of the kingdom of God. As such, she is compared to a vineyard, as in Isaiah 5:1-7; Isaiah 27:2-4; Psalm 80:9-10. The word gâdēr, which is generally used for the hedge or wall around a vineyard, points to this (see Isaiah 5:5; Numbers 22:24; Ecclesiastes 10:8). יון ההוּא is an adverbial accusative; in that day will חק be far away. The meaning of this word is very difficult to find, and can hardly be settled with any certainty. The explanation of chōq, as signifying the law imposed upon Israel by the heathen oppressors (Chald., Hengstenberg, etc.), cannot be sustained, as this meaning cannot be established from Psalm 104:20, and is not suggested by the context. So, again, the explanation, "On that day will the goal set (for Israel), or the boundary fixed (for it), be a far distant one (i.e., then will the boundaries of the land of Israel lie in the far distance, or be advanced to the remotest distance:" Hitzig, Caspari, and others), introduces a meaning into the words which they do not possess. Even if chōq does denote a fixed point or a limit of either space or time, it never signifies the boundary of a nation; and râchaq, to be far off, is not equivalent to being advanced to a great distance. Chōq is apparently used here for the ordinance or limit which God has appointed to separate Israel from the nations; not a land-boundary, but the law of Israel's separation from the nations.
This law will be far away, i.e., will be removed or set aside (yirach is only chosen for the sake of the assonance with chōq), inasmuch as numerous crowds, as is added in Micah 7:12 by way of explanation, will then stream to Zion, or come to the people of God, out of all lands (cf. Micah 4:1-2). For this is what Micah 7:12 refers to, and not the return to Zion of the Israelites who have been scattered in the heathen lands. יבוא (impersonal), one comes, they come: not "return," ישׁוּב, which must have been the expression used if the return of the Israelites out of their captivity had been meant. The heathen who cherish a desire for the God of Zion and His law (Micah 4:2) will come to Israel; not to Israel as still living in their midst (Caspari), but to the Israel that has already returned, and whose walls have been rebuilt (Micah 7:11). The building of the walls of Zion involves the gathering together of the dispersed nation, or rather presupposes it. Heathen will come "from Asshur and the cities of Egypt," i.e., from the two mightiest empires in the time of the prophet. Mâtsōr, the poetical name of Egypt, as in Isaiah 19:6; Isaiah 37:25; and "cities of Egypt," because that land or kingdom was especially rich in cities. The further definitions individualize the idea of the totality of the lands and provinces, the correlative members being transposed and incomplete in the last two sentences, so that the preposition עד must be supplied to וים, and the preposition מן to ההר. From Egypt to the river (Euphrates) includes the lands lying between these two terminal points; and in the expressions, "sea from sea, and mountain to mountain," seas and mountains are mentioned in the most general manner, as the boundaries of lands and nations; so that we have not to think of any particular seas and mountains, say the Western (or Mediterranean) Sea, and the Eastern (the Dead or the Galilean) Sea, as being the western and eastern boundaries of Palestine, and of Lebanon and Sinai as the northern and southern boundaries, but must adhere firmly to the general character of the expression: "from one sea and one mountain to another sea and mountain," i.e., from every land situated between seas and mountains, that is to say, from all the lands and provinces of the earth. The coming out of all lands is not to be understood as denoting simply passing visits to Canaan or Zion, but as coming to connect themselves with the people of God, to be received into fellowship with them. There is a parallel to this promise in the promise contained in Isaiah 19:18-25, that in the Messianic times Egypt and Asshur will turn to Jehovah. This takes place because the earth will become a desert, on account of the evil deeds of its inhabitants. Whilst Zion is rebuilt, and the people of God are multiplied, by the addition of the godly Gentiles out of all the countries of the earth, the judgment falls upon the sinful world. This statement of Micah 7:13 is simply attached to what precedes it by והיתה, in order to complete the promise of the restoration of Zion, by adding the fate which will befal the earth (i.e., the earth outside Canaan); but it actually contains the motive for the coming of the crowds to Zion. הארץ cannot be the land of Israel (Canaan) here, in support of which appeal has been made to Leviticus 26:33 and Isaiah 1:7; for the context neither leads to any such limitation as that הארץ could be taken in the sense of ארצכן (in Leviticus and Isaiah), nor allows of our thinking of the devastation of Canaan. When the day shall have come for the building of the walls of Zion, the land of Israel will not become a desert then; but, on the contrary, the devastation will cease. If the devastation of Canaan were intended here, we should have either to take והיתה as a pluperfect, in violation of the rules of the language, or arbitrarily to interpolate "previously," as Hitzig proposes. על ישׁביה is defined more precisely by מפּרי מעלליהם. The doings are of course evil ones, and the deeds themselves are the fruit (cf. Isaiah 3:10).
In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.
Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings.
Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.The promise of salvation impels the congregation to pray that it may be granted (Micah 7:14); whereupon the Lord assures it that His covenant mercies shall be renewed, and promises the thorough humiliation of the hostile nations of the world (Micah 7:15-17). Micah 7:14. "Feed thy people with thy staff, the sheep of thine inheritance, dwelling apart, in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of the olden time." The question in dispute among commentators, whether this prayer is addressed to the Lord by the prophet on behalf of the nation, or whether the prophet is still speaking in the name of the believing church, is decided in favour of the latter by the answer addressed to the church in Micah 7:15. The Lord is addressed as the shepherd of Israel, the title by which Jacob addressed Him in Genesis 49:24 (cf. Psalm 80:2; Psalm 23:1 ff.). The prayer is related to the promise in Micah 5:3 ff., viz., that the ruler coming forth out of Bethlehem will feed in the strength of Jehovah, and involves the prayer for the sending of this ruler. "With this staff," i.e., the shepherd's staff (cf. Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 23:4), is added pictorially; and as a support to the prayer, it designates the people as the sheep of Jehovah's inheritance. צאן נחלה, instead of עם נחלה, which occurs more frequently, is occasioned by the figure of the shepherd. As the sheep need the protection of the shepherd, lest they should perish, so Israel needs the guidance of its God, that it may not be destroyed by its foes. The following apposition שׁכני לבדד determines the manner of the feeding more precisely; so that we may resolve it into the clause, "so that thy people may dwell apart." The words contain an allusion to Numbers 23:9, where Balaam describes Israel as a people separated from the rest of the nations; and to Deuteronomy 33:28, where Moses congratulates it, because it dwells in safety and alone (bâdâd, separate), under the protection of its God, in a land full of corn, new wine, etc. The church asks for the fulfilment of this blessing from Jehovah its shepherd, that it may dwell separate from the nations of the world, so that they may not be able to do it any harm; and that "in the wood in the midst of Carmel," that promontory abounding in wood and pasture land (laetis pascuis abundat: Jerome on Amos 1:2). The wood is thought of here as shutting off the flock from the world without, withdrawing it from its sight, and affording it security; and the fact that dangerous wild beasts have their home in the forest (Jeremiah 5:6; Psalm 80:14) is overlooked here, because Israel is protected from them by its own shepherd. ירעוּ, which follows, is not future, but optative, corresponding to the imperative רעה. Gilead and Bashan are also named as portions of the land that were rich in pasture (cf. Numbers 32:1 ff.), namely, of the land to the east of the Jordan, Carmel belonging to the western portion of Canaan. These three portions individualize the whole of the territory which Israel received for its inheritance, and not merely the territory of the kingdom of the ten tribes. The simple reason why no districts in the kingdom of Judah are mentioned, is that Judah possessed no woody districts abounding in grass and pasture resembling those named. Moreover, the prayer refers to the whole of Israel, or rather to the remnant of the whole nation that has been rescued from the judgment, and which will form an undivided flock under the Messiah (cf. Micah 5:2; Isaiah 11:13; Ezekiel 37:15 ff.). ימי עולם, "the days of old," are the times of Moses and Joshua, when the Lord brought Israel with His mighty arm into the possession of the promised land. The Lord answers this prayer, by promising, according to His abundant goodness, more than the church has asked. Micah 7:15. "As in the days of thy going out of the land of Egypt will I cause it to see wonders. Micah 7:16. Nations will see it, and be ashamed of all their strength: they will lay the hand upon the mouth, their ears will become deaf. Micah 7:17. They will lick dust like the snake, like the reptiles of the earth they come trembling out of their castles: they will go trembling to Jehovah our God, and before thee will they fear." The wonders (niphlâ'ōth; cf. Exodus 3:20; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 78:11) with which the Lord formerly smote Egypt, to redeem His people out of the bondage of that kingdom of the world, will the Lord renew for His people. In צאתך the nation is addressed, whilst the suffix of the third pers. attached to אראנּוּ points back to עמּך in Micah 7:14. The miraculous deeds will make such an impression, that the heathen nations who see them will stand ashamed, dumb and deaf with alarm and horror. Ashamed of all their strength, i.e., because all their strength becomes impotence before the mighty acts of the Almighty God. Laying the hand upon the mouth is a gesture expressive of reverential silence from astonishment and admiration (cf. Judges 18:19; Job 21:5, etc.). Their ears shall become deaf "from the thunder of His mighty acts, Job 26:14, the qōl hâmōn of Isaiah 33:8" (Hitzig). With this description of the impression made by the wonderful works of God, the words of God pass imperceptibly into words of the prophet, who carries out the divine answer still further in an explanatory form, as we may see from Isaiah 33:17. The heathen will submit themselves to Jehovah in the humblest fear. This is stated in Micah 7:17. Licking the dust like the serpent contains an allusion to Genesis 3:14 (cf. Psalm 72:9 and Isaiah 49:23). זחלי ארץ, earth-creepers, i.e., snakes, recals the זחלי עפר of Deuteronomy 32:24. Like snakes, when they are driven out of their hiding-place, or when charmers make them come out of their holes, so will the nations come trembling out of their castles (misgerōth as in Psalm 18:46), and tremble to Jehovah, i.e., flee to Him with trembling, as alone able to grant help (see Hosea 3:5), and fear before thee. With ממּךּ the prayer passes into an address to Jehovah, to attach to this the praise of God with which he closes his book.
According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.
The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy."Who is a God like Thee? removing guilt and passing over iniquity to the remnant of His inheritance. He retaineth not His anger for ever, for He delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:19. He will have compassion upon us again, tread down our transgressions; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:20. Mayest Thou show truth to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old." מי אל כּמוך looks back to Exodus 15:11; but whether Micah also plays upon his own name is doubtful. Like the first redemption of Israel out of Egypt, the second or still more glorious redemption of the people of God furnishes an occasion for praising the incomparable nature of the Lord. But whereas in the former Jehovah merely revealed Himself in His incomparable exaltation above all gods, in the restoration of the nation which had been cast out among the heathen because of its sins, and its exaltation among the nations, He now reveals His incomparable nature in grace and compassion. The words נשׂא עון וגו are formed after Exodus 34:6-7, where the Lord, after the falling away of Israel from Him by the worship of the golden calf, reveals Himself to Moses as a gracious and merciful God, who forgives guilt and sin. But this grace and compassion are only fully revealed in the restoration and blessing of the remnant of His nation by Jesus Christ. (For Micah 7:18, see Psalm 103:9.) As One who delighteth in mercy, He will have compassion upon Israel again (yâshūbh used adverbially, as in Hosea 14:8, etc.), will tread down its sins, i.e., conquer their power and tyranny by His compassion, and cast them into the depths of the sea, as He once conquered the tyrant Pharaoh and drowned him in the depths of the sea (Exodus 15:5, Exodus 15:10). This believing assurance then closes with the prayer (tittēn is optative) that the Lord will give His rescued nation truth and mercy ('ĕmeth and chesed, after Ezekiel 34:6), i.e., give them to enjoy, or bestow upon them, what He had sworn to the patriarchs (Genesis 22:16). Abraham and Jacob are mentioned instead of their family (cf. Isaiah 41:8).
With this lofty praise of the Lord, Micah closes not only the last words, but his whole book. The New Testament parallel, as Hengstenberg has correctly observed, is Romans 11:33-36; and the μυστήριον made known by the apostle in Romans 11:25. gives us a view of the object and end of the ways of the Lord with His people.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.